Cross-posted from over at Simple Pleasures.
This post relates to two of the simplest of pleasures: owning (and caring for) pets and saving money. I enjoy both of those activities! As a cat owner and cat lover, I've spent a fair amount of money over the years buying the kitty cat necessities: food, litter, litter boxes and scoops, catnip and toys... I started out with the standard clay-based litter, and while it was functional, it didn't neutralize odors, it scattered and spread dust everywhere, and it created a lot of trash. I know that clay is a natural material, but it didn't seem useful to put a bunch of dirty clay in the landfill. I switched to silicon crystal litter, and while it was quite expensive by comparison, it absorbed odors much better than clay, it didn't have much dust, and it produced less waste because less of it was required to be effective and it lasted twice as long per unit as clay litter. Still, I didn't like sending all those bags of tiny rocks into the landfill to fester in nitrogenous waste. And even more than that, I didn't like spending top dollar on something for my cats to poop on.
One day, while shopping at the local grocery mart, I decided to take the plunge and try something completely new and different: plant-based litter. While more expensive than clay, it is far cheaper (~$5 for 10 lbs) than crystal litter. The pine pellets are resource-efficient: in addition to being 100% natural and biodegradable, they are formed from the waste product (sawdust) of another industry (lumber). Perfect!
I bought a few bags and found that I loved the effect: pellets absorb odors as well as the crystal (I don't have quantitative data, as I don't own a smell-o-scope; I'm just judging from my own olfactory experiences) and when stirred to activate or increase absorbency, they emit a pleasant "pine fresh" odor. I was happy with my choice and worked on switching over completely to the new litter system. And then... while researching pine litter on the internet, I read that the "pine pellet cat litter" is actually sold very cheaply in bulk at feed stores because it has been used as horse stall bedding for ages, and has just recently been adapted, remarketed and sold (with significant price increase, of course) as cat litter.
I live in a small town in a rural area, so at the next opportunity, I took myself off to the local farm supply superstore and picked up two bags of pine pellets, each bag $5 for 40 lbs. While not everyone would find it practical to stock up on 80 lbs of pine-scented cat litter (I know, for example, that there are apartment-dwellers who wouldn't have a place to put it), there are probably feed and farm supply stores that carry smaller denominations that still provide the benefit of bulk pricing.
I'm happy with my purchase. And I'm thinking about putting the post-usage sawdust in my compost, where it is likely to not only biodegrade (nature has microbiotic organisms who exist to break down nitrogenous waste) but also to keep away critters who have been messing up my bin but may be dissuaded by the scent of feline urine. I'll keep you posted.