destroying documents that my cat peed on
May 29, 2011 9:06 AM   Subscribe

I need to shred a bunch of papers with sensitive information on them--credit card statements etc. Problem: my cat peed on a bunch of them a while ago. (They're dry now.)

I don't own a shredder and I would just take these somewhere that has shredding service, but the horrible smell seems like an awful thing to inflict on anyone, and that's not even considering whether they'd take them. What other safe/secure way is there to dispose of them--one that's relatively uncomplicated for a city-dweller with access to a car?
posted by liketitanic to Grab Bag (17 answers total)
Submerge in water until they disintegrate.
posted by orthogonality at 9:11 AM on May 29, 2011

Burn them in a trash can outside.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:14 AM on May 29, 2011

My brother tears up sensitive documents that he wants to discard and throws them in the bag of used kitty litter/poop when he cleans up the litterbox, then chucks the whole thing in the garbage. I think your cat was just trying to assist you in this endeavor.
posted by HopperFan at 9:17 AM on May 29, 2011 [12 favorites]

The shredding service I go to (Berkeley, CA) just dumps everything on a conveyor belt in a garage with an open roll-up door, and I would assume that the smell wouldn't bother them for long if at all. Call up a service and ask if it's okay to bring them over.
posted by migurski at 10:19 AM on May 29, 2011

Burn them in a trash can outside.

I know from firsthand experience that partially-burned pages will often get lofted up in the plume and end up scattered all over the place. I would vote for just getting the cheapest shredder at an office supply store or a used one off Craigslist, and it will be available for any future shredding you do. Another idea is if you have access to any woodland, go to as remote a spot as you can, preferably in a flat area where rains won't erode the soil, and simply bury them as deep as you can. Yeah, an animal might decide to dig there, but covering with rocks and a few logs will put an end to that if the cat pee scent doesn't.
posted by crapmatic at 10:21 AM on May 29, 2011

I would just take these somewhere that has shredding service, but the horrible smell seems like an awful thing to inflict on anyone

Shredding services will dump stuff in a large container and it will be bulk processed.....nobody in particular will be bothered by the smell. Having said that just tear the stuff up roughly and mix in with the cat litter as suggested above.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:27 AM on May 29, 2011

Put them in a black garbage bag, add water, and put them in the trash.
posted by LarryC at 10:30 AM on May 29, 2011

Shredders are available for <$100. I'd just buy one.
posted by musofire at 10:33 AM on May 29, 2011

Next time you go into your local bank, just bring the papers with you and ask the teller to shred them. All banks have paper shredders and will be more than happy to assist you, free of charge.
posted by lobbyist at 10:34 AM on May 29, 2011

If this is just for identity-theft protection, I'd say the cat pee smell is a great deterrent already. Double-bag, add some normal household trash on top, and throw out.

If you think someone's actively looking for this info and if the credit card statements list highly questionable purchases, then sure, use a shredder.
posted by sninctown at 10:41 AM on May 29, 2011

I do what HopperFan's bro does sometimes. I almost feel like if someone wants to scrape off pointycat poop (from a garbage can that has been sitting out in an Atlanta summer) to use my Visa, then more power to them.
posted by pointystick at 11:17 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you're concerned about the smell try spraying it with a mix of hydrogen peroxide and some type of soap/detergent, then leaving it to dry.
posted by acidic at 11:38 AM on May 29, 2011

If I need to get rid of something, and for some reason I can't get to a shredder, a fire or something to submerge them in ... I tear them up, separate the pieces into multiple groups, and then throw the groups out in several different locations (e.g. in the trash at work, in the trash at home, in the trash at 7-11, etc, etc.)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:38 PM on May 29, 2011

Paper shredding companies won't mind about the smell. The operators are probably wearing masks to avoid the paper dust anyway.
posted by lilac girl at 1:06 PM on May 29, 2011

You may be under the impression that after you give your sensitive documents to the shredding company, they will carefully feed them, one sheet at a time, into a document shredder. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your papers will instead be dumped by the boxful into the gaping maw of a massive, unstoppable all-devouring machine. In many cases, they won't even be removed from the box first.

Put the cat-pee papers in the box with the rest of them and hand them over. Nobody will ever notice.

Cute cat.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:52 PM on May 29, 2011

You could buy a bottle of enzymatic cat pee cleaner (this kind works well; I'm sure there are many other great brands at a yuppie petstore near you) and soak the papers in that. Then let them dry. If they're still legible after that, take them to the shredder place.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:20 PM on May 29, 2011

Add me as another person who sometimes uses the "tear it up and stick it in the bag with the used kitty litter" method. Great minds think alike, I guess.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:46 PM on May 29, 2011

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