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Can Shredded Paper Be Used as Cat Litter? Vet Approved Advice


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Cat owners often wonder what they can use instead of commercial cat litter for several reasons, such as looking for something more environmentally friendly, sustainable, or cost-effective. Or there may be times when you need something to use in a pinch until you can get to the store or order your usual litter online. After all, your cat depends on you to provide them with a clean litter box for going potty. Luckily, you can use alternatives to litter if you desire, and shredded paper is something that is safe and effective. 

Read on to learn how to use shredded paper as cat litter safely, as well as other items that are safe, inexpensive, and effective.


How to Use Shredded Paper as Cat Litter

One such item was shredded paper, which some people still use today. So, do you place shredded paper in the litter box and call it a day? Well, not so fast.

You’ll need to prepare the shredded paper for use, as the ink on some newspapers is not ideal and could potentially be toxic. While most companies today use water and non-toxic, soy-based inks, you may still be concerned about toxic compounds. If this is the case, err on the side of caution and remove the ink first.

Here are the steps to making safe, shredded paper cat litter:

  • Shred the newspaper in a shredder (you can also use junk mail) in long, thin strips.
  • Soak the shredded pieces in warm water with a few drops of gentle dish soap. Leave the paper soaking until the strips turn a grayish color and the consistency is that of oatmeal.
  • Leave the paper soaking until the ink is gone.
  • Drain the water and replace it with clean water. Repeat the soaking process, minus the dish soap, and drain once again.
  • Grab a pair of gloves to keep your hands clean from leftover ink. Apply a liberal amount of baking soda on the wet paper and knead into the mixture.
  • Squeeze any remaining moisture out and get the shredded paper as dry as you can.
  • Crumble the paper over a screen and leave it to dry (this will take several days.) You can also bake the paper in the oven to speed up the process but do this on the lowest temperature setting.
  • Once the paper is dry, place 1 ½ to 2 inches of paper crumbles into the clean litter box.

Using shredded paper for cat litter is cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Be sure to scoop out waste daily and replace it with fresh shredded paper. You may choose to make a substantial amount of shredded paper each time to ensure you always have enough on hand.

Cat Diarrhea using litter box
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock


Disadvantages of Using Shredded Paper for Cat Litter

While shredded paper is safe to use as cat litter and nowhere near as expensive as commercial cat litter, it does have some drawbacks you should be aware of:

Shredded paper as cat litter drawbacks:

  • Your cat may refuse to use it.
  • It’s not the best at controlling odor.
  • It’s time-consuming to make.
  • It doesn’t soak up urine as well as commercial litter.
  • Cats may not be able to cover up their waste efficiently.
  • It doesn’t clump for easy cleaning.


What Are Other Safe Materials to Use as Cat Litter?

Shredded paper is not the only material you can use as cat litter safely. Check out other safe materials below as safe alternatives to cat litter that you may already have on hand, especially if you have other animals as pets, such as rabbits, chickens, or horses.

Other safe cat litter alternatives:

  • Sand (clumps well but is terrible for tracking)
  • Alfalfa pellets (trackable and dusty)
  • Ground-up whole wheat
  • Wood shavings and sawdust, not cedar or pine(sawdust creates more dust, which is not ideal for cats with allergies or asthma)
  • Horse bedding pellets, not cedar or pine (highly absorbent but made of sawdust)
  • Chicken feed (highly absorbent but attracts rodents)
wood shavings
Image Credit: _Alicja_, Pixabay



As you can see, you have choices when it comes to alternatives to buying commercial cat litter. However, to use shredded paper effectively and safely, you must prepare it first for use. If you don’t have shredded paper, you can use other materials, such as wood shavings, alfalfa pellets, horse bedding pellets, sand, and chicken feed. All the materials listed above are environmentally friendly and cost-effective; however, ensure you know the disadvantages (if any) to any material you contemplate using for the safety of your cat.

Featured Image Credit: eak_kkk, Pixabay

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