What’s the Best Way to Dispose of Cat Litter? 4 Ways To Do It
Believing that it’s okay to throw cat litter and cat waste down the drain is probably one of the most common misconceptions of first-time pet owners, and it’s also one with the most potentially harmful effects on the environment, and to us humans. So, if it’s a big no-no to simply flush cat litter in the toilet, what is the best way to dispose of cat litter, then?
The independence and urge to live independently and in a clean environment are benefits of owning a cat, but even the cleanest cats need to use the litter box.
So, while it is not glamorous, and it can get messy and smelly, being mindful of your cat litter disposal system can make a huge difference to the ecosystem and to public health and safety.
Cat litter that has been incorrectly disposed of causes a number of problems, including mountains of non-biodegradable waste placed in landfills, clogged drain lines, and poisoned waterways.
Further environmental considerations, such as the wastewater treatment and sewer infrastructure in your town and the processes necessary to compost cat waste, are things to be considered in addition to the variety of available cat litter materials.
And in this article, we will talk about how to maintain your cat's litter box in a responsible manner while also keeping your feline companion happy.
Choose a Biodegradable Cat Litter
Pick a cat litter first that is made of natural components that decompose and return to the soil. A few elements to look for are wood shavings, corn, grass seed, pine, wheat, and compressed recycled paper. The majority of biodegradable cat litter is more expensive than regular litter and is typically constructed of different plant-based materials.
Remember that a lot of those commercial cat litters include silica dust, which has been linked to upper respiratory diseases in humans.
Also, stay away from litters that have perfumes or sodium bentonite (clay). These compounds are hazardous to the environment as well as to cats as a result of their extraction processes and chemical usage.
Throw It in The Trash Bin
The best approach to get rid of used litter is to utilize this tried-and-true technique. Litter bins need to be cleaned at least once every day. Spoon cat poop and sift out pee clumps using a litter scoop and put them in a small garbage bag.
Once all the litter boxes in your home have been scooped, knot the trash bag. You can also double bag your scooped litter to stop odor and bacterial leakage. Put the trash bag in a container with a tight-fitting lid outdoors.
Furthermore, because litter is dense and can rapidly become heavy—especially clay litter—be sure to use a stronger-strength waste bag. One thing that you won’t want to happen is for your litter bag to be destroyed, which can result in cat litter spillage.
Consider using two bags instead of one, if purchasing heavy-duty bags is out of your budget range or you prefer to use the bags you already have.
It still pays to use a thick trash bag or to double up thinner bags if you have numerous cats who share a litter box or multiple boxes because the total amount of litter you will be disposing of will be significantly larger.
Don't just dump cat litter into the garbage and leave it there. Not only can this develop an unpleasant odor over time, but each time the container is opened, particles of tainted cat feces and cat litter dust can enter the air. And of course, don't ever throw used cat litter outside.
If you are in a rural region, you might have a burn pile or burn barrel for your trash. Nevertheless, clay cat litter doesn't burn well. Instead, it will merely accumulate at the base of your pile. Also, while some biodegradable litters may be burned, there is always a chance that burning them could release pollutants into the air.
Also Read: Best Flushable Cat Litters
Dispose of Cat Litter and Cat Waste Without Using Plastic Bags
As much as possible, choose brown bags over biodegradable bags. It can seem like a fantastic idea to use a biodegradable pickup bag intended for cat litter. However, these bags, which are said to accelerate composting, have a very inconsistent record of performance.
So, if you only have one cat and you’ll only need to scoop a small amount of litter regularly, it’s best if you use a brown bag to place the used cat litter before putting it in the trash can. These bags decompose more quickly than plastic bags or even the current generation of biodegradable bags.
Safely Compost Cat Litter
The majority of cat litter is not made from biodegradable ingredients. Therefore, composting is not always the best solution. However, while shopping, you can search for brands that claim their litter is compostable or comprised of organic materials.
If you've never heard of composting, it is a method for turning organic matter into nutrient-rich soil. So, you can treat these litters in a compost pit and eventually turn them into fertilizer instead of throwing them in the trash.
You may help create a greener world by choosing to utilize compostable and biodegradable litter. Also, by composting biodegradable litter rather than using its chemical-filled commercial equivalent, you can have a natural fertilizer. A win-win situation!
Once more, only “compostable” litter can be composted. Dumping non-clumping or clumping clay litter and silica crystal litter together with your yard's brown and green waste has no advantage because they cannot decompose.
Pay Attention to Your Cat’s Diet
What goes in must also come out. If your cat consumes highly processed meals that are low in nutrients and high in preservatives, his feces will also be low in nutrients and high in preservatives.
Because a material will break down more slowly if it has fewer naturally derived elements, this is bad for the environment. This affects the environment negatively since a material will degrade more slowly if it has fewer organically occurring elements.
Like the majority of trash in the country, waste that is dumped in landfills that are already full results in higher methane emissions, which increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Hence, it is advisable to provide your cat with the most natural diet possible.
You can feed your cats according to the same guidelines that apply to nourishing human foods: Always aim for food that is as close to its natural state as possible, with a focus on sustainable meat or plant-based options whenever practical.
Are You Using a Biodegradable Litter?
There are currently many biodegradable litters on the market, and more constantly coming out. It's crucial to test a few to discover the best fit for your home and your cat because as cat lovers, we are aware of how finicky our furry friends can be. Below are some biodegradable options that you can try:
Newspaper is a widely used and accessible alternative. We tried one brand and discovered that it didn't effectively reduce scents, but keep in mind that every cat is unique, so it may work well for you and your feline companions!
This can be a great choice because it has effective odor control, and doesn't spread dust. However, you will need to sweep the area around your box because your cats will most likely have some stuck litter to their toes when they jump out. Nevertheless, it does clump well, which is a huge plus for ease of scooping.
This one hasn't been on the market as long as some of the others, but your cat may like it. Like other all-natural alternatives, coconut cat litter has hypoallergenic and odor-eliminating properties. It’s also dust-free and lightweight.
This distinctive cat litter is healthier for you, your cat, and the environment because it is composed entirely of natural pine. The cobble material's soothing texture is ideal for kittens and cats switching from conventional litter to an all-natural option.
It provides an excellent substitute for items made of clay and silica. In addition to its exceptional odor control and absorbency, kittens are drawn to the pine fragrance and pebble texture of this material. You'll also love how dust-free and simple to clean it is.
This is a well-reviewed and well-liked option made from renewable wheat. However, compared to other alternatives, this one tracks a little bit more.
Also read: Best Cat Litters for Odor Control
Use an Eco-Friendly Litter Box
After selecting your litter and creating a procedure for disposing of it sustainably, you should also not forget about the box itself. Here are some suggestions for using scoops and litter boxes correctly:
- Avoid using liners; they are a waste of resources.
- Do not discard your existing box; keep it till the end of its useful life, even if it is plastic. There is no use in replacing something that is still functional.
- Consider changing your litter box with one made of bamboo.
- Use reusable scoops. If you're concerned about contamination, use a metal scoop and place it in one of your biodegradable pickup bags. You can use castile soap or vinegar to clean it occasionally.
- Consider recycling a plastic tub that would otherwise be thrown out or purchasing one from a thrift shop in your area.
- Consider a (used) stainless steel steam pan if you want to invest in a long-lasting solution that won't absorb odors.
- Cats and Mother Nature can both be harmed by bleach, abrasive powders, and strong odors. Try using lemon juice, baking soda, white vinegar, or another mild-yet-powerful cleaner to clean your cat's litter box.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Should you flush cat litter down the toilet?
No. As mentioned earlier, it is dangerous and potentially damaging to the environment to flush cat litter and waste down the toilet. Cat excrement can damage ecosystems, clog your plumbing, and contaminate your drinking water.
It could not be safe for your piping system even though it is labeled as “flushable litter.” Regardless of the type of litter you use, certain septic systems are not built to handle specific contaminants, such as cat feces.
Also, cat poop often contains Toxoplasma, an organism that can be harmful not just to aquatic life, but also to us, humans. Unfortunately, even with modern wastewater treatment systems, these organisms can still survive and contaminate the water supply.
Can you put cat feces in the compost?
Cat waste contains germs that are harmful to humans, thus it should never be added to compost used for vegetable gardens and edible plants. A health concern can also arise by mixing cat feces with compost in close proximity to a waterway. To get specific guidance, speak with a nearby composting professional.
What is the most eco-friendly cat litter?
The cat litters that biodegrade, particularly those derived from organic materials like paper, corn, wheat, wood, walnuts, and grass, are the most environmentally friendly.
What are some alternatives to store-bought cat litters?
There are several environmentally friendly, cat-safe, and odor-masking litter options that are not exclusively sold in stores, including newspaper, wood shavings or sawdust, sand, and potting soil. But be warned—using potting soil can be so messy.
Making deliberate decisions is key to being a responsible green cat owner. Perhaps you should invest in an alternative litter, such as wheat or wood pellets, or compost any leftover litter for the neighborhood flower garden. Even something as easy as dumping your cat's feces into an old newspaper rather than flushing it could make a difference.
And if you are considering training your cat to use the toilet, just don’t continue with it. This is for the same reason that used cat litter or cat litter with poop shouldn't be composted. As stated earlier, cat feces contain Toxoplasma gondii and other intestinal parasites that can contaminate the water supply.
Since its humble origins in 1947, cat litter has advanced significantly—from non-clumping to clumping, unscented to scented, and clay to biodegradable. But there has been no change in centuries in terms of understanding what to do with used cat litter – it should still go in the garbage.