Composting Cat Litter
Cat litter, we use a lot of it for our British Shorthair cats and kittens. Our main litter choice is the wonderful Oz-Pets wooden pellet litter with the special Oz-Pet litter trays. It is fabulous for trays in the house as it is very low odor and doesn't track everywhere.
We also use Breeders Choice litter for litter training kittens as they start in a very small tray. This is a paper based litter and there are a few other brands available. They quickly graduate to the larger Oz-Pet trays as soon as they can hop into them.
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 suppressed the weeds well too. Below is a before picture showing the sandy soils 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 vegetables 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 fertilize the plants.
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 Oz-Pet trays, we tipped it on the catnip plant that needed a bit of water. It took off and went bushy and lush almost overnight. Our British Shorthair cats love home grown catnip and I laugh when I think that they fertilize it themselves!
NOTE: This article was written when we lived in a suburban area. We now live on an acre. It was a caw paddock so we are starting from scratch garden wise. The litter has been great for use as a weed suppressant and to mulch between veggie beds. It has also helped us transform our long weedy front verge into a native nature strip.