Friday, January 20, 2012

DIY Kitty Litter & How to Toilet Train a Cat

If you ever thought it ridiculous to pay for something for your cat to crap on, you might consider making your own cat litter. Bonus - it's more sustainable!

Though our cat is toilet trained, which is probably the easiest way to go, not all cats can be successfully trained. Or their owners understandably abandon the pursuit. Or you just may not want to toilet train your cat because it's a dirty and demanding job. (It was a very difficult process and he still occasionally prefers the floor to the bowl for #2's.) If you use conventional cat litter, you should be aware that it has contains some very harmful chemicals or, is you use all natural little (usually clay based) it is not only more costly but also the clay mining is very destructive. Here are some cat litters that are a bit gentler on your wallet and the environment. 

The following litter-making-method comes from The Greenists.

  • Shred newspaper.

  • Soak paper in water mixed with a little dish soap.

  • Drain water and rinse.

  • Add a liberal amount of baking soda and mix in.

  • Wring out excess water.

  • Sprinkle over a screen and let dry.

  • Notes: The point of washing the paper is to remove the majority of the news print ink. Most newspapers now use soy based inks though so this may not be an issue for you. If you are not sure of its contents, do not drain the water used to wash or rinse the paper down your plumbing. It may be composted, along with the cat waste, to use exclusively on non-food plants in your yard. 

    A reader's comment on the same site detailed how they make their kitty litter:
    I’ve sewn a couple of drawstring bags big enough to use for catpan liners, using some sturdy but very lightweight, not particularly absorbent old sheers [curtains?]. I set a section of newspaper in the bottom of the catbox, and then set the liner on top and draw the string tight underneath the box (next time I might try elastic). I then fill the liner bag about 1/3 with sand. Every couple of days I scoop the litter and replace the newspaper. I am planning to rinse, dry and reuse the sand right in its liner bag, but even if I throw it in the compost, a bag of play sand is only about $3 and will last a month, vs. $50 or more for the commercial stuff (we have three indoor cats). I put the used newspaper in the compost, and I’m composting the cat poo as well.” - Karen
    Alternatively, many people say that they simply use shredded news print. Some pointers for this method:

    1. Bigger shreds do not get strewn about outside of the litter box as badly as smaller strips.
    2. If ink is a concern for you, check with your local paper to find out what they use.
    3. Sprinkle baking soda in the box with the shreds to absorb odor.
    4. Paper grocery bags can be used as well and then you do not have to worry about inks. 

    And if you happen to be interested in toilet training your cat, don't think that you have to buy a kit. We used the following method with much success. Do not move on to the next step until your cat is comfortable/successful with the most recent change. If you move to a new step and your cat freaks out, back up to the previous step. This works better the younger your cat is. This method will be unnerving if you have only one toilet in the house, as we did.
    • Place litter box in bathroom near toilet
    • Elevate litter box by a few inches, maybe half a foot 
    • Continue gradually elevating the box until it is the height of the toilet
    • With toilet lid down, place box on the toilet, you may want to have a step stool to help your cat get up and into the box
    • Find a bowl whose rim fits over your toilet bowl so that it does not fall in, lift the toilet seat and place bowl in the toilet bowl, it should hang by the rim, lower toilet seat
    • Use this as a litter box
    • Catch kitty going as often as possible and place front paws on toilet seat
    • When kitty starts placing front paws on seat on their own, move on to the back paws, you have to help them learn how to balance on the seat
    • Gradually decrease amount of litter kept in bowl, litter will need to be cleaned frequently, eventually there will be no litter in the bowl
    • Gradually begin putting a little water in the bowl
    • Once your cat is going in a bowl full of water, remove the bowl
    • Congratulate yourself and distribute treats every time you catch kitty pottying

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