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Composting Cat Poop: Do or Don’t? Cat Litter Disposal Tips

Est. read time: 6 min.

Most of us know that animal manure can act as a great fertilizer for crops. This is mainly due to its nitrogen content, a beneficial nutrient for soil. That said, pet parents should think twice before attempting to compost their pet’s feces. Find out why composting cat poop isn’t generally recommended.

Is cat poop good fertilizer?

Unlike cow or horse manure, you cannot use cat poop as fertilizer. Because cats are carnivores, their poop carries harmful bacteria that can damage plants if added to soil. 

However, you can compost cat poop for non-edible plants or general soil improvement with high-temperature composting systems and long composting times.

Cat poop vs dog poop

Cats and dogs have different diets, which also means that their poop differs in several aspects. 

Can you compost dog poop?

Although dogs are omnivorous and not carnivorous like cats, dog poop should not be used for composting in gardens that grow food to the the risk of parasites and pathogens. 

However, if you want to compost dog waste for non-edible plants or general soil improvement, high-temperature composting systems are more appropriate to handle pet waste safely. Combined with long composting times, these systems ensure that pathogens are killed and reduce the risks of contamination. 

Biodegradable vs. compostable

biodegradable waste vs compostable

All compostable items are biodegradable but not all biodegradable items are compostable. It really boils down to the amount of time it takes for an item to break down and decompose safely into the environment:

  • Biodegradable items break down into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass within a “reasonable amount of time”; however, they sometimes leave behind metal residue.
  • Compostable items break down into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass in about 90 days, and leave no visible, distinguishable, or toxic residue.

If you have a self-cleaning litter box, you may also use Litter-Robot waste drawer liners. There’s a good reason our waste drawer liners have a biodegradable additive instead of being compostable. Sure, it would be convenient to pull your liner out of the waste drawer and toss it in the soil to fertilize your crops. But, as noted, that would pose health risks to you and your family—and this is why the liner is not compostable.

How to compost cat poop safely

hands holding a pile of compost

If you’re willing to put in the work, you might consider composting cat poop to fertilize your lawn or flower gardens—anything that isn’t edible.

The Spruce lays out some valuable tips for composting cat poop and dog poop for flowers and perennial plants. Practice hot composting to kill off as many pathogens as possible:

  1. First, don’t use clay-based litter, as it won’t break down in your pile; use pine- or paper-based litter.
  2. Minimize the stinky odor by keeping the compost contained in a large plastic trash can with a lid. The lid should have no holes, but you’ll want to cut the bottom of the can out and drills holes along its side.
  3. Dig a hole deep enough to sink the entire trash can into. This way, worms and other decomposers can easily get into the pet waste and start helping break it down.  
  4. Add a layer of shredded newspaper, fall leaves, or straw into the bottom, then start layering in your pet waste with additional straw. Secure the lid.
  5. Keep the contents of the can moist, as this will encourage decomposition. You can also mix the contents every week or two to speed it up.
  6. Let the compost sit for at least two years. This should be enough time for all the harmful bacteria to die off.

So, is composting cat poop and dog poop worth it? That’s up to you to decide. Composting and reducing waste is an admirable endeavor, but you have to be smart about it. The bottom line is, keep all pet feces away from anything intended for consumption!

Is cat litter biodegradable?

Not all cat litter is biodegradable. Furthermore, only fully biodegradable cat litter made from natural materials like corn, paper, or wood can be composted.

Unfortunately, the most common type of cat litter, clay-clumping litter, is not biodegradable because it is made of sodium bentonite, a mineral that is mined. 

Cat litter disposal & how to be more eco-friendly with it

how to be more eco-friendly with cat litter disposal

If your goal is to be more eco-friendly with your cat's litter, our cat experts have a few tips:

1. Choose the right cat litter

Wood, paper, or corn-based cat litters decompose more easily and are often biodegradable. However, according to some studies, cats largely prefer clay-clumping litter over pellets as clay litter has better odor control properties and the texture is softer on your cat's paws. Suddenly switching to a different type of litter can also lead to accidents outside the litter box

If you decide to stick with clay-clumping litter instead, look for pollutant-free alternatives made from natural sodium bentonite. Sun-dried clay litter like GreatLitter that have no additives or perfumes can be a good alternative for cats that are picky with their litter box. 

2. Scoop regularly

Aim to scoop the litter box at least once a day. This not only keeps the litter box clean for your cat but also reduces the amount of litter that needs to be replaced with each cleaning, in turn reducing waste. 

If you're not much of a scooper, consider investing in a self-cleaning litter box. An automatic litter box is almost 4 times cleaner than a traditional litter box. Plus, it really pays for itself because options like Litter-Robot 4 use up to 50% less litter than traditional litter boxes. 

3. Use biodegradable trash bags

If you're using traditional cat litter that can't be composted or flushed, make sure to bag it in biodegradable bags before disposing of it in the trash. This helps contain odors and prevents litter from escaping into the environment.

4. Avoid plastic litter boxes

Instead of constantly buying new plastic containers for your cat litter, consider using litter box alternatives that will last longer like stainless steel litter boxes or automatic litter boxes like Litter-Robot.


While you should not compost cat poop if you plan to use it as fertilizer for edible plants, there are ways to dispose of it properly if you follow the right steps. 

If your goal is to be more eco-friendly with cat litter disposal in general, there are plenty of ways you can switch to a more sustainable litter box management style. 

Don't forget to check out our cat litter box tips for more cat parent advice!