1000 Flowers for the Planet - #242 Choose Biodegradable Cat Litter
This Flower was not as easy as expected. The issue of cat litter is actually a mine field without any completely satisfying solution. There are many different types of cat litter on the market, some of them bad for the planet, bad for kitty and not good for human health either. Generally these are the silica or clay type litters – a story in themselves. But let’s concentrate on good rather than evil. For the environment the best litter choice will be a litter that is made of natural materials from either recycled or renewable resources. This would include recycled newspaper, pine chips, sawdust, corn and wheat varieties, so I recommend you spend one good session at the supermarket reading the labels and deciding which one is best for you and your kitty.
Using a biodegradable cat litter is only part of the equation though, because there is still the issue of disposal. Due to toxoplasma gondii parasites which may be present in your cat’s faeces, flushing waste down your toilet is not the way to go. The systems used for cleansing sewage waste are not able to eliminate the parasite, which then goes into water systems to infect other animals. Another option for getting rid of kitty waste is to put it in a plastic bag that goes in the bin and off to landfill, where it will sit forever, petrified in its present state (see Flower #7). Things don’t actually biodegrade in landfill. So what to do with it? If you have a back yard, bury the cat’s waste – it’s what the cat would have done naturally if it had gone outside anyway. You could also compost it, although this is not permitted in some states/countries/areas – check your local regulations.
It’s always hard to find reliable and up-to-date statistics, but a few years ago there was 1.3 million metric tons of clay mined in the United States of America, most of it to produce cat litter which would go straight to landfill. That’s just one country – add a few more countries doing the same thing and you have a massive impact. There’s no simple solution. But! if we start with biodegradable materials, maybe one day someone will come up with the answer to this problem.