A composting bin

Can I put soiled cat litter in my compost bin?


It's complicated, whether you can put soiled cat litter into your composting bin, so read on!

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6 months - 1 year

Get the right balance of brown and green composting materials in your bin with our expert guide.

Is It Safe to Compost Cat Litter? A Detailed Guide

Composting cat litter can help reduce waste and improve soil health when done properly. However, not all types of cat litter can or should be composted at home due to potential health risks. This article provides a comprehensive guide on the safety, methods, and best practices for composting cat litter.

Can You Compost Cat Litter?

You can compost certain biodegradable cat litters, such as those made from pine, paper, or plant materials. These break down naturally over time. Avoid composting clumping, clay, crystal, or sand-based litters as they do not decompose and can damage soil structure.

The key considerations for composting cat litter are:

Type of Cat Litter

  • Pine litters: Made from pine wood. Compostable and biodegradable.
  • Paper litters: Made from recycled paper. Compostable and biodegradable.
  • Plant-based litters: Made from wheat, corn or other plants. Compostable and biodegradable.

  • Clay litters: Not compostable as they do not break down.

  • Crystal litters: Not compostable as they do not break down.
  • Clumping litters: Not recommended for composting.

Safety Precautions

  • Always remove and dispose of cat feces first, do not compost.
  • Avoid using composted cat litter to grow edibles due to potential pathogen risks.
  • Allow litter to compost for over 1 year before using to ensure pathogens are eliminated.
  • Wear gloves when handling used cat litter to prevent bacterial infections.

Step-by-Step Guide to Composting Cat Litter

Follow these steps to safely compost biodegradable cat litter at home:

1. Select a Suitable Composting Method

Compost cat litter using:

  • Backyard compost bin
  • Large contained compost pile
  • Commercial/municipal composting facilities

Avoid vermicomposting (worm farms) when composting cat litter.

2. Remove Cat Feces

Scoop out all cat feces from litter trays and dispose of in the garbage. Do not compost cat feces.

3. Add Absorbent Carbon Materials

Mix used cat litter with brown materials high in carbon such as dried leaves, sawdust, or shredded paper. This balances nutrients and absorbs moisture.

4. Compost for 1-2 Years

Leave composting cat litter for at least 1 year, 2 years ideally, to allow pathogens to fully break down. Turn or mix the pile occasionally to aerate.

5. Use Compost Wisely

Do not use composted cat litter to grow food crops or herbs. Safe uses include flower beds, shrubs, trees or lawns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions on composting cat litter:

Is composting cat poop safe?

No. Cat feces can contain parasites, bacteria, and pathogens harmful to humans. Always bag and trash cat poop.

Can I put cat litter in my green waste bin?

Check with your local waste authority first. Most accept biodegradable litter but prohibit cat feces. Clay and clumping litters are typically excluded.

What risks are there with composting cat litter?

Potential risks include infection from pathogens if feces are present or compost is used too soon. Ensure compost reaches hot temperatures and composts for over one year.

Can I use composted cat litter in my vegetable garden?

It is not recommended to use compost containing cat litter on edible gardens. The potential disease risks outweigh any benefits. Use on non-edible plants instead.

Is composting cat litter good for the environment?

Composting biodegradable litter is an eco-friendly alternative to sending bags of litter to landfills each week. It closes the nutrient loop and may reduce your carbon footprint.

Composting certain natural, biodegradable cat litters can be a safe and sustainable way to dispose of waste while benefiting your garden. Always take precautions by removing feces, composting thoroughly, and using finished compost wisely. Check if your municipality allows cat litter to be added to curbside green bins. With some care taken, composting cat litter can reduce your environmental impact.

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