Can You Bury Cat Litter in the Yard?

Burying cat litter is an eco-friendly alternative to bagging and sending to the landfill, but it’s not realistic for everyone. 

Additive-free, biodegradable cat litter can be buried if you have plenty of land to bury it away from water sources, edible plant life, and neighboring properties.

Clay and silica crystal cat litter isn’t biodegradable and should not be buried. 

Is it okay to bury cat litter or poop?

It’s okay to bury additive-free, biodegradable cat litter if you’re careful about where you bury it. It should only be buried on your own property, away from waterways and drains, and away from edible plants.

Red shovel in soil

You can’t bury clay and silica crystal litter

Never bury non-biodegradable cat litter, like those made of clay or silica crystals. They’ll remain in their current form, buried in your yard, for thousands of years or more.

The only appropriate way to dispose of non-biodegradable litter is to bag it and send it to the landfill.

Never flush, burn, bury, or dump clay and silica litter.

You can bury additive-free, plant-based litter

Biodegradable, additive-free, plant-based litters are okay to bury. Over time, these litters will deteriorate and assimilate into your soil — a completely waste-free process!

Just keep in mind, not every plant-based litter qualifies.  

Those containing additives, like baking soda or clumping agents, may be harmful to bury. Baking soda, for example, can kill earthworms and fungi that promote healthy soil.

Only bury litter on your own property

Disposing of waste, especially biohazardous waste, on public property or someone else’s property is against the law. 

If you choose to bury your cat’s litter, it’s only okay to do so on your own land. If you rent, it’s best to get permission from your landlord first.

Don’t bury near the garden or waterways

Cat poop sometimes contains the parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii), which causes the disease Toxoplasmosis.

T. gondii poses risk to immunocompromised individuals, young and unborn children, and wildlife.

As a result, cat waste must be handled with care. 

Cat sitting at edge of water at sunset

Burying soiled cat litter near or upstream of edible plant life can spread T.gondii and other harmful pathogens. 

Bury litter away from, and downstream of, gardens and fruit trees.

Water can carry T. gondii oocysts.

Bury litter well away from streams, storm drains, and other waterways.

You’ll need a lot of land

To realistically bury all your litter, you’ll need a pretty large amount of land. 

Once buried, litter should remain undisturbed for at least two years to allow time for nature to run its course.

You can’t just reuse the same few spots repeatedly. 

Only bury in soil that can support greenery 

You should only bury cat litter in soil that can support greenery. Litter buried in arctic or desert climates won’t degrade properly.

How to safely bury cat litter 

Burying cat litter is an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional litter disposal methods. And as long as you take a few simple precautions, it’s perfectly safe to do so. 

1. Choose the right litter

You should only bury biodegradable, plant-based cat litter — like those made from wood, paper, corn, grass, wheat, tofu, or walnut shells.

Pile of wood pellet cat litter with logs

Double check that your litter contains no additives, like clumping agents or baking soda, that may be harmful to your soil.

If your litter isn’t able to be buried, consider swapping to an additive-free, plant-based litter. They’re better for you, your cat, and the environment anyway!

Just be sure to give your cat plenty of time to adjust to the change by transitioning them slowly to the new litter

2. Call before you dig

Before breaking ground, you’ll need to make sure there are no underground utility lines nearby. 

Call811 is the national call-before-you-dig hotline. Visit their site, call 811, or visit your state’s 811 site for more information.

If there are underground utilities in your yard, someone will be sent out to mark them. 

Make sure you give a few days notice before digging. The exact amount of notice needed varies by state. 

3. Choose a good spot

Choose a spot in the yard, well away from your own home and any neighboring properties. Even though the waste will be buried, there’s always a chance that it may be unearthed by wildlife or pets.

To prevent infection, bury litter away from and downstream of any edible plant life, including fruit trees, vegetable gardens, herbs, etc.

Don’t bury litter near water sources — at least 20 to 30 feet from any storm drains, wetlands, streams, or ponds. 

Fluffy gray cat walking on lawn

4. Bury litter at least 10 inches deep

Soiled litter waiting to be buried should be stored in an airtight container, where it can’t be disturbed by wildlife, children, or pets. 

Litter should be buried in a hole that’s at least 10 to 12 inches deep. Cover the hole immediately and compact the dirt by walking on the area or using a steel tamper.

Don’t reuse the same spot each time you bury litter. Each hole should remain undisturbed for at least two years to allow the litter and poop time to assimilate. 

Is cat litter good for a garden?

Burying soiled litter and cat poop in your garden will add nutrients to the soil but may also add parasites, fungi, bacteria, and other harmful pathogens. You should never bury soiled cat litter near edible plant life. 

Final thoughts

Burying is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional cat litter disposal methods — especially for those who live in rural areas. 

Burying or composting plant-based cat litter is as close to a zero-waste solution as possible.

If you plan to bury your cat’s litter, make sure you:

  • Choose an additive-free, biodegradable litter. 
  • Only bury litter on your own property, away from your home and any neighboring land. 
  • Call 811 before you dig. 
  • Choose a spot well away from edible plant life, buildings, fences, wetlands, streams, ponds, and storm drains.
  • Bury the litter at least 10 to 12 inches deep and cover immediately.

About Matthew Alexander

Matthew lives in Maryland with his two cats, Puff and Pancho. He’s been caring for and fostering cats with various special needs for more than fifteen years. He hopes to pass some of the insight and knowledge that he’s gained on to the readers of Pawmore.