By Guest Blogger Alex, Auckland, NZ.
Image: Alex (human) with Pippi (tabby cat) and Bodhi (black cat)
Here is my scintillating Kitty litter saga!
When I got my two cats, Pippi and Bodhi, I chose So Phresh Clumping Litter with Activated Charcoal because I thought it was an eco-friendly option. You can buy it in bulk from Animates (so no plastic bags), and the info says: “100% Natural. Made from clay and charcoal, no added chemicals.” I thought- clay- well that’s just dirt isn’t it? Totally natural! It must be eco-friendly! It also seemed relatively cheap compared to other litter products at the pet store.
I started putting the used litter into my compost bin, but then got advice that cat poo can be very toxic and should not be used to make compost that might end up in a food garden. Also- the cats generated a lot of used cat litter and the stuff was beginning to fill up my bin, and not show any sign of breaking down into compost. It looked more like it was turning into concrete. I don’t have my own garden here as I share a yard with other flats, and also I rent- and so I couldn’t bury the used litter here.
I even asked a friend if I could bury the waste out on their rural property - far away from food gardens out in the bush, which we did once. Then Covid hit and I had to manage the waste here at my place by myself.
I then – feeling very guilty- started putting the bags in my general rubbish bin that goes to land fill. I have felt awful about this but couldn’t work out what else to do. In a landfill clay-based litter, tied up in a little plastic bag is not biodegradable.
Whilst in lockdown I started to investigate what Clay-based litter is and where it actually comes from. I was shocked to discover that it is not actually eco-friendly at all. There are a few websites that explain this including:
Basically, Clay-based litter is made from raw bentonite clay that is strip-mined in places like Wyoming and Brazil. It takes a lot of energy to mine, and then treat, not to mention package and ship to our stores in NZ. Strip mining also causes environmental devastation. To add insult to injury, there is a lot of information to suggest that Clay-based litter can contain silica dust which is a carcinogen. This type of litter has also linked with digestive problems in cats when they clean themselves, and also asthma and respiratory issues in humans and pets due to the dust.
I don’t know where and how SoPhresh manufactures their Clay-based cat litter. It’s very hard to track the whakapapa of the product through google searches. I am not happy with this lack of transparency.
So- the stuff that I thought was a sensible ecologically-aware choice has turned out to be not only environmentally catastrophic all the way from manufacture to disposal, but also possible actually harmful to the health of both me and my pets. Epic fail.
I started to look for a cat litter alternative that was more ecologically sound, but also effective to use… and also cheap. I wanted something that would ideally limit the smell, and allow me to scoop out the poo and wee. I tried a few options until I came across a website that suggested the use of wood pellets- the kind that people use to light fires. I tried them with my cats- and am (currently!) totally sold on them as an excellent eco cat litter.
I found Azwood Energy Eco Pellets: https://www.azwood.co.nz/, and also Nature’s Flame wood pellet fuel: https://www.naturesflame.co.nz/shop/Wood+Pellet+Fuel.html
Here is why I like wood pellets for kitty litter:
The only downsides: