Understandably, ecologically conscious cat owners would choose kitty litter manufactured from natural materials that won’t harm their health or their pets.
Many commercial cat litters include high levels of silica dust, which has been related to upper respiratory problems in both cats and humans. Chemical scents in many cat litters, on the other hand, can be hazardous to cats. So, cat litter can be bad for the environment.
There are many greener solutions out there due to greater awareness of cats’ health and the environment. Let’s find it out.
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What is Cat Litter Made Of?
Clay and other minerals, natural substances such as pine, wheat, maize, or synthetic crystalline silica are the most common constituents in cat litter.
Most clumping and non-clumping cat litter are made up of various clay types. However, this wasn’t always the case. Cat owners used sand, mud, ash, or old newspaper to fill their cat’s potty box before introducing kitty litter.
For this reason, some people still refer to their cat’s litter box as the “sandbox.”
Edward Lowe handed his friend a container of Fuller’s Earth, a name for clay minerals that can absorb their weight in liquid, in 1947, and current kitty litter was created.
Despite sceptics’ forecasts, cat owners were eager to pay for Fuller’s Earth since it worked so much better than the cheaper (or accessible!) options of sand and paper.
If you browse the litter selection online or at your local pet or grocery shop, you’ll notice that there are many, many different kinds of litter to pick from.
Although most cat litters are modifications of the original Fuller’s Earth recipe, this does not mean that modern cat litters are identical to litters produced after WWII.
Companies experiment with different types of clays and other additives to make kitty litter compositions with varying absorption and odour control levels.
While most cat litters include the same fundamental elements, the kind, composition, and ratios of those chemicals and other additions affect how effectively they perform.
Bentonites, such as sodium bentonite or calcium bentonite, are the most popular clays used in cat litters because they may swell up to 15 times their original volume.
Sepiolite, montmorillonite, and kaolinite are other typical clays used in cat litter formulations, depending on whether the composition is clumping or non-clumping.
To get technical, all clays found in cat litter are hydrous aluminium silicates, which developed millions of years ago from volcanic ash during the Cretaceous era.
These clays function well in cat litter because they retain moisture between the clay layers, providing a negative ionic charge that draws water and liquid.
The negative charge imbalance in the clay is created by cations, which is maybe ideal for its usage in kitty litters (yes, cat-ions). Many clumping cat litters bind cations together by attracting cat urine to them.
The conventional clay, non-clumping recipe accounts for around 40% of cat litter marketed in the United States today, while clumping cat litters consisting of clay and additional additives accounts for the remaining 60%.
How Does Cat Litter Impact The Environment?
Many cat litter impacts the environment adversely since it contains a substantial amount of silica dust.
Clay cat litter is the most often used since it is inexpensive, easy to dispose of, and absorbent. Unfortunately, clay-based cat litter is the worst when it comes to environmental implications.
And as the name implies, the principal ingredient in this cat litter is clay, which comes from the ground. It’s mined using a method that involves removing multiple layers of naturally existing clay from mines.
Remember that mining clay is extremely destructive since clay cannot be replenished, and the mining process has several additional negative consequences.
Clay mining disrupts the ecology by removing rocks and delving into the earth. As a result, several animals and plants lose their homes.
Furthermore, heavy machinery is utilized for transporting and mining the clay, which adds to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
When the clay has served its purpose as cat litter, it is carried to landfills, where the dead materials will serve as the bedrock for future mounds of non-biodegradable waste.
Furthermore, clay litter contributes to deforestation, floods, erosion, and pollution, as well as posing a health concern to your cat.
Clay cat litter is being phased out in favour of silica cat litter. The original formula for making sodium silicate permeable is silica; this cat litter is formed of silica dioxide, the same as quartz. Silica gel is created by combining it with water and oxygen.
Because silica is manufactured from sand, it contains a mining component. Because silica gel is lightweight, it is typically made and exported from other nations. This indicates that it contains a transportation component not seen in clay kitty litter.
The most significant advantage of choosing silica gel-based cat litter over clay litter is that you won’t have to replace it often. Furthermore, it is thought to have a smaller landfill volume.
Unfortunately, there are certain disadvantages to using silica cat litter.
While the waste should be changed regularly, the faeces must be collected from the cat litter and disposed of regularly.
There have been several reports that cat faeces contain the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, linked to the death of sea otters when flushed down the toilet.
Is Normal Cat Litter Biodegradable?
The answer is that it depends on the kitty litter you’re using. In today’s market, both biodegradable and non-biodegradable cat litters are offered.
Biodegradable kinds are constructed of compostable and recyclable materials, while clay and silica gel variants are not.
While there are numerous biodegradable kitty litter alternatives around you, some of them are equally harmful to the environment.
Except for clay and silica gel cat litters, all varieties of cat litter are biodegradable. These are non-biodegradable and can be hazardous if left in the environment.
Unfortunately, these kitty litter variations are also among the most popular because of their customizability and long-lasting nature.
While non-biodegradable cat litters may be quicker and easier to deal with, you must select biodegradable litters over them as a responsible citizen.
It’s also worth noting that flushing or using cat excrement and litter as compost without first checking the contents might harm the ecology.
What Kind Of Cat Litter Is Biodegradable?
Environmentally friendly cat litter can be called biodegradable.
As previously said, there are many different types of cat litter available on the market.
We’ll go through the many varieties of biodegradable cat litters in this part to help you choose the right one for your pet:
1. Pine Litter
Pine litter is a lightweight material created from pine trees. These litters are dust-free, absorbent, and available in clumping and non-clumping versions.
The clumping pine litter looks like sawdust and is grounded, whereas the non-clumping pine litter looks like a pelleted structure.
Pine cat litter is preferred by some cat owners over clay cat litter because it is softer and provides better odour control. Pine cat litter is also less harmful to the environment than clay cat litter.
2. Wheat Litter
Wheat litter is a better-for-the-environment alternative to clay litter. This litter is created from processed wheat, as the name implies.
Wheat litter is unique in that it may be flushed. It also can cluster together and suppress odour.
On the other hand, this litter does not come in a variety of colours or fragrances.
When a cat urinates, wheat litter transforms into sawdust-like debris that can be readily scooped out of the litter box for disposal. All of its features are similar to pine litter in some way.
3. Corn Litter
Corn litter is a non-toxic cat litter that is good for the environment. Corn litter is biodegradable and artificially perfumed.
Dried maize kernels make up corn litter. It’s a clumping type that’s lightweight. Some varieties of maize litter even include cat attractants.
Corn litter has the disadvantage of producing Aflatoxins, which are harmful to pets.
Although some producers claim their litters are devoid of it, it eventually becomes a determining factor for cat owners when weighing their alternatives.
4. Grass Litter
In terms of structure and appearance, grass litter is comparable to pine litter or maize litter. It’s constructed of dried grass seed litter that’s biodegradable.
Grass litter is dust-free and softer than regular clay litter, as well as being lighter. It’s also a healthier option than clay litter.
However, compared to other cat litters, its availability on the market is limited.
5. Paper Litter
Paper litters, comprised of processed, recycled paper, or even shredded newspaper, are used as an alternative to cat litter.
They are softer and more absorbent than clay litters.
Because the nature of paper cat litter is non-irritable, it is frequently used for cats with paw injuries.
The sole disadvantage of paper cat litter is that they are poor at regulating smells and do not clump, making them only suitable for short-term use.
6. Walnut Shell Litter
Another natural cat litter option on the market is walnut shell litter. It’s constructed of ground shells, excellent absorbency, odour control, and clumping properties.
The trash is biodegradable and has a granular texture. Some cat owners say it lasts longer than any other sort of litter they can get their hands on.
Even though walnut shell litters are dust-free, some businesses add red or brown dust for the cats to kick about.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is cat litter not biodegradable?
The clay in cat litter is a mineral-based natural soil component called calcium montmorillonite or clumping sodium bentonite. In a landfill or a compost pile, neither kind degrades further. So, even though both are found in nature, they are not strictly biodegradable.
What is the most environmentally safe cat litter?
Littermaid Premium Walnut Litter is made from repurposed food waste and creates very little dust. Littermaid Premium Walnut Litter is created from the discarded shells of edible walnuts, making it one of the most environmentally friendly natural cat litters available.
Is biodegradable cat litter flushable?
Biodegradable cat litter is created from components that decompose in the environment. It is safe to flush down the toilet since it does not harden when combined with water. Clay and silica are frequently included in traditional cat litter and should not be flushed.
While clay and silica gel litters are less expensive and endure longer than other solutions on the market, they can occasionally be hazardous to the environment. So, while choosing a cat litter for your pet, remember to do your homework.
Ask your questions in the comments section below.