March 3, 2008

Week 37 Results: 3.5 oz of plastic waste.

My kitties have been conspiring to increase my weekly plastic waste. I know that’s what they’re talking about when they’re curled up together pretending to sleep. Soots decided to get diarrhea and start pooping outside his litter box so that in desperation, I’d go out and buy new litter, medicine, and food, all in plastic bags. Such a bad kitty!

I’m about at my wits end. Just ask Michael. The vet gave me special hypoallergenic food for him (which, naturally, comes in a plastic bag) as well as de-worming medicine (5 mini plastic bags). We’re also trying a different kind of litter (World’s Best Cat Litter) which comes in a plastic bag. The new food is not helping and neither is the medicine so far. But I gotta say, World’s Best Cat Litter works sooooo much better than SwheatsScoop, I’m almost ready to say, “Screw it. Give me the one that works even if it comes in a plastic bag.” It clumps much better. It stays cleaner. You need less of it. And it smells better. *Sigh*

So, here’s this week’s tally. Items used this week but purchased before the plastic project began:

  • 1 hydrogen peroxide bottle & cap (#2 plastic). Used this up trying to get mold out of a cotton produce bag. More on that issue later.
  • 1 Safeway ground cumin bottle & cap (#1 plastic). Now that this is gone, will be buying only bulk cumin from Whole Foods or Rainbow or Berkeley Bowl and filling my own glass jar.

New plastic waste:

  • 1 Refresh Endura single-use eye drop container
  • 1 piece of plastic tape from a bunch of organic bananas.
  • 1 plastic seal from the neck of a ceramic container of St. Benoit yogurt. Our last bit of homemade yogurt went bad before we could make more. Have to start over again.
  • 1 plastic bag of World’s Best Cat Litter I’m afraid this won’t be the last. This stuff just works so much better than the SwheatScoop. Anyone else have suggestions for cat litter that is clumpable and flushable and doesn’t come in a plastic bag? (And for those who may be new to this blog, yes we flush the cats’ litter because they’ve tested negative for toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that kills sea otters. You shouldn’t flush cat litter if your cats have not been tested or if they go outside.)
  • 5 mini plastic bags of de-worming medication.

Now, just look at this:

They look like they’re sleeping, right? That’s what they want you to think. They’re actually speaking in silent code, trying to plan their next plasticky move. What can I do?

Seriously, (and this next bit is going to be gross, so if you don’t want to read about cat poop, turn away now) Soots has had diarrhea for over a month. I took him to the vet weeks ago and they dewormed him, put him on special food, and gave me some kitty pepto bismal for him. It cleared up for maybe a week and then came back with a vengeance. Then, in the last couple of weeks, he decided not to use the litter box to poop. (He still uses it to pee.) He’ll go on the floor a foot or two away from the box, but he’ll only go in the box itself if I catch him scratching the floor and put him in the box right before he starts to go. Then, I praise him and pet him and give him a tiny treat. But his little pea brain doesn’t remember it the next time.

We got a second litter box and filled it with the new kind of litter. Arya will use either one. She doesn’t seem to care what kind of litter she uses. And Soots will pee in either one but still wants to poop on the floor. And it’s not like he’s trying to get to the litter box and having accidents before he makes it there. No, he wanders around on the floor scratching here and there, basically dilly dallying while I’m tapping my foot waiting, before he finally chooses the perfect spot on the floor to go.

The new food from the vet is not helping the diarrhea, and nothing we’ve done is stopping the floor pooping. FPF reader and friend Axelle thinks that if we get the diarrhea cleared up, the cat will use the box again. She has a recipe for us to try using rice, chicken, and pumpkin. We haven’t done it yet, thinking that the vet knew what she was talking about, but maybe we will this week if the new food doesn’t start to help.

Anyone else? I’m so tired of being on cat poop duty!


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
14 years ago

Have you heard of Good Mews kitty litter? It is made of 100% recycled paper pellets. The plastic bag it comes in says you can flush or compost it. I haven’t tried composting it yet but I think I will do a separate compost pile for nonedible plants. Now if it only came in a paper bag….

Mr. Mazzei
14 years ago

Hi, my name is Ed. I am sorry but I don’t have any answers for your plastic waste problem. However I am very interested in learning how you have added all these nifty ads to your blogg and does your blogg bring you income or do you use it for your business? I am eager to learn how to use bloggs to make money and would apreciate any advice.

14 years ago

Something similar happened with our third cat. Two things had to be done:

A) pooping was resolved after yet another round of medication for parasites. It was his third or fourth and they couldn’t believe it took that many. He’d been returned to the shelter by another family for the pooping issue, so it had been going on for about 6 months off an on. :(

B) The peeing was resolved when they discovered he has crystals in his urine. Just like our other cat. But it took two or three tests to find it. The initially ruled it out and things continued to be really bad and then they decided to test it again, since they’d tried other things and nothing was coming up, and it was the crystals. New food, and he’s been fine since.

14 years ago

Just wanted to let you know that you can buy World’s Best Cat Litter in a cardboard box for about $12.00 (has more in it as well, so less product package waste :) )
Oh, and thanks for using a litter made from recycled corn cob!

willow sprite
14 years ago

Here’s my theory. Dunno if it’s true, but worth a try? Your wood floor has absorbed the smell of his poo, so that’s where he decides to go. My suggestion is to thoroughly disinfect the area so that he won’t smell it.

christy b.
14 years ago

ATTN: Anonymous Marine Research Organization Worker

Hi, I have a question for you! What about dog poop down the toilet? Any extenuating circumstances such as diet? To me the toilet is the best choice – I don’t have any yard or dirt (live in a condo), putting it in the trash means that it is going to contaminate the ground water, I do use BioBags to pick it up (when we are on a walk) and that does go in the trash but from what I understand they aren’t compostable in a landfill.

Can’t wait to hear what the right thing to do is!!

Thanks in advance…

Judy N.
14 years ago

Hi Beth,
I know that it is very challenging to get cat sand without plastic.
The only way I can think of is going to get bulk cat sand which is usually clay and bad to flush down toilet. I like the clumping corn which can be flushed, too. Wondering how manufacturers can package clumping sand so it doesn’t get wet and turn to stone – they either package in plastic or package with plastic lining the inside of the paper bag…maybe if they would sell cat litter in bulk like at natural food stores…bring my own can? How about putting the cat box where Arya poops (currently outside the present box locale) to see if she will use the box? Good luck on solving the cat poop mystery. Judy

14 years ago

I’ve tried to find a more eco-friendly (but still cat friendly) litter. Right now I’m using Feline Pine, but the scoopable kind (I just haven’t been able to wrap my head around the dissolving pellet stuff). It doesn’t have the odor and nasty clumping issues I had with SWheat Scoop. It definitely does track, though. But I guess it’s fun to paw at because she’s become extra good at covering her doodles. And, I’ve purchased it at places like Target and Petco in cardboard boxes (but I think they have a plastic handle?). I’m sure I’ll find out there’s something bad about it, though. I just haven’t been able to find something that was great across all fronts (where it comes from, what it turns into, how it affects the cat, how it affects the household).

14 years ago

My cat had a litter box aversion for nearly 10 years. Just as I was about to give up I found this stuff called Cat Attract. I’ve been using it over a year….it’s a miracle really. It does come in a plastic bag, but my cat, who also only pooped outside of the box at first, later started peeing anywhere she pleased furniture, rugs, etc. This is the only litter that works (I’ve tried gradually mixing in other stuff and she stopped using the box again).

Oh, and on flushing the cat litter….that’s the worst thing you can do. I work for a marine research organization. Cat litter contaminates the water and can cause diseases such as toxoplasmosis in seals, sea lions and other marine mammals.

14 years ago

You MUST try giving him pumpkin. I had this same thing with my Pixie after I got her from the shelter. She was going to the vet twice a week for a month, no joke. She had lots of medicine to get rid of whatever stomach parasite she had, but the pumpkin really worked the best. At first I mixed it with some canned cat food, half and half, but then she just started eating the pumpkin by itself. My vet said it’s like Metamucil for animals, like it bulks up the stool. And he said you really can’t overdose them on it, because it’s just pumpkin, not a true medicine. Hope this helps–your babies are too cute!!

14 years ago

I love the ideas here, I just happened across this blog so I’m gonna go back and read more into it before I have any kind of actual response… for right now I have nothing to say besides keep it up!

14 years ago

The pooping outside the box is because he is associating the box with the pain he feels when trying to poop. When you clear up the tummy problems he should return to the box. I’ve had kitties that have had tummy problems, but none that didn’t clear up with the first round at the vet, so I have no advice there. Good luck to you.

Beth Terry
14 years ago

Hi Hillary. You are absolutely right. World’s Best Cat Litter is not environmentally-friendly as far as I know. It comes in a plastic bag and it’s made from corn, which as we know, is problematic. I don’t think any of us are saying it’s okay to use it. We’re just saying that it works really, really well and we’re exhausted and the wheat stuff, which is better environmentally and comes in a paper bag, just doesn’t work as well and kind of stinks and gets all over the place.

There are sooooo many things to consider about pets and the environment. The easiest thing would be to use no litter at all and let them be outdoor cats. But that’s not good for the environment because cats outdoors pick up toxoplasma gondii and then their poop is lethal for sea otters. And cats outdoors kill birds in an unfair fight because the cats, being also fed indoors, have unfair advantage over the birds. Grist had a whole “Ask Umbra” on the subject.

As far as flushing the litter and waste treatment, well the waste treatment plant is already treating my own personal poop waste, right, so what’s a couple of cats? We don’t have kids but if we did no one would tell us not to flush their poop, right? And the wheat and corn litters are biodegradable, which I believe is the reason that they are certified flushable.

So I made up the chicken, white rice, and pumpkin goop tonight. They don’t love it. No they don’t. But they are eating it slowly, which is probably good because the less they eat, the less poop they’ll produce. It’s such a weird coincidence that I had just cooked a “dinner in a pumpkin” for us for dinner last night and had a lot left over. So I scraped off the “dinner” and cooked the pumpkin a bit more and used that.

And Mazzajo, about the newspaper… what Soots does is move the newspaper around until he finds a bare patch of floor to poop on. He likes the wood for some reason. He doesn’t want to go on anything that moves? I HAVE NO IDEA!

Thank you all for listening and for your suggestions. I’ll go back to looking for more environmentally-friendly litter when all this diarrhea business is cleared up. First, I need to keep my sanity.


14 years ago

Maybe spread newspaper as far as possible around the litter boxes, and leave a few piles of litter on the newspaper?

14 years ago

Back for more commenting/discussing, this time about the litter…

Based on the rave reviews you folks are giving World’s Best, I took a look at their website. Um, so, it’s made out of corn. Isn’t stuff made out of corn contributing to global warming, what with the encouragement of monocropping and release of carbon dioxide? (See for example.)

I looked on their FAQ but didn’t see anything addressing this issue. Can someone who loves World’s Best tell me why it’s okay?

14 years ago

Hi, long time reader and long time lurker. I do think you might need to read up on IBD for this little kitty.

I raw feed my cats based on the recipe from It has helped two of our cats that had chronic loose stool.

But you need to work with a vet that is supportive of raw feeding if you are interested in doing it. We make our cat food and use good old canning jars for storage.

We are a 5 cat household and we did the “taste test” between Worlds Best and Swheatscoop and Worlds Best won hands and paws down for the humans and cats.

But we also found that we used the method that Dr. Pierson has a video for on maintaining the litter box makes the litter last way, way longer than others.

Look at Even if you aren’t interested in raw feeding yet she has very good information on the site on other issues.

T.E. Mills
14 years ago

Your 2 kitties look just like my Hemingway and Grover. They too like to poo outside their box. They don’t like a speck of previous waste in their box. They gave that up a few days ago when I started letting them outside. Now they won’t go in the house at all but yell by the door. It was painful and scary to let go. I admit to using plastic cat box liners which I can now discontinue so good for us!!

14 years ago

y u give us hallucinogenic fud?

dat make us think literbox is giant beast in ground like in “Return of Jedi”! we scared to go in it.

no putz no more LSD in fud, k?

14 years ago

Hi, you might already know about this but I stumbled across this site for cat toilet training: It may seem a little odd but on reflection probably the most hygenic solution and removes the need for litter when you’ve trained the fur babies to use the loo.
I’d suggest scrambled eggs to clear up ‘the runs’- it’s worked with my cat in the past (though if you check out my blog you’ll see I have the exact opposite problem with my cat right now).

Good luck!

terrible person
14 years ago

OK, so I talked to the people who make World’s Best. Apparently, it only comes in plastic bags. I told them how much we like their litter, and how we would like it all the much more if it came in a non-plastic bag. The person with whom I spoke, Luke Kissell, was very nice, and said they hoped to switch to a non-plastic bag someday, but that meanwhile, the bags they were using were recyclable. But he said they were Number 7, and I said I didn’t think that was recyclable … anyway, I guess we’re stuck.

Kerry Ashwin
14 years ago

I live on a boat and our plastic rubbish is small. I buy fresh and tinned and dried and choose paper bags instead if given the choice. Or no bag at all just my own.
Milk is a worry but we have a recycling thing happening at work so I take the plastic containers there or use them as bailers for the tender and numerous other devises. Do you count your plastic if you use it more once, ie bags for rubbish, lunches, kitty litter etc.
Join the League of common sense cause I can see you have plenty of that commodity. (My blog) & keep up the good work. I get annoyed at fishing tackle in the oceans. Don’t get me started on that one!
cheers and go girl

14 years ago

I second the pumpkin idea.

I have an adopted kitty who took about a year to have all his health & outdoor-living stuff clear up. He would not use the litter box if the other cat had used it, and he had horrible digestive issues while his guts healed up from having worms as a farm kitten.

The good news is it did heal up and he figured out how to use the box without setting foot in it and he’s been fine for more than a decade now.

But pumpkin smooths out a wide variety of gut issues, for some reason. And our kitty really likes it (but also corn cobs and bike grease, so who can tell?)

14 years ago

Holy dear Lord why do we give credence and add fuel to the global warming myth fire? Now it’s plastics? There is something you should consider, this planet/solar system/galaxy/universe will exstinguish human life long before humans have even the remotest affect on it. It’s called natural selection. Green? Global warming? Please! This planet has been warming up since the last ice age. Although the fear you create does have a healthy bottom line for someone.

Warm Regards,

Peter Spyche

Terrace Crawford
14 years ago

Congrats on being the blog-o-note.

terrible person
14 years ago

Rice, chicken, and pumpkin? That sounds a lot like what you cooked for US last night. It was very tasty and quite agreed with my stomach.

I guess if it were really the World’s Best litter, it wouldn’t come in plastic bags. But look at their Website. It looks as if the Advanced Formula, or the Odor Control, comes in a paper bag … ? Oh, and they have it at that store in Oakland on Broadway – though they said it’s in the same kind of bag as the regular. Anyway, I could pick it up on my way home tonight. Hey, why don’t I just put this in a personal email? I’m on a roll. And you are more likely to read this than a personal email!

14 years ago

I’m going through my own cat poo rodeo right now… I bought a Cat Genie (horrors, almost all plastic!) because it cleans and reuses the same litter pellets and is hooked into our greywater line that goes to sewage treatment.

Well, they both hate it, in spite of the ‘poo garnishes’ I leave so they understand what the box is for, and we had anarchy when I closed the door to the existing box for a few hours… Poo right on the bed!

So, anyway in the middle of all of this, my big man cat gets sick, requiring vet stuff like crazy. He will not poo in the box when he’s sick, it’s his way of letting me know ‘I’m sick, and you have to pay attention.’

I like your blog, it’s a great idea and challenge.

Lynn from
14 years ago

Beth, honestly I think you’re doing great, but sometimes I wonder how you’d handle all this if you had kids. Would you resist the temptation to tie up a dirty diaper in a plastic bag to avoid the smell? (And yes, even if you use cloth, someone will leave a stinky dirty disposable diaper in your home!)

I think when you master all the plastic in your current household…you may be ready to take on the challenge of kid plastic! :)

In the meantime, you are very inspiring!

14 years ago

I hope your cat feels better soon!

I’ve been making my own kitty litter — plastic free! I don’t know if your cat would be okay with the switch, but it’s pretty easy to make. I put the recipe up a couple of weeks ago, if you’re interested —

14 years ago

Beth I am so glad that you don’t like Sweatscoop either! I was hopefull in the begining but just can’t stomach the smell because of the clumps that stick to the bottom of the pan and won’t come out with the normal scooping. We have only had the kitties a few weeks and have already gone through 3 bags of litter because of the recommended 3 inches.

We are not flushing the litter, since I am not sure about what it is going to do to the pipes, we are just throwing it into the city owned trash can and so it ends up in the landfill.

I can buy bulk clay litter but it’s so expensive, I believe one of your other commentors said something about the bulk litter too. I don’t want to change but can go on with the smell and the tracking in my entry hall.

Christy B
14 years ago

Dogs AND Cats are carnivores. No need for any produce, dairy, seeds, etc…

Pumpkin might work nicely but it the end it is a band-aid (and those are plastic so who wants that?!) and it is not addressing what is really wrong. Same with rice, etc…

You can ask your vet about nutrition but it’s important to understand that vets get 1 semester of animal nutrition in med school and guess who sponsor’s it? If you guessed pet food manufacturers you would be right!! Think about how that might influence textbooks, studies, information, etc…

Once vets are armed with this biased “knowledge” they are pressured to sell bags-o-crap (aka kibble) to trusting people to feed their pets. It’s an unfortunate circle that only your own education can break.

Check out:

If you choose to feed raw, one of the benefits is reduced plastic usage and their “residue” (poop!) is typically very small and firm – and it hardly smells another benefit – so I would imagine that the litter issue would be much easier to tackle.

14 years ago

PS — In response to Tracey’s first comment… please DO NOT give cats vegan food! Unlike dogs, cats are “obligate carnivores,” meaning that they must consume meat for nutrition.

14 years ago

Hi, Beth — Did your vet mention anything about Soots maybe needing food that has only a single protein source? We’ve had a couple of cats who have had sensitivity (aka diarrhea) to food that has more than one protein source… many cat foods have more than one, if you look at the ingredients, like chicken and fish, chicken and beef, etc. You could ask your vet if this might be the case. When we switched these cats to a food that had just chicken, the problem cleared up. Good luck!

14 years ago

I don’t know much about cats… but the rice, boiled chicken breast, and pumpkin thing is what we use to clear our DOGS up when they have the inevitable diarrhea from eating who-knows-what. I bet it would work for cats really well!
When they have the first squirt, I give them 2 tbsp of PURE pumpkin (cooked). I hvae it premeasured out…my dogs LVOE to eat things that don’t agree with them in the yard.

The pumpkin usually clears things up by itself if I give it twice a day, and if it doesn’t clear up in a day or two I switch from the kibble to the chicken/rice. I add yoghurt (plain) to it to help balance their digestive tract, too, as there is obviously some nasty bacteria overgrowing in there.

One final thought (from dogs, of course) is that you might try a different or higher quality food.

My dog had chronically soft stool… the pumpkin would help temporarily, but it would always come back. The vet had no suggestion but the expensive full of nasty fillers and byproducts food.

After doing a bunch of research on dog food, and how golden retrievers (mine are a golden mix) have lots of allergies to low quality ingredients, I switched to an all natural organic food with ONE meat and ONE carb ingredients… fish and potatoes (plus blueberries, flax, carrots, and a few other veggies.)

There hasn’t been an unexplained soft stool since the transition period!

Here’s a list of some GOOD foods… they may or may not come in plastic, but since most of them are organic and many use US made ingredients, they are (slightly) better than the perscription junk…

I personally feed the Timberwolf Organics dog food… so I might try that FIRST… but the California Naturals has a REALLY short list and is great for narrowing down food allergies…

Wow…I wrote a novel! I hope it helps at all.

14 years ago

My older cat had diarreha for a month and was losing weight. It turned out to be an irritable bowel syndrome (fairly common), which is a chronic problem. I had to switch to a low residue cat food and give her a shot once a month but she is much beter and uses her box regularly. I do have to use the “bad” litter, I tried the other kind and she won’t use it. Then again she is 16 years old and a creature of habit so your kitty may be not so stuck in her ways yet. You might want to check and see if your kitty has this syndrome.

14 years ago

OhOhOh! I forgot to say…
The City of Toronto COMPOSTS litter waste. I used to sneak it across the street to a waste strip where it mixed nicely with leaf mold to form actual soil. Now things grow there. As a former property manager, I cringe at the thought of flushed cat litter. That stuff clumps, and absorbs lots of water. It therefore clogs pipes, maybe not at your house, but maybe downstream. Plus, it contaminates the waste water stream. Water treatment either has to strain and chlorinate it, or dump it with storm water into the nearest body of water. For those reasons, I think we may be best to send litter to landfill, strangely. Maybe I’m not thinking it through properly. What do other people think?

14 years ago

So I am not a successful cat owner. My cat is nearly 20 years old and looks ready to beat any cat up who comes near. People see her coming down the street and exclaim “Holy S@#t that’s a big cat!” My cat has missed the litter box for two years now. She’s fairly blind, I now realize and although I got her a low walled box, she daintily climbs half way in and pees on the floor. She can’t get her backend over the litter. So maybe I should comment. But here goes.

I’ve used a variety of litter that don’t come in plastic bags. I’ve used shredded newspaper when my housemate had a subscription. I’ve used cedar and pine chips that I got in bulk from a lumber yard. I now use, for what it’s worth, a clumping litter that I can get in bulk from a local pet store for about $4 a gallon jug (my jug).

I HAVE made my own vegan cat food, complete with taurine powder, much to my cat’s dismay. Now I use stuff that comes in bulk that I refill into my big plastic jug that I picked out of someone’s recycle bin. There could be premium quality locally made bulk cat food near you, I hope.

On a completely different note, I found that the Plastic Bag Monster had made a nest in my eldest daughter’s room. Now I won’t need to scrounge for used plastic bags to collect kitchen garbage in!

Good luck with the kitty urgh.