catMany New York buildings have a garbage chute. It could be accompanied by a sign advising residents not to deposit items that make perfect sense, such as lit cigarettes and open paint cans. Yet, you might wonder why your building advises against dropping something as seemingly innocuous as kitty litter down the chute.

How bad could cat litter be?

“Believe it or not, unbagged kitty litter is one of the worst things that can be thrown down a garbage chute,” writes Jeff Anderson of S.O.S. Drain and Sewer Service. This is because most cat litters are essentially granules of sand that clog and jam the mechanics of the chute and compactor. Not to mention, over time, debris from cat waste can build up layer upon layer of foul smelling bacteria and harmful microorganisms on the chute walls, which can even creep into your building’s air vents.

Is bagged cat litter also a problem?

It’s very unlikely that you’re lugging your full cat litter box all the way to the trash room to shake the unbagged contents down the chute. However, even pet parents who bag their litter unwittingly add to the problem. Not all bags are strong enough to withstand the fall from the chute to the compactor. Reused plastic shopping bags are especially likely to rip as they tumble down the shaft. Bags tied too loosely or with too much extra air inside can also pop in the compactor.

What’s the worst that could happen?

If you’ve ever opened the trash chute and were startled by a bag rolling down from the floor above you, it would be easy to imagine the horror of being the person opening the chute after a burst bag of cat litter rained down. Lisa Iannucci of The Cooperator states it best, “Just imagine being the next person to open the trash chute door after such shenanigans and getting a face full of bacteria-laden air.”

What should you do instead?

Some buildings advise that you leave your bagged pet waste on the floor of the refuse room next to the recycling bins. If your building allows for kitty litter to be tossed down the chute, be sure to double bag it, and use bags that are up to the task such as small biodegradable doodie bags. You can also cache your kitty litter in a receptacle with a sturdy liner such as a kitchen trash can or Litter Genie.

If you want to avoid frequent trips the the garbage chute, try a flushable cat litter like World’s Best, or a silica cat litter like Dr. Elsey’s Long Haired Litter.

Does your building have a special policy for pet waste disposal? Be sure to let your pet sitter know. Our sitters always do their best to follow all of your instructions to the letter. Book an appointment today!

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 Steve Haslam on flickr