Living with a cat

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Krystal Krystal
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Living with a cat

Hi fellow Zero-Wasters!

We have a wonderful cat, so wonderful, but I have noticed that she generally creates more waste than my dog. For example, we cannot flush cat litter in my city (Seattle), so that's a few bags a week in the trash (opposed to my dog, who is one bag a month or so from the yard). I also would love any solutions for dog waste, but I hate the amount of bags I need for my cat. Changing her to an outdoor only cat and getting rid of the litter is a non-negotiable for us, so that is out.

Any thoughts on this would be great.
Reed Reed
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Re: Living with a cat

I have been trying to work on this as well.

City Farmer offers an interesting take on dog waste disposal here:
http://cityfarmer.org/petwaste.html

Cat litter has been especially tricky for me too…  I think some people go to Petco because they offer clay litter in bulk.   Bulk is great (no packaging), but clay presents some challenges.  I believe it is a non-renewable resource.  Also, you do still have something to put into the trash because you can’t compost it.  
About a month ago, I tried something called Swheat Scoop.  It’s wheat based and a by-product of the industry so the company touts it as more renewable.  So far, I like it (we’ll see how it goes).  I’ve been hot composting everything but the poo (still have to pitch that and the bag unfortunately…) but it looks like I might not have to buy it as often as the clay based stuff I had been using before, so less packaging in the trash and less product too, thanks to composting.  It’s a little more expensive, but I’m hoping it will average out if I have to buy less of it.  It’s a work in progress.
Susan Susan
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Re: Living with a cat

Hi,
    For a small investment, (about $40.00) you can get the Tidy Cat system. I've used ours now for five years, and will never go back!  It's basically a litter box with a drip pan system. You purchase bags of pellets. They're hard white pellets that, (in our case) I make last for months. There is virtually no odor if you follow a few rules, and much less waste.
    First of all, they sell "pads" for the lower drainage area. I do not use these, too expensive. I use paper towels, (two in length) and with one cat, change it every other day. The pellets, like I said, I make last. The only odor is when our male cat first defecates. I or my daughter, whoever happens to be around, scoops this and drops it directly into the toilet. (To save water etc., I sometimes do it along with, ahem, my own, in the morning, TMI?) Anyway,  the urine drains into the lower tray.
   The reason cat boxes smell so bad, is that the urine mixes with the feces in the awful clumping mixture.  I toss the paper towels into the small trash bags I keep from some shopping, (mostly use totes for shopping, but occasionally accept the bags for this purpose.)  This way I'm tossing it along with whatever we've thrown out in the bathroom.  (I work and support my youngest daughter alone, so haven't been able as yet to be as trash free as I'd like, but I'm working on it!:)  
     I purchase the pellets in bulk. I recently bought a year's supply, (four bags) for less than half price on Amazon. With shipping and the savings, it was still much less than normal. Again I stretch it. It does NOT have to be changed very often if you follow the steps I outlined.
    I sometimes sprinkle some baking powder in the box to freshen it. I highly recommend this system to everyone!
Jay Jay
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Susan:
Have you learned anything regarding dumping used pellets* into a compost cart with curb side pickup? With the larger, hotter, industrial type processing, I'm wondering if it might be OK. What do you think?
*Tidy Cat says pellets are wax (think cheese) coated zeolite...
Sandra Sandra
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Re: Living with a cat

In reply to this post by Krystal
I recently switched to Swheat Scoop cat litter, and I've noticed a decrease in the amount of litter I have to throw out (compared to using a clay-based litter). The Swheat Scoop litter is also less heavy than clay-based litter, so you won't have to lug around as heavy a box. I tried another natural brand called Feline Pine but found that the Swheat Scoop litter clumped better. Up until recently, I had been flushing the used litter in the toilet until I learned that this is discouraged by my town's ordinance on safe water practices. I now put the waste in a paper bag and place it in the trash.

Reducing pet waste is still a work in progress for me, too. It's great to hear what others are doing to solve this problem.
KarinSDCA KarinSDCA
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We just ran out of a huge box of Swheat Scoop I had found in the clearance area of the local grocery store. My husband went back to the pet store for Feline Pine (clumping version) and they have changed the formula. It works AMAZINGLY better than the Swheat Scoop. We have zero odor. Zero! And it clumps so well, it can be scooped immediately. It tracks a lot less, too. We keep the litter content lower than recommended to keep the mess to a minimum.

We focused our waste-less strategies with our cat on the front end. We feed her a raw food diet. Her food and our food are the same in many cases (her portion comes out before the cooking process), so there is no extra waste. When we go on vacation, we leave high-quality canned food for the caregivers (neighbors) to give her. Her bodily wastes are dramatically lower and less smelly on her regular raw food diet. Well, solid waste. Urine output is a little higher, which is good for cat urinary tract health, but it smells a lot less. A raw food diet for a 7.5 pound cat is a lot cheaper than the high-quality canned food (grain-free; cats are obligate carnivores).

Back to output, we have spent time training our cat to use the toilet. All kinds of "issues" came up in the midst of our training, so it has taken for-ever. (Major flood and subsequent complete reconstruction; extended company; more construction; vacations; etc...) Anyway, the bottomline for her was she would urinate in the toilet using a homemade cardboard insert. She had just started pooping in the toilet once in awhile when yet another "issue" came up to disrupt our progress / training. We haven't gotten back to it yet...
MTNgirl MTNgirl
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Re: Living with a cat

This works well with one of our cats:  http://www.envirokats.com/system.html.  The other two prefer the traditional clay.  We have gradually switched them over to a corncob type similar to Swheatscoop.  So far, so good-no kitty rebellions.

We would like to try to train him to go on the toilet though.  Karin, how does the homemade cardboard insert work?  And how did you get your cat to use it?  We have looked at the "CitiKitty," system but can't decide whether or not to purchase it.  
Katie Katie
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Re: Living with a cat

Hmm...I might have to try Feline Pine or Swheatscoop again...It has been several years since we tried to "green" our cat's litter box and both failed for us. Thanks for the recommendations!

Our local co-op (Kent, OH) has bulk cat food. I have gotten a bit for our cat to try but I am hesitant to switch him to it 100%. He has had digestive issues in the past and we finally have him settled in to a healthier routine. I am considering doing a 50/50 mix of his regular food and the bulk food. He seems to like the bulk food and then we could cut our waste down a bit as well.

Crazy how much a cat affects the ZW lifestyle!

Jay Jay
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Re: Living with a cat

In reply to this post by Jay
Ah cats!
Well, we actually have switched to the Tidy Cats system. So far, so good. Amazon Prime is definitely the cost efficient way to go.
We had been using World's Greatest cat litter, and I really like many aspects of it. However tracking had become a pretty bad problem despite our dogs' predilection for corn powder. After finding a surprise drift of corn dust under a rug (ugh), we made the switch. Can't do the toilet bit as we are a one bathroom household, and DH won't share.
I doubt I can compost the pellets, so that's an issue. Maybe casting into the bushes, whatever, since the cats are free of parasites, etc? Technically zeolite is good for the soil. Also have to, somehow, deal with packaging from the "system".

BTW, personally, wouldn't recommend bulk food for cats or dogs, unless you can get a trustworthy list of ingredients. Zero Waste includes production processes, and, I would think, the health of your pets. At the least, I'd talk to your Vet.

Another concept we're going to try is vermiculture for dog waste. We already have a deep hole from a foray with a Doggie Dooley (we didn't keep up with the required watering) and my research suggests worms, given no other choice, will digest the stuff with gusto. We'll see.
 
KarinSDCA KarinSDCA
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Re: Living with a cat

In reply to this post by MTNgirl
MTNgirl - It was a slow process. Two steps forward, one step back. LOL

1. Move to the smallest litter box you can find.
2. Reduce the amount of litter gradually; very gradually. This is the biggest hang-up for most cats!!!! If your litter is not toilet-friendly, switch to one that is at some point in the process before step 5.
3. Move the litter box next to the toilet.
4. Raise the litter box slowly on very sturdy platform of some kind. (We switched out various boxes.)
5. Secure the existing litter box to the toilet. (We used duct tape successfully, but also tried string and bungee cords. LOL)
6. Switch to a shallow cardboard box on top of the toilet and cut a small hole in the center. Keep litter to a minimum and in the outer areas, away from hole. Make sure your litter is toilet-friendly. (We used the office paper box lids from DH's work and the ones Costco offers with your purchases.)
7. Gradually widen the hole. At some point, the cardboard box will no longer hold up. Switch boxes before that.
8. Experiment with removing one side of a box and sliding the box between the toilet seat and the toilet. Gradually reduce all sides and litter.
9. Eventually, you end up with a flat cardboard insert roughly the shape of the toilet seat between the seat and the toilet. Then, remove the insert.

Go slow and let your cat be your guide. Our kitty flew through the first six steps with no complaints, then it was a slow progression from there. Mostly because we had to keep taking her box off the toilet for various reasons (construction-related mostly) and moving her box around the house.

You would need at least two toilets in the house for this to work during the training process since you are securing the box to the toilet for several weeks. Once you get to removing a side and sliding it under the toilet seat, then it is pretty easy to remove and replace for human use, too. One could try jumping to that step after getting kitty used to the height of the toilet with the box next to and level with the toilet. Some cats may be okay with that big of a transition; some might not.
reed reed
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Re: Living with a cat

Wow Karin, that is fabulous!  I am so impressed :)  
Sandra Sandra
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Re: Living with a cat

In reply to this post by MTNgirl
Hi, MTNgirl. I've been hoping to hear more feedback on the Envirokats reusable litter. Would you mind sharing your thoughts on how it is working out? I'm really curious to hear more about the clean-up. Is it easy to do, where do you dispose of the waste, and does the litter capture odors? Much appreciated, Sandra.
MTNgirl MTNgirl
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Re: Living with a cat

I really like the Envirokats and it doesn't stink!!  I filled the bottom "tray" with about a half a liter of water and a few drops of essential oil.  The urine all drains through to the bottom tray and suprisingly no-cat urine smell.  Not even when I emptied the urine out about 4 days later.  

Our older cats absolutely won't use the Envirokats, but our new cat will.  We have him in my daughter's room at night and during the day while we are at work.  The regular cat box reeks to high heaven, but when I switched it out for the Envirokats one, no odor-except with fresh stool.  

Unfortunately, we are switching over his cat food and his stools have been a little loose.  All the ground up tire bits stick to the stool so you loose quite a bit each time you scoop.  I switched him back to the corn cob litter for now, but when his stools "firm" up, I am going back to the Envirokats.
Krystal Krystal
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Re: Living with a cat

In reply to this post by Krystal
You guys are great! For those who haven't had the best of luck with Swheat Scoop, we have used World's Best, which I feel works much better, but comes in large plastic bags(!), and I can't seem to find a location that sells this bulk! We use the multi-cat formula even though we have just one cat, because it does last longer.

Right now, we are taking out our "Microcan" (small garbage box) about once every 6-8 weeks, and most of it is bags of cat litter! I have also looked into the composting of dog waste *separate from other compost, on it's own*, and that might be something we are going to put into the works here once we fix up or backyard compost (right now we are shipping everything out to the city/Cedar Grove).

Indoor cats can be so wasteful, good to get the conversation going!
mary mary
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Re: Living with a cat

In reply to this post by KarinSDCA
Karin:Awesome idea about the raw food diet!  Unfortunaltey, I myself am vegetarian.  Dont know how i feel about buying meat for my cat.  Although, the other day when i bought fish for the first time in my own plastic container, i got an extra piece for her and she loved it slightly grilled.     But, my catfood is in a waxy kindof paper bag.  Dont really know whether it is recylcable but i put it in there anyway.

As for the toilet....I was able to find small wooden pellets(sold in aheavy plastic bag but locally made from recycled saw dust) and transitioned from the regular clay litter and it worked for a bit.  Then i went on vacation for a week and came home to a nasty smelly bathroom(where her litter is)   I then tried changing to corn cob litter, also sold in a heavy plastic bag( but with a ziploc closure, good for re-use).   Unfortunatley, its still not to her satisfaction.  She is peeing on the floor beside her litter, or on occasion outside.  

Should i go back to clay litter and start over?  I am wondering if i didn't transition long enough from the clay?   Any thoughts?

Nerissa Nerissa
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Re: Living with a cat

Hi Susan!

I totally understand your reluctance to buy and handle raw meat as a vegetarian. I am a pescetarian and am in the process of switching my year-old cat to a raw diet because she was getting a little overweight on high-carb commercial cat food. she's loving it but its definitely a challenge for me. I find it easier to buy meat that has already been diced into relatively small pieces so that I have to do as little as possible myself, other than portion it. My partner is a vegetarian as well and he gets all pale and nauseous if he comes into the meat hall of the market.

Maybe a quality wet food in a recyclable can might be an option?

It definitely reduces how often she uses the litter tray though, which is good because it means less to throw away. In australia we have s brand called breeder's choice which is made from recycled paper and comes in big paper packages (i also appreciate the handle at the top of the package, so you dont need sn additional bag to carry it). We're still not sure of how best to dispose of the litter though, at the moment it's going to landfill. We have considered installing some kind of 'digester' in our yard. The idea is that you remove the bottom from a big bin with a lid, half bury it somewhere far away from any edible crops, and put the waste in there to decompose into the soil. Does anyone have any other suggestions?
Nerissa Nerissa
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Re: Living with a cat

In reply to this post by mary
Oops, not Susan, I meant Mary.
T T
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Alternative Litter

In reply to this post by Krystal
I have two cats and one time when we ran out of cat litter and couldnt get any more for awhile we did two things. We resorted to filling their litter box with straight dirt from our yard or using wood shavings that we had around the house. One of my cats is an outdoor cat so he already was used to going to  the bathroom in dirt/wood bits but the other cat is an indoor cat who has never spent a day outside. Even though it took a little time for her to adjust to the new 'litter' she used it just fine. Its definitely something thats more natural and healthier for them as well as easily biodegradable.