From my "Random Slice of Life" file . . . experiences, advice, happenings, and glorious results of a misspent youth.
The Straight Poop on Environmentally Friendly Cat Litter . . .
I'm still not entirely sure how cleaning the cat's litter box became my responsibility. When my then-fiancée (now my wife) and I moved into our first apartment in the late 1990s her big, furry, lovable cat "Lester" naturally joined us in our new adventure, and as we slowly figured out the division of labor around the apartment during those first few weeks of cohabitation, somehow it was decided that the odious chore of litter box maintenance fell under my jurisdiction.
"How did I wind up with this gig? He's YOUR cat!" I protested, to which my significant other would reply, "Yeah, but the cat poo goes in the garbage, and taking out the garbage is YOUR job." I couldn't argue with that logic, but on the other hand, I still think I got hosed. (Is there an appeal process for this sort of thing?)
A Much Needed Change
Either way, fifteen years (and one additional cat) later, the cat box chore still remains part of my regular "to-do" list. Over the course of those fifteen years, we've tried just about every type and brand of cat litter under the sun: clumping, non-clumping, name brand, store brand, litter in a bag, litter in a box, litter from a jug, you name it. Some of these litters, of course, performed better than others in terms of cleanliness, ease of use, and funkiness control.
We had been using a supermarket brand's "clumping" litter over the past several years because it was fairly cheap and seemed to work well enough unless the box wasn't scooped out at least once per day (and let's be honest, cat lovers: we've all "forgotten" to "scoop the poop" once in a while, haven't we?). If even one "scoop" session was missed, the cat box odor would quickly become overpowering, to the point where you could smell the litter box in the upstairs bathroom even if you were downstairs!! *GACK* Obviously, a change was needed.
Enter the Pine!
Most litter box fillers are made of granulated clay mixed with some baking soda and other fragrances to cover up odors, but over the past several years pet store shelves have become clogged with so-called "green" or "natural" cat litter products. These litters are usually made from shredded wood, recycled newspapers, or other organic material and have cutesy names like "Purr and Simple," "S'Wheat Scoop," "Cedar-ific," etc.
Until recently I had only been familiar with such products from their TV commercials, and I was always skeptical that they would truly be up to the task of controlling those sometimes-demonic Litter Box odors. Besides, it seemed kind of silly to spend good money on something that looked like nothing more than a simple bag of sawdust. (I figured someone at a lumberyard or sawmill was getting rich simply by sweeping their floors at the end of the day and bagging up the results.)
That changed about a month ago when my wife returned from the supermarket toting a box of "Feline Pine" clumping litter, which we'd never tried before. "Since when do we use this stuff?" I asked, and her response was "Since it was on sale, and I had a coupon." (There's that unassailable wife logic, again.) Thus began our Feline Pine Experience.
So What's the Scoop?
Feline Pine is composed of—well, shredded pine, obviously, plus "natural guar bean gum," which, according to the back of the box, is an "all-natural fiber" that helps the pine particles clump tightly together around cat waste. The pine itself, we're told, naturally neutralizes ammonia (which is a major ingredient in kitty wee-wee and the main culprit in litter box odor), as well as the odors caused by—ahem—The Old Number Two. The Feline Pine package promises that if you "simply scoop and discard waste daily, you'll enjoy a fresher, healthier home." Of course, my inner cynic responded "Yeah, well, we'll just see about that. You may think you're tough, but you've never met MY kitty" (whom we affectionately call "Doctor Funken-Cat" behind her back).
"Wow, This Stuff Is Good"
Lo and behold, however—within a day or so of our litter box being filled with Feline Pine's woody goodness, I noticed that our upstairs no longer seemed to have that slight air of kitty funkiness about it that I'd grown used to over the years and had chalked up to the price of cat ownership. Wow, this stuff is good.
The Lightweight Alternative
Another major "pro" for Feline Pine is how lightweight it is—no more back-breaking trips up the stairs with a big, heavy container of the "other" litters, which at my age is perhaps the best thing about this product.
A Bit More Time-Consuming
Scooping the box does take a bit more time than it used to with the old clay-based litters—the sawdust's larger "grain" takes longer to sift through the narrow spaces in a standard-sized cat-box scoop (Feline Pine does offer its own scoop which features larger gaps) and I've noticed that rather than forming a "clump," cat wee-wee tends to collect at the bottom of the box, combining with the pine in what can only be described as an extremely sticky "pancake" formation which takes a few extra minutes to scoop out and remove.
Be Prepared With a DustBuster
You'll also have to put up with the occasional pile of sawdust on the floor around the box, but those are easily taken care of with your DustBuster (assuming you have one). On the other hand, unlike clay litters, Feline Pine doesn't make clouds of dust when you pour more of it into the cat box, which is a definite plus if you've ever experienced a coughing fit caused by cheap, dusty bargain-brand cat litter.
The Kitty Conclusion . . .
As you can see from the experience of this former cynic, Feline Pine has many "pros" and no "cons" that I have come across yet. Cat lovers who are trying to "go green" are probably already well aware of the benefits of the product, as it's made from all-natural ingredients and without any harmful chemicals. Whether or not your kitty takes to it, of course, is a whole other matter.
Fortunately, my cat doesn't really seem to care one way or the other what's in her litter box (as long as there is a litter box) and nowadays when she sits in our laps while we watch TV in the evenings, it's nice not to smell that "funky litter box" aura about her anymore. It's certainly better for your home, better for your kitty, and better for anyone else who might be within smelling distance of the dreaded Litter Box. Feline Pine doesn't make scooping the cat box more fun, but at least it makes the experience just a little bit more pleasant, and that's all you can really ask for with such a chore, isn't it?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2011 Keith Abt
Samantha P. on May 20, 2019:
I have been hooked on the one litters for about 16 years! When my family got our 2 cat brothers (passed in the last 2 years), they were our first completely indoor cats so pood a lot more inside. My mom tried feline pine on a whim and we all have our gag reflexes engaged with the clay chemical smelling blegh litter. Amazing! Smells so much better! In my adult life, I've been getting Equisicat pine pellets for my own cat because it was available at PetSmart for cheaper. Before the old brothers passed, my mom had started buying the horse bedding pellets from the tractor store becaus,e like someone said, it's the exact same thing for a whole lot less! I have converted my fiance to pine pellets for his cat as well.
Marj on April 24, 2019:
The feline Pine was meant to be used with a specific litter box. It’s a two part system. The one box fits inside the other box. The top portion has a bunch of holes in it where you put the pine litter. As the cat urinates and dissolves the pain into dust it falls in the bottom box. That way you don’t have pancakes and you save a lot of litter. Unfortunately the shipping cost when you buy the box online is excessive. If you go to feline Pine website you will find the litter box which is the only place you can find it. Another suggestion I use pine horse bedfding pellets which you can buy at a tractor supply. Also country max if you have one in your area. It comes in 40 pound bags for like 6.99.
Aims on April 11, 2019:
Although Feline Pine may not have harsh chemicals, all inhaled wood dust in hazardous to your health.
Pancham on February 02, 2019:
Since Arm & Hammer bought feline pine it has like a powdery grit.to it almost as if you poured baking soda in it. Its pine scent isnt as strong and the price increased( obviously) the cats dont seem as drawn to it and im using more product than i did with the original feline pine. Also while arm and hammers corn/coconut litter smells really good it doesnt soak up the pee that well
Nissala on November 06, 2018:
I am new to having cats. which is better clumping litter or non-clumping litter? Why? I would really like to know! Thank you in advance
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on June 23, 2016:
Thanx for the kind words Mizbejabbers - good luck finding a suitable "alternative" litter for your feline friends.
Mizbejabbers on June 23, 2016:
While it's true that anyone who can make an article on cat litter interesting is a very good writer, I read it because of content. I still think you are a good writer. You have made me want to try an alternative litter again. We tried the natural litters years ago, including the pines and even shredded corn cob, which didn't work at all. Notice shredded corn cob isn't on the market anymore?
Anyway, our cats didn't like the natural litters, but we've had a complete cat turnover in our house since the last time we tried a natural litter, so it might be worth it to try again. What disgusts me the most is when litter is flung from the box and if water is accidentally spilled on it, it turns into the caliche from whence it came. Anyone who has ever lived in a caliche area knows what I'm talking about, sticky muck that is difficult to clean up.
AB on June 10, 2016:
Looks like she had caught the best of it.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on June 09, 2016:
Hi AB - I wish I could help with your question, but I wrote this article several years ago. Sadly, our dear Kitty (the one in the photo in this piece) has since gone to the Great Litter Box in the sky and I am currently catless. Therefore I am unaware of any changes to Feline Pine.
AB on June 08, 2016:
So, how has it changed since A&H bought it?
I am seeing complaints from old users.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on February 24, 2016:
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on April 28, 2014:
Hi R Tracz - glad you enjoyed it. I never thought of putting the "sawdust" in my flower garden, that's a good idea. Thanks for the tip.
R Tracz on April 26, 2014:
This was an EXCELLENT review. I was wondering how the clumping formulation worked. My kitty uses the original formula and she does quite well with it.
I agree with you about the odor control. It's amazing how well it stops that "funky litter box" smell. When I pour it out of the bag it reminds me of the scent of new pressed wood 'furniture' that I've put together. I don't have to hold my breath or make sure I only breathe through my mouth when cleaning the box either!
I also like that I can just dump the 'sawdust' into my flower garden. I do have their special litter box with the sifting bottom so it's very easy to dump just the sawdust when it gets full. (I wouldn't put it in a vegetable garden, though. There are pathogens that could be transferred to the veggies. As far as putting it in compost used for a vegetable garden, I wouldn't put it in there either unless your compost gets REALLY hot enough to kill any pathogens.)
I will continue to use the original for now, but I do have a coupon and rebate form to try the clumping for free, so I will give it a try.
Thanks again very a well written and informative review!
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on November 23, 2013:
Hey Georgie... it was a bit of a challenge to write about $$&#@ without actually saying $$&#@, haha.
Cool that you're going to be joining the ranks of Cat People. Sadly, our kitty Shadow (her pic is in this Hub) passed away a few months ago, we miss her terribly but her legend lives on. Good luck with your new kitty!!
Georgie Lowery from North Florida on November 23, 2013:
I think the best thing about this Hub is the creative way in which you avoid saying s&^%. I am about to get a kitty, so I will try the piney stuff. :)
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on June 29, 2013:
I'm glad you enjoyed it, Marie, thanx for stopping by.
Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on June 29, 2013:
I just stopped by because of a recommendation on a HubPages Forum.
This hub works really well because it is a practical problem with which you had a long-time experience. You expressed your experience in a logical, chronological manner, and you have your own brand of humor.
I did't quite understand why "pancake" got linked, but that was probably something beyond your control. (I've only had one hub that came up with a linked word.)
And, although you have two videos, they are really short, compliment each other, and drive home your topic.
I think the Amazon ads were overdone, but you are probably making a little revenue from such practice, so more power to you.
We're worlds apart on topic interests, though, so I won't be requesting a follow. Thank you for the read. You did a good job on this hub.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on November 23, 2011:
Not in my experience thus far, Joe. My guess is that the urine flows to the bottom of the box, where it settles and eventually forms the "pancake."
We also have a small throw rug/mat under our litter box so that when the cat climbs out, any particles that might be stuck to her feet fall off before they get tracked around the house. Thanks for your question.
Joe "Chewie" Baca on November 23, 2011:
So this sticky pancake stuff doesn't stick to their paws for them to track around the house???
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on November 23, 2011:
Thanx Holly! Good luck with your two new additions... hope they like the Pine!!
Holly Ennist Stewart on November 23, 2011:
Terrific piece, Keith. I enjoyed your humorous interjections as well as your play-by-play breakdown of the Feline Pine. I tried it once years ago but my cat refused to use it. She's gone on to the Great Litterpan in the sky now, however, and I'm adopting two 6 month old kittens next week, so perhaps I will give the product another whirl.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on November 23, 2011:
Thanx for stoppin' by Brian, as always...glad you enjoyed it...
Brian L. Marshall on November 23, 2011:
I wish you could write professionally, Keef. You made an article about kitty litter interesting to a guy who HATES cats. :) Another success!