Cat Litter Composting – 12-02-08

My Last Bag of Cat Litter Waste
Hopefully the very last bag of cat litter waste I send to the landfill!

I’ve decided to start adding dates to my cat litter composting posts – like my Worm Inn Journal, this is going to be an ongoing series, so I’ll need some way to differentiate between them.

Yesterday was a big day on this front. After once again becoming annoyed with stinky-cat-litter-smell while down in the basement, I finally decided to completely dump out the litter box with the normal clumping cat litter in it. Enough is enough – I’ve decided to switch completely over to the earth-friendly stuff. The cats have responded very well to it, and it has also been working incredibly well in general thus far (little odour, absorbent, easy to work with etc). I was initially a little concerned with the high cost of it (in comparison to the clay litter), but I’m actually starting to think that it might cost less in the long run. I found that we went through the regular clumping cat litter quite quickly, whereas this seems to be lasting longer (only time will tell though).

Both Litter Boxes Filled With Eco-friendly Cat Litter
Both litter boxes are now filled with PC Green Clumping Litter

I made sure to take in the experience as my eyes and nasal passage burned (due to the ammonia) during my litter dumping. It may very well be the last time I’ll have to deal with that so I wanted to remember it well (haha)! I also took a picture (shown at the top of post) of the big ol’ bag of dirty litter I hope will be the last I send to the landfill. I actually have a full, unopened box of the regular clumping cat litter, which I thought I would get through before switching completely, but I think I’ll be passing that along to my dad to use for his cat (before I convert him to a green litter user, that is!).

As for my litter vermicomposting experiment…

I have been collecting waste from the one litter box and storing it in an empty (resealable) litter bag. I figured what better time to start up my litter composting bin that on the night I switch completely to the new litter!

I am definitely going to start slowly, and on a small scale, with this cat litter composting. This is new territory for me, so I want to make sure I don’t end up with a stinky mess on my hands. As such, I decided to use one of my small Rubbermaid tubs (3 or 4 gal, I think). I won’t be using a lid for this bin so as to allow any noxious gases (namely ammonia) to escape without harming the worms, and generally so as to provide lots of oxygen.

Creating Some Worm Habitat

I started by mixing together (and moistening) some shredded corrugated cardboard, fall leaves, coconut coir and compost. Initially my goal is to create a good worm habitat. This will provide the worms with a protective retreat should the conditions in the litter zone be unpleasant for them.

Adding cat litter waste layer

Next I added a modest layer of cat litter waste. I wanted enough to get us started, but (hopefully) not so much as to create nasty conditions in the bin. I made sure to moisten this layer fairly well since these materials tend to be quite dry.

Absorbent coconut coir added over top of litter

I then covered the litter with a layer of moistened coir. This should help to balance the C:N and filter out any undesirable odours

Final layer of leaves over top for good measure

Lastly, I added more shredded cardboard and compost, with a final layer of leaves over top for good measure!

The ‘compost’ material contains some worms and cocoons, but other than that I have not actually stocked the system with worms yet. I will likely let it sit for a week or so to get the decomposition process rolling nicely.

So there you have it! We are off to the races.
I’ll keep you posted!

Note: Cat litter composting warrants some caution, and should generally only be attempted by those with previous composting experience. Any dog or cat waste composting system should be separate from your ‘regular’ composting systems. Cat litter shouldn’t be handled at all by pregnant women or young children.

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    • allochthon
    • December 2, 2008

    I’ve been using wood stove pellets for litter for my ferrets: Northern Tool

    I get a 40 lb bag for $5 at a local bigbox hardware store. it’s very similar to the pelletized paper cat litter, but a heck of a lot cheaper.

    I’m watching this experiment carefully, because I would love to be able to compost my ferret litter.

    • Bentley
    • December 4, 2008

    Hi Allochthon,
    Interesting that you mention this. A horse-keeping friend of ours uses something like this as bedding for her horses. Quite inexpensive for a large quantity (just as you’ve found) – I actually wondered how well it might work as a litter material. I think the cats responded so well to the corn cob granules (I’m using) since it closely mimics the regular stuff, but I’m sure they could get used to something like this as well.

    Thanks for the info!

    • chris
    • December 7, 2008

    I dig “composting holes” and fill with cat box wastes using the corn cob gruanules sprinkle with the dirt from digging the hole after each dumping. I have two holes, as one fills the litter the other has decomposed and and is ready to be dug again and start over. The worms in the earth loved the waste product it was like an Alfred Hitchock scene with so many worms. The litter was decomposed and some of the worms were moved to the garden. I did this in NH.

    I am interested in you indoor? composting of litter.

    • Bentley
    • December 8, 2008

    Great info Chris – thanks for sharing that. Sounds similar to what I’ll be doing outside once spring arrives.
    Expect to see updates re: my indoor cat litter composting soon.

    • factorial
    • December 9, 2008

    We use wood stove pellets as litter for our rabbits and we used them for the cat too (before my allergies got so bad that she had to go live with my mom). They are amazingly cheap, break down easily, and a repurposed waste product (added bonus!) — when they get wet, they just disintegrate. The cat never seemed to have a problem with them, and there are some pellet litters on the market for cats already (compressed paper, I think).

    Mostly, though, reading this has made me glad I only keep small herbivorous pets! 😛

  1. I switched to bagged corncob litter for my cats after reading this experiment. It wasn’t too high-priced at the feed store, and it seemed to be great at first. It didn’t pick up a stench as quickly as regular clay litter. But then I discovered that a couple of my (5) cats were on strike. They wouldn’t use the corncob litter, so they were using old flowerpots in the basement or the basement floor. So it’s back to the drawing board. I’ll try your pelleted newspaper next. (The corncob litter, once I really paid attention) seemed to be very sharp-edged–not so nice for little cat paws.)

    • Benji
    • August 27, 2014


    the question is, why did you stop ? is it only because of neglect or where there problems ?

    • Bentley
    • September 25, 2014

    Benji – I have continued using compostable cat litter (chick starter feed works great on its own). Offhand, I’m not sure what happened with this particular experiment (basically 6 years ago) – but I have continued to do some composting outdoors with the used material.

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