Yes. These are the things that keep me up at night. Haha.
On the hunt to find a truly eco-friendly cat litter option. Please know the following words are things I have discovered in having an open conversation with people on Instagram. These are just my thoughts and opinions. I am not a cat litter connoisseur, though I sound crazy enough to fake that I could be one.
Finding cat litter you like is a personal experience and varies based upon your cat and where you are in the country. And how willing you are to deal with the upkeep. It also depends on your sewer system. For example, it is never recommended to flush litter if you have a septic tank.
Not even going to lie, I enjoyed the no fuss silica litters before realizing it was time for us to switch over to something a little more earth friendly.
But what is truly eco-friendly? The most eco-friendly would be having an outdoor cat, I’d fathom. My spouse would say no cat at all. 🙂 But having an outdoor cat comes the higher risk of toxoplasmosis– the reason I have not had to deal much with litter since declaring I was pregnant almost six years ago. How long can we continue to avoid it?
I do take care of the cat litter when Mr. MDH is on work travels, but litter is one of my least favorite tasks. In taking this new errand on, I have been delving into ways of making it more earth friendly.
But note: most of these “better alternatives” come in some form of plastic that cannot be recycled.
There is no right or wrong answer with trying to be a little more sustainable. So if you purchase clay litter in plastic and you love it, keep doing what fits your lifestyle. I am not here to call anyone out.
My personal ultimate goal for cat waste is keeping it ALL out of a landfill. But, again, depending on your situation, this might not be an option for you.
Type of cat
Before we dive in, it is worth noting if you have an outdoor cat versus a completely indoor cat. An indoor cat means if you have city sewer (and you are not in a sea state [see more below]) you can flush away without issue.
Certain litters bother cats. Our long-haired tuxedo seems bothered by any and all fine particles that can nest at the top of her tail. Trust me– we’ve been to the vet thinking it was mites, fleas, and her food. We even changed the type of litter thinking the perfumes were harsh. We opted this time to go with a longer pellet formula designed to help longer haired cats keep these particles away from her skin as much as possible. We also make sure to brush her almost daily. Long-haired cats are a lot of work.
As in you shred it yourself. Requires daily upkeep, but if you have a shredder and loads of paper around your house (kids school work, mailers, etc.) this may be a viable option.
Few brands do sell this in cardboard boxes. But none that I have seen in big box stores local to my area. If you have one in plastic and can use as a means to dispose waste (i.e., a trash bag), that seems ideal to cut down on plastic going into the landfill. Longer pellets are deemed better for cats with longer hair. Feline Pine comes in a recyclable plastic bag. However Oko Cat litter, which comes in a box, also comes in a plastic liner.
Comes in plastic. Can be a very cheap option depending. Some bags are recyclable. Doesn’t seem to last very long and needs constant upkeep.
Comes in plastic. Very economical. Lasts quite awhile based on reviews. Many don’t have the ability to use any bag as a trash bag. Their trash has to be in a special bag. I’d love to give this a try as so many swear how good it is.
Some say there is no issue to their cats when using this method. Our long haired cat has dermatitis. We thought it was from food. Then we thought it was from litter. And it may be any kind of small particle making her skin itch. Still figuring this out. If your cat doesn’t mind, this is a way to use up all the stuff collected this winter.
Hemp/Hay/Pine shavings bedding
Animal bedding. If we’re already buying shavings for our ducks, can we theoretically use the same stuff for cats? Yes. But are we still throwing it away? See the septic tank section below for another option.
Future me would love to find hemp bedding in bales to avoid plastic bags all together, but then we have to deal with what we are going to do with the waste. ((eye roll)) Why does my brain think this way at all?
Teach cat to use toilet
Not that our cat cannot be trained, we are just not going to try (we know our limits). She is a stubborn, older, adopted cat. In reading about toxoplasmosis– indoor cats pose a very low risk. It has a lot to do with eating raw meat. There is also a threat if a cat did have toxoplasmosis that it can affect the seal population. Overall, if you are in a land locked state, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Mini-animal septic tank
Someone suggested making a mini septic tank on your property. They dug a three foot hole and it has a 12 inch pipe to prevent collapse. They feed it enzymes similar to composting and septic tanks to break down the waste. Once it is full, they move it to another part of their yard. While I think this is a fantastic idea, it wouldn’t work for us with having most of our yard dedicated to our private water well. And everyone in the household has to be on board with the idea. 🙂 It may be different if we had a dog. Again, great idea to dispose of waste, in my opinion.
California– flushing cat waste poses a threat to seals.
Again, let’s just say this method is not an option if you are near the sea, just to be safe.
If you have an indoor cat, you technically could compost the litter. I read so many conflicting things about it that I have no desire to do so.
They even make fancy litter boxes that apparently flush it all for you, now. Very Jetsons. Also very out of our price range.
So what did we decide? Well, we are in a land locked state with a long haired cat. We chose Oko Cat litter this go around as it is flushable (we have city sewer) and it comes in a cardboard box. This option currently works for us. I live somewhere where trash bags do not have to be a certain color, so I can utilize the bag for that purpose.
Next time? I’ll continue with the flushable route but seek out a plastic bag that can be recycled though I’d love someone to make flushable litter that just came in cardboard.
But if I lived in California? I’d see if I could get away with the animal septic option. Though is it similar to making a tiny landfill on your own property? Perhaps. But they’re definitely not throwing enzymes into landfills to eat waste… or are they and I have an entirely new thing to obsess over?
Ultimately it is almost impossible to avoid throwing away plastic these days. And I’m not sure how much of it gets recycled.
And if it doesn’t come in a bag and can’t be flushed, what should someone do with it? Ideally?
Shadow Cat thanks you for your time. She already made an impact when we switched her food to canned. Why? Aluminum is infinitely recyclable. And she has way less hairballs. #longhairedcatprobs