Cleaning the cat’s litter box is worth playing the annoying “Rock, Paper, Scissors” game with my husband. We both despise the chore and are willing to make it the best out of 3, then 5, and sometime 10 just to get out of the job.
Alice the cat was rescued in North Bay. We drove to Deep River Ontario to adopt her four years ago this week. She is a sweet little puffball that we love to bits. I started thinking about how much cat litter we were throwing out with the garbage every week and decided that Alice was going to be part of the green shift in our home too. According to Green Living Online we dump approximately “2 million tons of cat litter into the landfill every year”. I have always bought clumping litter. It is convenient and easy. I did not know that it could pose health risks to humans and cats.
Sodium Bentonite is a natural clay ingredient. Often added as a clumping agent, it expands like cement when moist making removal easy. Bentonite is used in construction as a grouting, sealing and plugging material. Since cats lick their paws there is concern that when ingested, it will swell inside them. Sodium Bentonite is strip mined which poses many environmental concerns too.
Another ingredient in some brands of cat litter is silica. This ingredient also raises some health concerns. Dust can get in the lungs, which could lead to respiratory problems. Silica is a known carcinogen for humans and pets when inhaled.
These reasons motivated me to start shopping for environmentally friendly cat litter. There are many on the market to choose. Presidents Choice makes one called G.R.E.E.N Twice as Absorbent litter. It contains 96% corncobs, a renewable compostable resource. It is also non-toxic, biodegradable, and phosphate free. I like it because I can buy it in bulk. Like most green litters, it says it is sewer safe. (It is not advised to flush it since cat feces contains Toxoplasmosis gondii parasite (TG) which is dangerous to pregnant woman and harmful to marine life. Not all water treatment plants successfully filter TG.)
I decided to go with the Presidents Choice Green product. There was one tiny flaw in my plan. Unfortunately, Alice was not on board with this decision. Her refusal to co-operate lead to a creative program that involved two litter boxes (we had an old spare). I s-l-o-w-l-y mixed the old clumping stuff with small portions of the new brand. It was reminiscent of a grade 10 high school science experiment. Weeks of adding, then taking away, I was determined she would grow to love (o.k. too dramatic) start to use the new stuff. It was a pathetic battle of wills and mind. The odds were not in my favour.
I am happy to report that last week I smelled victory. I went downstairs to clean the litter box, raised my arms in the air and yelled “touchdown!” Alice is now making regular deposits in the Bank of Environmentally Friendly. I think our talk about her health and carbon pawprint was the TSN turning point. If you are interested in changing your cat’s litter, I encourage you to do so because this experiment is proof you really can teach an old cat a new trick.