Let’s face it – no one likes cleaning out a used cat litter box. It’s not a pleasant job, and cat poop can smell pretty bad, even at the best of times. But we don’t do it because we like it – we do it because we love our adorable cats.
And that’s what makes cat owners so amazing. They don’t just care for themselves, but care for animals just as much… But if you really care about animals, don’t you want to be environmentally friendly too?
Sadly, cat litter is often not eco-friendly at all. We all want to find the easiest way of cleaning a cat’s litter boxes and disposing of pet waste, but we also want to properly dispose of cat litter in the best way we can for the environment and other animals.
So, how should we really dispose of cat litter, and are you actually going about it all wrong?
Ways to Dispose of Cat Litter
There are two primary ways of disposing of used cat litter, and it’s important to do each option correctly so as not to harm the environment.
Compost Biodegradable Cat Litter Safely
Bad news: clumping clay (the most common kind of litter) can’t be composted.
Good news: if you use any other kind of cat litter, chances are you can compost it.
It’s only in recent years that compostable litter has become more widely available, but if you look around, you can certainly find some if you’re interested. This type of litter could be made from materials like paper, wood shavings, corn, wheat, and even coconut shells!
Crucially, this litter is biodegradable and so can be composted for easy litter disposal. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that various pathogens and toxins can linger in the waste, so it might not be wise to use this compost on a crop that you or other animals might eat.
Put It in the Trash
Chances are that if you have fairly ordinary cat litter, then it’s regular clumping clay in your litter box. If so, make sure you don’t flush it in the toilet or put it in the compost. Instead, it needs to be properly disposed of in the trash.
In fact, putting used cat litter in the trash is actually the simplest and often best method of getting rid of it – even though it just results in plastic bags ending up in a landfill. That’s because it ensures no dangerous toxins end up elsewhere in the natural environment.
To get rid of the clumping litter in your litter box, you just collect the clumps and cat poop each day with a plastic or metal scoop and pop it in a plastic bag, making sure to tie it up to avoid any lingering smells.
You might even want to double-bag it before placing it in a trash can outside. Try not to leave it indoors since it can start to smell and leave cat litter dust and fecal matter in the air.
Remember also that clay litter can get very heavy very quickly. So, when disposing of it, either use heavy-duty plastic trash bags or regularly dispose of it in a small trash bag. And you can still reduce your impact on the environment by using biodegradable bags.
What About Flushing?
Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just scoop up whatever pet waste our cats leave behind and flush it down the toilet? Good news – you can… but it’s not always that simple.
While it may be tempting to flush any used litter you have, you don’t know the damage it might cause when flushed out of sight. Not only might it seriously damage the plumbing, but it might end up having a detrimental effect on the environment when it comes out the other end.
Remember: clay litter is never flushable, no matter whether it’s clumping or non-clumping cat litter.
If you’re interested in using the toilet for litter disposal, make sure you have a green and flushable type of biodegradable litter.
If you do, it’s fine to flush away any clumps caused by urine but check the litter doesn’t contain any toxins first; some litter claims to be flushable but really isn’t safe to do so. And go careful at first to make sure it won’t clog the septic tank.
Avoid flushing away any poop though. Cat feces often have parasites like cryptosporidium or Toxoplasma gondii. If this gets into the water supply via the sewer system, it can be dangerous for both humans and aquatic life.
Aren’t Some Litters Fine for Composting?
The most common type of litter around is clay-based options. This isn’t compostable, so don’t even try.
Instead, it should only ever go in a trash can. However, eco-friendly options and biodegradable cat litter are compostable.
A small word of warning though: some waste will still survive in your compost pile, so you might not want to use it to grow fruits or vegetables; instead, just use it in flower gardens instead.
And that’s not just because it’s a bit of a gross thought. Cat poop can have parasites that the compost bin won’t be able to kill unless it reaches high temperatures of over 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Presumably, you don’t want any of those toxins or other intestinal parasites to spread into the environment and foods eaten by you or animals. Ingesting these can cause toxoplasmosis. Although it’s not the most dangerous thing in the world, it can be devastating for a pregnant woman and her baby.
How Used Cat Litter Causes Damage to the Environment
Have a quick glance at the cat litter for sale at any pet store or supermarket… It’s easy to see that clumping clay litter is by far the most popular type available. Sadly, although it’s the most popular, it’s the least friendly environmentally.
Clumping clay cat litters are made from bentonite clay, a material sourced through strip mining. Strip mining involves destroying soil and vegetation before blasting through rock and digging the clay up from beneath the ground.
Tragically, this process both destroys animal habitats and pollutes water sources. And all of this environmental damage just to soak up cat pee… is it really worth it?
If you have any worries about your footprint and its effect on the natural world, it might be worth choosing an eco-friendly option that doesn’t use clay. Although they might be more expensive options, the earth won’t pay a hefty price.
What About Toilet Training a Cat?
It might be tempting to follow the example of jokes we see on TV and in movies, but it’s neither practical nor safe to teach your cat to use a toilet. Not only is it very difficult, but there’s a risk they’ll fall in and hurt themselves.
However, the closest you can get to doing this safely and practically is with an automatic litter box – specifically, the CatGenie. This appliance connects straight to the plumbing and flushes your cat’s waste away automatically.
We hope this article helped to answer how to dispose cat litter in an eco-friendly way. However, if you want to dispose of your cat’s waste, make sure your litter is made for it; there ought to be suggestions and directions on the bag or box of litter you buy.
While many green and biodegradable litters might be compostable, we’d recommend pet owners not use them to grow any edible plants due to the toxins found in cat waste. Similarly, it’s fine to flush away some litter, but check this is allowed and do so cautiously to make sure not to cause any damage to the septic tank.
Still, although it’s not the most environmentally friendly option, often the easiest method is to dispose of waste in the trash and bin it outside, trying to use a biodegradable bag wherever possible.