Composting Cat Litter
We use a few different varieties of cat litter for our British Shorthair cats and kittens. Our main litter choice is the wonderful OzPets wooden pellet litter with the special OzPet litter trays. We also use breeders choice litter for litter training kittens as the pellets are smaller and it is better in a standard tray. From time to time we also use attapulgite litter especially when the bicolour British Shorthair boys have special shows coming up and need nice white feet.
When you have a lot of cats you have a lot of litter and when you have a lot of litter you have a lot of poop! Rather than dumping this in the bin and filling up landfill we decided to have a go at composting it.
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 etc etc. We pondered this and then thought well the local free range cats have been pooping in peoples yards and veggie gardens forever so why would that be any more or less risky? We share our house with our British Shorthair cats and clean their trays every day. Surely composting the waste and putting it on the roses isnt going to harm us.
So we gave it a go. We already had a worm farm for kitchen waste. We started with two big black compost bins and just filled them up. 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.
It was thick with worms, dark brown and crumbly. We spread it out over the roses who were very pleased! We live on the coast in Perth so the soil is sandy and water resistant. After a thick layer of the kitty compost was applied the sand turned into a much richer soil. It supressed the weeds well too. Below is a before picture showing the sandy soild then some after pictures showing the richer compost soil.
We now have four bins on the go as we add lawn clippings and prunings. We can't grow vegatables direct into the ground but 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 fertilise the plants. We also add some of the used but poopless attapulgite as it is great for drainage.
One super secret we found by accident is that leafy plants love cat pee. We grow catnip and it was always a bit sorry looking and compact. Once, when rinsing the base of an OzPets tray, we tipped it on the catnip plant that needed a bit of water. It took off and went bushy and lush almost overnight. Now the catnip plants get a good dose of tray rinse water every few days as do some of the other leafy pot plants and tomotoes. Our British Shorthair cats love home grown catnip and I laugh when I think that they fertilise it themselves!