You love your kitty, but how green is that particulate matter we call litter?
Typically, cat litter is made from clay that is strip-mined and often contains toxic compounds like silica dust. This stuff isn’t biodegradable or compostable. Eco-friendly kitty litters try to use alternative products that are all-natural and biodegradable, or recycled from post-consumer content. All of these are compost-friendly:
- Feline Pine is made from pine chips.
- Better Way Cedar Cat Litter: a combination of natural clay and cedar.
- Cedarific Natural Cat Litter: a blend of hardwood and cedar chips, with no clay or silica dust.
- Plain Sawdust is a great, natural, inexpensive resource for cat litter. The only issue is that it may be difficult to find sawdust in urban areas. Otherwise, it’s an excellent option that you can also compost in a backyard composter.
Grass or Vegetable Base
- World’s Best Cat Litter is made from whole-kernel corn.
- Benevo Cat Litter is made from non-GMO maize and vegetable derivatives.
You can indeed compost your kitty litter if it’s made from any of the above products. The main concern about this process is from a toxic protozoa in cat poop, called toxoplasmosis. But, it’s more likely you’ll get it from eating raw meat or drinking dirty water than handling kitty litter. In a hot compost, the temperatures reach over 130 degrees F, which is hot enough to kill toxic pathogens.
If you have a backyard compost, you can set up a separate compost dedicated to kitty litter. Most of the litters listed here are compost-friendly.
General Composting Tips:
- Add the first layer of sawdust, soil, or leaves.
- Dump your cat’s waste directly into the bin.
- Cover it with a 1-inch layer of sawdust, soil, or leaves, and leave it alone.
- When it’s time to empty your entire litterbox, simply do the same. Then add another layer of your composting material.
- Aerate the compost every 3 weeks to one month.
- Always seal the top with sawdust, straw, or hay to keep odors away.
After about 6 months to a year, the compost is finished. You can tell by the sweet earthy smell and loamy texture. If you want to be cautious, use this compost only on ornamental plants and not on food crops.
When the compost has cured for 18 months or more, it should be safe to use on any crop. These composting tips were adapted from Glenbrook North Zero Waste Blog.
Would you compost your kitty litter?
[CC Image by MDPhotography via Flickr]