Even if you care and are concerned, you can do very little to make cat litter environmentally friendly. In the USA cat litter represents 43% of all retail sales for domestic cat supplies. It is an annual 2 billion dollar market.
If it is clay based litter it is quarried (strip mined) from the ground, put into plastic bags and once used put back into the ground in another plastic bag. Plastic bags take about 1000 years to biodegrade. Actually, we don’t know for sure how long plastic bags take to biodegrade but it is a hell of a long time. The landscape is scared and the ground is full of plastic.. and sh*t. Oh…I forgot, clay based cat litter contains bentonite or attapulgite/montmorillonite. This stuff takes “several decades to biodegrade” apparently. Cat caretakers, me included, have a responsibility beyond caring for our cat.
As for plant based litter, well I decided, long ago, that is was a bit more environmentally friendly than clay based. There are other litter types but I would doubt that they are much better.
The trouble is that the USA cat owning public heavily favors scoopable clay litter (58%), compared with 24% for regular clay based litter and a measly 4% for crystal formulations, and with pine, wheat, corn, paper cat litter coming in at approx. 5% of sales across all types.
Am I like anyone else? I think about the impact of cat litter on the environment. I don’t agonise over it. It just concerns me. To be honest, I doubt whether many people give much thought to the environment when buying and disposing of cat litter. The environment has been left by the wayside in modern times. We are too busy just surviving.
Yes…two million tons of cat litter is chucked into holes in the ground every year in the USA. The numbers are lower in the UK but it’s still not good.
There are two elements to cat litter, the stuff itself and the bag it’s in. You can’t do much about the litter itself. You can’t chuck it down the toilet. It does not work. Some people do but there is talk of the toxoplasmosis gondi parasite in cat feces finding its way into the oceans.
You can’t use it as compost. That does not work either and in any case who’s going to do that? Some people might but not many.
So, exactly what can you do to make cat litter environmentally friendly? If you are convinced clay is best then the more environmentally friendly wood is not an option. That leaves the bags. You can use the bags that the litter in comes for the waste. That at least recycles some of the plastic.
You can even put the contents of the first bag in a receptacle with a scoop leaving the bag free for waste. The trouble is that the the contents of the used litter is greater than the unused. As I said there ain’t much you can do to make cat litter environmentally friendly.
There is one last option: your cat does not use litter. He goes outside. That is environmentally friendly except that once again this damn protozoan in, T-gondii, in cat feces becomes a worry. At least it does for some gardeners.
What do you do?
Associated: Search on PoC for “best cat litter”