Corn for Kitties

I just learned about this kitty litter made from corn. And I am speechless.

Okay, deep breath.

Wow, this is a terrible idea! Talk about a waste of potential food, farm land, the ag inputs (natural resources) that go into growing our food. And a clear sign we are producing too much food.

Given the impact that conventional agriculture has on the planet, it makes little sense that so much of corn goes to feed animals and fuel cars. It makes less sense for it become fodder for cats’ target practice.

Sure, the kind of corn used as kitty litter isn’t fit for human consumption. But we’d be much better off, from a climate change and soil health perspective, not growing such an abundance of corn that it winds up being used for such trivial purposes.

Finally, has there ever been a better example as to why our current farm subsidies need reforming?

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14 Comments

  1. arlani
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    It is my understanding this product is made from the cobs of corn, and would be a use for an often otherwise wasted material. Am I mistaken?

  2. Posted December 12, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Hey Arlani,
    I didn’t see anything to that effect on their web site and based my post on the content on their ‘About’ page: ‘World’s Best Cat Litter™ is a product made from whole-kernel corn, an annually renewable resource.”

    But I hope you are right! That would certainly make a lot more sense.

  3. Posted December 12, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    We use the wheat version of this and I’m torn with whether its a good idea or not. I like that its flushable and don’t like that its food. Food waste is a much bigger issue (at least I know the numbers better) but I see the landfilling of pet waste as pretty high on the list of bad human ideas. Anaerobic digestion would be a good way to handle it.

    A side note is the cultural oddity that we have forced cats into using a litter box in the first place. Dogs at least get to go outside before their waste is entombed in plastic. Both seem like poor solutions to what must have been one of the earliest problems with domestication and urbanization of non-humans. We need to potty train our cats.

  4. Posted December 12, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Funny, while I was reading your comment, Chris, I started thinking the same thing you conclude with. I mean, they have potty seats for kids…why not cats?! Ha. But I do agree that the litter box is a real oddity.

    I hadn’t considered the flushable vs. non-flushable conundrum. As a dog owner (and one who doesn’t use plastic bags or entomb dog waste in plastic–instead, our backyard has some no-go zones), I’m not too familiar with the litter box. But in cleaning a few for friends, it seems like you could always flush the poop down the toilet, no?

    Perhaps using non-edible natural products (like corn cobs!) is the way to go…

  5. Posted December 12, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    I knew someone who trained her cat to use the toilet and then later untrained the cat. The reason was that the sight of unflushed poop with no toilet paper made her guests think she was the culprit.

    Katy

  6. Posted December 12, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Poor, confused kitty. Couldn’t the person have put a little sign up for guests?? Still, I’m impressed by his or her training abilities…

  7. Cheri Howard
    Posted December 14, 2011 at 4:28 am | Permalink

    I think I have to disagree with your post today. The reason WBCL exists is that the usual alternative is HORRIBLE. The clumping clay litter makes a lot of dust that the cat (and humans!) can inhale, and once that stuff gets damp it will dry attached to whatever it touches and won’t soften once dampened again. It’s a pain to clean from the box, so imagine how the insides of a cat would look after years of using it. Other alternatives are not as effective, IMHO, at controlling odor as the corn-based litter.

    As to potty training a cat – like many, we are on a septic system. Cat feces don’t break down as readily as human waste, so we’ve been advised from many sources to NEVER flush cat waste or litter into our septic system.

    One last thing. I know it’s controversial, but cats are much smaller than most dogs and are often victim to accidents (think about how many dead cats on the road you see compared to dogs) or preyed upon by larger animals (we have foxes around our heavily wooded rural home). A house-bound cat is generally healthier and has a longer life than cats allowed to roam outside. I know it seems like torture to the cat, but it’s safer and healthier for them that way.

    I can see your point, but sometimes people have to compromise and weigh the trade offs. Given no other alternative, do I buy organic food shipped hundreds of miles, or do I buy local produce grown conventionally? There has to be a compromise. I think this is one of those times, at least until another, better alternative becomes available.

  8. Posted December 14, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I’m glad to hear another viewpoint on this, Cheri. Your knowledge of kitty litter and cat feces far exceeds mine. I was just kidding about the kitty potty training, BTW.

    I hear you on kitty litter dust being harmful, but I have to think that there’s an alternative to corn. There must be another non-edible organic material we can turn to here.

  9. John
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    What do you guys think about pine cat litter? That litter is made from pellets of wood and is known to turn the pellets into sawdust and remove the smell when cats pee on them. There is a website that sells them at litterbymail.host56.com as subscriptions.

  10. Lessa
    Posted January 3, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Another consideration is that cats have Toxoplasmosis, which is a parasite that survives in the sewage system. There are reports of dolphins with it because of flushing cat feces. This parasite is the reason that pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems shouldn’t handle litter box duties. I don’t know what effect it has on other species, but I know that it’s a concern.

  11. Debbie C
    Posted January 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    I use the corn cat litter. I, too, don’t like the fact that potential food producing resources are used up in growing corn for this purpose, but as I understand it clay cat litters are worse as they are produced through strip mining. Corn is at least renewable.

    @John — I’ve tried the pine pellets. One problem with them (besides the fact that my cat won’t use it) is that the pellets disintegrate when they get wet so scooping and sifting is not practical. You have to throw out the whole box full whenever you go to clean it.

    It’s a dicey situation all the way around; I’m not sure there is an environmentall acceptable answer except not to have cats as pets.

  12. Posted January 5, 2012 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that many of you define food waste as using edible things for uses other than eating, and I find it interesting . Don’t get me wrong, though I know nothing of the numbers I do know that food waste is a major problem. I believe however the issue is primarily exacerbated by the critical issue of worldwide hunger and the unequal distribution of food resources. My comment however is not to debate that issue, besides I believe we would see eye to eye on it anyway. Reading the comments reminded me of the frequent arguments I have with my husband because I make my hair care products from yogurt, honey, avocado, coconut milk and other food items and he considers it food waste. I on the other hand argue that food is essential to health and body care inside and out and my multifaceted use of food items is not wasteful. Though not always ingesting I am in fact consuming the food.

  13. Posted January 5, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Hey Pia,
    That’s an interesting argument and you make it well. Not surprisingly, I’d side with your husband, but that’s just my take. I don’t want to overstep my bounds here, but I’d say your hair’s health (vibrancy?) is less important than people having enough to eat. Yes, that’s a bit simplified. But I can’t get past that notion…

  14. Tammy
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Corn litter compared to clay litter should have less impact on the planet; however, I am no fan of any factory farm.
    There are alternatives, such as using Yesterday’s News made from recycled paper materials.

    JMHO, but do you really think not using a cob based litter (a byproduct of corn farming) is going to feed a person who does not have food? Or not using a natural ‘plant’ or ‘food’ based hair care system, will fill someone else’s bowl?
    It is like removing ones hand from the ocean and expecting all to notice your absence.

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