Monday, August 24, 2009

Environmentally Friendly Cat Litter

In the spirit of "spend less, more responsibly" we have gone from spending $26.00 a month to $4.00 a month on cat litter, and we can compost most of it because we run a "hot" bin.

Salvador, the humongous Maine Coon who considers us the hired help, is an asthmatic. Clay litter makes him wheeze and we figured it's probably not good for any cat. He is a vigorous scratcher in his box so he created a lot of clay dust which was getting into his lungs. It was tough even changing it. Clouds of dust!

So we switched to a product called "Yesterday's News" which is made of recycled newspapers which are pulped and extruded into little noodles of paper. He liked the change, there was minimal dust, but the stink of wet newspaper reminded me of the days when we owned a kennel and raised bloodhounds. Layers of papers for whelping boxes, and for house training pups. I had enough of the smell of pee-soaked newspaper to last me a lifetime! And while Yesterday's News was cheaper than regular litter to start with, it's price crept up gradually until it was $13.00 a sack, and he went through two sacks a month.

Time to look for another option. And there's a litter called "Feline Pine", which is basically sawdust which has been wet and then extruded, just like the paper stuff. Nice but after a few bags at $19.00 a bag it was a bit expensive. Sal is a diabetic and requires an extremely high quality food, so it already costs a whopping $100.00 a month to feed him. I know, disgraceful, in this day and age to spend that kind of money on a four-legger which produces nothing but kisses, but we signed on for the duration when we adopted him, come hell or high water, and we will care for him as best as we can until he flies off to Kitty Reincarnation Land to be recycled into kitten.

Anyway, we were at the builder's supply and by the checkout were pallets of 40 lb (18 kilo) bags of wooden stove pellets. Produced by a local pellet mill from waste wood. Nothing but sawdust and water added for extrusion purposes. No glues, binders, scents, colours, dust. Cost $4.00 a bag. $4.00 for 40 pounds.

We stocked up, as stove pellets are available only from October to March. We open a bag and pour its contents into a large plastic storage container with a tight lid. We then use a 500 ml cottage cheese container as a scoop when we change the box. Five scoops is the magic number.

A 40 lb bag lasts about six weeks, and when we empty the box (every third or fourth day depending on "conditions") we add the damp sawdust to the compost pile (poo nuggets are removed daily). The sawdust is a great foil for the huge amounts of grass clippings which come off the park lawns. The cat is on no meds at all, and is free of parasites and disease, other than diabetes controlled entirely by diet.

The combo of grass clippings, sawdust and kitchen scraps keeps the bin steaming hot. Too hot to put your hand into. Campers often add their kitchen scraps to the bin, and within a week all scraps become unrecognizable.

So this has become a win-win situation. The pellets are transported less than 10 miles to the store, they use a resource which would otherwise be wasted, the kitty is happy and wheeze-free, the box smells like a pine forest, the compost will feed the lawns and flowers next year and we save about $22.00 a month on litter.

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