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Composting Cat Poop: How Long It Takes & More

Composting is an environmentally friendly practice that recycles food and other organic waste, such as biodegradable cat litter, into fertilizer. Compost is rich in nutrients that can be used for gardening and agriculture.

Cat litter ends up in landfills, so you can save space and create a rich fertilizer with your cat waste and litter in compost. It is a little more challenging than composting other materials, however.

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Can You Compost Cat Poop & Cat Litter?

Cat poop can be composted, but not all cat litter is biodegradable and appropriate for composting. It’s important to only compost biodegradable cat litter that’s free of additives, so no clay litter or plant-based litter that has chemical additives.

So, what types of cat litter can you use? Any biodegradable, plant-based cat litter with no additives can be composted, including grass, corn, wood, paper, wheat, tofu, or walnut. Clay or crystal litters can’t be composted.

Precautions for Composting Cat Poop & Cat Litter

Composting your cat’s waste is safe when done correctly and a good choice for the environment, but you do need to take some precautions.

Cat poop contains pathogens and parasites, including Toxoplasma gondii. Compost heats up the organic material, but it doesn’t reach high enough temperatures (165°F) to kill Toxoplasma gondii. If you choose to compost cat waste, make sure you don’t use the resulting fertilizer on or near edible plants.

You should also only compost outdoors and in an area with plenty of space. Avoid putting your compost pile near structures, such as buildings or sheds, and water sources like streams or wetlands. You should also consider the impact on your neighbors since compost can create odors.

Another consideration is the season or climate. The composting process stops when temperatures dip below 40°F, so if you live in a cooler climate, you can’t compost. If this is only a problem in winter, you can compost during the warm seasons of spring and summer.

You need to check your local ordinances as well. Some cities and municipalities have regulations regarding composting. Be sure to check with your local authorities before starting to compost.

Finally, keep children and pets away from your compost pile. If necessary, put up a screened fence to protect it. You should always wash your clothes and hands thoroughly after composting. People with a compromised immune system or pregnant women should not compost cat litter or waste.

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Image Credit: SURKED, Shutterstock

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How to Compost Cat Litter

Composting cat litter is similar to composting other organic materials. You can compost on bare earth or in a compost bin, depending on your needs. Bare earth allows organisms to aerate your compost pile, while a compost bin keeps your compost contained.

Composting needs carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and water. Successfully composting involves balancing the carbon and nitrogen while allowing the pile to get plenty of oxygen and moisture.

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Image Credit: Antranias, Pixabay

Carbon Sources

Carbon sources are your brown materials, such as dried leaves, eggshells, straw, and biodegradable cat litter. Avoid using materials treated with pesticides or materials that may contain weed seeds.

Nitrogen Sources

Nitrogen sources are your green materials, such as food scraps, lawn clippings, cat poop, and green leaves. These provide the organisms that oxidize carbon.

All you have to do to compost cat litter is add to the appropriate compost layers. Regardless of the specific ingredients, compost includes alternating layers of carbon and nitrogen sources.

Start with a base of topsoil, sawdust, or dried leaves. Then, alternate even layers of brown and green materials. It may be small at first, but you can add materials as you go.

Store brown materials in a dry spot in your yard and keep greens in a container until you build enough up. Keep your cat waste separate in an airtight container. When you have a good stockpile, you can add alternating layers a few inches thick. The pile should always be topped with brown material.

Dried brown materials add air circulation to the pile, but you’ll need to turn your pile with a shovel every few weeks to aerate it. Depending on how dry your climate is, you may need to lightly water the pile as well. Avoid soaking it, and if you live in an area with heavy rainfall, cover your compost pile to keep it from getting too wet.

Once your compost is dark and soil-like, with a rich and earthy smell, the original contents have broken down, and it’s ready for fertilization.

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How Long Does Composting Take?

The time composting takes will depend on the size of your compost pile, the materials you’ve used, and your climate. Most compost will be ready to fertilize in three to six months, but compost with cat waste may need to cure for a year or 18 months before it’s ready.

Don’t be overly eager to use your compost pile. If you try to use the compost before it’s fully cured, it can be harmful to plants and can cause illness for you. Be patient!

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Composting cat poop and biodegradable cat litter is a great way to enrich your compost pile and dispose of cat waste in an eco-friendly way. This not only sends less waste to landfills, but it enriches your plants with a nutrient-dense fertilizer.

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Featured Image Credit: Free Photos, Pixabay