Possibly the only downside of owning a cat is dealing with their waste. You can’t love them if you can’t dispose of the loveliness they leave behind, can you? But finding biodegradable options can be hard. We’ve figured out some green ways to dispose of cat litter that won’t hurt your nose or damage the planet!
With dogs, you simply pick up their poop with a doggy poop bag when they’re on a walk or in the backyard. Cats, however, are slightly different.
There are several ways to deal with cat poop and pee, such as those strange and wasteful subscription litter trays, robotic litter trays that do the cleaning for you, and chemical litters that claim to eradicate the awful smell – but we all know this isn’t true.
Interestingly, disposing of your cat’s waste and litter is slightly more complicated than simply scooping and throwing away if you’re trying to be conscious about the environment.
A lot of cat litter trays aren’t eco-friendly nor actually healthy for the cat. If you’re looking to perfect the art of eco-friendly pet waste management, look no further – here are the best ways to dispose of cat litter!
Cats And The Environment
We all know that what goes in must come out. This means that whatever your cats eat will directly affect their immediate environment whether you like it or not, as will the way you clean up their waste.
The first thing you can do to make some steps towards eco-friendly pet waste management is to train your cat to be an indoor cat.
Whether you believe your domestic cat should be an indoor or outdoor cat isn’t the point – training your cat to be an indoor cat will significantly lessen its carbon footprint/pawprint. It’s not just about keeping your backyard clean from poop, it’s about keeping yourself and other animals safe.
Cat poop contains a nasty parasite called Toxoplasmosis Gondii, which can cause flu-like symptoms in humans such as fever, headaches, aches, and fatigue.
It’s fairly common for cats to unknowingly carry this parasite in their feces, where a single cat can shed millions of oocysts (the infectious part of the parasite) in one single poop. These oocysts can survive up to 18 months, infecting anybody that comes into contact with it.
Can’t I just pick up the cat poop and throw it away in a bag, or flush it down the toilet?
Ah, if only it was as easy as that. Even if you pick up the cat poop in your backyard, the parasites can still live on the grass or ground for many months.
Flushing it down the toilet, similarly, won’t kill the parasites. Wastewater treatment plants cannot get rid of the parasites and cannot process the cat poop, which leads to contamination of our water supply.
Cat poop that gets flushed down the toilet can be detrimental to ecosystems and wildlife. For example, sea otters are three times more likely to catch and be infected by Toxoplasmosis Gondii, which can lead to the death of sea otters or cardiac arrest, which makes them more vulnerable to shark attacks. Doesn’t sit pretty, does it?
It seems a bit dramatic to think that your actions can potentially lead to a sea otter getting mauled to death by a shark, but as there are so many other eco-friendly ways to dispose of cat waste, it’s not worth flushing it down the toilet.
The Problem With Clay Cat Litter
So, you’ve opted to train your cat to poop and pee indoors! The next step is to choose the right type of cat litter that won’t affect the environment.
Most cat litter that you will see in pet stores is clay cat litter. However, clay cat litter is absolutely the worst type of cat litter you can buy if you care for the environment. Here are the three main reasons why you should avoid buying clay cat litter:
- Clay cat litter requires a lengthy process to be produced, using up countless resources
- Clay mining isn’t good for the environment
- Clay cat litter is not biodegradable
Let’s take a further look at clay mining and its impact on the environment.
Clay is mined by a process called strip mining, which is where miners identify the location of the mineral (or clay) under the ground. Bulldozers are used to demolish the first layer of the ground, including trees, bushes, rocks, and countless homes to wildlife.
Then, small holes are drilled into the newly exposed rock surface before explosives are detonated inside the holes to break up the rock. The miners then source all the minerals and materials needed, leaving the area in an irreparable mess.
If your cat litter isn’t worth contributing to all that, then don’t bother buying clay litter.
Composting Cat Litter
So, if clay cat litter cannot be composted, then can I compost other cat litters?
The answer to that question is: yes! You can compost other biodegradable cat litters, but you’ve just got to make sure that you’re composting the litter and not the waste itself.
Remember, cat poop contains the Toxoplasmosis parasite, so if you’re putting that in the compost, you will essentially be feeding your backyard and wildlife with the nasty oocysts.
If you live in a coastal area, we don’t recommend composting your litter at all. Even when you scoop out the cat poop, the oocysts of the parasite can still contaminate the local wildlife and marine life. If you can, you should try to compost in a bucket with carefully managed conditions.
Here are the key points to follow when composting cat litter:
- Make sure the litter you are using is biodegradable.
- Even when you scoop waste from the litter, it’s normal for small amounts of waste to remain in the litter. This is why we recommend using this composted litter around non-edible plants to prevent the spreading of the parasite.
- The best condition for composting cat litter is to have your compost bin heated to over 145 °F or to use an enzyme that can kill the parasite’s oocysts. If you can meet these conditions, then you can use the cat litter compost on edible plants and vegetables.
Easy Green Ways To Dispose Of Cat Litter
Fortunately, there are several biodegradable cat litter options available that are far better for the environment than clay litter!
Grass Seed Cat Litter
Made entirely out of grass seeds, grass cat litter is one of the most popular eco-friendly pet waste management options. This cat litter provides good clumps and is easy for a cat to dig into, it’s easy to scoop waste from, and provides a good amount of odor control.
Plus, grass seed is both sustainable and biodegradable. Just be sure to have a dustpan and brush next to the litter tray, as your cats might accidentally carry the soft litter between their toes!
Renewable wheat litter is becoming increasingly more popular among cat owners for its excellent odor control. We can all agree that nothing smells quite as bad as cat waste, so this is a huge bonus.
Wheat litter is also softer than clay litter, it’s digestible (which is good for curious cats!), and is completely biodegradable and safe to flush down the toilet. Although, this isn’t the best option for those with wheat allergies.
Newspapers are possibly the most accessible cat litter option. Sure, it won’t control the odors very well, but it’s easy to use and throw away. All you need is some newspaper and a paper shredder, and you’ve got yourself a DIY biodegradable cat litter!
While shredded newspaper (and paper in general) won’t clump as well as other litters, the texture is non-irritable for cats feet, making it the best option for those with foot injuries.
When it comes to changing the litter, you can’t simply throw your old litter out and start again with a new litter. Your cat will need time to adapt to the new litter, so for a smooth transition, replace ¼ of the current litter with the new litter once a week.
By the time a month has passed, your cat will have transitioned to the new litter! This will also give you an idea of what litter works best for your feline friend.
Disposing Of The Litter
You’ve picked the biodegradable litter of your choice – now you’ve got to dispose of it properly!
There are two main ways to dispose of litter: compost or pick up and throw away.
Composting is the best option for those who are conscious of the environment. If you have set your compost to the right conditions (as explained earlier), this is the best way to reuse your cat litter in the most eco-friendly way possible whilst benefiting your ecosystem in the backyard.
Alternatively, pick up the waste in a biodegradable bag (like you would pick up dog poop) and throw it in the garbage.
When it comes to changing the litter, fold it into a bunch of newspapers and throw it in the trash can. While this might not be as environmentally friendly as composting the waste, if you live in an apartment without a backyard, this might be your only option.
The Litter Box
Being eco-friendly with pet waste management isn’t just about the litter and the waste – you’ve got to consider the litter box and the scoop!
If you are looking for a new litter box to start your kitten’s life in their new home, the most eco-friendly option is to find a bamboo litter box. Bamboo is easy to source, biodegradable, and far more sustainable than plastic.
However, if you already have a good plastic litter box, there’s no point in throwing it away to buy a bamboo one. Use what you’ve got!
We don’t bother with litter liners. These liners supposedly help to keep your litter box clean, but what’s the point? It’s just unnecessary waste at the end of the day!
We also advise against buying disposable scoops and litter trays. While these are useful for going away with your cat, this will just amount to more waste.
Metal scoops are the best option for longevity, and if you’re worried about contamination, keep it in a bag once you’ve cleaned it to prevent the spread of Toxoplasmosis.
You’ve also got to consider cleaning the litter box. Don’t use harsh chemicals like bleach, because while you might think that’s the best cleaning liquid to kill bacteria, this can be harmful for your cat. We recommend using a mild cleanser like vinegar before rinsing the insides thoroughly.
So, there you have it – everything you need to know about the best ways to dispose of cat litter!
As you can see, eco-friendly pet waste management isn’t just about putting the poop into a biodegradable bag and calling it a day. There’s a lot to consider – from the type of litter you’re using to how you clean the litter box. Happy poop scooping!