DIY: Make Your Own Cat Litter

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I ran across a recipe awhile back on how to make your own cat litter from newspaper.

I coupon a lot and our nearest recycling center is quite a drive.  Most of the time, you can't even recycle your newpaper anyway, because the bin is overflowing.  They also don't take any other kind of paper--not even computer paper.

This means I have paper in abundance, and I just can't throw it directly in the trash.  It's just too dang wasteful and just doesn't feel right.

We are big DYI-ers in my house and already make a lot of our own stuff so...why not?

If it gets those stupid smelly and dusty litter rocks and my pile of recyclable paper out of my house, it will be more than worth it.

Recipe and Step-by-Step on how I made it below:

The recipe/how-to I happened upon awhile back:  How to Make Cat Litter In Home (WikiHow)

After making it a bunch of times, I made a few notes and tweaks that work better for me.  So, I'll put my own instructions below:

Make Your Own Cat Litter

Thing You'll Need:
  • Newspaper (a least a couple or more depending upon the size of your soaking container)
  • A bucket/container to soak the paper in (I use an old Tidy Cat bucket.)
  • Dish Soap (preferably biodegradable like dawn or seventh generation)
  • A way to strain out the water from the paper (colander or something similar that won't be used for food again)
  • Baking Soda
  • Gloves (the ink will stain your hands and/or nails badly if not)
  • A place to dry it (window screen over a box, a big tub lid, etc)

Step 1: 

Take the newspaper (with all the shiny papers and staples removed) and tear it into strips by hand or with a paper shredder.

I also make some with my computer paper scraps as well.  I just don't recommend mixing it together with the newspaper for soaking.  In my experience, they don't mix well together as they break down at different rates.

The litter made with computer paper dries much harder, more rock-like, but isn't as absorbent as the newspaper.  (Once dry, I usually do 3 parts newspaper and 1 part white paper litter into the pan.)

Step 2: 

Soak the paper in warm water with a squirt or two of dish soap.  You can use an old or cheap spoon (not to be used for food again) and give it a few swirls.

Let it soak for at least an hour or 2, and stir it around with the spoon again from time to time to help it break down.  (I usually soak mine at least overnight.  Sometimes, I soak them even longer.)

The water should be very dark from the ink.  So, don't touch the paper or water without gloves unless you want to have your hand and nails dyed black.

Step 3:

Drain the ink filled water.

I pour mine through an old stainless steel colander out in the yard.  If you are using your indoor sink, make sure to put a screen or strainer down to catch all the paper fibers and bits that weren't caught by your colander.

Step 4:

Plop the wet paper back in the soaking container and cover with clean water.  Swirl it around with the spoon (that is probably heavily stained by now) a couple more times.

Let it soak for at least couple or more hours.  (I honestly usually leave it overnight again.)

When the paper gets to be broken down and resembles some kind of weird and mushy space oatmeal, you are ready to proceed.

Step 5:  

The recipe I found says to leave all the water in with the paper, but I drain the majority of the water.

Sprinkle baking soda liberally over all of the paper.  With gloves on, incorporate the baking soda into the paper well.

Step 6: 

With gloves still on, pick up a handful and squeeze as much water out as you can.  The more water you can squeeze out, the faster it will dry, the easier it will crumble, and the more stress you will release.

Step 8: 

Take your squeezed out handfuls over to your drying surface.  (window screen, colander, old rag t-shirt stretched and knotted over a tub, etc).

As you can see above, I use a piece of screen over a old large tub lid.  From the look of it, you can tell I've used it to make this litter many a time.  It's just so fancy!

Crumble your mixture onto the surface.  The smaller you can get the pieces the faster it will dry, and the more it will resemble traditional cat litter.

Step 9:

Let it dry.  The amount of time will depend on a bunch of factors, but it usually takes 3-4 days with sunny weather and a week with rain for me.

If I'm in a pinch, I'll throw some that's been sitting a bit on an old baking sheet that I use for crafts and put it in our gas stove on 200f or warm for 15-20 min to finish the drying process.

Step 10:

Put it your litter pan.  For more odor control, I sprinkle some of the Arm and Hammer Double Duty Litter Deodorizer (costs about $3 for a good sized box) in the bottom of the pan and a bit on top of the litter.

If you are doing this to be more chemical-free/green, you can use plain baking soda with some crushed and dried herbs like mint, basil, lavender, or another herb mixed together instead of the commercial deodorizer.  Just don't use any cat nip in it.

I have personally used a combo of mints with success, but do your research and make sure everything is "cat safe" and whatnot.  I prefer this to the commercial, because I have an herb garden so the price is better.  When I run out of my herbs off season, I use the commercial.  Just whatever floats your boat.

Step 11:

Once your felines make their stinky deposits, scoop out the solid bits every day or so.  Then after about a week to 10 days, just dispose of all the remaining litter in the pain and fill it with new.

I have heard there is a way to compost this, but I am compost ignorant for the most part.  It may be something to look into though.

Even if you don't compost, it is way better to throw this away than the rocks and clay litter any way you slice it.


My Experience:

I have been using this homemade litter for more than a couple of months now.  I was going to go ahead and add my experience/review with it to this post, but I think it is far too long already.  I would also like to keep this as a separate page for people looking just for the recipe.

So, if you want to know things like:
  • How well does it work?
  • Do they track it around the house?
  • How does it perform different from traditional clay litter?
  • Did my 2 old fat cats even bother with it?
  • What fails did I experience? 
  • Is it worth it to actually make it?
I'll write another post with my experience, probably within a week or so, and post the link here.  So, look forward to it.

UPDATE:  Post is up!! Check it out HERE

In the mean time, feel free to post any comments or question below.  Or, you can hit me up via email or social media.

Also if anything isn't clear or I explained it poorly, feel free to let me know or ask a question.  This is my first DIY post I have written in many a year.  So, I may have missed something.

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