catWhen you’re scooping kitty’s box, it might seem like a no-brainer to flush the waste and soiled cat litter down the toilet. But before you go chucking those clumps, there are few aspects to consider.

What kind of litter can be flushed?

Not all litters are created equal, and so not all can be disposed of in the same way. Litters that can be flushed are specifically marketed as such. They’re usually made out of organic materials such as corn, sawdust, or walnut shells. This includes those made of corn pulp, newspaper, or wood. Clay litters are generally not flushable and will clog your pipes. Litters made from silica aren’t flushable either, but it is okay to remove any solid waste that sits on top and dispose of just that. As a rule, unless the brand specifies, it’s best not to take the risk.

Does it matter if you have old plumbing or a septic system?

When flushing litter, the issue of plumbing is also important. In particular, folks who have septic systems should avoid flushing. Even litters made of biodegradable materials run the risk of overloading the septic tank and blocking pipes. While these litters can eventually break down, they still add to the overall volume of your tank and put pressure on a system meant only for human waste.

What are the environmental impacts?

While some litters are biodegradable, and technically flushable, there are other environmental factors to consider. Much of what we put down the toilet can end up in waterways and oceans, where it comes in contact with wildlife. Cat waste carries a parasite, Toxoplasma, that has been known to kill otters and seals. Even indoor cats can be carriers, and can end up indirectly harming other creates.

While flushing is convenient, it can lead to problems in the long run, and it’s best to consider all factors when cleaning up after your kitty. Need a hand with the mess? Our sitters are happy to come around and do a quick scoop!

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Steven Saus on flickr