Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Scoop on Flushable Cat Litter

This month, I have been focused on ways to reduce the amount of trash my family produces. A big contributor to our trash is our cat poop and cat litter. I had heard about flushable cat litter, and figured that if we could flush our cat waste into the toilet, it would definitely reduce our landfill contribution. However, I was a bit skeptical about the safety of cat feces going into our water supply, so I decided to do some research and find out more about flushable cat litter.
So there is litter that is biodegradable and that can be flushed down toilets. The litter itself is not problematic, but the cat feces that are in the litter are. Cats can carry toxoplasmosis in their feces, which can be transmitted to other animals (this is why pregnant women are advised against changing litter boxes while pregnant). Anyways, wastewater treatment facilities can't treat this parasite, so it passes through the treatment plant and back into the water system. There is evidence linking toxoplasmosis (transmitted from cat feces flushed down the toilet) to sea otter deaths in California. Apparently, sea otters are fairly sensitive, and toxoplasmosis is entering the water system and killing them. How sad! So, the short answer here is no, it is not environmentally friendly to flush your cat poop.
But, sending it to the landfill where it will sit and not decompose is not exactly earth-friendly either. Several folks  talked about using biodegradable litter (like pine shavings, newspaper, etc.) and composting the litter and urine, but still bagging the feces and sending them to a landfill. Others felt that composting the biodegradable litter, poop and all, was fine as long as the final product was not used on food grown for human consumption. Others suggested getting a worm bin specifically for cat poop. Who is right? I still have no clue. However, I found a link to a book which supposedly answers these questions, Wake Up and Smell the Planet. I have it on hold at the local library and I will hopefully be an expert in pet wastes before the summer is over.
In the meantime, I think I will make the switch to a biodegradable litter (and hope my cats don't pee all over my house in the interim). I can compost the litter and landfill the poop until I have a better plan on what to do with it.
Additionally, I want to add that while researching this, I found LOTS of people asking and answering questions about how to best dispose of pet wastes, with lots of people discussing composting pet waste. Since we are currently composting our dog poop, I was happy to know that so many other folks are concerned about this, and happy to know that I am not a complete freak when it comes to these matters (although my husband would likely disagree). Pin It Now!

3 comments:

  1. Very interesting...I will be curious to see what you end up doing! I'm worried that switching litter will freak my cat out. Maybe if I do it slowly..

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