Knowing how to dispose of cat litter properly is part of a responsible cat-parenthood. But what to do with used cat litter?
Indeed, your duty doesn’t end with getting your cat the litter he likes. And, no one should just care less about litter disposal.
In fact, many have already suffered from other people’s irresponsibility. Piles of non-biodegradable garbage being dumped into landfills, pipes getting clogged, waterways getting contaminated, and innocent people getting sick — all because of improper handling of waste.
So, what should be the best way to dispose of cat litter?
Let me answer this question to the best of my ability. Read on so we can all start breaking it down.
Using a Trash Can to Dispose of Cat Litter
One of the most common litter disposal methods is to simply use a trash can. I should say that that’s quite responsible, considering the fact that most communities already have their way of segregating wastes properly.
Now before you toss that bag of used cat litter into the trash, you need to take some preliminary steps. I’ll discuss them in the following numbered list.
Generally speaking, this is how to dispose of used cat litter.
1. Purchase heavy-duty bags for heavier cat litter
One thing you want to avoid is getting the trash bag torn by the litter. When that does happen, I can’t even begin to imagine how messy it can go. So, the best kind of trash bag to use is one that’s thick and heavy-duty. This is especially necessary if you’re using clay cat litters. Clay-based litters are pretty dense, so they can easily stretch and tear through a trash bag.
Now, if you had to stick to typical and thinner household trash bags, consider double-layering. That is, put two thin bags together so they can function as one heavy-duty trash bag. Double-layering can provide that much-needed extra support when carrying dense clumps or particles of litter.
By the way, even if you don’t use a clay-based litter but have multiple cats to attend to, it still pays to use a thick trash bag or to put together two thin bags. The total volume of litter you’re going to dispose of will be much larger. You know you wouldn’t want all that go stuff coming out of a tear.
2. Put a trash bag in the trash can before you pour in the cat litter
You’ve probably tried holding the trash bag with your bare hands and then pouring litter into it. I’ve done that, too, and it was not good. Bits and pieces of the litter have fallen off the floor. Needless to say, I was disgusted by the method.
What I’d recommend instead is for you to put the trash bag in a trash can first. The trash bin can give a more defined structural support, holding the trash bag wide open and steady. Only then can you pour the litter without the fear of unnecessary spills.
3. Use a separate trash bag for cat litter
As a rule of hygiene, it would be best for you to use a separate trash bag for your cat litter. While technically, you are free to mix up the litter with organic waste (with manure or with anything rotten), I won’t recommend doing so.
Here’s one reason. You may still repurpose some of your organic waste, e.g., your garden waste, and put it in your compost pit. As for the litter, it’s not always compostable. In most cases, you should rather identify it with toxic waste. In doing so, you will make it easier for garbage collectors to do their job of segregating the waste properly — separating those that can potentially harm humans or the environment.
4. Use a new trash bag every time
Each time you dump a whole batch of used litter (i.e., when it’s time to dispose of all the litter box contents to begin using a new batch), you should close that trash bag up. I mean, close it for good. The next time you do a big dump, you’ll have to use a new and fresh trash bag.
That is to say, you shouldn’t let the used litter stay in a trash bag for a very long time while waiting for a few more dumps.
It will be more hygienic to get rid of the contaminated bag rather than to invite bacteria into the exposed used litter. If you disregard this advice, it’s like purposefully letting your whole house suffer from nasty stinks and a swarm of flies.
Compost Cat Litter
How to dispose of cat poop without plastic? I’ve briefly mentioned composting just a while ago. Now let me stress out something. Instead of filling in landfills with more piles of litter, you can actually try composting. But you can only do that if you’re using compostable cat litters, organically dispose of cat litter.
Rather than dumping these litters into the trash, you can process them in a compost pit so that, eventually, you can turn them into fertilizer.
By choosing to use biodegradable and compostable litters, you will be saving the environment in many ways. You’d be doing your part to reduce the amount of garbage being dumped into landfills. Plus, when you choose to compost a biodegradable litter, you can have a natural fertilizer, refraining from the use of a chemical-laden commercial counterpart.
Again, you can only compost a “compostable” litter. Clay-based and silica crystal litters are definitely not biodegradable, so dumping them along with the browns and greens from your yard will do no good. They simply cannot break down under that pile of dirt.
So, what are some compostable cat litters? The most common ones are those made of wheat, corn, wood, and other natural and organic materials.
Let’s dig deeper into composting.
How to compost cat litter
How to dispose of cat litter the green way? Among all the many different ways to compost, there are two methods that stand out and are popular among households: the bucket method and the in-ground compost method.
1. Bucket method of composting
The bucket method requires, of course, a bucket or a bin. It’s usually easy to manage; you can even recycle an old bucket and dump the litter there along with other composting matter. You may also buy a specialized composting bin, such as a composting tumbler, so you can mix in the composting ingredients without turning them over with a stick by your hand.
One downside with using buckets is that you can only compost a small amount of matter at a time. Well, to be fair, this might not be a real issue if you have only one cat.
2. In-ground composting
An in-ground compost pit can provide you with a wider and even deeper area to work on. So, it can welcome and handle more waste volume at a time. The only real concern here is finding where to set up the compost pit. It should not be anywhere near a water source; otherwise, the compost’s runoff and leaching can contaminate your water.
Meanwhile, there’s actually an easy DIY hybrid approach that combines the style of the two methods above.
If you want to know more about this hybrid system of composting your pet’s waste and their litter, here’s a helpful, step-by-step video tutorial:
How to dispose of cat litter without plastic bags
Well, then, here’s my advice.
Use a biodegradable trash bag, paper bags for cat litter disposal to collect the soiled litter from the litter box. This way, you can throw the bag itself into the composter, instead of opening the bag up and emptying it to let the litter and waste out (which is just unthinkable and eww).
How to Dispose of Specific Types of Cat Litter
At this point, you might have already realized that different types of cat litter have their corresponding ideal methods of disposal. So far, I’ve mentioned clay-based, crystal, and compostable litters. Let’s check out how you ought to get rid of the other, more specific types of litter.
Flush Recycled Newspaper Cat Litter With Caution
Recycled newspaper cat litter is actually an eco-friendly option in and of itself. It’s been processed in a way that makes use of post-consumer newspapers, causing no harm to the environment.
In terms of disposal, however, it may cause the same concerns that we have about clay and crystal litter. I’m talking about trying to flush them down the toilet.
You see, unlike toilet paper, recycled newspapers won’t break apart as easily. So, just as you would never flush a clay-based or silica litter, you should be hesitant about flushing a recycled newspaper litter.
Although some manufacturers claim that their newspaper litter is flushable, flushing is not necessarily the most ideal option for your pipes and for your sewage system.
So, please, exercise caution about flushing your newspaper cat litter. Perhaps, the better way to handle its disposal is to switch to composting, since this litter is biodegradable, anyway.
Scoop and Throw Away Clay Clumping Litters
Earlier, I’ve only discussed why clay litters should be dumped into heavy-duty trash bags. This time, I have to emphasize that scooping and bagging clay clumping litters should be the only proper way of disposing of them. They simply do not break down.
So here’s what you should do.
- Scoop the clumps of litter using a litter scooper.
- Put the scooped clumps into a thick or double-layered trash bag.
- Tie the bag to close it tightly. Throw it into an outdoor trash bin and never into an indoor trash can. You’d want to get rid of the odor and germs, taking them as far as possible from your immediate home environment.
- Don’t forget about the litter scooper. Clean it with a disinfectant or bleach after each use. Then, store it in a zipper bag so that any bacteria that would live on will just stay on the scoop and won’t spread around your home.
Here’s an important note about scooping clay cat litter: they can produce harmful clay dust during litter box clean-ups. So, before you scoop, be sure to wear a mask to prevent yourself from inhaling clay dust.
Scoop and Toss Silica Clumping Litter
Just as you should scoop and throw away a clay clumping litter, so should you scoop and toss a silica clumping litter into the trash.
Thankfully, a silica clumping litter doesn’t produce as much dust as clay litters during clean-ups. Still, inhaling or ingesting silica clumping litter dust is linked to potential health problems. So, you should still watch yourself and put on that mask whenever you have to dispose of the litter.
As for the disposal procedure, simply follow the same steps that I’ve outlined for the clumping clay litter.
Flushing Cat Waste
Let’s talk about flushing again.
How to dispose of cat poop in an apartment? If you’re living in an apartment, you know how convenient it would be to simply flush your cat’s solid waste down the toilet. But, should you choose to do so, you’ll need to check first with your local waste management company if their waste treatment methods can actually kill the pathogens and bacteria in cat feces. If the answer is yes, of course, that would paint a smile on your face.
But, can you actually flush cat litter along with the feces?
Not all the time, and not for all kinds of litter, I should say. And not even for all kinds of situations.
To be specific, those living in coastal areas and near the community’s major waterways should refrain from flushing down their cat litter. Here’s why: cat waste may contain Toxoplasma gondii. It’s a harmful bacteria that causes toxoplasmosis. It can contaminate our water sources and make us all sick.
Now, if you’re not living in any such areas and you couldn’t possibly contribute to water contamination, then you could go ahead and flush.
But wait — you have to familiarize yourself first with the kinds of litter that are actually flushable.
You Can Flush Wheat and Corn Litters
Wheat and corn litters may possess some natural clumping abilities, but these are not as effective at clumping as clay, silica, or newspaper litters. This is why many pet owners find it less risky to flush down wheat and corn litters.
Well, I’d also agree. In my experience, there are several flushable corn-based and wheat-based litters that you can safely flush. The general rule is that you should only flush a few clumps at a time. Never dump a whole batch into the toilet, or else, you’d increase the chances of clogging your pipes.
Also, since wheat and corn litters generally couldn’t clump too well, you might have to check the litter box a little more carefully. There might be some scattered pieces that your scooper has failed to catch.
You Can Flush Pine Litters
Another type of flushable and biodegradable cat litter is the pine litter. It’s made from pine lumber. One great thing about this litter is that it can bind well with your cat’s waste. Moreover, it’s non-clumping and disintegrates very easily.
For this reason, pine litter is safe for flushing.
While it’s not as absorbent as clay litter (which is why it might require you to clean the litter box more often), pine litter is highly praised by many cat parents because of its eco-friendliness and ease of disposal.
Don’t Flush Clumping Litter Down the Toilet
Before I close this article, I’d like to re-emphasize the fact that standard clumping litters should never be dumped and flushed into the toilet. By ‘standard clumping,’ I’m referring to silica and clay clumping litters. (And I don’t mean to include biodegradable ones such as wheat and corn. We’ve already talked about their limited clumping abilities.)
Both silica and clay clumping litters have excellent absorption capacities, so they’re really great at keeping the litter box dry and confining the odors within the internal structure of their particles. But, this high absorption capability won’t be any good when exposed again to the water that’s in the toilet bowl and in the pipes. The clumps of clay and silica litter can swell dramatically, causing troublesome blockages in your plumbing system.
So, the best way to dispose of clay and silica litters is to bag them and throw them into the trash can. Never flush.
In closing, I have to remind you that proper cat litter disposal is as important as keeping your feline satisfied with his cat litter.
- As much as possible, switch to an eco-friendly cat litter.
- Use biodegradable trash bags. Double-layer if the litter you’re using is dense.
- Make it a habit to compost.
- Flush down the litter only if it is, in fact, (i) flushable, (ii) safe enough for your local sewage facility to handle, and (iii) far enough from major waterways.
Now that you’ve learned a few insights as to how to dispose of cat litter the greenway. If you still got any questions regarding litter disposal, feel free to leave a comment down below. Stay responsible!