new videos
hot off the press!  
    more about rocket
mass heaters here.

more videos from
the PDC here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Cat Litter--What to use and how to compost it  RSS feed

 
Garth Wunsch
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If it weren't for the clumping kitty litter from three fur balls, we go go with one trash bag per month. Any ideas of how to not put this stuff in the city landfill? I used to have an empty lot next for with a large depression, and it all went in there. I have a brush pile out back that I can throw the litter onto, but it smells cat pee after a bit. Don't have enough soil to cover the litter each time I put it on the brush pile, or I could maybe call it hugelkultur I do have wood ashes, and maybe I could top the litter with that
 
mary jayne richmond
Posts: 71
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i dig a hole about 2 feet deep and then i add the litter box to it and the some kitchen scrapes also and when it full i plant something in that hole, so far so good. i also use sawdust for the litter box and my cats are outside cats so i only dump the box once a week if needed. they only use it a night. my situation seems different than yours but i hope this helped some.
 
andre hirsz
Posts: 39
Location: thunder bay ontario canada
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
See posts on composting toilet mediums.
 
Susan Pruitt
Posts: 86
Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
ha ha - Mary Jane I have two cats who are out all day - in at night.   I'm in the habit of leaving the mudroom door open on nice days so they also come in during the day just to use the box!    I too have been searching for an alternative but didn't like the mulch or sawdust because it holds the moisture and smells.   I tried the plain clay but it doesn't clump so it just scatters when I try to scoop.    But I like the hole outside idea - maybe at least my cats would use that spot during the day.   I might also try using a smaller box of sawdust for nights and just empty it every day.   I hate spending $14 mth for litter and then throwing it away - cheap cheap :)    I don't recall seeing anything about cat pee affect on soil for the garden, good or bad.   I'll check out the composting toilet forum.
 
Ian Rule
Posts: 89
Location: Nevada County, CA
8
books food preservation fungi hugelkultur trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Same boat. Ive started using paper or wheat by-product and thats been very helpful... no part of the property enjoys smelling like ammonia soaked clay :p

However! Be careful what you use said ~soil for - cat cruds are among the most toxic, and should be treated with caution. We compost humanure and step in dog doo daily on our farm, but when the cat digs up a garden bed and makes a deposit I treat it like a toxic waste zone until I can scoop out the suspicious square foot. All my humanure research made it very clear - cats have dangerous dooks.
 
andre hirsz
Posts: 39
Location: thunder bay ontario canada
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Mary Jane. I once had a cat litter business and come to realize that the mediums traditionaly used are not environmently friendly or superior in odor control then mediums like sawdust, when properly used and cleaned. By simply adding more fresh material onto the existing material, will extend the odor control, especially  when drain holes are placed in one box on a second box of ashes or lime. All these materials can be safely disposed outside of garden areas or burned.
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6680
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
252
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For many years, I managed the poop from a 100 pound dog, in what I called a maple tree bog. We had an area that was rather damp, under a big maple. I taught Peggy to poop there and not on the grass. Every so often, I would go out with a rake and incorporate the natural litter under the tree, with the poop. A big maple can absorb a lot of nutrient. I'm pretty sure that after a while, there were certain worms that counted on those dog droppings.

It should work the same for a cat. I only buried the stuff about three inches deep. There were no offensive smells. It only takes a very light layer of humus to mask smell. That's pretty much what cats do if left to their own devices.
 
andre hirsz
Posts: 39
Location: thunder bay ontario canada
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes thank you Dale. It's an interesting point that the top 3 to 6 inches of soil is where most of nature's recycling takes place.
 
Nicole Alderman
gardener
Posts: 1432
Location: Pacific Northwest
167
cat duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ian Rule wrote:Same boat. Ive started using paper or wheat by-product and thats been very helpful... no part of the property enjoys smelling like ammonia soaked clay :p

However! Be careful what you use said ~soil for - cat cruds are among the most toxic, and should be treated with caution. We compost humanure and step in dog doo daily on our farm, but when the cat digs up a garden bed and makes a deposit I treat it like a toxic waste zone until I can scoop out the suspicious square foot. All my humanure research made it very clear - cats have dangerous dooks.


So how do you compost/take care of cat poo? We found some feral cats (three older kittens and a mama cat who--surprise!--gave birth to 7 kittens right after we trapped her). We found homes for all but two of them, who we are keeping, but I don't know what to do with all the poo. My thought had been to just designate a place in the woods where I don't plan on ever growing anything, and make a kind of "compost" pile of the litter (we're thinking of using pure bentonite clay) and poo there. But, is this a bad idea? What will it do to the ecology in that area, especially since bentonite clay, ya know, is used for sealing ponds...
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
346
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We've lived with two to three outdoor cats for more than forty years and haven't worried much about their poop unless it was in a place we walked or in the garden.  They tended to bury it wherever there was some loose soil so I would catch one of them digging in the garden sometimes and shovel it up and toss into the woods.  Normally though we never saw a sign of it and assumed they were going off into the woods.

Now we have just one cat, in town, and there are three or four other neighborhood cats...no litter boxes and no noticeable piles of poop around....we are on the edge of a woods again though and a large hay field. 

I'm not sure what the symptoms are for cat feces related disease but I don't think we've picked up anything yet....maybe I should start researching that 
 
Nicole Alderman
gardener
Posts: 1432
Location: Pacific Northwest
167
cat duck forest garden hugelkultur
 
Paul Lutz
Posts: 8
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have a bunch of cats that produces a LARGE amount of cat litter (naturally saturated with cat pee/poop). Disposal of litter is an ongoing problem. I have tried many litter options (wood/paper/chicken feed/ etc), but clay works best, so switching to something else is a last resort.

Currently, I put the litter in a wheelbarrow, haul it to an area with no current garden beds, and broadcast it (hurl via shovel in every direction) into a thin spray across the landscape. My thought is that the organic matter will join the food chain and the clay particles will be incorporated into the soil as long as I don't put much in any location. (I also selectively deter wildlife from eating new trees by placing cat poop around them.)

Is this a viable option? Will my foot deep weedy lawn incorporate a grain of litter every sq inch? (no idea how thick it goes on, but that's the right ballpark). Someday this area will be a garden or an orchard and I don't want to screw it up.
 
Erwin Decoene
Posts: 91
Location: Courtrai Area, Flanders Region, Belgium Europe
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I used to mix biodegradable cat litter and dog poop with wood chips, compost, nutt shells into the ground. I dig down about 20 cm from level and build up to about 60 cm above the original groundlevel. Everything is kept together with cut willowbranches and such. The ground itself consists partially out of the material from the exact spot AND out B-horizont soil (clayrich, rustycoloured stuff without any organic matter).

The first year we seed it with bee and insectfriendly flowers. The second year i shift the soil into a raised bed. Earth worms come on masse to decompose the stuff.

That seems to work fine for  us. The raised bed is home to a collection of red, yellow and black currants, raspberries etc.... seems to work fine.


One of the reasons for doing this, is the risk that your animals may carry parasites that could infect you or your livestock. I have of course the benefit of increased organic matter and minerals in the soil. Better structure in the displaced soilmixture, increased woody material in the soil, ....

I should add that part of my soil is laced with building materials that i'm currantly removing so i have soil that is reduced to a structureless dust. The above practive gives the displaced soil sort of a structure and a good base for fungal growth.

 
Paul Lutz
Posts: 8
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So, to partially answer my own questions... Yesterday was in the low 90s, and last night I walked through the most recent area with dispersed litter. I have apparently managed to burn everything in areas where it went on thicker. I suspect this is a consequence off too much Nitrogen in ammonia form but that's just a guess. Previous cycles of doing this in other areas did not have this result, but my material did sit outside for several days agd the wheelbarrow got rained in a few times. Pethaps the ammonia evaporated, was more dilute, or spread more thinly? Probably all three. Ultimately I don't care if I fry some grass with N. My concern is that the clay becomes incorporated into the soil and does not create a lifeless crust across the surface. Attempted to attach a picture.
IMG_8180.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_8180.JPG]
 
Erwin Decoene
Posts: 91
Location: Courtrai Area, Flanders Region, Belgium Europe
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
At the rate you're spreading clay - you wil be at it for a while before you have a really noticable rise in Clay-particles in your top soil. Even if you use a truckload per annum. You need a lot of big cats for that

An example.
My parents have still 5 or 6 cats. They use about 2 15kg bags of cat litter a month. 2*15kg*12=360 kg/year. Say you spread it over 1000 m². 360/1000 = 0.36kg/m²/year. That's less than a pound/m² ~ Even if you have more cat litter and less garden, you can adapt the figures here. My metric-conversion might be off a bit but you get the ball park figure.


At that rate a healthy soil can absorb the clay without problem. Soil life will even disperse it in the deeper soil (bioturbation effects). Natural clay (there's the rubb) is no problem for most soil types. What soil do you have ?

MIND we did not speak about N and P and medical residus and harmfull criters in the poo. You want to give nature maximum chance to absord those. That's one of the reasons why i prefer to concentrate my approach. Of course - we have small gardens here.
 
Nicole Alderman
gardener
Posts: 1432
Location: Pacific Northwest
167
cat duck forest garden hugelkultur
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 2731
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
223
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
All carnivore poop will contain pathogens, clumping kitty litter will hang around for a long time instead of breaking down into clay particles like normal litter will do.

The best way to deal with pet poop is to hot compost it for at least 60 days, just like humanure, that way you have viable compost with out the risk of pathogens.

When I lived in the city I was able to get all the poop from the zoo for a year, I had huge compost heaps full of everything from prairie dog to elephant poop. It turned out to be the best compost I have ever made.
I lost out on that wonderful arrangement when the zoo got a new head keeper who wanted to make use of the materials for the zoo's gardens.
When I went by, he asked me if I would help set up the system for the zoo, I was happy to help their gardeners but sad I wasn't going to get those materials any longer.

When you are dealing with poop or dead animals you need a way to get the temps up high in short order. That means lots of fresh green material in the center of a large mass of brown material.
I usually try to make round heaps for this style of composting, it is easier to create a very hot core in round heaps.

Redhawk
 
Gail Moore
Posts: 209
Location: south central Appalachia, southwest Virginia, US zone 6/7
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi folks.
We use EQUINE type Pine Pellets for cat litter. it's only $5 for a 40lb bag.

They are exactly the same type pellet as cat litter pine pellets. and work great.

the pine pellets dissolve as the urine ssoaks in and this neutralizes the urine.

then we broadcast this out across the yard.

as far as the poop. i'm not an expert on that. I think the HOT compost is the way to go to
kill pathgens.

 
Ronnie Ugulano
Posts: 64
Location: Zone 9, CA
4
books urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Similar to Gail Moore, we used stove pellets, ~$6 per 40lbs. Use a few cups of pellets (4?-5?) with each box change. If cat is dismayed by the sight of pellety things, hit pellets with about 15 sprays of water, and some of it will break down enough to make it attractive to the cat. Absolutely NO SMELL from the cat box. Empty cat box in far corner of the yard. It will break down into (relatively) nothing in short order.
 
Did you just should on me? You should read this tiny ad:
2017 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree - 15 workshops in one event
https://permies.com/wiki/63312/permaculture-projects/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!