Clumping, Non Clumping or Plant Based Litter

David Trammel's picture

You never thought you'd be discussing pet litter on a prepping forum, did you?

Litter for pets, either cats in your home, or small animals in the yard/barn, is an issue both for environment reasons as well as sustainability. As things get tighter in the Collapse you may need to close source the litter. Supply chain issues may prevent you from getting it at the grocery store. You can store extra in your pantry but even then, you may reach a point where its too hard to acquire.

You also need to consider the other end of the poop cycle and how you dispose of it. Composting is the gold standard, for both their waste and yours, so chemical clumping needs to be tossed out for something that will compost. On the other hand, wood chip litter contributes to deforesting (just like with toilet paper made from virgin trees). Paper based litter is an option as long as its recycled paper not virgin.

Thoughts from the pet owners here, or from those of you who raise small animals?

David Trammel's picture

This video has some interesting options

"How to Recycle your Pet Poo"

Fancy worm bin, lol.

I'll have two cats and a small dog's worth of waste to dispose of, along with the small amount of kitchen waste that two people will generate. While making two compost bins, one for compost suitable for the garden and one for the flower beds is an option, I'm not sure if I'll have the non-poop quantity needed to generate garden waste. Cold composting the poop, and allowing it to just seep into the ground, especially if I locate the worm bin in a flower bed and near one of the trees might be a better option.

kma's picture

This is an important topic!

Data from my little corner of earth:

We have a three bin compost system with each bin 3x3x3'. Theoretically, I should turn it once a year in order and be using Bin 3 for garden compost. In reality, we've been out of time, so I've been dumping everything in Bin 1 and Bin 2 for 3+ years and never seem to run out of room.

I use pine shavings in the coop and just dumped a bunch of chicken litter in the bin knowing that it had a long time to sit before I even thought of using it. If I was on the ball I'd be dumping it in Bin 1 every month or so (I use a deep litter method in the coop) and that would give it 2-3 years before being spread in the garden. My research indicates this is ok for food gardens (tell me if I'm wrong!!!).

For the cat, our latest one ended up being 75% outdoor and we only end up needing to clean the litter box 4-5 times a winter. Previous cats had us using 1 bag a week which is totally unsustainable. We live in a wooded area so I should experiment with saving leaves to use as litter as we will never run out. I used to put them in the compost but they are too valuable as mulch. But I think you'd have to start this method as a kitten and then I'd need a big bin to keep a years supply in which is a logistical challenge. If I was using leaves as litter, I would probably go dump cat little in the woods to keep it away from gardens and food. Wal-mart won't be around forever and in northern climates, cats need to come inside in winter so this is a problem to be solved.

Thanks for diving into this topic!

-edited: typos galore

I've had cats for 50 years and have used all kinds of systems including the double-layer pan where you lifted off the top and drained the urine away from the bottom tray.

EverClean works better than anything and I shudder to think what I'll do when I can't get it anymore. As it is, I stockpile a year or two's worth at a time.

Previous to the invention of clay kitty litter, everyone let their cats outside and that's probably what we'll all return to.
To make it easier, install a pet door so kitty and the dogs can go in and out on their own.

As for dog poo: we buried it. I'd scoop the yard regularly. There's a very handy flat, long-handled pan with a metal scoop available. No moving parts other than you, the operator. Once I scooped up a pan-load, I would bury the contents -- in the soil and not just under the mulch! -- in one of my many ornamental wilderness beds. My soil is biologically active and the poo would vanish. I did NOT bury poo in food beds. Ornamental or wilderness only. With 1/4 acre, I had plenty of beds to choose from so no one area was overloaded.

Keep in mind that a healthy dog who sees the vet regularly, gets heartworm meds, and other flea & tick treatment is not going to be shedding loads of parasites that feral strays will.

David Trammel's picture

Interesting choices, though they don't focus exclusively on sustainable sourcing.
Top 13 Best Cat Litters (We Tested Them All)
additional choices:
Top 10 Best Cat Litters of 2021 (We Tried Them All)

Issues to consider:
1) Dust issues when pouring and sifting.
2) How firm are the clumps, and does it stick to the litter box.
3) Moisture absorbency. The Pioneer Petsmart Cat Grass litter, is very absorbent which means the urine doesn't penetrate much, creating surface clumps. A plus, this one seems to create firm clumps making scooping easier.
4) Odor issues
5) Cat issues with particle size. Do cats not like large pellets? For large pellets you should use a sifting litter box though. Price wish, consider using small animal bedding, not cat specific litter.
6) Digestibility. Does a cat eat it and get harmed. An issue for kittens. Paper based pellets?
7) Weight. Both for carry weight and heavier litters don't get scattered as much by the cat when using.
8) Scented vs non-scented.
9) For wood based pellets, check to see if they are dried to remove tree oils. Pine especially. Consider horse bedding pellets for cost and this issue.