Poop management. It really isn’t a laughing matter.
Greetings, fellow cat owners,
I’m here to discuss some serious shit. And piddle, for that matter. All kidding aside, anyone with indoor kitties knows their waste management, the expense and mess of kitty litter and that familiar odor (no matter how diligently I cleaned the boxes), is something we must all contend with. Personally speaking, I’m a bit fussy about a tidy home, and one that doesn’t greet visitors with that tell-tale “Oh, you have cats” fragrance. And with multiple cats occupying a modest space, accomplishing that had been somewhat of a challenge – one I’ve completely overcome. In fact, most visitors are surprised when the felines, rather than their odors, greet my guests, and I usually hear, “Oh, you have cats?”
For years, like most cat owners, I’d used clumping clay litter. It wasn’t the cheapest approach, or the most expensive – it fell midway along the price/convenience curve. In my small space, I kept the kitty facilities in the bathroom, along with a dust pan so I could sweep up the stray clay I’d invariably find tracked outside the box. Still, I’d find myself perpetually wiping gray dust from all vertical surfaces, and it was a rare day that I could step from the shower without discovering bits of clay, now turned to sticky cement, on the bathmat and my feet. Yuck. Still, I’d accepted it as a necessary evil that came with a kitty-occupied home.
And then I got yet another sinus infection, along with two of my cats. I’d been to doctor after doctor for this chronic and worsening problem, and I don’t want to tell you the vet bills I’d racked up trying to determine why the fur-kids were constantly sneezing and/or fighting awful reoccurring eye infections. Allergies, I was told, on all counts. Was I actually allergic to my cats, and them to me, or each other, I wondered as I wiped my nose and my cat’s. I found it hard to believe I and my rescues, all of varied ages and backgrounds, happened to share the very same allergies. There had to be some other factor at play.
The eureka moment came while I was changing the cat box. I scooped away the morning’s leavings, then poured some fresh litter, and watched in horrified fascination as a fine cloud of microscopic dust rose into the air, gradually dispersing. Think about it: a super-fine dust of a substance that expanded when exposed to moisture, turning into a sticky, muddy cement, and stuck to everything it touched. I was actually breathing that stuff! And so were the cats, every time they went digging to bury a deposit. This clay dust was on their paws and in their fur, only to be licked off as they groomed! A quick search on the internet only confirmed my worst suspicions – the clumping cat litter contained some scary things like silica and sodium bentonite, a naturally swelling clay, and was very likely the source of all the progressively worsening problems the cats and I had been suffering for years, not to mention the upset stomachs the dogs got by stealing clay-coated ‘snacks’ from the litter box. In fact, the more I learned, the more it all made sense. All the qualities that made clumping cat litter an ideal solution in the cat box were the very properties that made it a respiratory and digestive nightmare… not to mention, I’d never realized the negative environmental impact. That clay was a product of strip mining, and once disposed of, it would never break down.
I immediately switched from clumping clay to World’s Best Cat Litter™, a more environmentally friendly, natural, grain and plant based litter, and within days, the cats and I were all breathing better. Noses cleared, eyes cleared, and while this litter isn’t entirely dust-free, it is vastly lower dust than the clay. The house is cleaner; it doesn’t track nearly as much as the clay did, and what little tracking there is sweeps up far easier. It doesn’t clump with the glue-like tenacity of clay, but still scoops out quite easily. The cats all happily approved of the new litter. And while it isn’t cheap, it lasts longer, which costs less in the long run. Better yet, what I save in medical bills, both human and feline, puts me even further ahead. And I soon discovered that ‘cat litter’ smell had vanished from my home. Don’t get me wrong, poop is poop, and you still have to clean the box, but that weird, shall we say, ‘wet clay’ smell, is gone from my home. This litter has a faintly grainy smell, almost sweet, and as an added bonus, I don’t have to worry if the dogs decide to chow down on the grain-coated treats the kitties leave them.
Now, any of you who know much about me know I pride myself on being as frugal as possible. Healthier kitties, healthier humans, a healthier planet, that’s a win on multiple levels. But then I discovered something that by all appearances, and by performance, seems virtually identical – a grain and plant based, earth-friendly substance with the same texture and clumping properties for a fraction of the cost. Not only is it way cheaper than WBCL, it’s even cheaper than the clay litter I’d previously used. In fact, it’s about as cheap as chicken feed…because it IS chicken feed! I kid you not.
“Yeah, I poop in this stuff. You got a problem with that?”
Chicken ‘crumbles’, to be specific, and $16 buys me a 50 pound bag at my local Tractor Supply. Think about it. $.32 a pound, and that pound is cleaner, healthier, greener and lasts longer than clay. So there you have it – my frugal tip on keeping yourself and your pets healthier, while saving money and the planet at the same time!
“You mean chickens actually eat this stuff?”
“Yeah, dude. Read the bag.”
“That’s just weird.”
“Tell me about it.”
For more on the dangers of clumping clay litter, here’s some eye-opening information I strongly recommend you read.
For more on World’s Best Cat Litter™, check out their site.