Can You Compost Cat Litter? (Plus Safety Guidelines)

can you compost cat litter
There are types of cat litter that can be composted. Composting cat litter only works with fully biodegradable cat litter that is eco-friendly. Remember to use cat litter compost only to fertilize ornamental plants. Do not use it for your garden vegetables or edible plants.

Is cat litter good for compost?

Some types of cat litter can be composted, but you should never add the compost to your garden vegetables or edible plants. 

Cat litter compost can be used to fertilize ornamental plants around the house (with excellent results).

Even though certain types of kitty litter may be beneficial for your compost, many other types are not as beneficial, so it is important to pay attention to the kind of litter you are using.

Is it safe to compost cat litter?

The answer to this question is no.

If a person does not follow the composting process carefully, there is the possibility, even if it is a small one, that the compost may contain parasites that will negatively affect the quality of the compost.

The parasite Toxoplasma-gondii, which causes the disease known as toxoplasmosis, is widely known to be present in cat feces.

In pregnant women and women with weakened immune systems, toxoplasmosis can result in serious illness.

It is possible to contract this disease simply by handling infected cat litter daily, even if you do not intend to compost it.

According to the CDC, more than 40 million Americans alone may be infected with this parasite through cat waste. Still, most will not experience any negative effects or illness as a result.

What types of litter can be composted?

It is not possible to compost all types of cat litter. Avoiding potential health hazards associated with composting cat litter is also important.

Even though composting cat poop is not difficult, it can be intimidating for those who have never composted before.

This is why you should begin composting only soiled litter until you become familiar with the process. As you learn more about the process, you can begin composting the old unused litter as well.

Composting cat litter only works with fully biodegradable cat litter that is eco-friendly. 

Included are:

  • Wood litter
  • Wheat litter
  • Corn litter
  • Paper litter
  • Pine litter
  • Coconut husk litter
  • Nutshell litter
  • Other natural cat litter

Non-compostable cat litters

Those litters that are not biodegradable and those containing fragrances, sand, clay, or those that clump cannot be composted. 

The following litters cannot be composted as a general rule:

  • Clay litter
  • Pretty litter (changes color with urine)
  • Crystal litter

If you are unsure whether a litter is compostable, it is best to err on the side of caution and not add it to your compost bin.

How long does cat poop take to decompose in soil?

About 2 years are required for cat poop to decompose. During these two years, cat poo decomposes completely into stiff material containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Most pathogens and parasites can be destroyed by composting for 2 years.

When there is heat present, it can take only a few months to complete. 

In compost bins, animal excreta do not decay properly. You can bury small amounts of droppings in your garden if you have a few drops from one dog or two cats.

How to Compost Cat Litter: DIY Step-By-Step Guide & Tips

Cold composting is the most straightforward method for a beginner to start composting cat litter. 

In cold composting, the compost does not have to reach high temperatures to decompose. Composting in this manner is also the most passive process.

Tip: You can try the bokashi method if you don’t have a backyard or live in an apartment. 

You will need:

  1. Composting bins; keep a small composting bin next to the litter box
  2. One big enclosed compost bin for long-term use
  3. Green material for nitrogen (food scraps, eggshells, tea and coffee grounds, grass clippings)
  4. Brown material for carbon
  5. Sawdust, shredded paper, cardboard
  6. Garden soil

Composting cat litter using the cold composting method:

  1. Make sure your composting bins are set up.
  2. Keep the small bin near the litter box for convenience. Cleaning the litter box will be easy if you scoop the used litter right into the container.
  3. Ideally, you should put the larger composting bin outside. It’s great if you have a balcony or a yard.
  4. Fill your small bin with brown stuff (shredded paper, cardboard, sawdust). After adding new, used litter, add more brown material. This will help with odor control.
  5. Cover bottom of larger bin with garden soil.
  6. Add a layer of browns, ideally sawdust or cardboard. Now large bin is ready to begin the composting process.
  7. Add layer of green material.
  8. Add a layer of brown material over the green one.
  9. Add a layer of soil over the layer of brow materials. Soil on top helps with odor control and keeps animals from your compost.
  10. Empty used cat litter from the small bin into the larger bin as needed. Add fresh layers of brown material and soil over cat litter each time.
  11. Aerate compost in the large composting bin to help it decompose.
  12. Stir the compost 1-2 times a week to keep it alive. For example, when you add more cat litter.

Tip: A well-balanced compost should not smell bad. The compost should feel moist as a sponge but not wet.

If it is too dry, you can add some water to it. If compost is too wet, add more brown material like shredded paper into the mix.

Can you put cat litter in the garden?

Yes, you can use cat litter compost around the garden or in the balcony tree pot.

It is safe to use cat litter compost made from plants such as pine, wheat, corn, or chicken feed, which are biodegradable. 

It is believed that the cat scent will deter animals from harming your plants, and it will also enrich the soil in the process.

Cat owners beware: do not, however, use compost containing cat litter in your vegetable garden. 


Discovering composting as a way of life or even better, as nature’s way of recycling, Ana dedicates her time to trying out new methods of composting at home. Her goal is to share everything that she’s learned in the hopes that it will help others discover the amazing rewards of composting.

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