Disposing of kitty litter responsibly and other litter-matters
June 17, 2005 2:58 PM   Subscribe

I have 3 cats. Have tried every kind of litter; clay, silica, wheat, etc. Don't want to use the corn products (politics of corn crops). Seems like the flushable litter just clogs and is bad for the environment. Clay is cheapest but bad for cats. Those silica beads take a lot of water to manufacture. Right now I use a 50-50 mix of Wheat litter & clay litter and scoop the litter into a paper bag and put it in the garbage. Can't recycle, compost or discard in yard waste. So, 2 questions: has anyone found a better litter or better way to discard? (it must have an enormous impact on landfills I've done a pretty extensive web search which amounted to...not much. Thanks for any advice. (PS. These are 100% indoor cats)
posted by lois1950 to Pets & Animals (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We use what the vets use - wood pellets (just like the ones for wood stoves). They are great for many reasons:
- No bad smells. In fact, they seem to actually deodorize the litter. When kitties pee, the litter 'dissolves' into sawdust. Stir it up, and it smells like pine.
- Totally safe for kitties. This stuff is just compressed sawdust.
- Cheap, cheap, cheap (about $5 for a 30 pound bag)
- After scooping the poop (which we flush), just recycle the dust into any outdoor area that needs weeds kept down. It's just sawdust, and will ultimately breakdown. (our cats are indoor only too).
posted by dbmcd at 3:24 PM on June 17, 2005

Hmm. As long as you use some kind of clumping litter, a Litter Maid works wonders and you end up using way, way, way less litter, which may partially alleviate some of your environment-related concerns. The model I have is supposed to dump used litter clumps into a one-time-use disposable plastic container, but I have been using the same one forever.

Just a thought.
posted by littlegreenlights at 3:26 PM on June 17, 2005

Seconding the wood pellets. Pretty much stink-free and very easy/enviro-okay disposal. Feline Pine is what I use, or Trader Joe's "house brand". Feline Pine will let you try a bag for free (in the form of a rebate).
posted by krix at 3:50 PM on June 17, 2005

The one caveat about the wood pellets (namely the pine variety), is that some cats are sensitive to the "pine" scent. After I got some kittens about 2 years ago, I did ask my vet about many of the alternative litters out there - if they were better from a cat health and environment perspective. According to my vet, the best bet is really just a simple, low dust, unscented clay litter. Changing litter types runs the serious risk of upsetting your cat and/or causing just about any kind of bad "elimination" behaviors.

Of course, you could always just skip the litter and try and toilet train your cat.
posted by dicaxpuella at 4:14 PM on June 17, 2005

Third the Feline Pine. We have a male (now she-male) cat that had a kazillion bladder problems. We chopped off his junk, switched to pellets, and haven't had a problem since (~5 years).

Feline Pine claims to be compostable, but I've never tried it.
posted by togdon at 4:15 PM on June 17, 2005

Fourth the pine litter. It's flushable.

I wouldn't compost anything with can urine on it.
posted by pmbuko at 4:39 PM on June 17, 2005

Swheat Scoop actually flushes just fine if you can wait for twenty minutes while it dissolves. I imagine that's a pretty big if for lots of folks though.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:04 PM on June 17, 2005

Mine love the "World's Best" brand of corn litter. Even large amounts flush easily (and that's with a toilet that sub-par...).

What this about politics of corn crops?
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:23 PM on June 17, 2005

I'm counting the days til I can pick up my new kitten, so this thread is timely for me. I'll take advantage of the free Feline Pine and see how he likes it.

What this about politics of corn crops?

I'm also curious about this...
posted by jaysus chris at 6:37 PM on June 17, 2005

Nothing to suggest, but I'm also wondering what the politics of corn crops are, apart from the obvious (it's heavily subsidized and no one wants to cut subsidies if they plan on running for national office because it means they'll lose the Iowa caucus) which is possible, but unusual for the general MeFi politics.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:56 PM on June 17, 2005

Corn: highly subsidized crop, high fructose corn syrup is used in almost all soft drinks, candy, etc. Farmers could be growing soy or flax or hemp (!) or any number of better crops. really good article: (hope the link works, if not, do a google for corn crops-michael pollan)

posted by lois1950 at 7:05 PM on June 17, 2005

I also use Feline Pine and love it (and I can say from a period of experimentation that my cat seems to be fine pooping on just about any litter I give her). Another plus is that it keeps the smell down so much that I don't have to change it out as often (I flush the poop every day, though).
posted by occhiblu at 7:15 PM on June 17, 2005

FWIW: I just remembered that the latest issue of Bust Magazine had a small article on earth-friendly litters. They end up recommending Feline Pine as well (and it says it's made from recycled lumber-mill sawdust, which I hadn't realized). They also tried Yesterday's News (made from recycled newspaper) and Swheat Scoop, but they said both of them smelled too much (when used) to recommend.
posted by occhiblu at 7:19 PM on June 17, 2005

Working link about corn. I guess there are people against subsidies on MeFi. My day is brightened.
posted by dagnyscott at 8:37 PM on June 17, 2005

I tried Feline Pine, but found that while it's great for the pee smell, it doesn't keep the poop smell down so well. However, I suppose if you clean it our ever day w/o fail, it might not cause a problem. Our neighbors use it, and when I take care of their cats when they're out of town, I can definitely smell the particular pine/poo combo that I remember from when I used it.
posted by statolith at 8:54 PM on June 17, 2005

I swear by Yesterday's News (recycled paper, as occhiblu said above). I never noticed much of a smell. Never more than a New York Times on a rainy day. And when it gets wet it expands but stays in pellet form. Another bonus is it doesn't get tracked all over the place since it's bigger pellets.

I hate the musty sawdust smell of Feline Pine, especially when wet. Plus, when it gets wet it goes all to powder and coats everything. Then it's hard to scoop and gets tracked all over the house. And lastly, it attracted all these little flies. I never had that with Yesterday's news.
posted by tinamonster at 9:13 PM on June 17, 2005

Corn: highly subsidized crop, high fructose corn syrup is used in almost all soft drinks, candy, etc. Farmers could be growing soy or flax or hemp (!) or any number of better crops.

You must have those kitty-borne brain parasites!
posted by Kwantsar at 9:43 PM on June 17, 2005

Feline Pine.
posted by ijoshua at 10:33 PM on June 17, 2005

Here's what my brother and his girlfriend have been using for the past four years:

1. Get one of those litter boxes that has 3 sections where you can pick up the first section as a grate.

2. Buy a bunch of aquarium gravel (you know, the coloured stones).

3. When kitty does his business, the urine will drip under the gravel into the try. empty this regularly. Once a week (or more) remove the kitty dung from the gravel and give it a good rinse in the bath tub.

Having had to take care of the setup while they are gone on vacation I must admit I'm not a big fan of the setup, simply because a big tray of cat urine is freakin' disgusting, but if you change it regularly it might not be so bad. The main advantage is that they only need to buy new cat litter once a year. Those wood pellets sure seem interesting though.
posted by furtive at 6:56 AM on June 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

Another vote for the feline pine. But some advice on making the switch: at first my cats wouldn't use the stuff, so I did one week of 75% old litter, 25% pine, the next week I did 50/50, and so on. By the end of the month, they used the pine stuff with no problems.
posted by lilboo at 7:05 AM on June 18, 2005

Pine, encore. I use it mixed 1:1 with compressed paper pellets (Yesterday's News) for better absorbancy.
posted by bonehead at 7:07 AM on June 18, 2005

I've had bad experiences with the Feline Pine litter-- it broke down (as it is intended to do), but then got trapped between my cat's front toes and caused a nasty little nail-bed infection. We've used regular litter and scoopable litter and have had great luck with just a daily scooping of the latter. I understand that you're looking for an eco-friendly solution, but I really think that you're going to have to resign yourself to some minimal impact from having a cat as a pet. I've never been convinced that the pine pellets are better than scoopable litter, in terms of the energy costs, since the shredding and compressing takes a good bit of effort. Good luck.
posted by yellowcandy at 2:15 PM on June 18, 2005

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