After several cold days, the weather finally turned warm and sunny. Excitedly, I opened my windows, eagerly anticipating the refreshing sea breeze to fill my home. However, shortly after, an unpleasant surprise greeted me.
A most awful smell.
I’ve set up a secure outdoor area for my cat, Jinx, along one side of my house. This space serves as her private sanctuary, a place to escape from Frida, our Chihuahua, and to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine.
However, a problem arose: the bedrooms adjacent to this cat area began to smell like an unclean litter box whenever I opened the windows. It was far from ideal!
Jinx usually does her business near the strawberry guava bush, and she’s typically meticulous about burying it. But it seems she’s altered her habits lately.
This issue with pet waste was the final push I needed to implement a long-considered solution: a pet waste compost bin.
Why Pet Waste Needs its own Compost Bin.
The fundamental rule of composting is to avoid including pet waste in your worm farm or compost piles, mainly due to the risk of disease.
Pets like dogs and cats can transmit various zoonotic diseases (illnesses transferable from animals to humans), including Toxoplasmosis, hookworms, roundworms, threadworms, campylobacteriosis, giardia, and coccidia. These are serious health hazards!
It’s crucial to keep pet waste as far away from any edible plants as possible. Even if your pet relieves itself on your lawn, where your family and children play, it’s important to dispose of the waste properly to ensure safety.
One cannot be certain that a compost pile reaches a temperature high enough to eliminate all pathogens present in pet waste. This uncertainty poses a risk of contaminating food crops like lettuce and tomatoes with harmful organisms.
Regarding the idea of flushing pet waste, it’s not advisable. Flushing consumes about 5 liters of water per use, which adds up to around 2000 liters annually when used for pet waste disposal – a significant waste of clean water.
Fortunately, there’s a sustainable solution: a pet waste compost bin. This specialized bin is designed to safely compost and dispose of pet waste, mitigating the risks associated with traditional composting methods.
How to Make Your Own Pet Waste Compost Bin.
To create a pet waste compost bucket, you’ll need the following:
- A 7-liter bucket with a lid. An affordable option is available at Kmart for $5.50.
- A drill.
- Absorbent materials like sawdust, cat litter, shredded paper, leaf litter, or lawn clippings.
- Optionally, compost worms and garden lime.
Steps to Follow:
- Choose a bucket with a built-in lid for convenience. For small pets like cats and chihuahuas, a 7-liter bucket is adequate. For larger animals, opt for a bigger bucket.
- Drill numerous large holes in both the sides and bottom of the bucket.
- If you’re up to the challenge, you can attempt to train your cat, but be prepared for some resistance.
- Bury the bucket in the ground, leaving the lid exposed.
- Start by layering your choice of absorbent material at the bottom.
- Carefully add your pet waste. Avoid direct contact with the waste; use a scoop made from a recycled plastic bottle for this task.
- Add another layer of your chosen absorbent material on top. If you have compost worms, you can introduce them now.
- Securely close the lid and remember to wash your hands immediately afterward.
How to Maintain Your Pet Waste Compost Bin
Continue layering organic materials every time you add pet waste to the compost bin. To speed up decomposition, I’ve introduced compost worms and occasionally add comfrey.
A properly maintained pet waste compost bin should not emit odors. If it does become smelly, a sprinkle of garden lime or dolomite lime can help. If the contents are too dry and not decomposing, moisten them with water or add fresh grass clippings.
When the bin becomes full, remove it, empty its contents into the existing hole, and cover with soil and mulch. Avoid planting edibles in this area for at least two years.
After emptying, replace the compost bin and repeat the process.
I’ve placed my pet waste compost bin in the cat run for convenience, to avoid carrying waste through the house. It would also be effective in a rose garden or any non-edible garden area. In my garden, which is primarily for edibles, the bin still works well; just ensure to add organic compost and worms, allowing their benefits to permeate the surrounding soil.