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Seeking a Green Solution for Used Cat Litter

If you own a cat and want to live a green lifestyle, you may have issues with kitty litter: specifically, which kind poses the least threat to the environment, and what do you do with used kitty litter?

First, it’s a good idea to avoid clay-based litter, which is not biodegradable. Its extraction also requires energy-intense and destructive strip mining. Clay dust can irritate respiratory conditions, and litters that absorb ("clump") pose a risk if your pet inadvertently digests it. If you want to reduce your cat's carbon footprint (pawprint?), one solution is to use pine litter: It biodegrades quickly and it's a byproduct of wood manufacturing, so its environmental footprint isn't as big. Plus it's advertised as flushable.

But as far as dealing with old cat litter, here's the rub: Cat feces may carry toxoplasmosis parasites. For this reason, you can't compost it — it's a really bad idea to dump it outside, at all (especially near water sources or areas that humans or other pets may wander). You also shouldn't flush it, as wastewater treatment processes may not kill the parasites. With more news about pharmaceuticals contaminating our water systems, this risk of litter contaminants is a concern, too. (Ironically, one of the solutions recently posed for getting rid of medicines effectively is to pour them into used cat litter.)

Presently, there is no viable option for kitty litter disposal other than wrapping it up and putting it in the trash.

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