Pine litter gets high marks for odor control, but fails clumping test

Pine pellets are hands down the best form of cat litter. If I see someone eyeing a bag of pellets in the aisle of my local pet store, I often jump in to make a pitch for it.

Pellets are so user-friendly.

Fill the pan with a thin layer of pellets. Scoop solid waste and wait for liquid waste to break down the pellets. Dump box and refill. No odor. No dust. Easy clean up. Environmentally friendly. 

I would use pellets exclusively except that I have several discriminating cats, who do not like the texture of pellets. I have three long-haired siblings with more than a touch of Norwegian Forest in them, who prefer silica crystal litter (doesn't get caught in paw or tail hairs). Crystals are pricey, but super absorbant and all-but-odor free. They track a bit but are easy to sweep up. I buy Exquisicat brand at PetsMart, which often has the product on sale, but for heaven's sake Exquisicat make your large bucket model easier to open! We've resorted to cutting holes in the top because we can't get plastic sealing ring off the lid.

But other cats gravitate toward the old-fashioned sand-like litter and we have tried to find a good alternative to clay.

Feline Pine makes one of the best pine pellet litters - although it's a bit more expensive than the PetsMart house brand, Exquisicat.

[Although I am seeing many complaints online about Feline Pine's new "more absorbant formula" which breaks down much faster, meaning more litter box cleanings.] 

Feline Pine also make a sawdust-style clumping litter. I tried this type before. It was light - much easier to carry to your car and pour into boxes - and odor free, but did not clump and was easily scattered by digging paws.

So when Feline Pine asked if I'd like to review their new improved clumping litter, I said, "bring it on."

The consistency feels slightly heavier and stays in the box better than the old style. Like pine pellets it has no odor. It is chemical and perfume free. The cats liked it immediately.

It also does not clump.

Attempts to scoop liquid waste was like scooping up mush that broke all over the clean litter.

I have to say, among "natural" litters,  SwheatScoop, a wheat-based litter, does better. It's not perfect but it clumps better than pine and is virtually odor free (the downside to SwheatScoop is that remains of the litter turn into cement in the bottom of the box. When doing a thorough cleaning I have had to use sharp objects to dislodge it.) 

Alas, clay litter remains the champion clumping material. Clay also is the least environmentally-friendly litter. Writes Pet Product News International: the United States Geological Society estimates that 85 percent of the 2.54 million tons of clay used in this country every year is used for absorption of pet waste, with cat litter being the dominant.

And that clay is strip-mined and trucked long distances to processing faciities. Despite all the promises, let's face it, clay smells and when it's wet becomes a nasty, sticky mess.

So back to the drawing board Feline Pine scientists on that "clumping litter"? And hopefully the company will address the issues with its new super absorbant pine pellets that cause rapid breakdowns. The beauty of pine is that a cat owner doesn't have to scoop liquid waste on a daily basis. If we wanted that chore, we'd get clay. 

The new Feline Pine® clumping cat litter comes in 9lb. and 14lb. boxes. Suggested retail prices range from $9.99 to $13.99.