Is it Possible to Go Zero Waste with Cat Waste?
Yes – It totally is! Here’s our experience making shredded paper cat litter.
Before we brought Bella home (her name is short for Portabella like the mushrooms and not a Twilight reference) we had some prepping to do. We were excited to have a new cat homie but we didn’t know how she would fit into our zero waste goals. We were trying to avoid plastics, packaging, and buying processed goods. Saving money was another goal. At first we thought it would be difficult, after all there are entire stores dedicated to pet stuff. Canned and bagged food, toys, medicines, oh and the poop! What are we going to do about POOP?
Traditionally people use cat litter right? Big Boxes or bags of sand-like stuff that you lug home from the store, let your cat poop in, scoop out, and throw away (often in plastic bags). Some cat litter contains artificial scents, some is made with silica crystals (that moisture absorbent stuff you find in little packets inside shoe boxes labeled with DO NOT EAT). Considering how heavy cat litter is and all of the fuel used to ship it to all of the homes and stores around the world, we decided traditional cat litter wasn’t really an eco-friendly option. We considered a zillion other options – everything from coffee grounds to sawdust. (Article with other eco-friendly cat litter alternatives coming soon!)
Does shredded paper really work for cat litter?
Honestly I had my doubts that it would work. Cats can be very particular about their litter boxes. When we first brought Bella home she was almost 2 years old and had always used regular kitty litter. We were given a box of cat litter when we got her, which we were happy to use initially to make sure she did not have an accident. We brought her home, showed her the litter box of regular cat litter under the bathroom sink, and thankfully she knew what to do. The second day came and went without a problem as well. Phew!
By the third day of having her we were ready to start trying the shredded paper approach. Looking for a smooth transition, we filled the box halfway with litter and topped it off with shredded paper. Our plan was to slowly wean her off of the litter over the course of a month or so until she was completely switched over to paper. However that plan was abandoned on day four when the Mr. (sick of sandy cat litter getting stuck to his feet every time he walked into the bathroom) decided to go all in, paper-only. Hesitant, on her fourth day home Bella was switched to all paper.
Ladies and gentlemen I am so, SOO happy to say we haven’t had an accident since!
Now will this work for all cats? I don’t know – but as a skeptic turned believer I totally recommend you give it a try !
Benefits of Shredded Paper as Kitty Litter
Shredded paper litter takes something you were going to dispose of and gives it new life.
FREE Cat Litter!! $$
There is no buying anything, no shipping heavy cat litter to your door, and no last minute trips to the store if you run out
Differences between shredded paper and conventional cat litter:
With shredded paper, you won’t have grainy cat litter all over the floor.
Probably my favorite part! Sand between your toes is great at the beach but awful when it gets kicked out of a litter box. With the shredded paper method, you’ll occasionally get a few shreds of paper that is tracked out of the box, but those are MUCH easier to spot and clean up than tiny grains of sand.
The smell is … different.
Okay real talk: If you use the shredded paper method it definitely smells more poopy and less cat-litter-y. I still haven’t found a way around this (besides keeping the litter box in the bathroom where poopy smells are expected) though baking soda in the box seems to help a little. You may want to keep this in mind if you won’t be home or won’t be able to change the box for longer periods of time.
The best way to avoid smell is to be on top of cleaning – which is good thing anyway. Cat boxes, no matter what type of litter you’re using, need to be cleaned regularly. If they’re too dirty cats will not use them. With traditional cat litter you do get odor masking benefits that you don’t get with shredded paper. The issue with that is, you may let the litter box go without changing longer than you really should. Have you ever walked into someones house (or your own house) and immediately smelled a litter box, while everyone already in the house seemed oblivious to it? It might not smell like poop, but it definitely smells at least like litter masking poop… which is pretty much as bad as poop. Kind of like when a human sprays an air freshener and it just smells like poop PLUS added chemicals …Maybe less poopy but extra confusing to your nose.
Where to get more paper for shredded paper cat litter:
You may find that you’re running low on paper at times. At home we get a little bit of junk mail, a few flyers, and 1 magazine/month addressed to the people who lived in our place before us. Because we unsubscribed to almost all paper mail, we found we didn’t have as much paper waste as we needed for shredded paper cat litter. (But hooray for less waste!) My other job, however, had quite a bit of paper waste. If you’re running low on scrap paper, check with work, friends, or neighbors. Unfortunately there is A LOT of paper waste in this world. Fortunately you can give it a second life making shredded paper cat litter!
Let us know if you end up trying it! Drop a comment on our Facebook Page and let us know how the shredded paper cat litter worked for you.