Litter boxes are every cat owner’s dirty little secret. But these days, cat litters have become so advanced that cat owners don’t have to try so hard to disguise their kitties’ waste or feel guilty about the effect it has on the environment.
Four billion pounds of clay litter are thrown into the garbage every year, according to the book In Defense of Garbage, written by Judd Alexander. The book details the major contributors to overflowing landfills, one of which is cat litter.
While many store shelves still offer traditional clumping litters that fill up landfills, so many alternative products have hit the market at nearly the same price point that consumers now have more green options.
These biodegradable products come in all forms: mineral, pine, wheat, corn and paper. Even 10 years ago these types of products weren’t on the market, but manufacturers hear the pleas of environmentally conscious consumers and they’ve produced new options.
The cat litter category has now expanded to include a long list of alternative litters made from natural products that include corn, wheat, and pine.
Wheat, corn, and other starch-based products serve well as litter material when their kernels are exposed through the grinding process. Through this process, these products become absorbent and clump easily. They also contain an enzyme that is able to neutralize the odor-causing chemicals in the urine.
The wheat-based litters are good for multiple-cat households because they become hard right away and won’t contaminate the box if another cat steps on it.
One manufacturer, Pet Ecology Brands, Inc., has developed a litter that detects high alkalinity in a cat’s urine. It is a natural, flushable, mineral-based litter. While it’s not a diagnostic product, it can indicate a possible problem in the urinary tract.
Flushable litters are also more environmentally friendly and many of these products have become more absorbent so less litter is necessary to absorb the same amount of liquid. These lighter-weight products require less waste with shipping. Thus, they leave a smaller carbon footprint as well.