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Enviro-Mich message from Tom Stanton <stanton7@pilot.msu.edu>

Tamilyn: I share your perplexing problem. It seems to me highly likely that a
system can be designed to carefully and completely compost kitty litter into a
safe byproduct, suitable for use in building urban soils. I do understand,
however, that high temperatures (>190 degrees F) are needed to kill potentially
harmful bacteria.

In the meantime, Swheat Scoop, is my preferred means of dealing with a similar
difficulty (three indoor cats). Swheat Scoop is wheat chaff, a byproduct of wheat
production that is not used for any other purpose. It was invented in Grand Ledge,
Michigan. It is now produced and packaged in Minnesota. It's intriguing to me that
Michigan has been home to the development of the original Kitty Litter brand
(clay), and now also to Swheat Scoop.

Benefits of swheat scoop include: very excellent clumping, completely
biodegradable and therefore compostable, very flushable. Because it clumps so well
and absorbs moisture so well, it works much better and lasts much longer than a
similar quantity of clay litter. It's quite inexpensive (14 lbs for roughly $7,
and larger size packages available), and it's widely available in Lansing area pet
supply stores. If you compost it, don't use the compost near plants that people
are going to eat. If you flush it, I recommend you put on good quality rubber
gloves to scoop the litter, then crumble up big clumps to avoid clogging your
toilet. Trust me, this works like a charm.

My major project over the coming holiday season will be to try to work with my
cats, one at a time, to train them to use the regular flush toilet, using a
training system I picked up at the store. I'll let you know if it works. I
understand the system has a better than 40% rate of success, even with grown-up
cats who have always used litter. Whether or not it works, I will be happy to pass
along my training kit to the next person who wants to try to train their cat(s).

I'm also very interested in undertaking the research needed to create a practical
system for safe pet litter composting, perhaps applying some of the "Living
Machine" principles from Ocean Arks International (John Todd and Nancy Jack Todd,
et al.). Maybe others will join in that project over the coming months. I don't
want to start a thread in Enviro-Mich about cat litter, but am happy to discuss
this with you in excrutiating detail, in private email or in person.  We can
easily arrange for Urban Options, in East Lansing, to host a discussion on this
topic any time.

-- Tom Stanton, Lansing

Tamilyn H. Sanderson wrote:

> This may sound stupid, but I have 5 cats and go thru a lot of clay kitty
> litter.

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