Is Clay Cat Litter Bad For The Environment?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: July 23, 2021
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Clay cat litter is the most popular cat litter on the market. 

This is because it is cheap and accessible. Is it good for the environment, though? 

Let’s take a look.

Is clay cat litter bad for the environment?

Most cat litter produced will be clay cat litter. 

This is because it is incredibly easy to produce, and this makes it cheap. 

Most of the cat litters that you see at your local pet store will be clay cat litter. 

However, clay cat litter is the absolute worst cat litter that you can buy if you care about the environment, and there are a few reasons for this:

  • Clay cat litter is not biodegradable.
  • It takes a huge amount of resources to produce clay cat litter.
  • Clay mining has a massive impact on the environment.

Let’s break this down a little bit.

Clay cat litter is not biodegradable.

First things first, clay cat litter is not biodegradable. 

If you stick this in the ground, it is going to hang around forever.

The thing with clay cat litter is that it doesn’t tend to be as brilliant as cat litter. 

It doesn’t absorb a whole lot. This means that you are going to be throwing a ton of clay cat litter away. 

This is only going to make the problem a lot worse.

Energy used to produce clay cat litter.

Clay cat litter is obtained through mining. 

This means that a ton of heavy equipment is needed to pull the clay out of the ground. 

These clay mines are hardly in the most accessible locations either. 

This means that you need a ton of trucks to haul the clay away.

It isn’t like only a fraction of the clay is being used for cat litter, either. 

About 30% of the clay pulled out of the ground in the US goes into cat litter production. 

This is several million tons of clay.

Impact of clay mining on the environment 

As we said, clay needs to be pulled out of the ground. 

This is carried out through a process of strip mining.

When you mine, you are essentially pulling out vast chunks of land. 

This makes the area uninhabitable for animals and plants. 

It pretty much kills the land.

Not to mention the fact that the mining process can pollute surrounding water supplies. 

This could end up killing all sorts of animals.

This damage is irreversible. 

So, you are killing the land around the landfill and the area around the clay mine.

How do you dispose of clay cat litter?

Sadly, there is no way to dispose of your clay cat litter to ensure that it is less damaging to the environment.

You will have to bag the clay cat litter up before you place it into your trash bin. 

If you can, you can try and bag the cat litter up in a biodegradable bag. 

However, do remember that you have to double-bag the cat litter. 

While the biodegradable bag is not going to break down that quickly, it will break down eventually. 

This means that you are having less of an impact on the environment, albeit only a tiny bit less of an impact.

You mustn’t flush the cat poop down the toilet. 

This applies even if it does not have the clay cat litter around it. 

Cat poop is awful for water systems. It carries a bacteria that can pollute water supplies. 

While this will probably not end up harming humans because all of that awful bacteria will be filtered out before we come into contact with it, it is probably going to end up harming animals. 

It could even kill them.

Is silica cat litter bad for the environment?

One of the major advantages that silica cat litter has over clay cat litter is the fact that it is a lot more absorbent. 

This means that your cat will need to use a lot less of it. 

Ultimately, this means that you are going to be sending less to the landfill.

Sadly, it does still have the same problems that clay cat litter has, though. 

This means that it is not going to be biodegradable. It will sit in that landfill forever.

Silica cat litter is also made from sand. It takes a lot of processing to turn that sand into cat litter. 

This pours a ton of pollution into the environment. 

Of course, since it is using sand, animal habitats will be destroyed. 

There isn’t an infinite amount of sand out there, after all. Although, taking sand from the environment is likely going to have far less of an impact than clay mining.

Can you purchase biodegradable cat litter?

Yes. Nowadays, you can purchase biodegradable cat litter. 

However, you will probably have to remember that it is vastly more expensive than the alternative options. 

Although, you are going to be doing your bit for the environment!

Biodegradable cat litter is made from plant matter.

The cat litter should be produced from renewable sources. 

So, while the actual farming to make the cat litter will impact the environment, it will have nowhere near as much of an impact as the mining for clay or sand.

You cannot recycle biodegradable cat litter. It will still need to go into the landfill. 

However, if you bag it up in a biodegradable bag, both are going to disintegrate eventually.

Final word

Clay cat litter is terrible for the environment.

Not only is your clay cat litter going to sit in a landfill forever, but the mining process to make the clay cat litter is terrible for animals and land. 

Clay is not a renewable resource. 

Therefore, if you can, always try to purchase biodegradable cat litter. 

Sure, it will be a bit more on the expensive side, but you know that you will be doing your part for the environment when you use it.

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