Sounds unpleasant in theory, but it works! I don't know what kind of wood the shavings are from, but they're sold in big bales as horse bedding so some kind of softwood I'd assume. It works much better than the grit - absorbs odour at least as well, doesn't get stuck to their paws, and of course it's biodegradable. But what we're doing so far is piling it into the bin and sending it off to landfill, as we're not too comfortable with having a pile of cat waste down the bottom of the garden. Can anyone suggest a way around this? Bin collection here costs 9.50 a pop, ouch!
(I know there are some people who say that a cat should be either permanently indoors or outdoors, and not both at the same time, but there are some fairly dangerous animals around here that a kitten could neither fight or run from, so we keep them in at night.)
The simplest ideas are always the best it seems! A cat version of that digester might be worth a go, although it might work a bit differently when there's a load of wood shavings and urine included. There's an experiment worth taking on.
I use it to deter critters like mice, rats and rabbits by spreading it around the perimeter of our yard. If I get holes from mice, I dig them up, load in a bit of used catlitter, and the diggers are gone for a few weeks. I use a woodbased litter, so it's basically the same as shavings.
My cats are mostly indoorsy galls, hunting in our garage where I store hay, straw and feed for chicks and rabbits. They are healthy and parasitefree. While I don't spread their litter around veggies, I don't really worry about healthrisks.
If your climate has enough of a warm season, you could sift out the turds and give them to black soldier flies. These will produce poultry or fish food and the residue will readily compost. Same with dog and humanure, too. Any compost system up to standards for humanure should be able to handle dog and cat as well. If nothing else bury in holes around your trees and shrubs. Don't let nutrients or organic matter off your land if you can help it. Having sifted out the poop, you could age the wood shavings and re-dry them and use them again. I find the deodorizing factor of half-composted wood chips or shavings to be superior to fresh ones, and the addition of a bit of ashes helps even more.....
My cat litter is basically sawdust too- and I also have 'outdoor' cats kept in at night (it limits the number of 'presents' I get in the morning). Compost it! Mine goes into an insulated composter (which is a wheelie bin with some polystyrene insulation around it) which maintains at least 40C year round. Completed compost used on the garden- which includes both flowers and veggies.
During the winter, I used layers of dry sawdust plus a little dry garden dirt as an in-situ composter. Worked very well, and there was essentially no smell. Cats preferred it to the bought stuff. It would be spread on a shelterbelt when full, fertilizing the trees in spring.
Keep it out of reach of dogs, who think cat poo is candy. Gross, but the real downside is they also pick up worms. If you have big dogs, full-spectrum dewormer is spendy.
The first thing you would need to do is switch your kitty to a biodegradable litter. This would be pellet litter made from recycled newspaper, pine, or litter which is made of corn or wheat. These types of litter are also healthier for your cat. This is because most clay-based litter contains silica dust and chemical additives which can cause trouble with your cat’s digestive system over time.
Composting biodegradable cat litter should always be done with real caution because of the risks of potential pathogens which can be found in cats that eat birds and rodents. The cats can become infected when they eat birds or rodents which are infected with Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite can cause toxoplasmosis which can be fatal to infants and adults with deficient immune systems, and you can catch it from cleaning the litter box and not washing your hands afterward. Therefore, when composting the litter, always wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly when finished.
How to compost cat poop
HOW TO COMPOST CAT POOP
There are steps to composting cat litter correctly, and the process isn’t an especially complicated one.
First of all for a definite, place your compost pile away from any food growing areas. If you use a bin, make sure it is at least 1 cubic yard/ meter in size. This will keep your pile accessible and easier to turn. A smaller bin is harder to work with and doesn’t heat up as fast or as sufficiently too. In this case, bigger is better.
Choose the litter you’re working with carefully. You can’t use clay litter or litter with deodorant crystals. Your litter has to be 100% composed of plant-based material in order to break down in the compost bin.
Even though there is nitrogen in cat waste, you will have to add more nitrogen to make your compost work. The carbon in the litter is too heavy for the nitrogen in the cat litter to balance unaided. You will need to add any of the following sources of nitrogen: natural seed meal fertilizers, plant material, fresh grass clippings, dried alfalfa; either fresh cow, chicken or horse manure and even leftover veggies from making your salads can be used. As these extra sources of nitrogen decay, it will aid in the composting process.
Make sure you keep the compost pile moist. Keep an eye on it to make sure it is breaking down, and add what is needed when it’s needed to keep it in balance. The other important thing to know is to let the compost sit for at least two years before using it.
***As they have a canine version, just thought I would include it also.
If you have a dog, then you have dog waste and depending on how big your dog is, you might have a LOT of dog waste. You probably bag it up or put in in a container until it becomes full; and then take it out to the trash at the curb. But there is another option- a pet poop digester. This is a composting system which turns dog doo into liquid, which dissolves into the surrounding soil and is eaten by microbes. Occasionally a usable compost will build up which you can harvest and use safely in ornamental garden beds, provided the interior of the bin reaches at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit and that you hold off on making new deposits for 8 weeks before harvesting the compost.
How to make a dog poop composting digester:
Take an old (or new) plastic or metal garbage can and drill holes all over and around the sides but leave a few inches at the top intact. This is the area that will be above the ground.
The next step is to cut the bottom off of the garbage can with a reciprocating saw or another tool that will accomplish the job.
Dig a huge can-shaped hole in the area where you’re going to place the can. You will want the can to be above the surface but not to where any of the holes are visible.
Put the can in the hole; fill in around the outside of the can with soil to keep the can in place. Put some rocks in the bottom for drainage too.
Add a dose of septic starter to the garbage can after you’ve made several deposits from your yard cleanup. If the bin smells worse than you think it should, you can try adding one part sawdust to two parts waste to help things compost well.
Make sure that you keep it moist to compost properly. Add more septic starter every few months or as needed to keep things composting.
This composter should be placed well away from any of your other compost areas and vegetable gardens. It should also be placed at least 100 yards away from any body of water.
If you’d prefer a less DIY solution, there are commercially-available systems for under a hundred dollars which connect to your sewer line, and others which work just like the above digester but don’t require drilling or sawing.
Lorinne Anderson: Specializing in sick, injured, orphaned and problem wildlife for over 20 years.
Cat litter: biodegradable alternatives to clay, silica etc.
Pine Pellets are the same as the fuel sold for pellet stoves (made from waste sawdust) and is often cheaper than the specially packaged "cat litter" version. When wet it disintegrates into a damp, powdery sawdust, making it easy to sift out the litter that has been urinated on, and remove the feces, ensuring no wasted litter.
Recycled newspaper pellets (Fresh News, Yesterdays News...) very similar, and operates in the same manner as the pine pellets. I am thinking both of these would compost better than the wood shavings, as they are so much more broken down right from the beginning...
I have used the pine and newspaper pellets (pine also make great bedding for rabbits etc), and frankly, just broadcast the "used litter" across the ground in a wide scattering "FLING" after removing the feces. I have been warned by the septic people that one should NEVER flush cat feces, as for some reason they do not decompose like dog feces (apparently you do the soak test - place in jar, cover with water and seal, shake every few days to see how long it takes to break down) supposedly cat feces fail dramatically. FYI this is also the way to test your TP for rapid breakdown. TP that doesn't fall apart quickly, also does not disintegrate in your septic, just waiting for you to pay someone big bucks to pump it back out - no more triple ply for hubby after that disclosure!).
There are also clumping litters (Okacat) that are made from sawdust, and a clumping corn/wheat (sWeet Scoop) litter that also claims to be 100% biodegradable - I have not tried these ones, but they may work better at controlling ammonia, or so they say.
Lorinne Anderson: Specializing in sick, injured, orphaned and problem wildlife for over 20 years.
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