It’s the bane of my sustainable existence. I’ve written about this before and the problem hasn’t gone away! Back when we lived in the country, the most environmentally sound way to deal with cat waste is to let our cat go outside to do her duty. But that proved unsafe for her, so we kept her inside.
My next solution was to bring the outside in – I collected a large container of dirt from our yard, and Raisin used that as a litter box. But it was impossible to clean between changings (so I had to change it every couple of days), it smelled strongly of dirt in the bathroom, and she kicked it all over the place because she didn’t like it.
Then we tried Yesterday’s News, which is made from recycled newsprint. We hated it and our cat hated it. They’re huge pellets that are ok for pee because they sort of absorb it, but the poop just sorta sticks to the pellets and – well, it was icky for cat and human. She kicked it around everywhere, and it had to be changed every couple of days because it had zero deodorizing qualities and boy it stunk quickly. Not only bad for humans, but cats hate that. Changing the litter so frequently was costly and wasteful, but the worst part was: that’s when she started using our house plants as an alternative.
Out of desperation at that point, I went to the internet and read everything there was to read (which is very, very little by the way – few people seem to talk about sustainability and cats – it’s sort of a hidden problem). Then Matt and I went to the pet store and stared at all the packages. There are wheat and corn products. Matt felt that there was something unethical about growing food for cats to pee in while people starve. And I had a problem with it because industrial farming has many prices – GMOs, pesticides, replacing ecosystems with monocultures, to name a few – so it felt like everything that was wrong with our food system was encapsulated in that one bag of cat litter.
So on that day, we decided to go with what seemed like the lesser of evils: natural clay, without any of the fragrances, crystals, and whatever else they put in almost all cat litter. And we really had to search for one that had nothing in it! After we bought it, I came home and read about clay mining. It’s not good at all. But all that research did for me was to make me feel more guilty every time I buy it, and to make us more determined to stretch it out as long as possible. We had looked at all the alternatives, and none of them was good. This one still seemed to be the least harmful in our minds.
And then a few months ago, I found a partial answer. One Earth Cat Litter is made from corn husks and pine shavings, the by-products of the agriculture and forestry industries. Here’s what the company says:
“One Earth products are created with a commitment to preserving nature’s delicate balance. Only premium natural ingredients are used in order to ensure the optimum wellness of your pet. Absolutely no toxins, post-use pollutants or artificial flavors are used. Up to 3% of the retail sales of One Earth pet products goes towards World Wildlife Fund to help support conservation work throughout the world protecting wildlife and their habitats – including fisheries, forests, wetlands, and open lands. “ It’s made by 8-in-1, the makers of Nature’s Miracle, if any of you have used that.
So, it’s from a good company, using industrial byproducts. Our cat really likes it, we like the smell (fresh pine smell from the shavings). What’s wrong with it? It’s not easy to find, and it’s expensive. Our solution to that is to order it online (which has it’s own problems, I know), order several packages at a time, and then mix it half and half with the clay.
That’s it, unfortunately. There is no perfect solution that I have found. This is as close as I can get. I just encountered a great article here that came to the same conclusion.
Ways To Stretch Your Cat Litter
There are three ways I know about to stretch your cat litter so that it lasts as long as possible:
- Use the least amount of litter that your cat will allow (no need to fill it to the top of the box – experiment to see how little you can get away with before your cat gets mad, while still making sure you have enough that if you scoop out the clumps for two weeks, you won’t end up with zero cat litter in the box)
- Make sure you scoop the litter carefully every day (get every one of those little clumps out, and be careful not to break them up)
- When the litter starts to get smelly, sprinkle baking soda over it and mix it in
Will you please share your experiences? Has anyone found better alternatives? Or good tricks? I’m sure all the cat owners here would love to know!
Last week I received an email from Theresa, asking what solution we’ve found to kitty waste. Thanks, Theresa, for asking the question!