wsommariva
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Can we compost used cat litter?

Hi everyone,

Can I compost used fresh step cat litter?

Thanks

wsommariva
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Thank you

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rainbowgardener
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You can't compost clay based litter. I use Wheat Scoop which is wheat based, and I do compost scooped out litter. There are other organic cat litters, based on corn cobs, newspaper, etc, which could be composted.
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DoubleDogFarm
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Eek! Yuck! ufdah! icky! and so on.

Eric

rot
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Sometime cat litter is just litter

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Short Answer: I don't think you want to.

First off, the cheap bulk cat litters these days seem to be highly processed so your not just getting clay with your cat litter but odor absorbent type things and artificial scents which make me itch. And then there's the stuff that makes it clump. Anyone have any idea what makes that stuff clump? I don't and therefore I mistrust.

Baking soda is common in cat litters and baking soda is anti bacterial so not a good idea in a compost pile.

The bulk ingredient in cat litter is clay and clay really doesn't decompose. Throw it into all kinds of processes and what you get is clay that's been through all kinds of processes. What goes in really is what comes out in the case of clay.

Then there's the toxoplasmosis thing. Through some weird evolutionary twist, the only environment the toxoplasmosis thing reproduces in is the gut of a cat. So for the toxoplasmosis thing, the name of the game is to get into the gut of a cat in order to propagate. It propagates in the cat gut by shedding egg like things called oocysts which the cat sheds in its feces. The stuff grows there in the feces which gets exposed to rats while the toxoplasmosis thing goes through it's next life cycle. Part of that life cycle is to get deep into the rat's brain wiring where it crosses up signals in the rat's brain between fear and attraction. Rat's infected with the toxoplasmosis thing no longer fear cats but are kind of aroused by cats, their scent and so on. This makes the infected rats more susceptible to cat predation so they get eaten by cats and there in cat's gut, the life cycle begins again.

Recent evidence has suggested that the toxoplasmosis thing is in more humans than previously thought. It might be interesting to see how many cat lovers out there, myself included, compared to the general population, are infected with the toxoplasmosis thing.

According to the CDC, if I remember correctly, the toxoplasmosis thing dies at 160 degrees F or greater for ten minutes or more. I don't think the typical backyard compost bin is going to really get you that.

I've composted the gift of the dogs in 18 to 24 month cycles but I'm not so sure about the cat stuff.

Thanks Marlin for the interesting thread. I didn't remember that one. I must have been busy cleaning cat boxes or something.

to sense
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rainbowgardener
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1) all those things rot said about what's in cat litter apply to clay litter. I absolutely agree. Do not compost clay litter; it is likely to break down into a slimy mess. Doesn't apply to my wheat - based litter.

2) the toxoplasmosis thing is way over-hyped. See my post here:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=137030&highlight=toxoplasmosis#137030

Mainly pregnant women should be careful about it, because IF you contract toxo at the exact wrong time in your pregnancy, it does have some low, but non-zero possibility of causing birth defect in the unborn child. The risk is low, but the consequence is high. Since the risk is avoidable, by all means avoid it. Don't come near cat feces if you are or could be pregnant.

I still do scoop the litter out carefully before composting it.
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toxcrusadr
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I have composted the organic based cat litter, and either left it in its pit and covered it over, or used the compost in areas away from people. Practice good hygiene and it should not be a big problem, is my approach.

The clay stuff is actually roasted (calcined) to get it to behave the way it does (including clumping). Some of the products have more processed stuff in them, but it's along the lines of silica gel, which is similar to minerals to soil and rock. Fragrances etc. would biodegrade in the compost. I don't think any of it is a toxic threat, but the clay and clumping types are NOT going to make good compost for the reasons stated above.
Tox

cynthia_h
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I wrote an extended explanation of why cat waste is not to be composted three or so years ago [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=60682&highlight=otters#60682]here[/url]. My reasoning still stands. The California otter is still a species under severe pressure, and the toxo-related deaths came at a critical moment in what had been their recovery. :(

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rot
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It's still litter

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I still don't think wsommariva or most composters really want to compost cat litter and in particular the fresh step that was asked about.

Most people who are into compost are in it to make compost. The bulk material in cat litter like fresh step is clay. Clay doesn't compost. Clay doesn't break down in that sense. Clay in compost after 3 years is still just clay.

The big reason really is anytime you get into composting the gift of the dogs or the cats, you are getting into a whole host of pathogens and then your are getting into more work to keep it safe or hygienic. Even if it only means that you have to be more careful, it still amounts to more work. You have to be more careful if for no other reason than the liability issues. I believe we have some responsibility to not be spreading that stuff around. You need to keep it from other people and other animals. You need to make sure it doesn't leach into a water shed or a water supply. and you need to keep a lid on the odors. If you are turning your compost, you're now compelled to clean off everything that handled the compost during the turning - including yourself.

Those who want to make compost typically want to make as much as you can as fast you can. By adding cat litter you've just made it more work with essentially no return. Then, in the spirit of being careful or hygienic, you're limited to using that compost only on ornamentals and away from people. If the return is supposed to be more compost, I think adding the cat litter is a net loss - if you're going to be responsible about things.

If you're into bioremediation then that's another ball game. Do your home work, know what you're dealing with and what you are getting into, try some things out, prepare to work at it more and, have at it.

to sense
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toxcrusadr
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Well said rot...for me it's a matter of minimizing contributions to the landfill, a whole different ballgame when it comes to pet waste.

cynthia - I did not know about the otter problem, certainly pays to be informed on these issues so thanks for that.

Interesting anecdote: in Alaska, winter freezing temps resulted in massive frozen deposits of dog poop in yards. When it thaws in spring, it becomes a stormwater pollution issue in towns and cities. A few years back they started encouraging composting of pet waste in special pet waste composters, partially sunk in the ground (such as the Doggie Doolie). One might think this is only a problem in the frozen North, but in a big city, the number of pets is enormous, and it can run off lawns as well as concrete.

I'll admit we're getting into advanced considerations here that may be above and beyond the OP's simple question. :)
Tox

rot
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Dude? What's up in that surf?

..
Surfers in So Cal are used to getting sick for their past time. Various parts of the coast get really filthy and it is variably blamed on faulty septic tanks or sewage treatment and, pet waste.

Folks on the coast are sensitive about what goes into the watershed. I've noticed though that folks on the coast seem to care little about their smog blowing into the in-land valleys. The air can be great on the coast but the in land valleys might be seeing unhealthful air where there just aren't a lot of cars or people. Round and round it goes.

For my part, I started composting to make free dirt, then compost but, over the years, bio-remediation has become the name of the game. I can't do too much in my temporary digs but hopefully they are just temporary and I can get back into the bioremediation gig on a more serious basis.

I really don't want to tell people they can't compost the gift of the dogs or whatever else they can come up with but I don't want to make people sick or give them the idea that they can just fling all kinds of crud into a compost pile and it comes up roses. Almost but not quite.

As long as folks can just flush it down a toilet or chuck it into a garbage can, people will not be interested in bioremediation schemes for the most part because it takes personal energy, resources and, responsibility. Municipalities can do somethings but there's nothing like going to the source.

In the old days people would sometimes throw their night soil over the fence. Maybe in the dead of winter. Then lots of surprise when their neighbors got sick in spring. There are still people emptying their used motor oil in storm drains. I'm a bit jaded on the idea of people remediating their own waste on their own. I used to collect the yard waste from my neighbors in their curb side yard waste pick up bins. They used to look at me funny and then I'd see the crud (Yeah. Crud. That's what it was.) they would throw in there. Something irritating about picking the crud (Yeah. Crud.) out of piles of grass clippings, leaves and, tree prunings. And they would be doing me the favor.

to sense
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cor2000
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The Toxoplasma gondii

The cat litter may contain some dangerous pathogens. One of them is the Toxoplasma gondii. Although it is not a big problem for the majority of poeple, it can be very dangerous in some cases.


Read more:

[url]https://www.cor2000.com/0147258369/content/toxoplasma-gondii[/url]

WrightSam
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It's so gross to include that in your compost. You can only add waste to your compost from animals which are eating grasses.

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rainbowgardener
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The poster was not talking about composting the cat wastes, only the litter medium after the wastes are scooped out. It does not work with fresh step or other clay based litters, but it does work with wheat, corn, paper and other organic litters and is not gross.
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DoubleDogFarm
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and is not gross.
is too :lol:

Eric

toxcrusadr
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As Granny used to say, "To each his own, said Charles as he kissed the cow."

Personally, I think used organic-based cat litter is no more gross than chicken, cow or horse poop, which are lauded far and wide for their benefits to compost pile and garden.

I make a separate pile, though, for kitty, and it's not used in the vegetable garden, just to play it safe.
Tox

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ElizabethB
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Blah - just my opinopn. I use corn husk based litter and never put it in my compost. Even after careful scooping there is still waste residue. Just not my thing. I don't use any carnivorous products or by products in my compost bin.
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When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

estorms
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Just let the cat out and it will head for the garden on it's own!

DoubleDogFarm
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estorms wrote:Just let the cat out and it will head for the garden on it's own!
and my two dogs chancing and scare the **** out of it. :shock:

Eric

toxcrusadr
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At my house, sometimes the cat heads for the NEIGHBOR's garden, and that's when the trouble starts! My neighbor lady chewed my butt off this summer about my cat. I think she is not a cat person. At all. :oops: :D
Tox

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ElizabethB
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Eric - as usual you make me :lol:

I have a 15 month old Sallie Sue and a 9 month old Daisy Faye. I use a corn cob based clumping, low dust litter. All was well until 2 months ago when I had Crazy Daisy spayed. She stopped using her litter box :!:

Gross, disgusting, nauseating :evil:

She drove me nuts :!: I called my vet and he said to change her litter. Her box now has plain clay while Sallie Sue has the good stuff. Crazy Daisy Faye just did not like her litter.

Off the subject as usual - I do ramble on - I am with Eric - no cat litter in my compost bin.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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Lucius_Junius
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Our cat does his business outdoors only - and yes, I've caught him in the garden on more than one occasion - but, on the odd chance we've had to keep him inside for a couple days (if we're on holiday and the neighbour is feeding him, perhaps), I've taken his litter to the compost afterward. It never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with this, and I'm sure the one dumping of a relatively small bit of clay in the compost didn't hurt anything. Nevertheless, it's refreshing to be reminded that the things we don't know we don't know are always lurking.

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LA47
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I feel bad saying this but I have trained my 10 pound dogs to chase off any cats in my yard. I do like cats but NOT when they use my gardens as a big kitty litter box! It has made for some unpleasant surprises when I'm weeding :shock: and I DON'T like that in my veggy garden at all. :evil:
High Altitude Gardener zone 4B or 5A

toxcrusadr
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You certainly have a right not to have others' pets in your yard, especially pooping in your garden. I never thought much about this myself until someone complained, but they are right, I am responsible for my critter. Still trying to figure out what we're going to do next summer.

I'd say as long as you or your dogs are just chasing them off and not harming them, you have every right to do that.
Tox

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ElizabethB
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Last year I had a BIG argument with my back door neighbor about his obnoxious huge dogs. A lab and 2 pit bulls. The beast tore the botom off of our chain link fence and thought my back yard was theirs. I could not step out onto my patio without these beast threatening me. I did the whole 9 yards called 911 called animal control. The police and animal control were at his house 2 or 3 times a week. I was not the only neighbor threatened by his beast. Finally I got is attentiion. He was in his back yard when his dogs encroached on mine. I got my rifle out and told him that if I ever saw his dogs in my yard again they would be dead dogs. Problem solved. I have no issues with dogs. I am an animal lover. I do have an issue with irresponsible pet owners. He moved the dogs to some property he had in the country and repaired my fence.

I honestly feel sorry for his wife. Poor thing has been stressed by his beast and the police and animal control visits.

Oh my - Once again I am off track.

Do not - will not use cat litter in my compost.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

estorms
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The smell alone is enough to tell you it doesn't belong in the compost pile or your house.

toxcrusadr
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Hmm, well if smell is the criteria, then virtually any manure must be unacceptable (at least in *your* compost). To each his own, but nature did intend for poop to be recycled. Whether that means it's OK to compost cat litter is up to the individual. I'm just defending the honor of all poop the world over. 8)
Tox



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