Disposing of Kitty’s Disposals, Part 2
Today we continue looking at a poopy problem: choosing litter and discarding used litter. Ann Roberts differentiates between different types of litter and how to get rid of them once kitty’s done:
Clay and Clumping Litters
The most popular choices of clumping litter are the clay and silica varieties. Clay litter is the cheaper option… Unfortunately clay will often produce a dust during litter box cleanings. Using a litter scooper is a common method of box cleaning, but scooping up clay litter will often scatter clay dust into the air. This clay dust can easily be breathed in by pet owners during cleanings. Concerns have been raised about potential health problems for both pets and owners from inhaling clay clumping litters.
Scooping litter into small baggies is the most classic form of litter disposal. This process isn’t very complicated, but it is hardly the most hygienic. To begin, the litter scoop must be kept somewhere. Unless you have purchased a costly litter cabinet that has a special place allocated for a litter scoop, the scoop must be kept somewhere in the house where it will mingle freely with the air and breed bacteria.
Secondly, the bagged excrement must be thrown out. The bag can be placed in an in-home trash receptacle or an outside receptacle. Either way, over a day’s period of time, odors will likely develop. Lastly, the accumulation of these baggies is a threat to landfills and is not the most ecologically sound choice…Using biodegradable litters and biodegradable bags will provide you with a safer and more ecologically sound method of litter disposal. Keeping your cat indoors will also lessen its exposure to pathogenic organisms that can contaminate its feces. There is no perfectly safe and hygienic method of handling cat waste, but using products that will not harm the environment combined with careful disposal methods will lessen both your cat’s carbon footprint and your own potential for disease.
I deposit the used litter into an old litter container that I spray-painted to go with my decor. I line it with a larger plastic bag, then scoop into smaller bags that I then tie up to prevent releasing odors. I then place these smaller bags, along with the scooper, into the container and put the lid on. Every couple days, I take the larger bag out to the trash can and start over with a fresh liner. I also run the scooper through the dishwasher every time I run a load. Back to you, Ann:
Silica litter doesn’t produce the same amount of dust during cleanings, but these products have also been linked to health problems upon inhalation or ingestion. Silica litter has also been classified as a carcinogen.
You should not flush silica or clay clumping litters down your toilet since both have high absorption properties. This may be handy for masking odors and clumping cat waste, but when exposed to the water in your toilet plumbing, these products can swell and create pesky blockages. For users of silica and clay litters, the trash can is the better mode of disposal.
Recycled Newspaper Litter
Cat litter made from recycled newspaper bits presents a more environmentally conscious decision, at least where processing is concerned. However, the methods of disposal regarding this product produce similar concerns as clay and silica litter. There is no dust produced during the scooping process, but recycled newspaper is highly absorbent. It may not break apart as easily as toilet paper, so it’s best not to flush it down the toilet. Although some newspaper litter manufacturers claim that such products can be flushed, the scoop and the baggie is, again, the safer method.
Wheat and Corn Litters
Wheat and Corn litters do not clump as effectively as clay, silica or newspaper. For this reason, pet owners find them less risky when flushed. However, since these litters fail to clump as well as other products, watch carefully for scattered particles as you clean.
I vote for corn-cob litters with no added scent: World’s Greatest Cat Litter, in the green bag. Yes, it scatters, but so do other kinds, and it sweeps up very nicely with no gritty residue.
Pine litters, like corn and wheat, are biodegradable. While its strong pine scent may require an adjustment period for cats, pine litter is amongst the safest and easiest cat litters to deal with.
On the contrary, I have found through my experience and that of others close to me that pine-scented litters are disastrous. The fact that they are strongly scented is reason enough not to use them. Cats’ noses are very sensitive and said scents may keep them from using the litter box or could irritate their sinuses. Nature’s Miracle uses corn cob litter but adds pine oil to it, which is toxic to cats, because humans associate pine smell with cleanliness and humans are the buyers. (They say it’s in a low enough concentration to not pose a problem, but I’ve seen firsthand the effect it has on my cats, so their explanations don’t matter.) Scented litters also may delay scooping of the box because the human doesn’t realize how much it needs scooping, since their home always smells like a pine forest.
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