When it comes to owning a cat, easily the most unpleasant part of it is cat litter. It can smell, it needs regularly changing and it wastes a lot of material. For those of us who like to consider the environment in what we do, the idea of dumping bags full of cat litter into landfill seems shameful but what are the options? Can cat litter really be eco-friendly?
Cat litter comes in neat packets of environmental and health issues before the cat has even touched the stuff. Firstly, many use a lot of silica dust, which has been shown to be connected with upper respiratory issues in cats and even in humans. Similarly, some of the chemical fragrances used in litter products to reduce the smell for the humans can make the cats ill and potentially even be toxic.
Clumping cat litters are great for ease of cleaning but some of them use a clay called sodium bentonite. This swells to 15 times it original volume when hit with cat urine so it works well in the litter tray and is easy to clean. The main worry is that if the cat eats any of the stuff, it can cause gastrointestinal problems and even death in very occasional cases because of this water absorption. It is also commonly mined using strip mining, a very environmentally destructive method.
The good news is that there are other options to consider. One such idea is Yesterday’s News recycled newspaper litter. This is reported to be around three times as absorbent as clay, is non-toxic and has no fragrances added to it. It still works to get rid of odours, is 99.7% dust free and even comes in packaging that is recycled.
Two natural substances that make good cat litter are wood shavings and sawdust. NEPCO’s Cedarific Natural Cat Litter is one idea of a brand that makes use of hardwood and cedar chips but no clay or silica dust. The price is sensible, it is easy to use in the litter tray according to reports and has a pleasant odour without fragrances being added. However, the most important part is it is completely biodegradable and can also be put into a composter.
Similarly is the Feline Pine, which makes use of dust-free pine chips, and Better Way, which uses clay with cedar chips to use the cedar for natural odour control. Finally, Eco-Shell’s Purr & Simple litter is made from a special product of theirs that is created from fibrous material from renewable tree-nut crops that regrow every year.
When you use a cat litter that is made from natural materials it is possible to then put it into a compost system and have it become useful for your garden. There are various articles available on the web that explain how composting cat litter works but if your litter is biodegradable then it should be a simple enough process. This means no more bags of litter heading to the landfill site and plenty of useful, free compost for your garden.