Composting Your Cat Litter
BY Pamela Lanigan, Cuddleton British Shorthairs

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When you have a lot of cats you have a lot of cat litter... It's just a fact of life for a cat breeder.

And when you have a lot of cat litter you have a lot of cat poop! 

Rather than just dumping our used cat litter into the garbage, and filling up landfills, we decided at Cuddleton British Shorthairs to look for a "green" solution to disposing of our used cat litter.

After some basic research and thought, we decided in early 2008 to try to compost our litter.

What better way is there to combine a love of felines with a love for gardening?

Composting Cat Litter

Now you are probably saying to yourself that is crazy, all the books say you can't compost cat poop.  It's true, a lot of people advise against it as cat poop can have pathogens in it. 

We pondered this. Then we thought, well the local free range cats have been pooping in people's yards and veggie gardens forever, so why would that be any less risky?  We share our house with our cats and clean their trays every day.  Surely composting the waste and putting it on the roses isn't going to harm us? Lets give it a try!

Types Of Litter

At Cuddleton British Shorthairs we use several different varieties of cat litter. 

  • Our main litter choice is the wonderful OzPets wooden pellet litter.  It is an Australian made litter and is used with special OzPet  sieve litter trays. 
  • We also use  Breeders  Choice litter for litter training kittens as the  recycled newspaper pellets are smaller and it is better in a standard tray. 
  • From time to time we also use Attapulgite, a non-clumping clay litter, especially when preparing the bicolor boys for upcoming shows as it helps keep their feet white.

Getting Started

We already had a worm farm for kitchen waste so we had some composting experience. 

We started with two big black compost bins and just filled them up.  They are the open bottom style with a lid. 

We put worm castings in the base before we started. The wood pellets had soaked up a good dose of cat pee rich in nitrogen so the bins heated up and broke down all the poop really quickly. 

Once the first bin was full we filled the second bin.  By the time it was full we could remove the first and have a big pile of maturing compost.

The resulting compost  was thick with worms, dark brown and crumbly.

The Results

We live on the coast in Perth , Western Australia  so the soil is sandy and  very water resistant. After a thick layer of the kitty compost was applied the sand turned into a much richer soil.  It suppressed the weeds well too. 

Photo 1: Existing Soil

Photo 2: First addition of litter compost

Photo 3: Increased composting

Photo 4: Soil after several applications of litter compost

We now have four bins on the go as we add lawn clippings and prunings. 

We can't grow vegetables directly in the ground, so we grow them in a pot garden instead. 

The pots all have added Breeders Choice litter and worms.

The Breeders Choice paper based litter has great water holding qualities and keeps the worms fed so they fertilize the plants. 

We also add some of the used but poopless attapulgite as it is great for improving drainage.

We spread it out over the roses who were very pleased!  Our cat litter compost was a welcome addition to our flower, vegetable and herb gardens alike.

Super Catnip

One super secret we found by accident is that leafy plants love cat pee.

We have always grown our own fresh catnip for the Brits - and it was always a bit sorry looking and compact. 

One time, when rinsing the base of an OzPets tray, we used the rinse water on a nearby catnip plant that looked a bit thirsty. 

Imagine our surprise when the catnip plant took off - becoming bushy and lush almost overnight. 

Now the "nip" plants get a good dose of tray rinse water every few days as do some of the other leafy pot plants including the tomatoes.

Our cats love our home grown catnip and I laugh when I think that they fertilize it themselves! 

Happy composting!

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