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How to Dispose of Cat Litter: The 3 Best Ways

Nicole Cosgrove

One of the least appealing aspects of owning a cat is having to deal with their soiled litter. Cat litter cannot simply be thrown in with the trash, as it has the potential to be hazardous to both you and the environment. Soiled litter needs to be disposed of properly. Cat waste can host a variety of pathogens, not least of which is toxoplasmosis, a dangerous illness for pregnant women or people with compromised immune systems. It’s estimated that more than 40 million people in the United States may be infected with the disease!

But what is the best way of disposing of cat litter? How can you dispose of cat litter in a way that is beneficial for the environment and your home? In this article, we look at three of the best ways of dealing with your cat’s soiled litter. Let’s get started!

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1. Biodegradable or compostable litter

Cleaning cat litter box
Image Credit: Zoran Photographer, Shutterstock

The best way of dealing with cat litter effectively and in a way that is beneficial for the environment is to use biodegradable or compostable cat litter. There are a variety of cat litters available that are made from natural materials that break down easily and can return to the earth safely. These include compressed paper, wood shavings, and various other plant materials.

It’s important to note that there are key differences between biodegradable and compostable litter. Biodegradable litter will break down naturally all on its own, while compostable litter needs human intervention and needs to be composted to properly break down.

Biodegradable and compostable litters are more expensive than normal cat litter but are better for the environment and easier to dispose of. Of course, not all cat owners have access to a place where they can compost litter, so this is not an option for everyone.


2. Biodegradable litter bags

The second option to dispose of cat litter is to use a scoop daily and toss the used litter into a biodegradable bag, which can then be thrown out with the trash. While this is not a truly zero-waste or sustainable solution, it’s the best that most people can do in their circumstances. Making the litter safe and sealed in a bag that will eventually be biodegraded is better than simply throwing it in the trash. Even though it’ll end up in a landfill, the biodegradable bag and litter will eventually break down on their own. Using biodegradable or compostable litter is still the best option, even if you’re tossing it out with the trash.


3. Flushing

person flushing toilet
Image Credit: Jo Panuwat D, Shutterstock

Flushing litter down the toilet is a convenient way of getting rid of soiled litter, but this is not recommended unless the litter is confirmed to be flushable. Flushing unapproved waste can clog up your toilet, contaminate waterways, and cause blockages that are difficult to clear. It also depends on the type of sewage system that you’re using, as septic tanks cannot properly break down cat waste, even with flushable litter, so you’ll need to check your system before flushing anything down.

Pine, corn, and wheat litters are usually fine for flushing, but never flush clay or silica clumping litter down the toilet, as these can swell dramatically when in contact with water and quickly cause blockages.

Even with flushable litter, disposing of cat waste down the toilet is still potentially hazardous and should be the last resort of disposal.

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Always use a separate trash can for litter

No matter the method of disposal that you choose, it’s best to always use a separate bin for soiled litter, along with separate bags. There are great litter disposal systems on the market that are designed to keep litter odor out of your home and make the whole disposal process quick and convenient. These systems help reduce wastage by using one heavy-duty bag until it’s full, and you can then simply tie it off and throw it away. The great part is that they’ll work with biodegradable and compostable litter and litter bags too.

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Final Thoughts

The best way to dispose of cat litter is to use eco-friendly litter and biodegradable bags. This is the best option for the environment and the most convenient for you. Even if you are unable to compost the litter yourself, it will at least break down on its own when it reaches a landfill. Flushing litter down the toilet is not recommended but is an option if you use flushable litter and don’t have a septic tank.

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Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.