Monday, February 28, 2011

Making Your Own Litter

Small pets have big sensitivities, especially when it comes to litter. It's well documented that litters containing cedar and pine should not be used. The aromatic oils can cause respiratory issues in small pets as well as liver disease in house rabbits. The dangers of clumping and clay types cat litters for small pets are also great. In recent years companies have begun to market litters made of recycled paper products. They come in both fluffy and pelleted substrates and offer a non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and dust free litter. They have superior odor and absorbency control. The paper type litters are also environmentally friendly as they are easily compost-able and made of recycled materials. The draw back to these litters are the cost. Averaging approximately $11-16 for a 30 lb bag of the pelleted version and $15-22 for a 60L bag of the compressed fluffy version, these litters can make quite a dent in your wallet if you have multiple pets and litter boxes. As a director of a small animal rescue, I have 20 litter boxes to maintain daily for rescued house rabbits. While safety, absorbency, and foot comfort of my preferred litter (the fluffy version) is excellent, the litter costs have been astronomical for my family over the past few years. Watching over a thousand dollars a year be put towards litter costs alone, I decided there much be an alternative option. Low and behold I found a recipe for creating my own recycled paper litter on

Here's the details of how my first batch went:
- We bought wire cloth from the hardware store. It was about $12 for a 5 foot roll. We also bought an 8 foot 2X4 piece of wood and cut it into 4-2 foot lengths.
- We staple gunned the cloth onto the square of wood to make a screen. It was sturdy and a bit sharp until the edges were cut down nicely.
- Then we took a bucket and filled it with soapy water. We sloshed shredded paper around until the inks came off. It only took a few minutes and then we rinsed the paper mash.
- To the mash, we added baking powder and mixed it all around.
- The mash was then spread over the screen in a layer that was about 1.5-2 inches thick.
- Here's the long part of the process... it's mid winter and a bit cold (probably 60) in our basement storage area. It took 4 full days to dry.

We found that if you fluff the drying paper during the drying process once a day or so, it will speed the process a bit. We were left with enough litter to use for 2 large and 2 medium sized cat pan type litter boxes. The yield was higher than expected which was a wonderful surprise.
The litter wasn't quite as fluffy as the store brought kind, but we had used some shredded cardboard in our mash and didn't fluff the first batch as well which may have contributed to a slightly stiffer consistency. We field tested it and found that the absorbency and odor control matched the store brought brand. Score for the home made litter!!! For practically no cost at all and very minimal labor, we have a very good litter which is still safe, dust free, and environmentally friendly!

West Michigan Critter Haven