Cat Feces In Worm Composting

“Hi, Is it possible to use cat feces for composting? Sure would be convenient. I use a compostable kitty litter and my cats use the litter box not too much as they prefer the outdoors. Interested to know what you think.” ~ Megan

Hi Megan,

The short answer is definitely yes!

I actually started using compostable litter in my cats’ litter boxes this past fall so I could start composting it, rather than sending it to the landfill.

Thus far I’ve been REALLY impressed with the litter, and kicking myself for not using it sooner – I assumed it wouldn’t work as well as regular clumping litter and that the cats would hate it – I was wrong on both counts :-).

When vermicomposting cat litter there are definitely some important considerations to keep in mind.

Worms are extremely sensitive to ammonia and inorganic salts – urine has both.

SO, you certainly won’t be able to simply dump your litter in a bin and add composting worms – some pre-treatment will likely be needed in order to render most of the material worm-friendly. My approach thus far has been to use only the cat feces in the special worm bin I set up – all the urine clumps and dirty litter have simply been piling up in various containers (I didn’t really feel like trying any outdoor composting with the material during the winter).

Note that I mentioned a “special worm bin” – I definitely recommend that you set up separate systems for all dog, cat and human waste vermicomposting projects, since there are definitely some potential health hazards associated with using these materials.

The urine-soaked litter should be mixed with a lot of carbon-rich material (such as fall leaves or straw) and piled up in an outdoor location, ideally a location with some exposure to prevailing weather conditions. Over time this pile become more and more worm-friendly. If you wanted to speed up the process, you could probably soak the pile down with a water hose, but make sure your heap is a good distance away from any local bodies of water – preferably in a spot where some surrounding vegetation can take advantage of the leached nutrients.

If are looking for an outdoor pet waste vermicomposting system with a bit more protection than a basic heap, you may want to try something along the lines of a ‘Worm Tower’ – the system I talked about in a newsletter not too long ago (if you Google ‘worm tower’ the YouTube vid should come up).

Basically it is just a rigid tube, partially buried in the ground. Once you have a good composting worm habitat set up inside (just pretend you are setting up a worm bin) you can start adding the feces directly on top – but don’t forget to keep adding bedding!

Once your urine-clump waste material has aged sufficiently (should no longer be any strong ammonia smell) you can then start adding it as well. If your system was large enough, I suppose you could get away with adding the urine-soaked material fresh, but I haven’t tested this out myself, so I can’t say for sure.

Anyway, I hope this helps Megan!

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