When you have a cat, changing the litter box is necessary but is also almost always quite unpleasant. When you take out the old litter and put fresh litter in, what do you do with the used stuff? Do you throw it in the garbage? Do you compost it since it’s organic material?
It may have also crossed your mind to scoop our your cat’s waste and flush it down the toilet. After all, humans do it right? While it might seem like that an innocent idea it’s not actually that great for the plumbing of your home to do this.
What’s the harm in flushing cat feces?
The plumbing system of your home is pretty robust, and it is meant to withstand a lot of use from your family. However, it was built to handle human waste. Anything else can cause major back ups and issues with the plumbing in your house.
Flushing your cat’s poop down the toilet adds additional solid waste to the plumbing or septic system, and that can disrupt the processing of human waste.
Additionally, cat feces can contain a parasite that is particularly harmful to humans. This parasite is known as toxoplasmosis, and it can be especially harmful to those with already weakened immune systems. Even though most water that humans are exposed to will have gone through a wastewater treatment, these systems are not designed to remove toxoplasmosis from wastewater and so it would still be in the water when humans use it.
If not treated, toxoplasmosis can then spread to other bodies of water and affect fish and other aquatic wildlife. This parasite can cause brain damage and ultimately even death if it’s serious.
Why is it so bad to flush cat litter?
While there are a variety of different materials used in the production of cat litter, most cat owners use cat litter with some kind of clay in it. Clay is used because when it’s baked, all the moisture comes out and that is what then makes it so absorbent in a litter box.
Cat litter is made from a specific kind of clay, usually: bentonite clay. This kind of clay hardens when it gets wet which is why so most kinds of cat litter will clump up so you can easily scoop out the bits you need to.
Now, as a cat owner, if you’ve ever waited too long to scoop out the cat litter you know that all the clumps will very quickly harden together and form a solid chunk that can be very difficult to remove.
So take that, and imagine what would happen in the plumbing of your home if you flushed the cat litter down the toilet. It will quickly clump together and could easily cause a clog at some point in the pipes of your home. If there’s a clog, then water will stop flowing either partially or completely. This could mean the clump will then completely harden as it has absorbed all the moisture available.
With that in mind, it could completely harden in place in your plumbing and you would need to locate the clog and then have it fixed. Resolving this issue can be incredibly costly to a homeowner as you likely don’t know exactly where the clog is and therefore have to explore a lot of the plumbing of your home to locate the problem.
Are there any kinds of cat litters you can flush?
The traditional cat litters made of clay and silica can’t be flushed because the pose the risk of creating a large blockage in your plumbing. Some cat owners use litter made of recycled newspapers, which is a much more environmentally friendly option, but it really shouldn’t be flushed either.
While newspaper will breakdown when exposed to a lot of moisture, it won’t break down like toilet paper will so it should be scooped and removed just like clay or silica cat litters.
Alternatively, there is an option for corn or wheat cat litters. These types of litters won’t clump as much as traditional cat litters do, and it is for this reason that you can actually flush them down the toilet. If you choose to use these kinds of litters, though, you should be careful when cleaning as small particles tend to spread everywhere since it doesn’t clump the same way.
Further, if you choose to use pine litters – which are also biodegradable – you can flush those as well. The strong scent may take a little time to adjust to for your cat but pine litter is amongst the safest and easiest option to use in your house.
Because it will disintegrate so quickly you don’t have to think twice about flushing it and it’s a non-tracking option so it won’t get everyone in the house when you change the box or your cat uses it.
The only downside to this kind of litter is that it’s not as absorbent as clay or silica litters do it will need to be changed more often to avoid the smell from creeping all over the house.
Removing cat litter safely from your home
Unlike dogs, cats will typically do their business inside your home which means you need to find a way to remove it without it smelling up your home or making a big mess.
Here are some ideas for making sure the cat litter stays as neat as possible and doesn’t find its way to all the nooks and crannies of your home.
Designate an area
One of the best things for making sure the litter box smell doesn’t transfer to other areas of your home is to put it in its own room away from the spaces your family uses the most. Some families put the box in the laundry room, mudroom or in the basement – anywhere that is easily accessible for your cat to get to.
Keep bags handy
Sometimes the temptation for flushing cat feces down the toilet is the fact that there isn’t a bag handy to put it in. Whether you use biodegradable bags or old grocery bags, it is completely up to you, but having bags close to the litter box makes it easy to ensure you have somewhere to put the cat’s waste and used litter.
Take the bags outside
When you’re done scooping out the litter box it’s important you don’t just leave the bags in the area of your home that the box is in. Not only can it cause an unwanted smell to linger, but fecal matter can also release toxins into the air that are dangerous for your family to inhale. It is also for this reason that it’s important to clean out the litter box on a regular basis and not let it sit too long.
How can I prevent cat litter from being flushed?
If you have children you have tasked with cleaning out the liter box you might worry that they will just flush it down the toilet and not actually take it outside. Here’s how you can keep it from being flushed down the toilet, by accident or purposefully.
Keep the litter box away from the bathroom
If you can, and your home allows, keep the litter box away from a bathroom so it’s not easy to just put the waste in the toilet.
Keep bags handy
Making sure you keep bags handy for removing the waste will make it easier to scoop it into a bag and take it outside. Additionally, having bags close to the litter box means that if you walk by and see it needs to be emptied then you can easily do it without having to go search for one.
We love our cats: they’re cuddly and warm and it’s nice to come home to a cat at the end of a long day. Sometimes cleaning up after a cat is a pain and it can be very time consuming and smelly. When your cat uses a litter box they can sometimes track the particles throughout the house, and it can make a mess no matter how much we try to keep things clean.
Any pet we have requires us to clean up after them, and usually that involves cleaning up and removing their waste. As much as we try, there isn’t a method of handling cat waste and litter that is completely hygienic and environmentally friendly. You can, however, try different methods for removing waste that are more ecofriendly and are easy to maintain.
Flushing cat waste down the toilet may seem like the easiest option but when there’s litter attached to it this can cause a huge issue down the road. Cat litter is used because it will clump to absorb the moisture around it, and that makes it easy to scoop out of the litter box. However it’s the same qualities that make it easy for us that means it’s really important it never be flushed down the toilet.
By making a few changes and following a routine, you can easily make sure your cat’s litter ends up outside your home and not down your toilet!