Monday, 7 February 2011

things i love: feline pine

look, i realize i just posted a whole blog about my kittens. and yes, i fear being a cat lady, but i think we all know i'm too cool for that. so, lets just set that aside.

it turns out that there are literally hundreds (ok, i'm exaggerating) options for kitty litter these days. and in the end, my goal is to nix the litter box and train coco and lola to potty on the potty. but in the meantime, i've developed a strong preference for feline pine kitty litter.

here are some reasons; in no particular order:

#1 there is NO odor. i really can't stand the smell of a little box. it makes me want to heave. this was a big barrier for me in thinking about having kittens in my house. i knew they couldn't live outside (dc is not the same at 1980 gilbert), so that meant there had to be a litter box. UCK! so i asked around and found that not only janna (mom of elizabeth taylor of NYC) but lots of the internets really like feline pine, because it doesn't smell. i add my testimony to janna and others: feline pine eliminates all kitty litter grossness.

#2 it is much friendlier on the environment. did you know that the stuff in "traditional" kitty litter that makes it clump is a clay. that clay is strip mined from the earth. here is some info on the mining and the clay:
The United States Geological Society estimates that 85 percent of the 2.54 million tons of clay used in this country every year is used for absorption of pet waste, with cat litter being the dominant. There are about 20 companies operating such mines in 10 states. (For detailed information on clay mining operations, see “U.S. Geological Survey, Minerals Information 1996” and “U.S. Geological Survey Minerals Yearbook 2001” both by Robert L. Virta.)

As with all mining operations, there is an environmental impact. Because sodium bentonite mining is only economical when the material is close to the surface, the impact of this mining is similar to other strip-mining operations. In strip mining the top layer of soil (called the overburden) is removed and then the clay is taken out.

Most sodium bentonite clay is mined using only a scraper or bucket loader. The result of this operation is a depression or a pit that must then be reclaimed. While laws mandate the reclamation of land impacted by mining operations, there remain heated disputes over the extent and timing of such reclamation efforts and whether the environmental impacts of strip mining can ever be addressed through reclamation.

After being mined, the clay is then transported to a second facility, where it is dried. Only then is it processed into a powder or flake to be used as cat litter. The environmental impact of clay litter production, in addition to the mining itself, includes the transportation of the clay to the drying facility as well as the use of petroleum products to generate sufficient heat needed to dry the clay.

Of course, after it is used, the litter must be disposed of. Clay cat litter is sent to landfills where its sits for an eternity. Since one assumes all cat clay litter purchased and used eventually gets thrown out, we are talking about a huge amount of cat litter ending up in landfills every year. The net result is that clay-based cat litter has a sizable environmental impact in both its manufacture and disposal.

#3 ok, it goes with the environmental stuff, but i think it is awesome that it is compostable. i can use it to add "browns" to my compost. obviously, some are going to bock at my flagrant use of cat waste in compost and the potential for disease. i'm not worried about that. #1) compost gets wicked hot, so . . . i'm guessing most bad bacteria aren't going to survive. #2) most of my compost goes through the belly of a worm before it enters my garden . . . and we know that process is much purer than any of the chemical treatments we do to our own waste and then toss into the water system.

#4 the clay (and silicon) are bad for you and your pets. the "dust" that is kicked up into the air of your house when you kitty covers her "mess" is a carcinogen. you might not notice that it affects your kittens, but years of breathing that stuff can have a negative impact on your lungs. if you have someone with asthma or other pulmonary issues, you really need to switch to something plant based.

#5 you know that "scent" that is in the litter. that is 100% pure chemicals. none of it is natural. all of it has weird side effects in large dosages. now, obviously you aren't going to eat the litter but your kitty will. she will clean her paws after her potty break and clay (that expands and turns into . . . clay) and chemicals will go into her body.

#6 no kitty litter dust gets tracked through the house. i hate seeing all the muck around, stuck in carpets etc.

if you are interested in trying this stuff out . . . they will give you a free box if you go to this site. you have to buy it and then send in a rebate, which is a big pain in the butt, but free is my all time favorite price so, i say go for it. just remember to send in the rebate!

this is from a funny site called cats against clay

Unanimous Declaration Of Tha Five Original Cats Against Clay

When in the course of kitten events it becomes necessary for felines to speak up against gross injustices – that's just how it's going to be. This has been a long time coming, humans. Dig it!

We Believe Clay Litter:

Doesn’t Taste Good * Has Harsh Chemicals * Makes Us Smell Cheep And Trashy * Is Dusty On Our Fur * Gets Stuck Between Our Itty Toes * Is Big Time Yuckey To Breathe * Leaves Ugly Tracks Up In Our Cribs * Is Unnecessary Because Of A Better Alternative.

We Resolve 2:

Raise Our Paws In Objection * Get All Hissy * Perform Various Acts Of Mayhem At Home and Abroad * Recruit New Kittens Who Believe As Us * Generally Make Our Meows Heard By Any Means Necessary * We are Loud * We Are Proud * We These Underpowered ...Are Cats Against Clay

1 comment:

klee said...

We used to buy Feline Pine. But to one cat, the pellets felt exactly like the tufts of our string-style cotton bath mat! You know where that led.

Our cats now don't like the big pellets, and the clumping version of Feline Pine (expensive sawdust) sticks to the litter box and is very dusty.

We mostly use the corn (or cob) based litters: Nature's Miracle, Vetbasis, World's Best, or the generic corn litter Petsmart sells. We have even found generic versions in supermarkets in the 'Small Pets' section. Though these cost a LOT more per pound, they are only a little more in terms of actual usage.

Our decision was largely based on the amount of dust clay based litters contain. The film that seemed to instantly coat every horizontal AND vertical surface made us wonder just how much the cats were breathing in, and what that would do to the kitties' respiratory systems. We also didn't like the idea of the cats licking all that clay (and bentonite) off their nether regions and feet. And, of course, there's that big environmental issue.

After a few years, we've noted another major advantage - one we never initially considered - that has made a big difference in our lives. The corn based litters are FAR less heavy. Unloading from a shopping trip is less grueling, and adding litter is easier if we're not trying to pour it out of a 30-40 pound container being held aloft. (And we don't have to hold our breath anymore when we do it.)

Things are easier on the outbound side too. When taking out the trash, cleaning up after the urban prospectors who routinely tear open our bags, and maneuvering the big cans around, lighter is definitely better. And the corn/cob litter is flushable and compostable too.

True, lighter weight litter tracks a bit more, but I believe the amount that escapes is about the same. Only with corn (or cob) litter, the stray bits are little pellets that can be swept up - as opposed to dust that sticks to every surface.

In actual use, the corn/corn cob litter doesn't smell quite as good as Feline Pine, but almost. It smells much better than the clay litters, rather like a granary. The lavender-scented cob litter made by Vetbasis - our all-time favorite - smells like a "perfumed granary" (as my sister put it). And Nature's Miracle litter is pine-scented, so it smells a bit like Feline Pine.

So, yes, Feline Pine is great if your cats will use it (you just have to get used to scooping "backwards"; you throw out what sifts through the scoop, not what stays). But if they won't, try the corn/cob based litters.

(Oh yeah: our culture's "cat lady" stereotype says more about our culture than it does about cat ladies!)