Having looked at the greenest option for dog poo disposal it’s only fair to look at cats. There is one main reason cat poo cannot be thought of in the same way as dog poo…Toxoplasmosis.
Some cats excrete Toxoplasma gondii which is zoonotic (i.e. infects humans). It can cause illness especially in those with a weak immune system and it can cause foetal damage and miscarriage if pregnant women are exposed. (For those of you in farming circles it causes similar problems in sheep – one cat can lead to an abortion storm in an unvaccinated flock!) I was surprised to find out water treatment systems don’t always kill this parasite!! Don’t get me wrong, not all cats are super shedders of this organism. When a cat is first infected it only sheds infective oocysts for around 14 days. With that in mind the first big question is whether or not your cat goes outside.
The 100% Indoor Cat
Here we need cat litter. Clumping cat litters contain clay retrieved from environmentally damaging mining. Many litters also contain silica which isn’t friendly for cat or human lungs. Torn up newspapers are quite a good option although people have less old newspapers lying around these days. If you want to purchase an eco-friendly litter there are lots to choose from. Friendly Natural cat litter made from straw, Yesterday’s News made from newspaper and World’s Best Cat Litter are among an expanding market.
But what do you do with the soiled eco-friendly litter?
The first point to note is that the risk of your cat excreting infective oocysts is minimal. If they have not been outside in the past 2 weeks where could they have picked up Toxoplasmosis from? Now, if you are feeding a raw meat diet then that’s a different matter. But if they have been inside for at least 2 weeks, they are fed “normal” cat food, are otherwise healthy then I see three options…
Bag and Bin
If you read my dog poo review you’ll know I wasn’t too impressed when I discovered that even supposedly biodegradable bags don’t really break down in land fill conditions:-( Really, there is no eco-friendly way to put cat litter in the bin.
Flush it down the Toilet
Having assessed the Toxoplasmosis risk as being negligible this actually seems a pretty good option. Check that your eco-friendly cat litter is suitable for flushing – many of them are.
Similar to dog poo I’d be a little wary of using the end product around veggies or where kids are playing but if you have a use for the end product, maybe around fruit trees, then why not? In the highly unlikely event that your cat somehow was excreting Toxoplasmosis oocysts the heat in the compost bin would probably kill the oocyst anyway. If you want to go down the composting route check out this link for a how to guide. There doesn’t seem to be a cat poo composter on the market in the same way there is for dogs.
Dig a Big Hole
Another option is to dig a big hole and bury the litter. Seems pretty straightforward if you have a suitable site, a shovel and a little time.
The Less than 100% Indoor Cat
Cat which go outdoors are a little more risky in terms of Toxoplasmosis as they pick it up from wildlife. There is no way of knowing if/when your cat has been infected as they don’t get sick. Young cats will be inherently more risky. Although the risk is small it is still present and that means composting and flushing don’t seem like such a great idea. Let’s face it many of these cats will bury their poo themselves and in fact that’s probably the most eco-friendly option! You can’t really argue with nature in this case! If you can train your cat to poo well away from veggies and children then well done:-)
If these cats are also using a litter tray when indoors then I have no better option but to bag and bin the soiled litter.
Technically, you could go down the route of blood testing your cat to try to assess whether it’s been exposed. If you get a positive result then you would reasonably safely open up the flushing and composting options. Whether it’s ethical to take a blood sample from your cat for this purpose is entirely up to you !
Any other ideas let me know!