Today’s Solutions: November 30, 2021

Yesterday we wrote about the most eco-friendly ways dog owners can manage their furry companions’ waste. Now, we will tackle the same topic, but for cat litter.

Cat litter can be an incredible waste. It is often full of potentially harmful chemicals as well. Don’t fret, though. There are a few ways in which we can make litter boxes more environmentally friendly and better for feline and human health.

Don’t flush the kitty litter

Flushing litter down the toilet, even if the box says “flushable,” is a big no-no. It’s not good for the sewer lines, and wastewater treatment plants weren’t designed with cat waste in mind, leaving them unable to adequately treat it, which leads to the further contamination of our water supply.

This is especially important for coastal cat owners, as domestic cats may carry the protozoan parasite Toxoplasmosis gondii and may spread active spores via their feces. The wastewater treatment facilities aren’t equipped to eliminate these spores and end up sending these active spores into bodies of water. Sea otters are especially vulnerable to T. gondii, which can kill them. If they survive the parasite, studies have demonstrated that infected otters are almost three times more likely to develop cardiac diseases and are at a much higher risk of a shark attack.

So basically, never flush cat litter down the toilet.

Ditch the clay cat litter

Do you know how that clay got into the litter box? Most likely by strip mining, which is a practice that causes significant environmental damage through deforestation and excavation through explosives. Plus, clay cat litter is impossible to compost.

If you are currently using clay cat litter, consider switching to the numerous safe and effective alternatives available on the market.

Compostable cat litter

There are plenty of compostable cat litters out there, but you have to follow the guidelines closely and ensure that you are only composting the litter and not the waste.

You can compost the litter along with the waste if you’re using an enzyme that helps break the waste down or can guarantee that the compost bin heats to over 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If you can tick both those boxes, then you can use this compost for your vegetable garden.

Otherwise, make sure to keep your kitty litter compost pile far away from anything edible, and don’t use the resulting fertilizer for edible plants, but rather for decorative gardens that are far away from edible crops.

That said, if you live in a coastal area, you should skip in-ground composting altogether. If not then you risk contaminating the water and the marine life with the parasite mentioned earlier.

Is cat litter biodegradable?

There are biodegradable cat litters on the market, such as:

  • Grass seed
  • Newspaper
  • Coconut
  • Wheat
  • Pine cobble
  • Corn

Every cat is different, and cat owners will agree that cats can be quite particular, so if you’re determined to switch your cat’s litter, it’s important to test a few to find the right fit.

Eco-friendly cat litter disposal

Once you’ve selected your biodegradable cat litter, the next step is to figure out how to responsibly dispose of it.

Compost

If this option is available to you, then this is the best method. Just be sure that the compost heats to above 145 degrees Fahrenheit if you include your cat’s waste, and that you keep it away from edible plants.

Scoop and toss

Though not ideal, it’s likely the best option for many cat owners. Scoop the waste into a biodegradable bag and toss it into your trash. When it’s time to change the litter in the box, deposit the litter into the newspaper, wrap it up, and throw it into the trash as well.

Other ways you can make your cat litter more eco-friendly are:

  • Do not use liners, as they’re an unnecessary waste
  • Do not use disposable scoops which generates more waste. Instead, invest in a metal scoop and clean it periodically with castile soap or vinegar to avoid contamination
  • Use your current box (even if it’s plastic) until it’s at the end of its life then…
  • Replace the box with a bamboo version
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