Cat Litter Disposal is not as straightforward as you might think.
As much as you love your cat, everybody shies away from doing the dastardly deed of cleaning the litter box. It’s a familiar story, and I’ve been there myself. If it’s not cleaned out, within a couple of days, the result will be quite painful on the nostrils. Cat litter disposal, and how to properly do this is crucial, otherwise, this can easily pose a health hazard in more ways than one.
Read on to find out how…
The variety of cat litter available on the market all mainly do the same job, but slightly differently. Whatever the type of litter you use, it has got to be disposed of, one way or another.
Some types of litter are environmentally friendly, while others are not.
Many cat owners fully appreciate and realize the negative impact dumping clay-based litter has on the environment. Most times, what owners use normally boils down to what the cat actually prefers. Humble owners have to abide by what the cat desires, which type of litter the cat likes best.
In a typical household, cats are known to rule. It has been like this for thousands of years and will go on being like this for thousands of years to come.
Cats, however, don’t know the gravity of the situation when it comes to the disposal of their pee and poo.
And there’s more!
Sadly enough, environmentalists have our cats in their sights. Our kitties are being blamed for various catastrophes. They are ‘destroying’ the world with their used litter. Other catastrophes cats are blamed for include the decline of wild birds, and various creatures.
And just to make matters worse…
It also seems like they are partly responsible for the killing of seals and otters.
How weird is that you might ask!
According to a University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) study, cats, and pet dogs have a great deal to answer for. (http://dailycaller.com/2017/08/03/environmentalists-now-against-dogs-and-cats-because-global-warming/)
In not so many words, Gregory Okin, a UCLA geography professor involved in the research, said that he doesn’t think we should consider all of the impacts cats have so we can have a conversation about them. In a press statement, he said that pets have many benefits, however, they also have a huge environmental impact.
The statement goes on to our pets eating a great deal of meat. And are responsible for twenty-five to thirty percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption. This is just in the United States alone. There are, always just in the United States, 163 million cats and dogs, which if they were a nation, on a global scale, this would be ranked fifth in the consumption of meat.
Despite all that, this article isn’t about our pet’s need to eat meat, and the consequences which follow, NO!
This article regards our pet’s pee and poo disposal dilemma.
But you won’t believe this…
Cats and dogs, our favorite pets, in just a single year can produce about 5.1 million tons of feces!
And I have to say that that is quite a huge lump of the stuff.
Who on Earth would have imagined this would cause so many problems, and cost people so much money, and probably even lack of proper sleep?
It is true that, to some extent, cats have an impact on the environment due to the mining of minerals used in cat litter, like Sodium Bentonite, which is a highly absorbent clay. Sodium Bentonite is used because it clumps soiled litter, making it easier to scoop out of the litter box.
However, there are a thousand other reasons why the environment is in the state it is today, all thanks to human-made-disasters, and cats can in no way be blamed for any of those. Of course, we’re not going to mention:
- Huge oil spills,
- Nuclear waste disposal,
- Rainforest destruction,
- Kuwaiti oil fires,
…just to name a few.
So why on Earth are our pets being targeted like that for?
Sadly enough, it is indeed true that clay-based litter ends up in landfills, where it remains there forever as nature can’t break it down any further. This is a major problem, agreed.
To avoid this from happening, one might decide to flush the clumped litter down the toilet. It works, at least from the landfills problem’s point of view, but it creates an even bigger disaster for the environment.
Flushing away the cat’s business is not a solution at all.
Cat poop is dangerous when disposed of like this.
This is because flushing cat litter down the toilet contaminates sewage water which threatens marine life, like shellfish, seals, and otters, as well as birds.
Surely, how can that ever be?
The threat is in the form of a parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, which is present in the cat’s poo. This, according to experts, has significant health implications.
Everybody loves otters and seals
Otters are susceptible to contracting this infection, which will also be transferred to their young during pregnancy. While it is very difficult to know the symptoms of an otter being infected with Toxoplasma gondii, strange behavior has been noticed in these animals by scientists. Some of these symptoms include severe brain damage in their offspring. Loss of body movement control, and death, convulsions and stillbirths, are amongst others.
Forty-two percent of live otters in California are infected, while sixty-two percent of the dead ones were found to be infected with this parasite. More than seventeen percent of sea otter deaths have been attributed to toxoplasmosis. These were the findings after a study was headed by UC Davis and the California Department of Fish and Game. (https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/OSPR/Science/MWVCRC/Sea-Otter-Necropsy-Program)
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA Fisheries),
“Toxoplasma gondii is a microscopic protozoan parasite. The oocytes (immature egg cells) are found in cat feces which contaminate the ocean environment via terrestrial run-off. A seal may become infected either through direct contact or through ingestion of contaminated prey. T. gondii is potentially fatal and is thought to be a cause of mortality in the southern sea otter population along the central California coast. This pathogen was first identified in Hawaiian monk seals in 2004, and the deaths of several seals have been attributed to T. gondii infection. The impact of T. gondii and other protozoal parasites on monk seals continues to be examined and monitored.”
“Ongoing efforts include improvement of infectious disease surveillance and rapid response and treatment of infected seals. Additional research is aimed to develop more accurate testing methods for existing and emergent diseases specific to Hawaiian monk seals to enhance our ability to better mitigate the effects of these diseases.” (https://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/hawaiian_monk_seal/health_and_disease.php)
In other words,
DO NOT FLUSH AWAY CAT LITTER,
Both clay-based litter, and not, shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet. Apart from the health hazards already mentioned, these can create blockages in the drainage pipes due to their high absorption properties and can cause severe damage, which includes septic systems.
Cat litter shouldn’t be dumped outside either. This is because it can make its way into storm drains and out to sea. This would be as near enough as if you’ve flushed it. The parasite can easily be washed down draining systems, water run-offs, freshwater rivers, or via storm drains…with the result of hurting marine life.
Here’s the point…
The best place for cat litter disposal is the trash can.
With all the above in mind, most people take the easiest route, and probably the safest, and that is to just bin it using plastic bags. The cat litter goes in with the other domestic trash, and that would be the end of that, at least from your home.
As chores go, it is by no means the best one to write home about. However, once it’s over and done with, it doesn’t end there. What happens then to the litter, after you’ve cleaned the box, is the start of a long voyage to where very few people have been, or even want to go. Visiting a landfill can’t be very scenic in any case, and certainly not the best place to go for a family picnic.
The above holds true, to some extent, only if the type of litter you use isn’t biodegradable.
On the other hand, if you have a garden, disposing of your cat’s poop shouldn’t present too great a problem. If you use biodegradable litter, which includes wheat, corn, wood or paper, it can easily be used as manure, should you desire. Ideally, if you decide to use your garden purely as a landfill for poop, especially when using crystal or clay litter, then make it a point to dig the holes quite deep so when it rains the litter won’t be carried away. This will otherwise create other problems, severe health ones, as already outlined. (Remember the seals and the otters)
Local Authorities and Cat Poop
What most local authorities suggest is for the cat litter is binned in a garbage bag. Depending on how understanding your local authority is, you could be asked not to classify your cat’s waste as domestic waste, but as clinical. Complications will always arise, which can get out of hand. Having said that, some towns actually have a poop collection service. Instead of disposing of it yourself, they offer to do it for you, obviously, for a price.
On a very positive note…
From the landfill issue, there exist useable alternatives to clay-based litters in the form of sawdust, sand, soil, pine leaves, and shredded newspapers, which are biodegradable. However, not many owners would like to try these out as it might make a mess of their home.
Soiled kitty paw-prints aren’t appreciated, especially if these end up on your pillow, or your favorite chair, or a very expensive sofa.
One might resort to a less questionable means and use silica litter. This has an advantage of not producing the same amount of dust during the cleaning of the litter box, and it’s very biodegradable. The material can be composted, which makes it ideal to recycle. Again, this shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet due to its high absorption properties.
Conclusion about cat litter disposal:
The safest and best way in dealing with the problem of the disposal of cat litter, and to stop this deadly parasite from killing off wildlife, which includes innocent seals and otters, is to put the cat waste in a biodegradable plastic bag which is then tied tightly, and put in the garbage bin.
Because of the concerns highlighted above, cat waste should not be flushed down the toilet, EVER.
It is also recommended to keep cats indoors as much as possible. Should they be carriers of this toxoplasmosis parasite, they can affect fresh running water.
Another thing to keep in mind is to stay away from the clay-based litter, if your kitty allows you to. It’s better to opt in favor of biodegradable litter, such as sawdust and recycled newspaper.
Cat Litter and The Environmentalists
Putting cats in these environmentalists’ sights is truly unfortunate, as cats are a love to own for many reasons.
- They keep us company and they cheer us up when we are down.
- They are, when compared to dogs, low maintenance.
- Cats don’t need to go for a walk two to three times a day, come rain, come shine, and are welcome by the elderly.
- They don’t bark at the most ghastly hours, or when the phone rings, or even when they see another animal.
- They are silent creatures and don’t annoy the neighbors.
Over all, this makes them the ideal type of pet for any home. However, all this doesn’t seem to deter environmentalists attacking them one little bit.
The best way to go about this, and stop environmentalists from breathing down cat owner’s necks, is for cat owners to start adopting ways to reduce the damage of owning a cat has on the environment.
So what’s the answer to cat litter disposal in the safest way possible?
This can be done in SIX ways, as follows:
- Avoid using the clay-based litter.
- Use biodegradable cat litter, such as that made from wheat, corn, wood shavings, recycled newspaper, and other natural products.
- DO NOT flush cat litter down the toilet, even if the litter is green and labeled as “flushable”.
- Try and keep your cat indoors to do its business.
- Put the litter in a suitable double-lined biodegradable bag, or at least use two bags, tied tightly, to be put in the bin, preferably one that has a lid.
- See if the local authorities offer a poop collection service.
More to come soon…