Pet Poo Composting: Can it Be Done?
For city dwellers, a method for re-using and making the most of your yard or kitchen waste is incredibly helpful. Your kitchen can be a big source of garbage and waste your home produces—but for some folks, having a pet can be yet another big source that you just don’t know what to do with.
What to do there? Like your food and other waste stuffs, can you compost your pet’s poo and make it into something useful?
The answer is yes, but it must be approached in a different, cautious way. Dogs and cats are the most common household pets—since they are meat-eating animals, the waste they produce has a much higher chance of being pathogenic, and, hence, can be harmful to your health – especially if added to your at-home vegetables or garden. But when broken down, it can be used on non-food shrubs and trees. Generally speaking, the composting process for pet feces takes much longer.
It is extremely important to keep it in separate bin or pile. Compost it simply for the sake of composting it and having no other use for it. Here’s a method that works well for the urban composter with a backyard space:
- Find an adequate composting container. Label and use it as separate from your kitchen/yard waste compost if you have one. This can be a large plastic or metal trash can, which works well.
○ Make sure it has a cover—and drill or poke some holes up and down its sides (no holes in the lid).
○ You will also have to remove the bottom of the container somehow, so it is touching the earth underground, giving it someplace to drain and contact helpful compost microorganisms.
- Dig a hole in an appropriate corner of your yard (preferably far from your neighbors and from leaching into your garden, especially) the exact depth of the container. Place the container in the hole, and gather soil around its edges so all you see is a lid in the soil you can open and close.
- Once you have your container set up, line the bottom with carbon material (sawdust, leaves, newspaper, cardboard, etc.). Start adding pet feces, cat or dog, to the container and then cover each addition with carbon or brown material. Cover once done.
○ If you are composting cat feces, make sure it is removed from cat litter. Don’t dump your cat litter in your compost—dispose of that separately! It is most often chemically treated and hampers the biodiversity of microbes in the compost.
- Mix it a bit here and there, and watch it break down. Once it has become a crumbly soil, you can remove it and use it on your non-food plants. Wait 1 to 2 years for the compost to break down completely and you can start using it on food plants, if you are feeling confident.
Live in an urban apartment or house with no backyard? There are commercial composters out there which are small, easy to use, and affordable for composting your pet poop and making it a clean, mess-free process. Check it out!