Funny cat litter ad on a magazine - photo by Txspiked
There are two major types of cat litter (a) clay based, (b) plant based. Which one is the environmentally friendly cat litter? Both are to different degrees but the plant based is better, in my opinion. And it is better to use as well. Although clay based litter is probably more commonly used.
There are probably two ways to assess how environmentally friendly a cat litter is:
- Look at the environmental damage at the source of the litter
- Look at the environmental damage at the area where litter is thrown away
In other words, the two ends of the process of manufacture and usage.
Clay based- the source
Clay is naturally dug up out of the ground. As Americans (the biggest cat litter market by far) use almost 4 million tons of litter each year there is great scope for environmental damage. The clay is extracted from just below the surface. It is called surface mining and you see the potential for creating ugly scars on the landscape, which happened in the past and which is now better controlled. The area is sometimes even improved after mining has been completed.
Plant based - the source
These are wood, corn cobs, wheat based, for example, and are renewable as the source is waste food or, as an example, saw dust from a manufacturing process. Wood pellets come from sawmills. The shavings are dried and compressed to form a very effective absorbent. So the plant based just wins out in respect of source assessment.
Clay based- the waste
This is put into land fill. Clay based litter is already fully degraded. But it will swell in the landfill. This is a negative to putting it in landfill.
Plant based - the waste
As plant based litter is 100% biodegradable it is like mulch. This creates, on the face of it a nice compete cycle as trees are felled, sawed, shavings converted to litter, litter used, litter returns to the earth. Once the fecal matter is removed plant based litter can be used as mulch in the garden (for plants not affected by the ammonia levels that remain in the used litter). If it is simply put into land fill the plant based litter does not biodegrade as it needs air and water. Some authorities provide composting services but some of these will not take cat litter.
However, on balance it could be argued that plant based litter impacts the environment less than clay based litter at the waste end of the cycle of manufacture, use, throw away. It is therefore, arguably the most environmentally friendly cat litter
- Some clay based litter manufacturers make a point of being environmentally friendly. One is Wyo-Ben Inc. (USA located company). These manufactures should be chosen first.
- Packaging for the cat litter should be minimised and recyled
- We should minimise litter waste by careful litter usage (removing fecal matter carefully and daily!)
Environmentally Friendly Cat Litter -- Source for this article:
- Cat Fancy Magazine
Photo - photo by Txspiked published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License -- this site is for charitable purposes in funding cat rescue.