Are you a cat owner? If you are and you’re wondering what’s the best you can do with the cat litter you collect, the best answer is – Compost It.
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Cat litter contains double the amount of nitrogen and the same amount of phosphorus and potassium as the manure of cattle. However, other than these benefits, cat litter comes with parasites and bacteria which aren’t really good for plants. Cat litter if disposed of in the environment is a problem for the environment too.
So if I just gave you thought of composting cat litter with its benefits and drawbacks. Now, are you wondering if you should think about composting your cat litter? Or you should save your plants from parasites and just dump that waste somewhere.
Can you make compost from Cat Litter?
The answer is “Yes”, you can make compost out of cat litter. In fact, composting cat litter is an eco-friendly way to dispose of it and also benefits the environment with its nutrients.
How to Compost Cat Litter?
Composting cat litter requires a bit of effort, but the process is relatively simple. Here are some steps to follow:
Choose the Right Materials
While selecting the materials for composting cat litter, you have to be cautious, so that the materials you select are good for your cat and the environment too. One thing you should definitely keep out is anything that contains chemicals or is chemically treated.
Cat litter is a great source of Nitrogen so try including browns like sawdust, wood shavings or shredded paper.
Set Up Your Composting Bin
Cat litter contains pathogens so it’s better to use a big bin for composting cat litter. While selecting a bin, make sure it’s big enough to accommodate all the cat litter and other compostable material you’ll be adding to it. Check if the bin is having holes for proper ventilation of air.
Add Your Materials
Now that you have the bin and material to compost, start filling the bin with it. The first layer you add to the bin should be of very absorbent materials like sawdust and wood chips.
After that, add cat litter over it and repeat this process till your bin is full or you finish adding all the compostable materials.
If you wanna speed up the process of composting a little bit, you can add some microbes into it which help in composting. You can purchase them from any gardening store. You can also add some compost from your previous bins to provide new compost with the required good bacteria.
Maintain Your Composting Bin
Make sure you keep checking your compost every now and then for moisture levels as moisture plays a very major role in good composting. Make sure the compost is not too wet and not too dry.
Keep turning the compost in every 2 weeks to maintain consistency and air flow in the compost.
Harvest Your Compost
It’ll take 6-8 months to get the compost ready. Once the compost is ready, use it in your garden and other potted plants. Avoid using compost on edible plants, as it may contain harmful pathogens.
Parasites in Cat Litter
If your cat is infected with some parasite, the litter from that cat will also contain those parasites and so will your compost too. So you should be careful while dealing with compost made out of cat litter. Some of the most common parasites found in cat litter are given below:
Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled parasite that can infect warm-blooded animals, including cats and humans. Cats can become infected by eating infected prey or by ingesting contaminated soil or water.
Cats are the definitive host for Toxoplasma gondii, which means that the parasite can only complete its lifecycle and reproduce in the gut of a cat. Infected cats can shed Toxoplasma gondii oocysts in their faeces, which can contaminate the environment and infect other animals, including humans.
Humans can become infected with Toxoplasma gondii by getting in touch with infected animals. In pregnant women, Toxoplasma gondii infection can be transmitted to the fetus and cause serious complications to the unborn baby like severe birth defects or stillbirth.
Toxoplasma gondii show their effects in humans depending on the severity of the infection. Toxoplasma gondii is dangerous because they sometimes show no symptoms. But the usual symptoms are fever, flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes. If left untreated it can also cause encephalitis, seizures, and vision problems.
Roundworms are a type of worm that belongs to the phylum Nematoda and these are very commonly found in cats and can affect humans too. Cat’s faeces contain their eggs and roundworms very easily spread through their faeces.
Hookworms are a type of parasitic worm that belongs to the family Ancylostomatidae. They are found in warm, humid environments and can infect both animals and humans, they usually attach themselves to the intestinal wall of their hosts and feed on blood.
Not as common as roundworms, but, hookworms can be found in cats. Cats can become infected with hookworms by ingesting the larvae of hookworms, which are usually present in contaminated soil or on surfaces that have been contaminated with hookworm earlier. Kittens can also become infected with hookworms through their mother’s milk.
Humans can become infected with hookworms by accidentally ingesting the larvae, which can be present in contaminated soil or on surfaces that have been contaminated with cat faeces.
Hookworms show their effects in humans depending on the severity of the infection. Hookworms are dangerous because they sometimes show no symptoms. But the usual symptoms of roundworms are anaemia, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. In some cases, the infected humans can have stunted growth, malnutrition and biological developmental delays in their bodies.
Giardia is a single-celled parasite that can cause many gastrointestinal infections in humans and animals. Usually they are found in contaminated water and soil and can be transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated material.
Cats can become infected with Giardia and show symptoms like diarrhoea, vomiting, weight loss, and poor coat condition.
Humans can also become infected with Giardia from cats by ingesting contaminated food or water or coming into contact with contaminated faeces or soil. Usually, people who work in close proximity to cats, such as veterinary staff or cat groomers are at a higher risk of getting Giardia.
The usual symptoms of Giardia are diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Some people may also experience fever or weight loss and in most cases, the symptoms will resolve on their own within a few weeks. If not, medical treatment might be required.
Tips to follow while composting cat litter
Composting cat litter can be a great way to recycle your cat’s waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. However, it’s important to take precautions to prevent the spread of parasites that may be present in your cat’s faeces.
Here are some tips for dealing with parasites while composting cat litter:
Use a dedicated compost bin
Cat litter compost can contain bad bacteria and pathogens so it’s better to have a dedicated bin for only composting cat litter. It will help prevent bad bacteria and pathogens from spreading and keep other compost safe also.
Use high-temperature composting
If you are scared and are overthinking about the pathogens and bad bacteria in the cat litter, just heat the compost to 131°F (55°C) for a few days. This high temperature will kill all the bad bacteria, and pathogens and will also destroy their eggs too.
Add natural pest control measures
You can also use natural pest control ingredients like diatomaceous earth or beneficial nematodes or neem oil in the compost and it will also help reduce the pathogen in the compost.
Avoid using compost on edible plants
While using cat litter compost, make sure that you don’t use it in plants which you use as food in future. It’s not always dangerous, but if you don’t handle food produced in cat litter compost properly, it might cause some problems. So it’s better to just avoid using cat litter compost for edible plants.
Wear gloves and wash your hands
Not only Cat litter compost, but every time you’re dealing with soil, compost or any fertilizer… just use gloves.
It becomes more important to wear gloves while dealing with cat litter compost because the chances of lat litter compost containing bad bacteria and pathogens are very high, so gloves will avoid those bacteria and pathogens from getting in a direct touch with you.