Why Is Cat Litter So Expensive? An Informative Guide (2023)

Cat litter is an essential purchase. It helps control odours and keeps your home clean but can also be expensive. 

You’re not alone if you’ve ever wondered why is cat litter so expensive?

Key Takeaways

  • The price of cat litter is influenced by production methods, type of materials used, packaging, and transportation.
  • Different types of cat litter have varying effects on the environment. While some types are biodegradable, like wood pellet and paper-based litter, others, such as clay and silica-based litter are not, and their production can contribute to pollution.
  • The cat litter market is evolving rapidly with increasing competition among brands. Consumers are also demanding specialized products like scented or biodegradable litter, further driving up prices.
  • Understanding the diverse range of cat litters available can help cat owners make more informed decisions that balance cost, effectiveness, and environmental impact.

This guide will help you make choices that fit your budget and ethical considerations.

Read on to look into the factors contributing to the cost of cat litter and explore options for finding more affordable choices. 

Table of Contents

Purpose Of Cat Litter

Cat litter serves various purposes, providing health and hygienic benefits to cats, their owners, and other creatures sharing the same space. 

It acts as an absorbent material that helps contain cat waste and odour in the short term; it also traps moisture from urination, preventing bacteria from building up on surfaces. 

Providing cats with a place for digging, scratching and playing with materials similar to those found outdoors or in natural settings where they would typically do such activities gives them mental stimulation and comfort, particularly for indoor cats.

white tabby cat digging in sand

Cat litter can be made from natural clay, plant-based pellets and crystals made out of silica gel that has been treated for absorption properties.

Cat litter should be replaced regularly through proper disposal methods to eliminate odours while protecting your cat’s hygiene needs.

Types Of Cat Litter

The material used to make cat litter ranges from silica-based clays, natural plant-based products like corn or pine, and even materials made with recycled newspaper.

Clay-based litter

clay based cat litter

Clay-based litter is made from a naturally occurring material, bentonite clay. It is highly absorbent and effective at controlling odours. However, it is not biodegradable and can harm the environment due to the mining process. Clay litter can be dusty, which can be a problem for cats with respiratory issues.

Related: Best Cat Litter For Heavy Urination

Silica-based litter

silica cat litter

Silica-based litter is made from silicon dioxide. This naturally occurring substance is often marketed as a natural and biodegradable alternative to clay litter. However, silica-based litter is not biodegradable and can take longer to break down in a landfill. It is also less effective at controlling odours compared to clay-based litter.

Wood pellet litter

wood pellet cat litter

Wood pellet litter is made from wood shavings or sawdust. It is biodegradable and decomposes faster than clay litter. Wood pellet litter is also effective at controlling odours.

However, it can be more expensive than other types of litter and is not as effective at absorbing liquids.

Related: Do Cats Like Pellet Litter?

Here at Tabbycatcorner, we have been using wood pellet litter with our cats for many years.

See our buying guide for pellet litter and suitable litter boxes here.

Paper-based litter

Paper-based litter is made from recycled paper or plant-based materials. It is biodegradable, has low dust, and effectively controls odours. However, it is not as absorbent as clay or silica-based litter and may need to be changed more frequently.

Biodegradable litter

Biodegradable litter is made from plant-based materials such as corn, wheat, or pine. It is biodegradable and decomposes faster than other types of litter. Biodegradable litter also has low dust and is effective at controlling odours. However, it can be more expensive than different types of litter and may not be as effective at absorbing liquids.

The Cost Of Producing Cat Litter

Silica-based cat litter is made from silicon dioxide, a naturally occurring mineral. The production of silica-based cat litter involves mining the mineral and processing it into a granulated form. This process can be expensive, requiring specialized equipment and a significant amount of energy. Additionally, silica dust can be hazardous to workers, leading to additional safety costs.


Wood pellet cat litter is made from sawdust or wood shavings compressed into small pellets. Wood pellet cat litter production requires sawmills and other woodworking equipment, which are expensive to operate. The cost of transporting the raw materials for manufacture must also be considered.

Clay-based cat litter is made from bentonite clay, a naturally occurring absorbent material. The production of clay-based cat litter involves mining the clay, crushing it into a fine powder, and then shaping it into pellets or granules. This process can be labour-intensive and requires heavy machinery, which adds to the cost of production.

In summary, silica-based litter is expensive to produce due to the cost of mining and processing the mineral. Wood pellet litter requires specialized woodworking equipment. Clay-based litter is labour-intensive to make and requires the use of heavy machinery.

The Environmental Impact Of Cat Litter

Cat litter significantly impacts the environment, and different types of litter can have other consequences. This section will explore the environmental impact of silica-based litter, clay-based litter, and wood pellet litter.

Silica-based litter does have an impact on the environment. The manufacturing process for silica-based litter produces greenhouse gases, and the litter itself is not biodegradable. When disposed of in a landfill, it can take hundreds of years to break down.

Clay litter is not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to break down in landfills. In addition, the mining process for clay can negatively impact the environment, including deforestation and water pollution.

Wood pellet litter is marketed as a natural and biodegradable alternative to clay litter. While wood pellet litter is biodegradable and decomposes faster than clay litter, it can still impact the environment. The manufacturing process for wood pellet litter produces greenhouse gases, and the transportation of the litter can contribute to air pollution.

In conclusion, all types of litter can impact the environment. Silica-based litter is not biodegradable and can take longer to break down in a landfill. At the same time, clay-based litter is not biodegradable, and mining can negatively impact the environment. Wood pellet litter is biodegradable, but manufacturing and transportation can still affect the environment. It is important to consider the environmental impact when choosing a type of litter for your household.

Packaging And Transportation

Cat litter is a necessary household item for many cat owners. Cat litter manufacturers must consider the costs of packaging and transporting their products for sale. These costs can vary depending on the type of cat litter, the size and quantity of the packages, and the distance the litter must be shipped.

One of the high costs for cat litter manufacturers is the packaging itself. Cat litter is often sold in large bags, which must be sturdy to prevent tearing or leakage during transportation.

These materials are expensive, especially if the packaging is designed to be reusable or environmentally friendly. The cost of labelling and printing instructions for the packaging must also be considered.

Transportation is also a high cost for manufacturers of cat litter. Cat litter is heavy, and shipping can be expensive. The cost of transportation will depend on the distance the litter must travel and the mode of transportation used. For example, shipping cat litter by truck may be less expensive than shipping it by air, but it may take longer to reach its destination.

Manufacturers must consider their cat litter products’ storage and warehouse space costs. These costs can vary depending on the size and quantity of the packages, as well as the length of time they will be stored before being shipped to retailers or customers.

air frieight pallets

In summary, the costs associated with packaging and transporting cat litter can be significant for manufacturers.

These costs must be carefully considered when setting the product’s price and determining the most cost-effective means of distribution.

Marketing And Branding

When it comes to buying cat litter, marketing and branding should not be overlooked. Even though all cats use similar products, companies often employ creative tactics to make their product stand out in a crowded market.

From eye-catching packaging designs to clever ad campaigns targeting specific audiences, there is no limit to competitive differentiation between brands. Companies can leverage this strategy by setting higher prices for their premium product offerings and using promotional discounts or coupons during special occasions like holidays.

By understanding how effective advertising techniques drive consumer behaviour within the pet industry, businesses can use this knowledge to tailor their brand’s identity. They can create an even more enticing customer experience that transcends traditional notions of cost versus value by providing quality assurance and economic satisfaction!

Competition In The Cat Litter Market

The cat litter market is increasingly competitive and rapidly evolving. In recent years, the number of products available for pet owners has grown exponentially. The choice can be overwhelming, from clumping to non-clumping litters, from natural ingredients to silica crystals and everything in between.

For cat parents looking for a winning combination of value and performance, various options are vying for their attention, all boasting different features designed to stand out among rivals in this burgeoning industry.

Furthermore, with more companies taking advantage of technology advancements such as biodegradable materials or scented formulas that help control odours naturally rather than mask them chemically, competition is only likely to become fiercer.

As consumers strive toward making informed purchases that meet their cat’s needs and themselves, understanding what’s on offer becomes paramount when selecting your cat’s litter box filler!

Demand For Different Types of Cat Litter

With the rise in demand for different types of litter, the price has become increasingly variable. Cat owners seek out an array of scented, unscented and natural litters to suit their needs. As more consumers opt for speciality products like organic or fragranced varieties, prices are driving up across all categories.

On top of this, many regions have begun taxing pet waste as part of an environmentally focused push to reduce pollution from non-biodegradable materials entering landfills. This further increases market costs for cat owners purchasing litter boxes with higher-quality materials that last longer and require less frequent replacement than traditional options.

The taxing of waste and a general desire to be more environmentally conscious makes picking a biodegradable litter such as wood pellets an attractive choice.

Ultimately, these factors create a dynamic market for purchasing various types and brands of litter box material – making informed decisions about the cost even more important for savvy buyers wanting to save money while maintaining high standards in animal care practices.

Final Thoughts

When selecting a cat litter, it is important to consider all the factors contributing to its cost. From the type and size of the litter to special features such as scent or absorbency levels, many variables can impact how much you spend on your kitty’s needs.

For example, if you opt for clumping or natural litter, they will be more expensive than non-clumping alternatives. Additional additives such as scents and deodorizers might also be costly in both money and health risks for your pet, depending on what ingredients they use.

There are many factors to consider when exploring why cat litter can be so expensive. These include the cost of producing and packaging, advertising and promotion expenses, competition among brands in the market, demand for different types of litter, and more. 

These can help you decide the right type for your pet’s needs and budget.

To learn more about how cat owners should navigate this tricky purchase decision—and stay up-to-date on everything related to cats—subscribe to our newsletter!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there a cat litter shortage?

Some reasons include supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, increased demand for pet products, and transportation issues.

Did cat litter go up in price?

Cat litter prices have increased due to the shortage and increased demand for the product.

Read More: Why Has Cat Litter Gone Up In Price?

How can I reduce the cost of cat litter?

There are a few ways to reduce the cost of cat litter, including buying in bulk, using less litter by cleaning the box more frequently, trying a less expensive brand, or using alternatives like shredded newspaper or wood pellets.

Read More: How Can I Reduce The Cost Of Cat Litter: Four Money-Saving Tips

Why is there a shortage of cat litter in the UK?

Some reasons include supply chain disruptions due to Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, increased demand for pet products, and transportation issues.

What is an alternative to cat litter?

Some alternatives to traditional cat litter include shredded newspaper, wood pellets, sand, and natural materials like coconut coir.

Do cats refuse to use a new litter box?

Some cats may be hesitant to use a new litter box, especially if it has a different type of litter or is in a different location. It’s important to transition slowly by gradually introducing the new litter box and giving your cat time to adjust.

How long should 10kg of cat litter last?

The amount of time 10kg of cat litter will last depends on how many cats you have, how often you clean the litter box and the type of litter you use. Generally, 10kg of litter can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Should you change cat litter every day?

It’s recommended to scoop the litter box daily to remove any waste and add more litter to maintain a depth of around 2-3 inches. It’s also important to completely change the litter and clean the box at least once a week to keep it clean and fresh.

Read More: How Often Should You Change Cat Litter?

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