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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Kitty Litter Alternatives

So the two cats that I brought home, one from the pound and one from freecycle, whose purposes were to stay outside and catch the huge field mice in my pastures have convinced me that they are house kitties. The pound kitten just watches mice, so she was hopeless, but the other one is a great mouser, but has decided she belongs inside if my other one does too and will go outside to catch a mouse, but then returns shortly afterwards.

So, now I deal with kitty litter, eck!

In my desire to cut down on trash and spending I started looking for kitty litter alternatives, I hope my story will help you if you want to journey down that road.

First, I was using the clumping clay litter. I would throw the "lumps" into a walmart sack and into the trash, but even before I cut down on trash I couldn't bring myself to throw away the whole contents when it came time to change the box. So, I would go outside and find some hidden area under trees where no one goes to dump it. Clay litter mud clumps are still there in areas.

So first, in an effort more for just cheapskate sake, I went to normal cheapo non-clumping kitty litter. Worse, for you have to change it more often since you can't sift out clumps therefore more wet clay clumps under trees. So then, I started looking for biodegradable alternatives online. If I am going to be dumping outside, I want it to decompose.

I found a site where some lady made her own by shredding paper and wetting it and forming it into little balls. Junk mail=free litter, I was all for it. Then I made some and two days later they were still damp little balls. I was not going to waste electricity by dehydrating them! And I could just imagine people's faces if I made a rack for drying kitty litter on in my house. So, that didn't even make it in the litter box.

So then, I read some just use shredded paper. My shredder makes long strips which the kitty that is fascinated with the potty, just found it too much fun to play with. Strips of newspaper were batted around all over the house. Neither cat used the litter box for two days. They did follow me outside and must have went there, but I wasn't going to chance any longer of finding piles behind some piece of furniture. That was abandoned.

Then I decided to get a different shredder. A micro shredder that cuts paper in tiny pieces (I have other projects I wanted to use this for, so if it didn't work as kitty litter I wouldn't be too put out.) Worse! They used it, but now they tracked it all over the house. Mom was visiting and was feeling sorry for my frugal ways and insisted she should buy me kitty litter if this is what I felt good about living with. I had to assure her that she just happened to come on test day and no, her grandchild was not walking around in tracked kitty litter all day. That experiment lasted half a day.

So then I went to the feed store and decided to buy the cheapest feed. I bought cracked corn. Too big of pieces to sift and the poops just floated around in there and the urine went straight to the bottom. I had put newspaper in to soak it up, but it wasn't working too well when those poops didn't get covered and the cats would get previous poops stuck on themselves and it come out of the box with them.

So then, I went for poultry crumbles. Not the medicated chick feed, didn't know what that medication would do to the cat, but hen crumbles. This I liked fairly well. Cheaper than clump litter and it did naturally clump. However, it does have a grain smell. If you have either passed a grain elevator or smelled animal feed grain you know it isn't exactly pleasant, but in the box in the corner, I couldn't smell it. But one of my cats either out of protest for the smell or she had had it with my experimenting refused to use it. She would poop right outside of the litter box. I tried for a month, but had had enough.

I only had one more option that I had read about that I was going to try. Potting Soil. But it's seasonal unless you have a nursery open year round and I had a feeling I would be changing it too often and I was tired of the experiments myself, so I didn't try it.

I happened to be in the farm and feed store and exasperated about cleaning up more poop, so I went to pick up regular kitty litter, when I saw that they carried some alternative litters. There were three litters made of pine shavings that said they were compostable. I bought the cheapest bag; it was still cheaper than the clay litter which made me happy. One more try!

I replaced the litter with this and now both cats use the litter box. It doesn't clump as well as the fancy clay litters but it does clump surprisingly well. It's called Feline Fresh and if you try it there is a mail in rebate for the purchase price on this page!! So it wasn't any cool creative thing on my part, but it is cheaper and I have a spot outside for the kitty stuff to decompose but not in my garden compost. I also have quit bagging up the clumps in the walmart sacks. The litter says it is flushable, but my one cat who loves the potty makes so many clumps that it takes less time to toss it out in the bad compost spot then to put a little bit at a time in the toilet and waste water flushing. I took a plastic coffee container with "aroma seal" and wrote on the lid that it is for "cat poo" and scoop it into there to carry out.


5 comments:

Toni4Roses said...

There are indeed useful things to do with the paper shredder shards, but I would also caution you to not leave the shredder on and unplug it, especially since you have pets. I have read too many stories online about pets and children getting injured. And I also recommend for people to get shredders with safety features like SafetySense. It will automatically turn off when a finger or hand gets near the shredder opening. For more information, check out Shredder Safety

Lilorfnannie said...

Posts like that is why I'd have a cat in my house only over my dead body. Ewwwwww. No way on God's green earth would I be doing any of that. I wouldn't even have a kitty litter box in my home- period. Besides, did you know that cats are covered in cat spit, 100% of the time? It is the proteins in the saliva that are what people are allergic to, when they are allergic to cats.

BTW you are contaminating your soil with those "clumps." Cats carry toxoplasmosis and other nasty things- you don't want a pregnant woman to walk on your soil now, it could be contaminated- you'd feel terrible if she got toxoplasmosis from it.

Sorry to be a downer, I love your blog, but these things are safety concerns I think, just trying to help some :-)

MJ said...

Lilorfannie,

Goodness, The only way to I can see to remedy this would be to wipe out the entire cat species. :)

Thankfully that is not necessary. According to The American Family Physician Peer Reviewed Journal,

http://www.aafp.org/afp/20030515/2145ph.html

you cannot get toxoplasmosis by walking on the ground with cat feces contained in or on it, unless you plan on putting your shoes in your mouth. Now, if my pregnant visitor decided to place her hands in the spot I have designated for the cat disposal and then lick her fingers, then she would have a chance at getting it, but then I think she would have brought it upon herself!

You can also get it by eating undercooked meat or touching things that have been in contact with raw meat and then transferring your contaminated fingers to the mouth or eating unwashed fruits and veggies or drinking contaminated water. But we aren't suggesting we no longer eat meat, fruits, veggies or drink water. Just that proper cautions are taken.

In fact, according to this OBGYN

http://www.wdxcyber.com/npreg11.htm

Rarely do people contract it through the ingestion of cat feces, it is more likely to happen from eating undercooked meats.

And both sites are all for indoor cats as a way to prevent this. The first site tells you to keep your cat inside if pregnant, don't feed your cat raw meats either and that a cat only leaves this parasite in their dropping for a few weeks after they themselves have been infected for the first time - about 2 weeks in a cat's whole life cycle will they be able to pass it off in their poo. The second site says that inside cats have very little chance of even having this parasite, this parasite that lives outside in the ground regardless of whether there is cat feces there or not, often carried in the field mice. Yes, cats are a well-known carriers of this disease, but when I asked my doctor about cleaning my cat litter when I was pregnant, he was not overly concerned, just told me to get someone else to do it or wash my hands thoroughly afterward, and I don't know about other people, but I don't actually touch my cat litter. I use a scoop. More of a concern should have been over my gardening hobby; who knows how many feral cats pooed in my yard?

And as for their saliva, yes, some people are allergic to it, but the actual fear of touching saliva would make intimate kissing a no-no with the spouse and I have always shuddered at those that let dogs lick their faces.

I hope this calms your fear of getting toxoplasmosis by walking around the yard of a cat owner (although approximately 1/3 of us have gotten this infection and most just didn't realize it) and just be careful about what you put in your mouth.

andrea said...

Feline Pine cat litter is great. I tried that on my cats first, and they didn't mind it.

The urine makes the pellets degrade into sawdust (which is compostable), and we scoop the poops out and toss in the trash (not good to flush the poop because the bacteria can damage animals living in the watershed).

A cheaper option is using stove pellets. It's about $6 for 40lbs in my area, which lasts us several months (4 cats). The pellets aren't as fine as the Feline Pine, but our cats don't seem to mind them.

Another benefit to this is that the pine bits don't scratch up our hardwood floors. Very seldom do the pellets get tracked more than 4 feet from the litterbox, which didn't happen with the clay brands.

KC said...

I use
Cedar-ific...Sawdust... Yep and the cedar shavings cut the smell down. Don't have to run in after the cat finishes to scoop.

The bag is light weight ( a plus for me I have a back injury) and cost wise cheaper then clay letters ( IMO).
As for that nonsense about cedar being poisonous to animals? I have been using it for 8 yrs and still have my cats.