TJ’s Premium Pine Cat Litter

pinecatlitterI haven’t written up any pet products offered at TJ’s, I’ve only written about things us humans eat, but Trader Joe’s does carry some great products for our furry friends too! So heres my first pet stuff review: 

As a cat owner, one product I’ve started buying on a regular basis is PREMIUM PINE CAT LITTER. If you’ve only used clay type litters till now, pine litter is quite different from clay. This litter is made from All Natural 100% pure pine sawdust, compressed into little pellets roughly 1/2 ” long.

pine pelletsPine Litter of course has a nice natural scent that is helpful for odor control. When this litter gets wet, it will disintegrate into a sawdust. Even the used sawdust I find does not develop a strong ammonia odor, if used correctly. As pine is a natural disinfectant it seems to keep odors down basically, obviously a plus for kitty litter. Again, a Pellet-type litter such as this is a change from clay-type litters, so obviously both you and your cats will need to get used to the change.

Instructions on the bag tell you to switch to the Pine Litter gradually over time, by putting a layer of this down, then your normal litter on top of the pine litter, until your cat accepts the pine litter on its own. I have tested this with many cats over the years, and all of them accepted the pine pellets within about a week. Of course every cat is different in their behavior and hygiene, so you will have to try this and see if your cat will get used to it. Hopefully they will, as this is a decent alternative to clay litters. Its cheaper than many litters and seems to my nose at least does seem to be effective at cutting down odor. I am not saying it eliminates any odor but basically I rarely smell any terrible odors – unless I go into the bathroom immediately after they’ve just pooped. Even the used wet litter has very little ammonia / urine odor, as the pine sawdust this becomes, tends to neutralize odors. I do still use a sprinkle of Baking Soda, every other day or so, which also neutralizes ammonia.

I like the fact that this litter is made out of a recycled waste product: pine sawdust leftover from wood mills and lumber production. So this is kind of “Eco”. TJ’s pine litter is cheaper compared to similar pet store products like Feline Pine which is similar. The TJ litter bag is 3.5 lbs and says “one bag is a 4 week supply”. That’s about what it lasts for my one cat (Maya) if not a little more. Using the pine litter, I don’t have to buy (and lug!) a huge 25 lb. bags of clay litter as I used to. This is a major plus especially for us car-less, city folks. It also has no bad chemicals. Some websites claim that the clumping agents in clumping type litter are not good for cats, as they lick their paws later and these can accumulate in the stomach over time.

USAGE: Without getting into too many gross details my cleaning up method is basically as follows: I use two tools to clean up (important tip): A regular plastic litter scoop PLUS a cheap large plastic spoon, the kind you can get from a dollar store. Therefore you have a scoop with holes and a spoon (no holes) and using the two, you maneuver as to not throw away as many still good pellets. The way I clean is I balance half the litter box over the toilet leaving a little space to get to the bowl for disposal. I scrape away the pellets with the cat scooper, then target and remote the “solids” with the one or the other tool. I first get the dried poop out while trying to toss out as few still OK pine pellets as possible. I dump the solids in the toilet. Then I brush the clean pellets on top aside, and look for the slightly dark wet “sawdust” that the pellets turn into when they get wet and fall apart. I sift with the slotted litter tool with a little side to side motion so any unused pellets remain in the scoop and the sawdust falls belowl. I use the spoon to grab and remove and wet/dark sawdust. Then I give it a little shake and sprinkle on some clean Pine Litter.  I also throw on top a small amount of baking soda, always a good way to cut down on smells. What I don’t do is dump a whole bag of pine litter in at once when I start out. I find it lasts longer if I start with say half a bag and remove and add litter on top as needed.

This technique is a bit different from doing regular clay or clumping litter but this stuff you can probably flush down the toilet, unlike clumping litters as the wet sawdust is very light and flushes easily down my toilet (shh!). If you have a garden the directions say you can use it as compost. If you don’t want to do this of course just bag up all the waste, the way you do with clay clumping litters and dispose in your normal way.

I have found that the pine litter does keeps smells mostly under control especially with the baking soda, and a bag lasts about a month (I have 2 cats) and I don’t have to change the whole box as much as when I used clay litter. As the litter is bigger and feels different to a cats paws, only trying this with your cat will let you find out if they will adapt to this product. If you are patient and do it gradually as the bag says over a week or two, they probably will accept this litter, so you can try it. Disposal: I confess when I clean daily I flush all the waste and its not a problem, its very flushable. I live in a apartment in a NYC . If you live in the country you can compost the sawdust as the bag’s directions says it can be used as mulch after use.

Even if you have to use it with combined with clay litter forever, by putting a layer of pine pellets on the bottom then clay litter on top, the pine litter will still be effective in odor control. Of course your cat(s) will mix everything up together but it still works this way too, just may be a bit messier to clean. There is no 100% perfect litter product but this one is quite good. A 7 lb. bag costs $3.50. A better deal compared to Feline Pine, which sells for about 14 lbs for $10-16 at Petco…

*TIP 1: For cleanup, be sure to get a cheap plastic spoon (dollar store) to use together with your regular slotted litter scooper, as the wet sawdust will just fall through that. Of course you try not to throw out “good” unused pine pellets as much as possible…

TIP 2: While you are at the dollar store, also buy a cheap door mat to place under/in front of the litter box. It will help cut down on material migration / tracking. I dump the dust they track out of the box down the toilet doing my daily cleaning routine.

Have you tried this product?  Let us know what you think in the Comments section!



UPDATE: 2019 – I now have two other cats. Both got used to the Pine Litter quickly. Even with 2 cats, a bag seems to last about a month.

(this was Maya, who I had at the time of this writing but has since passed away, after 16 years of looking like a she was about 1 years old! She is missed!)maya2