My attempts towards a zero waste cat are still a work-in-progress, but here what I have done so far.
I buy scoopable kitty litter in bulk from Petco (I reuse and fill a container from my old brand of litter), line the litter box with a Biobag (may try using newspaper/junk mail next), and dispose of the small clumps of used litter in the toilet. Some comments on the blog object to disposing of kitty litter this way because of concerns over toxoplasmosis. My cat is indoors only and has tested negative for Toxoplasma gondii, so I feel comfortable doing this. If you read through the comments on the June 2010 "Zero Waste Dog or Rat" post, there are several great suggestions on ways to set up a separate compost container for pet waste.
I don't know about zero waste, but our cat generates a little less waste than the average house cat.
We feed her a raw food diet, so zero cans or bags of cat food. She eats the same meat we do for the most part (portion hers out while it is cold and raw, let it warm to room temp naturally, feed), so the packaging is the same (no more than we'd already generate). It could be reduced further by finding a butcher who will reuse our own glass jars, which I have yet to find. BTW, she eats the bones raw, so even less waste than humans.
By feeding a raw food diet, the housepets generally have a much lower volume of solid waste and it doesn't smell nearly as much as when we feed her high quality canned pet food under certain circumstances (vacations, major home repairs due to first floor flooding, etc). She's using more of the nutrients, so there is less waste.
We attempted to toilet train her when she was a kitten and we got as far as having the litter box (made of recycled cardboard at the time) taped securely on top of the toilet with very little litter. She refused to go no litter, so we couldn't make it to the next step (no litter; create hole in litter box and gradually widen hole; then remove box altogether). Granted, we were doing a LOT of major repairs after a big flood, so it wasn't exactly the most ideal circumstances for a cat. We've talked about restarting the training now that life is back to normal.
She is a naturally small cat (7.1 pounds consistently since about a year old), so we never had to buy a bigger litter box than the smallest one. Small litter box means less kitty litter. We buy Feline Pine clumping, so we scoop frequently and don't have to dump the whole box very often.
Low litter volume combined with less solid waste and she is a "less waste cat"...LOL
How/where do you have your cat tested for that disease? Our cat is indoors, but we also take her outside in our backyard several times a week - supervised - in order to roll on the warm concrete and nibble on the greens we have growing. Her favorite is parsley, but I also grow catgrass inside for her and she has a field day in that basket! LOL
I had the test done at the vet's office, when my cat went in for a yearly check-up. I think the test is administered at least twice over a two week period (the incubation time for the parasite).
How did you transition your cat from canned pet food to the raw food diet? Mine is such a picky eater. It was difficult to get her to switch from bagged dry food to the one I found in bulk at Whole Foods.
Toilet training would certainly reduce the additional waste produced by kitty litter. Not sure I'd be able to share a toilet with a cat, though. I already have a hard enough time getting the human family members to wipe down the seat;)
She was a rescue kitty and very young when we got her (estimated birthday is mid-Jan 2009 and we got her in early Mar - she weighed less than one pound). I had already done the research on raw food feeding and had already discussed it with DH. When this opportunity came up, I did a little brush-up research since it had been a year or so. I read that transitioning wasn't really a good idea for cats because of the way their stomachs work. I don't recall the details at the moment, but I believe it has to do with an enzyme cats naturally have that we humans lack.
We knew this kitten had been eating vet-type food and she'd already had serious trauma in her life. We started her immediately on high quality wet food (Wellness kitten+similar brands) until her teeth came in and looked stronger (early May). We started with raw meat with bones and crushed the bones with a hammer and cut up the raw meat into tiny pieces to help her along (red meat and chicken at first). She was tiny and didn't need a lot of food, but she was ravenous! We let her eat as much as she wanted and it was a JOY to watch her eat!!! She loved every morsel! We gradually cut the meat into larger and larger pieces and crushed the bones less and less until she could eat an entire raw chicken wing all by herself. She never could eat the red meat bones despite us pounding the heck out of them, so we just gave her cuts of beef without bones for a few days and then alternated with chicken with bones for a few days. She also loves raw fish with bones and skin, which we tossed in the shower to let her go to town on...she flings it all over the place, into the air, attacking it, etc. HILARIOUS!!!
She likes turkey, but is not fond of pork at all. No matter what part of the pig, she won't touch pork of any kind. Our source for raw whole fish stopped carrying it, so she gets part of our fish before it is cooked. She likes it okay, but she prefers it slightly cooked. Nowadays her fish is the scraps from a package and then the leftovers from our plates and she likes raw catfish (we don't). She'll gobble up any type of fish. The staple is chicken and she eats raw thighs with bones now that she is older, which we also eat. Cut off the bone with some meat for her and give her the skin; cut the rest of the meat up for dishes for us. Or, just toss her a whole raw thigh.
The bones and skin are important for cat nutrition. The bones MUST be raw! Cooked bones can splinter and seriously harm a cat. We alternate raw meat with bones and raw meat without bones, so she gets a variety of different nutrients (different meats have different nutrients) even though she is too small to gnaw through a meat bone, for example. We just found raw lamb with tiny bones and will be trying that out in a few days.
We also give her a tiny bit of rice and veggies once in awhile. And she gets the leftover bits of raw egg anytime we eat eggs. Etc...
EnviroKats litter made from shredded tires has really made a difference in a 3-cat house. We maintain one conventional box (world's best) for a picky cat, but have significantly reduced the amount of landfill waste.
Thanks for the mention about the EnviroKats litter, Jo. It sounds intriguing, a reusable litter box system. How do you dispose of the solid waste, and do you recommend a certain way of "rinsing" the litter out?
I just saw this thread! I have tried kitty litter that is flushable and compostable and my cats hated it. They only like the clay kind. But I love the idea of the envirokats litter. I wonder if they would use it as it seems to be clean with the urine draining down? We have had our house on the market for a while and I am constantly battling the kitty litter smell.
I like the idea of raw food. I did not know cats were able to eat chicken bones. I will need to do some more research. How do you make sure your cat is fed when you are on vacation?