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Felinure--how to compost kitty poop?  RSS feed

 
Kelly Custer
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My cats are mostly pooping outside in secret places (like the veggie gardens, I imagine), except for winters and whimsy, but it's enough it suddenly dawns on me that I are being a dope by not thinking about this.

So, three thoughts in my dopey little head: gypsum, calcined clay (brand Turface is an amendment I like to use), and wood ash.

Calcined clay/Turface is used to keep ballfield surfaces from getting soggy; in the garden, it absorbs water, making it available to roots when soil dries out b/n rains. Thought it might be a good litter substitute. Gypsum also seems an obvious choice;some people think you can't use enough of it in the garden (though others say it's benefit is too temporary to be worth the investment). Both products are purchased in garden-sized bags and significantly cheaper than commercial cat litter. If I replaced my kitty litter with gypsum and/or calcined clay, and designated a felinure compost pile and aged it a couple years...why not? Calcined clay doesn't degrade (Turface is tested at lasting 100 years ie permanent), so perhaps it would be too much Turface-to-compost ratio. Plus, I would probably need more of, er, the other kind of browns. I would have to play with it--I mean, experiment.

Can I double-duty my deep thoughts about doodie into a use for my wood ash? I read on a site I can't find now about using wood ash to anaerobically compost human waste--alkalinity of ash combining with acidity of kaka in the anaerobic environment is supposed to disable pathogens, as I recall. Whether or not that's true, if it were a viable base for the felinure compost pile, that would be great. (I would really like to find an easy way to use my ashes.) I wonder if I could just dump them in a feline compost spot, and just keep adding kitty box contents to it until some balance of materials is achieved, and then let it set for a year or two.

Here is a site that suggests making an anaerobic compost, by burying a garbage can or bigger container 6-12" deep, with bottom cut out and replaced with mesh to protect from varmints but allow worms. (Though varmints probably don't go for kitty crap, and more power to them if they do?) It talks about only using small amounts of wood ash. But with enough carnivorous kackie in it, perhaps it would be a good marriage?

http://www.ecoevaluator.com/lifestyle/gardening/anaerobic-composting.html

Any thoughts welcome on composting kitty kaka, and also super-easy uses of a large yearly quantity of wood ash (already know dinky or high maintenance options like lye and baking soda, and sprinkling it here and there).


 
Kelly Custer
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Hey, why did Permies add a last name to my handle? I thought my first name was Irish enough, even with St Patrick's Day coming up.
 
Jonathan Hontz
Posts: 36
Location: Denver, CO
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kellygirrl McCoy wrote:Hey, why did Permies add a last name to my handle?


Names are supposed to be borderline real-sounding first/last combinations.

The kitty crap issue has one major component that gets overlooked by many pet owners: what do you feed your cat? If it's eating fortified kibble from a bag, I wouldn't want that poop near any of my plants any more than I'd want the feces of a fat McDonald's-eating American. If kitty is eating canned meat, you can bet that there will be a huge amount of nitrites and nitrates in her feces and urine. I suspect that this is why dog urine can be so destructive. If you feed your cat good, organic food, then composting it is a simple proposition and even just letting it lay about (cats are good about covering their poop) is a good idea.

Whatever you do, ensure that what's going in the front end of the cat is something that will still be okay when it comes out the back. Just like pesticides, herbicides, and medicines can be found in conventional cow dung, so too will they end up in the kitty litter of cats who've been vaccinated, medicated, supplemented, or fed a diet of food that comes from a factory.
 
P Thickens
Posts: 177
Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
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Cat shit is detrimental to otter populations. Thank you for trying to keep it from getting loose into the wild. http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/19/chain-of-cat-poo-can-harm-sea-dwellers-humans/

Please compost for at least 2 years. A standard Manure Pack would work. You could compost yours at the same time too. I like "holy shit" for more information on this subject, it's a good read and very informative.
 
Kat deZwart
Posts: 108
Location: Limburg, Netherlands, sandy loam
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cat chicken urban
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I feed my cat a mix of organic kibble and organic canned food, alternated with fresh meat.
Her poop and pee aren't very smelly. She uses an indoor litterbox as our house is located next to a main road so she's mostly inside, scaring the mice in the attic, basement and garages.

In the Netherlands we have a double wastesystem (green/grey) and it's mandatory, so most of kitteh's waste goes in the green bin to the professional composterplant. But recently I found a great use for her pee and poo (she goes on organic semi-clumping litter): Whenever a mole digs around in our gronds, I open up the molehills, plonk in a bit of catwast, close and flatten the molehills and the mole goes away... Same works with mice outside burrowing in the grounds. I guess it's the "predatorsmell" or something.
 
Jonathan Hontz
Posts: 36
Location: Denver, CO
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P Thickens wrote:Cat shit is detrimental to otter populations.


Actually, what the article says is, "Cat feces may be part of the explanation, the scientists said". The article also says that up to 25% of Americans are carriers of the offending parasite. In the Pacific Northwest, where some mammals are apparently affected by the protozoans in question, I can name at least 1 major city that has a combined sewer overflow that dumps human feces into the waterways if it rains too much: Portland. The runoff from feedlot cattle probably also contains a healthy dose of this. Those two sources alone would eclipse any amount of cat scat that found its way into the shellfish that feed the otters.

It's the parasite that's detrimental, not the cat shit, and the parasite has many other sources, most of which are far more likely to be the culprit than your compost pile. I'd treat it like you would any other kind of fecal matter and not worry so much about killing marine life.
 
Hanley Kale-Grinder
Posts: 112
Location: Mountain West of USA, Salt Lake City
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I used wooden pellet things in the litter box, EM spray as a deoderizer/beneficial bacteria inoculator, then pickled the used of litter in a bokashi bucket before feeding the whole thing to my worm bin. Maybe this was a little overboard but it seemed to work well!
 
Michael Radelut
Posts: 204
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
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Alan Stuart
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http://www.amnh.org/nationalcenter/youngnaturalistawards/2005/Eric.html

This kid used worms to effectively compost his cat poop. Hope this link is what you were looking for.
 
Tony Gurnoe
Posts: 21
Location: Encinitas, California
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Some advice from one who composts my own excrement:

Do not go for the anaerobic route unless you must. It can lead to some funky chemical byproducts and smell horrible.

I'm also a trained "master composter" with the UC cooperative extension here in San Diego for whatever that's worth (not much in my opinion). My advice is to make a separate compost pile that will not be used on vegetables, or at least not for a couple of years, and build it well enough that it gets nice and hot. This compost will be perfectly well suited for trees, shrubs, turf, pasture, perhaps not leafy greens or plants from which the edible portion comes in direct contact with the soil. I don't know enough about cats to recommend a litter that will easily biodegrade but I'm sure there's something out there.


P.s. Long time reader, first time poster!
 
Carina Robicheaux
Posts: 35
Location: Oregon Coast Range zone 8b
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I use "Feline pine" pelletized sawdust cat litter. When I lived in a van (with the cats) I used the contents of their litter pan (once it turned back to sawdust) as cover material for my own sawdust bucket toilet. Now I seasonally live in the van, and the cats and I compost together on the humanure compost pile, which gets nice and hot. The plan is to let it age for two years, and it will likely be used primarily to plant perennials and trees.
 
Luise Carr
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I'm also using those sawdust pellets, but I have noticed that you can avoid buying them at a very high price at a pet store, if you just buy the very same pellets from a hardware store labelled sawdust pellets for woodstoves. It's the same thing, but maybe a quarter the price and at least in fall/winter you can get them in any hardware store here in Germany.
If you're worried about getting too much "bad stuff" in your compost from your kitty poo, try running the compost through a cycle of mushroom growing first (don't eat the mushrooms), after that it should be fine.
 
Max Kennedy
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Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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With the nature of the parasites possible in cats and the small amount of manure compost it's probably far too much of a risk for the small reward. Bury it deep where it won't be dug up but will add nutrients to say a small tree.
 
Ernie DeVore
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Max Kennedy wrote:With the nature of the parasites possible in cats and the small amount of manure compost it's probably far too much of a risk for the small reward. Bury it deep where it won't be dug up but will add nutrients to say a small tree.


If I can compost a dead cat then I don't have any issues with composting their poop.

Composting, done properly, can break down motor oil over a long enough time period. There's hardly anything our little bacterial friends won't take down to its basic molecular level.

With cat poop, it's a matter of scale and time. If you have a bin that is 3 cubic foot and live in a small house with 150 cats then you can't expect to have decent compost from that. What you're going to have is a pile of primarily cat poop. Build a bigger compost bin and make sure that the ratio is about 1 pound of cat poop for every 5 pounds of other carbon/nitrogen material. Also, make sure your pile stays thermophillic for a good long period of time. I can't imagine that there are any cat parasites that can survive a month of 140-150 degree temperatures while being surrounded by billions of hungry bacteria. Then, don't get in a hurry with that pile either. After it has composted, break it up well and add it to another batch of fresh compost and use it for "starter". All of the dormant bacteria in there will give a great start to a new bin (you don't have to wait for the thermophillic bacteria to accumulate from the air) and you get a double pass for the suspect material.
 
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