While the cats make an adorable pet, providing a proper litter for them is a wonder that only a few cat-owners can master. While there are numerous cat litters available in the market today, have you wondered how they impact our environment?
Is cat litter biodegradable? The answer to it depends on the type of cat litter you use. There are both biodegradable as well as non-biodegradable cat litters available in the markets today. The ones made of compostable and recyclable materials are biodegradable, while varieties containing clay and silica gel are not.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about cat litters, including their necessity and varieties.
Later, we will also explore the biodegradability of cat litter and the problems with flushing it down the toilet.
Stay with us till the end to learn more.
What is cat litter? Why is it necessary?
Cat litter is an essential commodity useful in the excretion of a cat’s waste. With proper training with the owners, the pet cats get habituated to the natural waste disposal process.
Initially, clay cat litter was the only option available in the market. However, cat owners today have more alternatives accessible, agreeing to their demands.
They can compare the absorbing quality, price, and odor control of cat litters of different types and brands and go for the one that best fits their needs.
The necessity of cat litters
Cat litters were initially necessary because earlier, the cats had to cover their tracks so as to remain undetected by their predators.
Now that these animals live in our houses as our pets, the litter boxes provide them with an appropriate place to do their “business.”
In the absence of litter, they might go ahead and relieve themselves in other, cleaner areas of your house, leaving behind a mess for you to clean up.
Cat litters are also believed to be beneficial for the physical as well as mental health of your feline pets.
Different types of cat litter
We’ve already gathered that cat litters are essential, but what type to buy? There are many different kinds of cat litter available in the market, as we’ve mentioned earlier.
In this section, we will talk about different types of cat litters to help you in picking one out for your pet:
Although clay litter was the oldest cat litter variety to be available in the market, it is still very popular among cat owners as it is feasible and accessible.
These litters are endlessly customizable; they’re available in low-dust or dust-free forms, can have different scents, and sometimes also contain little clay-made structures to encourage your pet to relieve themselves.
However, the main feature used to distinguish between clay litters is their property of clumping and non-clumping.
The clumping cat litters are suitable for the cat owners who clean the litter box regularly by scooping the urine waste out of it.
On the other hand, the cat owners who dispose of the entire contents of the litter box whenever necessary prefer the non-clumping litter box. The non-clumping cat litter is also a cheap alternative between the two.
Despite all their benefits, the clay litters are not environment-friendly.
Silica Gel Litter
The silica gel litter is gaining popularity among cat owners, which is why various companies are producing it nowadays.
Silica gel litter not only persists longer than the clay litter but also provides better odor control. Moreover, some cats prefer it over clay litter because of its vibrant color and texture.
A bag of silica gel litter is more expensive than clay litter of the same quantity, but since it lasts longer, it is not viewed as an inconvenience by the pet owners.
A brand of silica gel litters, “Pretty Litter,” even has the quality of changing its color if there’s an alarming situation regarding the cat’s urinary health.
Pine litter is made of pine trees and is lightweight. These litters have low dust, are absorbent, and come in both clumping and non-clumping varieties.
The clumping pine litter is grounded and resembles sawdust, while the non-clumping variety appears like a pelleted structure.
Some cat owners prefer pine cat litters over clay cat litter as it is softer and provides better odor control than the latter. Pine cat litter is also more environmentally friendly than clay cat litter.
Wheat litter is an environment-friendly substitute for clay litter. As its name suggests, this litter is made from processed wheat.
A unique aspect of wheat litter is that it is flushable. Additionally, it has the property of clumping and controlling odor.
However, you cannot find different colors or scents in this litter.
Wheat litter changes to sawdust-like material when a cat urinates and can be easily scooped out of the litter box for disposal. All of its properties are more or less similar to pine litter.
Grass litter is similar to pine litter or corn litter in its structure and appearance. It is made up of dried and biodegradable grass seed litter.
Grass litter is dust-free and softer as well as lighter than the traditional clay litter. It is also a natural alternative to clay litter.
However, its availability in the market is scarce in comparison to other cat litters.
Corn litter is an eco-friendly cat litter. Artificially scented, corn litter is biodegradable.
Corn litter is made up of dried corn kernels. It is lightweight and of the clumping type. Some corn litter brands even come with attractants for the cats.
The downside of corn litter is that it produces Aflatoxins, which are fatal to pets.
And although some companies assure that their litters are free from it, it ultimately becomes a deciding factor for the cat owners as they explore their options.
Paper litters are used as an alternative to cat litters as they can be made of processed, recycled paper, or even simply shredded newspaper.
They are both more absorbent and softer than clay litters.
Paper cat litter is commonly used for cats with injuries in their paws since the structure of the paper litter is non-irritable.
The only drawback of paper cat litters is that they are not exemplary for controlling odors and do not clump either, resulting in their short-term use.
Walnut Shell Litter
Walnut shell litter is yet another natural cat litter available in the market. It is made of grounded shells, which provide high absorbency, odor control, and clumping.
The litter is granular in structure and is also biodegradable. Some cat owners believe that it lasts longer than any other type of litter accessible to them.
Although walnut shell litters are dust-free, it is often found that some companies add red or brown dust for the cats to kick it around.
Is cat litter biodegradable?
Did you really think that because most cat litters are advertised as “environment friendly” or “flushable,” they are all biodegradable? If your answer is in the affirmative, let’s clear this out for you.
While many biodegradable options for cat litters are available near you, some of them are also lethal for the environment.
All the cat litter types we talked about earlier in the article are biodegradable, except for clay and silica gel cat litters. These are non-biodegradable and can be dangerous if exposed to the environment.
Unfortunately, these cat litter varieties are also among the most-purchased ones due to their customizability and long-lasting nature.
While these non-biodegradable cat litters might be easier and more convenient for you to deal with, as a responsible citizen, you must choose the biodegradable litters over them.
It is also important to note that if cat wastes and litter are flushed or used as compost without verifying the components of it, then it can pollute the ecosystem.
The problem with flushing down your cat’s waste
Have you ever wondered why not simply flush down your cat’s wastes instead of going through the trouble of scooping it up and putting it in the trash?
This question crosses the mind of every pet owner at some point. But let’s tell you why you shouldn’t be doing that.
Flushing cat litter and waste can spread hazards in your house as well as in the environment.
Although some companies advertise their litters as flushable, they might not be right for your pipes and clog them anyway. Moreover, these can also pollute the water supply of your house.
Our septic system is not designed to break down cat waste, irrespective of the litter used, which is why dumping cat litter or waste into it is a bad idea.
Lastly, cat waste might contain parasites such as Toxoplasma Gondii, which can result in the spread of the disease, Toxoplasmosis. The disease is fatal to people with a weak immune system, especially pregnant women.
If you flush down cat litter or waste into your toilet, this parasite can come into contact with the soil and water of your surroundings, polluting them.
If you use this contaminated water or come in direct contact with the soil, you’re likely to catch the disease, too.
In this article, we have discussed the different types of cat litters, their usability, and their biodegradability.
We also talked about why it is important to use cat litters for your pet and the hazards caused due to irresponsible disposal of your pet cat’s litter and waste.
While clay and silica gel litters are comparatively cheaper and longer-lasting than the other options available in the market, sometimes these can be harmful to the environment. So, remember to do your research while selecting a cat litter for your little pet.