5 ways to save money on cat litter

Patches decided to anoint our couch on Sunday. We’re not really sure why. The litter boxes, while hardly empty, weren’t too bad. She’s frequently used boxes far worse. This time, though, the little brat hopped up on the couch and nonchalantly started peeing between the cushions.

Now we get to deal with the urine issue again. We’re going to use Kids & Pets on the recommendation of a friend. Let’s hope it helps because I can’t remember the name of the stuff we used last time.

So in honor of the it’s-a-good-thing-she’s-cute furball “thinking outside the box” here are a few ideas on how to save on cat litter.


1. Petco brand litter: This is our current go-to solution. I don’t see any difference between this and regular litter. You buy the 30-pound bucket for $14, and refills are $10. As part of the Petco loyalty program, we get $5 off each time we spend $100, which boosts savings. Bonus goes to the environment because we’re not throwing away packaging every couple of weeks.

2. Online shopping: There are stores that will include litter in their free shipping offers. Wag.com is one and gives 2% cash back through Mr. Rebates or Extrabux. Don’t forget that

3. Discounted gift cards: You can currently get Petco GCs for up to 24% off. Extrabux offers 1.5% back on Cardpool purchases. Mr. Rebates offers 1% on Raise orders (0.5% at Extrabux). Raise has a $5 discount for new customers.

4. Rewards programs: Don’t just get cheaper gift cards, get free ones! Swagbucks offers gift cards to 1-800-PetSupplies.com. And, of course, both Swagbucks and MyPoints offer Amazon GCs as rewards. You can buy just about anything on there.

5. Make your own: The Greenists has a recipe for homemade litter. It’s actually far less time- and labor-intensive than I would have thought. I’d rather use my limited energy to keep cooking. But I’d be interested to hear from anyone who ends up trying it.

To all of you cat owners, how do you save money on litter? And everyone feel free to leave me suggestions about things that get out the smell of urine.


  1. plantingourpennies says

    Sales at Target – $5 Gift Card when you buy 2 (35lb Tidy Cats), which I stack as many store and manufactures coupons as I can on. + Pharmacy rewards coupons for another 5% off everything.
    Sales at our grocery store (Publix) – BOGO on 14lb Tidy Cats, and again I stack as many store and manufacturers coupons on the purchase as I can. Publix is awesome b/c it lets me use Target coupons there.

    • says

      I've seen the offer for Target, but it was never as good a deal generally as the stuff I was buying, even when it was Arm & Hammer. Maybe prices are different where you are. I'm glad you have so many options for lowering the litter bill.

  2. Honey Smith says

    I HATE clay litter and refuse to use it. I did World's Best Cat Litter for awhile (hella expensive and dusty) and now am using the Blue Buffalo walnut litter. I love it! But yeah, to me the cheapest litter's just not worth it.

  3. Guest says

    If the urine made it into the cushions (soaked in), they'll have to be washed or replaced… unfortunately. We have one very large cat that's about 10 years old and scoop cat litter every day. If we don't, he doesn't want to use the litter box. There's something about older cats and clean boxes. Like plantingourpennies, we usually get cat little in bulk at Target. Alternatively, Rite Aid has a scoopable litter that works well, costs less than many name brands, and goes on sale regularly. I wouldn't be willing to make my own cat litter. We do recycle the litter containers.

    • says

      We've dealt with this before, so I know the drill about spraying down. Unfortunately, it's foam so no washing. Though I'll think about just getting different foam, good idea.

      The one who started peeing is only about 4, so I'm not really sure why she pulled this. Tim can't scoop the litter — asthma plus open skin means he doesn't want to be around dust/urine/fecal matter — and with my issues I just shoot for about every 5-7 days. We have two boxes to help make that more plausible.

  4. says

    The only brand I can use and tolerate is fresh step. (And I have a cat named Patch!) I don't have a car, so I order it from Wag.com for the free shipping on $35 and cashback through ebates. The best remedy I've used for smells is Nature's Miracle (red bottle) from Amazon.

    • says

      …realizing that I'm making it sound like I am using the litterbox. The cats don't seem to mind what brand I get, but I tried pellet litter once and that resulted in the tub being used instead of the box.

      • says

        We went between Arm & Hammer and Fresh Step (which we got at Costco. Darn, knew I forgot something). Both were good, but we're equally happy with the Petco brand.

        By the way, you can get double cash back that you're getting now for Wag.com by using Mr. Rebates or Extrabux. If you haven't signed up, feel free to use the links in the article.

        Nature's Miracle is the stuff we used last time. Thanks for jogging my memory. If the Kids & Pets stuff doesn't work, we'll go back to that.

  5. says

    I have been getting my cat litter at Costco, they have a really good price on the clumping litter in the green container (can't remember the brand). I fell victim to advertising and got a container of that really lightweight litter stuff; I haven't used it yet and I really hope it works, because it was a real pain to schlep the other stuff downstairs to the litter boxes (and then upstairs again, after it has been used).

    How old is kitty? Uncharacteristic "out of box" peeing can be a symptom of UTI and/or kidney probems. (sorry to be the downer here…)

    • says

      No, it's a good point. She's only 4 or 5, but if we see her doing it again we'll scoop her up (har har har) and take her to the vet.

      The Costco Fresh Step was a good deal. I don't think I ever tried (or saw) anything else. It still isn't quite as good as Petco's own litter, but it was a pretty good deal nonetheless.

      • says

        Thanks for the comparison. I think I'm in the region of a PetCo this weekend, so I will pick some up to try out. I've let my Costco membership expire (mainly because I was only using it to buy cat litter and chocolate.)

  6. Susan says

    My cat prefers the great outdoors, so have never worried about a box. The only time I tried a box, he lay down it thinking it was some great new bed!

    • says

      That would be awkward… especially when he got up.

      My aunt and uncle lost a couple of cats too soon because they were outdoor cats. (Racoons in Washington are nasty things, and one cat ended up with FIV from somewhere else.) So I'm too paranoid. Patches was out on the street — with a burned paw, no less — when we found her, so she's more than happy to stay inside.

  7. says

    How about potty training it? I actually wrote about this last week and according to my numbers you can save $350 a year training your cat to share the camode with you.

    • says

      I have heard about it. I think if we end up getting a kitten next time, maybe we'll go that route. Patches is too stubborn and my adorable Sandy is too dumb. Seriously, I love her but she's just not bright.

      I'm sure it could save a lot. I don't think we spent $350 a year — a $10 bucket lasts us 2-3 weeks — but it'd still be substantial savings.

      • plantingourpennies says

        My MIL has attempted toilet training her cat a few times and has yet to succeed. The first time went so poorly that the cat pooped on her pillow and comforter, and when she stripped the bed to wash them he pooped on the mattress. He was NOT a fan. But she still tries every time they're down here in Florida!

        • says

          Yikes! I could see Patches doing that. Assuming she'd even deign to try. She's kind of snooty. Or maybe it's disinterest. Hard to tell. Point is, I'm most head-butt-able when I'm trying to sleep, apparently.

  8. Kat says

    Okay, let me first point out we never set out to have 6 cats in the house, but now that we do… Silica based low track cat litter. It doesn't help that 3 of the 6 are Maine Coon cats over 20 lbs, and the other three are 16, 12, and 9 lbs respectively- so we're not just talking multiple litter boxes, but the largest boxes to boot. Silica solves the problem we have with clay cat litters- even clumping ones- which is that it ends up all collecting at the bottom of the litter box, and it needs to be fully changed multiple times a week unless we want to have an ammonia smell. The other nice thing about silica is that it dehydrates- minimizing the other smell (and when they're eating grain free, high protein food- that issue can be worse). We sift daily (btw, cat genie, great invention), and then change half the boxes every two weeks (switching between sets). We buy on a buy 3 get 4 free that Pet Food Express has running constantly. Admittedly, the bags are 30 each, but that 90 lasts for the month (mainly because we read directions- you use about a third of the amount that you would use of clay litter). For clay litter, with daily sifting, and changing every box twice a week… Yeah, we'd be paying way more, even with the cheapest clay litter.

    As for toilet training, it's hard to get carnivores to sully clean water like that. There IS a self scooping, self cleaning "litter" box that liquifies waste and deposits it into the toilet via a waste hose… The main two problems are a. Flushing (which would be a problem with toilet training) and cost (got a spare 44 plus tax and shipping? Then the upkeep of cleaning solution and granules?).

    • says

      That's a lot of cat. I thought Patches was big and she's "only" 17 pounds. Granted, she's just a tortoiseshell so a lot of that is what we euphemistically call "fluffy." (I not fat, I fluffy!)

      I can't imagine how long the litter would last with just one or two cats more normal sized cats. Sounds like you've found the best deal for your very unusual situation.

      • Kat says

        From friends with one or two cats… It lasts a really long time. Since you only put a few inches in the bottom of the box (where putting that little clay in would mean even clumping litters would get overwhelmed in a day), you're using absorption rate, instead of bulk to combat the issues at hand. A friend who has one Maine Coon (the breed, when left intact, often reaches 30 lbs.) goes through a 7 lb bag about every month. He does this by sifting daily, changing every two weeks, and making sure to use the low amount. Another friend swore it wasn't working for her, until we asked how much she was using- and she was using too much (this is a litter you really can't use bulk amounts of, because the crystals that are over capacity will break down). Going to the low volume, and she now goes through one of the 12 lb bags once a month (2 "normal" sized cats).

        The reason we discovered it was because of several reasons. 1. Clumping cat litters were requiring way too much maintenance. 2. We have a cat who was recently diagnosed with gall bladder and pancreatic issues- that cause him to go nuts. One way he goes nuts is refusing to use a box he views as dirty- and clay cat litters mean you can't get every bit of material out when you sift. 3. It was costing us an arm and a leg on a per cat basis. Some people complain of the dust, but it's only an issue when you're putting new litter into the pans, a job we take outside, and wear a mask for anyway (which you should do when changing cat pans anyway- the clay dust isn't any better for you, and a mask cuts down your risk of transmission between cat and human of certain diseases)- the only reason people think it's dustier is that we perceive it more than we do clay dust due to it's dehydrating properties.

  9. says

    I used to use World's Best for my two cats, it was really expensive but it didn't smell too bad. I used to buy it in bulk to make it cheaper. I didn't realise that it's possible to make your own cat litter!

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