Published On: Fri, Jan 22nd, 2010

Is a natural product always earth friendly? – Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – January 22, 2010

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Is a natural product always earth friendly?

Some months ago we switched to recycled newspaper pellets, ‘Yesterday’s News’ for our furry felines as we came to realize that a simple natural clay substance wasn’t necessary the best choice for our home environment or for our earth.

According to Wikipedia about 2 million tons of cat litter, most of which is not biodegradable is dumped into landfills in the United States alone. I thought the clay litter was biodegradable but have come to learn that it is not.

Pristine areas are literally stripped of their top soil to mine for clay to accommodate the personal needs of household cats.  Strip mining is a destructive process which has taken stripped the life from thousands of acres of land. About one third of the North America’s population shares their home with a cat. Yes you heard that right folks, one in three homes house a cat.

I was also concerned with the dust that we and our cats were inhaling each time the litter box was, cleaned, changed or used. Many clay litters contain silica which can affect our lung and throat health. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety silica should be considered a carcinogenic to humans.

Ouch! Our veterinarian suggested the recycled pellets so after reading about wheat and corn byproduct alternatives we settled on the newspaper pellet alternative and we haven’t looked back.

Now switching any product or item in your home is instantly noticed by cats.  Our cats can avail themselves to more than one litter box in our home so we made the change to the litter boxes one at a time giving them a chance to adjust to the change.  This is certainly advisable unless you wish to find cat droppings in some other place than the litter box.  Cats are fussy and particular creatures.

There are wheat and corn products on the market however they generally run about $1.00 a pound and can smell so good that your cat may be inclined to make a snack of their litter.

My personal concern with these products is whether they contain genetically modified organisms.  Since these are both huge monoculture products it is highly likely that they do.

Depending on the industry or agriculture practiced in your community there may be other earth friendly solutions at hand.  For example I have also read that an eco-friendly economical solution would be to consider using wood shavings.  I read that an approximate 40 lb bag could be purchased at feed stores for about $6.00 per bag.  If you have a horse farm close to home you may be able to make an arrangement with them so that you may fill and cart away your container for a nominal fee.  Another route to consider or try is wood stove pellets. It will take some investigation and experimentation to see what is available in your community and what is user friendly for you and your feline companion.

Cat litter and droppings can be composted. This does require special handling and should not be mixed with your regular vegetable compost pile nor should the animal dropping pile be used near or on anything that is grown for your table.  If you are going for the green medal, read up about this subject at your local library or on-line.

We would be delighted if you would share your step by step findings with earthmatters@jmilner.com


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