Saturday, July 16, 2011

Poop Scoop Solution

For years and years I always used the gray clay-based clumping cat litter. But lately it was annoying me because it would always leave this dusty, perfumy, chemically smell around my house that I didn't like. It also seemed that the brand I used kept changing the formula so that it was getting more dusty.

Since I've been going more and more green over the past few years, I decided I would investigate greener litter options. So a few months ago I Googled "natural cat litter" and found something called Swheat Scoop. It's a clumping cat litter made from wheat instead of clay. According to the website, this miracle cat litter naturally eliminates odors, clumps firmly, has less dust and tracking than clay litters, is safe for kittens, and is found at a location near you.

They also have a picture of a blue-eyed cat on their bag whose gaze pierces your soul

After checking a few different pet stores, it was indeed found at a location near me. So I bought a big-ass bag of it and hauled it home. I switched out the clay stuff with the wheat stuff and waited for the swheat, swheat smell of all-natural cat waste to surround my house.

After a few weeks of vacuuming and sweeping, pretty much all traces of the old gray dusty clay litter was gone from my house. That gross perfumy chemically smell was replaced by a scent that reminded me of the hay lofts in the barn where my cousins grew up. Ah, nature!

Not my cousin

But nature also comes with compromises. It turns out their promise that there would be less dust and tracking was an outright lie. If anything, there is more dust kicked up by the wheat litter. My litter box, litter mats, and utility-room floor is covered in a light tan film. Sometimes I even see it on my black cat.

Not my cat

Okay, so they lied about that, but that's a small price to pay for the other advantages, not the least being this is better for the environment.

Then the smells came.


I know that every cat owner has their own technique, and mine has always been to empty the clumping litter into a small wastebasket I keep near the litter box.

Very similar to my actual litter trash can

I do this once a day. I know some people who scoop out their litter box after every, uh, incident the cat has. They practically follow the cat around with a pooper scooper. And I know some people who go days and days without emptying it.

I do it once a day, and at the end of the week I empty the litter wastebasket into my larger trash can, which I then take to the curb.

I once had a girlfriend who thought it was disgusting that I "saved" my cats' poop in a receptacle, as if I was collecting truffles in the wild. I would always explain to her, "I'm not SAVING it, this is TRASH." But it still grossed her out.

But once the Swheat Scoop collected in the wastebasket, I started to notice a smell coming from my utility room. Although it no longer reeked of dusty chemically clay litter, now it smelled like straight-up cat pee.

I have no idea why an image of this beautiful woman came up when I googled "cat pee smell." But, wow, isn't she amazing? Now back to cat pee...

On their website, the Swheat Scoop people say "[our] litter has the deodorizing strength it takes to keep your house smelling fresh and clean." Um, no. That, too, is a lie. When I walk through my utility room, I smell cat pee.

But I wasn't ready to give up on this green alternative to the traditional clay litter. In the meantime I even discovered that my local food co-op sells Swheat Scoop, so I could buy it there when I do my weekly shopping. So I thought I'd keep trying different things to see if I could make it work.


I sat down to write this post this afternoon, and right before I started I checked my blog reader to catch up on some other blogs. By an interesting coincidence a blogfriend posted something about catwatching for a friend of a friend and having to scoop up turds. She mentioned how the micro-managing cat owners wanted her to drag the litter boxes across two rooms to the bathroom so she could dump the waste there.

And then I remembered, Swheat Scoop is biodegradable! I can flush it down the toilet! Why am I saving it in a little trash can and letting it stink up my house when I can just flush it once a day? Now when I "save" my kitty waste in my little trash can, I can just take it directly to the toilet.

So here is a simple lesson in solutions. First of all, often times if you give it some time, the solution to a problem appears to you from unexpected places.

And sometimes the solution is ridiculously obvious, but you couldn't think of it because to do so would have challenged the inertia of how you've always done it.


Jolene said...

A-ha! Throwing it into the toilet, that is GENIUS and I never would have thought of it either. I may try it too, when I move into the new apartment...might as well start uh, fresh, right?? I love that I could toss it in the toilet not the trash. I do the same small wastebasket thing too, it's not saving, it's keeping separate and contained from the other trash...right?!

chocolatechip said...

Wait, so what is the solution? Dragging your litter box across two rooms? Carrying the scoop itself from the utility room to the bathroom? It sounds worth it, but a little complicated.
The perception that you were "saving" the cat poop is incomprehensibly bizarre. When did putting something into a trash can become saving it?

Tim said...

Jolene, one thing to keep in mind is that traditional clay litter can't be flushed and will clog your pipes. According to the Swheat Scoop people, theirs is the only litter than can be flushed.

But even with Swheat Scoop, you have to break it up into little pieces and let it soak in water for 20 minutes before you flush it. (I just let it soak in the toilet.)

CC, I can still use my little trashcan to transfer the litter from the box to the toilet. Dragging the entire litter box across my kitchen and dining room would be ridiculous.

Yeah, I never understood why my ex (B.) had that reaction. (I didn't understand a lot of her reactions, which is probably why she's an ex.) She would put hers into a plastic grocery bag and throw it out every day.

Natalie said...

Tim - Be careful of flushing it. I used to flush my old "green" litter (which was biodegradable and supposedly flushable) and it DID clog my toilet, causing me to call Roto Rooter.

Also, keep in mind that if you're doing this for green reasons, flushing your toilet more is a waste of water, too. Additionally, there are other products (green, in fact!) that are made geographically much closer to IL (like 'The World's Best Cat Litter'). Anyway, I'm just saying that there are other options and cost-benefit analyses to take into account with every "going green" decision we make.

Food for thought...

s said...

i find that a tad odd that she thought you were saving it, when clearly you were throwing it in the trash.

as for flushing it, i'd be careful. even toilet paper can clog a toilet if you're not careful. and unfortunately, having two little girls and a sister who had the tenancy to overuse toilet paper - i found that out the hard way...

Anonymous said...

I'm getting the same strong urine smell and I scoop every day. The odor comes while the pee is still in the box, and it never hardens; it breaks apart when I scoop it. You are also right about the dust and tracking -- it does happen with this litter. I think that "Blue Buffalo" walnut-based litter is superior to this in odor control and clumping, and I'm going back to it. Throw scoopings out in brown paper sacks and it ALL breaks down and doesn't clog your toilet.