Monday, June 29, 2009 8:53 PM

It's Litter, Mates!

Unless you have a strictly outdoor cat, having a litter box is a must. Litter boxes are one of the few downsides of owning cats: We all know they're a necessity, but nobody likes dealing with them. Some people will put the cleaning chore off until the box is totally full, at which time they dump the whole thing into the trash and start over. You've probably visited a house at one time or another with an over-full box or two. As they say, you can tell by the smell! I've seen them so bad that the solid waste is standing straight up in the sand like a squadron of soldiers at attention. Yikes.

Is there any way to make this chore easier and less disgusting? For starters, you'll need to have the proper number of boxes for the number of cats you have in your household. I have two boxes for three cats, which works well. The other thing you'll need to do is clean them out at least twice a day. That means solid waste as well as urine-soaked sand. Leaving too much behind will cause a smelly situation in short order. Some people do clean the boxes, but only once a day; others take only the stool, since it is easier to scoop and, if you are lucky enough to be on town or city septic, you can flush this down your toilet. Leaving behind the urine is a big mistake, though, as soon you will have enough ammonia fumes to knock your head back before you even get into the room. Diluting the cat's urine by adding warm water to its canned food helps this problem, and is good for your cat's urinary tract. It has the end result of making more stuff to scoop, however.

Keeping up with the box cleaning is necessary for another reason. Cats are quite fastidious and, like us, don't like to have to deal with their waste after they figure they're done with it (hence the burying routine!). Used-up litter often leads to inappropriate soiling, as cats will avoid a full, stinky box whenever they can. You can see how this scenario is certainly no time-saver for you!

The other problem is the good, old-fashioned clay litter that most people still use to fill the litter boxes. Inert as clay is, it develops a trademark yucky smell when it starts getting past its prime. Many brands offer a scented version, but I think that makes it smell even worse, like putting on perfume instead of taking a shower! Adding baking soda helps, but you'll go through a lot of baking soda if you have a multi-cat household. That can get pretty expensive. The other problem with clay is that although it's natural, it's not a recycled or compostable product. It doesn't break down quickly, which, if you're trying to be more "green", is a problem. Plus, it makes the trash barrels weigh a ton!

Luckily, there are options. There are many products available nowadays that can help cat owners tread a bit more lightly when it comes to litter issues. We'll take a look at some of these products tomorrow.

Green Tip: Speaking of "green", do you like hanging your clothes outside but don't like the fact that they get stiff and wrinkly, especially the towels? Cycling them in the dryer for about 5 minutes before you hang them outside (or inside, on racks) will eliminate this problem. Plus, your clothes will last longer since they won't be being "baked" in the dryer all the time.
Chat later!


Anonymous Says:
June 30, 2009 at 8:39 PM

Great idea! (You can't hang the wash out everywhere though!)

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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