How do you make cat litter environmentally friendly?

Cat Litter Quarry

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

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”

5 thoughts on “How do you make cat litter environmentally friendly?”

  1. Our cats very rarely use cat litter as we have a patch of earth we dig over in the corner of our garden and they learned to go there as kittens.
    But when Ebony was very old we did use a lot of litter and just had to bag it up when dirty and it went away with the refuse men.
    Our ex ex neighbour used to put the solid bits from her 15 cats litter trays down the toilet and of course some litter went down too, she ended up with a blockage in her pipes lol
    But what about the waste from dogs? I’ve just walked down our back lane from town and counted 3 doggy poo bags hanging from trees, even though there are bins to put it in. Why pick it up then throw it in the trees? Most people do pick it up and put it in the bins, but I wonder where the council get rid of the contents of those bins? Also if a dog has diarrhoea, how can the owner clean it all up?
    Dogs are far more of a health hazard than cats who at least cover theirs up outside.

    • 3 doggy poo bags hanging from trees

      Disgusting and bizarre. You make a good point. Why don’t dogs use a litter tray! Just thinking aloud. I am bit of a fan of cats going to the toilet in the garden because it is more natural and the most environmentally friendly way for a cat to go to the toilet. That is my feeling.

      Do you remember the time when the idea of picking up dog poo was unheard of? It was all over parks etc.. It is only recently that people began to pick up dog poo. Shame some of them don’t know what to do with it…they put it in a tree……

      • Yes I agree it’s best for cats to have natural toilets if at all possible.
        I do remember the days when no one bothered picking up their dog poo, until it became law, horrible getting it on your shoes 🙁
        Yes it’s disgusting and bizarre to throw it in the trees, looks like a alternative Christmas decoration lol We know the culprit is one of those women everyone tries to avoid when they see her coming. I can’t stand her, she dares to say cats are ‘dirty’ and they ‘kill birds’ I used some very unladylike language the day I heard her say that lol She wears black leggings she never washes and a nose stud yuck and she’s 60 if a day! she has uncontrolled dogs, one day I hope she’ll be caught in the act and fined.

  2. This is a postscript. I have discovered that you can make your own cat litter, if there is the commitment and time. You use shredded newspaper, water and baking soda.

    I expect very few people make their own cat litter.


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