Cleaning the litter box in an apartment provides a unique set of challenges.
The dumpster is often inconveniently far. The odor is more apparent in the smaller space. And the dust and mess of the litter box seem to overwhelm the entire apartment.
But it’s perfectly possible to minimize these problems with the right approach.
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Disposing of Cat Litter in a Small Apartment
The best ways to dispose of cat poop in an apartment are to seal in pet waste bags and empty with the trash, or to use a litter disposal system. Both methods will seal away smell and bacteria, keeping your apartment odor-free and sanitary.
The average cat will poop at least once a day. And it seems like it’s usually at the most inconvenient times.
The problem is, you can’t just leave it in the litter box. That can lead to foul odors and health problems for both you and your cat.
But in an apartment, it’s often quite a hike to get to the dumpster for timely cleaning.
Sealing away cat waste in an airtight receptacle until you’re ready to empty the trash is a reasonable compromise.
Use Pet Waste Bags
The most common solution is to empty cat poop into a pet waste bag and toss into a trash can.
While this method works reasonably well, it also creates a lot of plastic trash. And, as you probably know, the amount of plastic being sent to our landfills is a big problem for the environment.
Another issue with this method is that pet waste bags often either don’t seal well enough to prevent odor or puncture in the trash can. Double bagging can help reduce these concerns, but also doubles the amount of bags being sent to the landfill.
To help reduce our use of plastics, we can use plant-based, biodegradable pet waste bags.
But these aren’t a perfect solution either.
While these bags will biodegrade in perfect conditions, those conditions don’t often exist at the typical landfill.
For something to biodegrade, it requires the right combination of oxygen, light, temperature, and water. Most landfills compress trash so tightly that these conditions rarely exist. Meaning biodegradation is greatly slowed or halted.
But that’s not to say that plant-based bags aren’t better for the environment than their plastic equivalent. They’re still made from renewable resources, and their manufacturing is less harmful than that of plastic.
Use a Litter Disposal System
Our preferred option is to use a litter disposal system.
These are airtight receptacles, meant to seal away larger amounts of cat waste until they can be taken out with the trash.
They are equally effective, if not better, at sealing away odor than pet waste bags. And because they hold a lot more waste per bag, they use considerably less plastic. It’s a win-win.
Use the Right Litter
In addition to concerns regarding odor and bacteria, litter mess can get out of hand quick in an apartment. From dust to tracked litter — the smaller the space, the bigger the problem it seems.
But these issues can be minimized too. Just by choosing the correct type of litter.
Clay litter in particular makes a big mess. The small granules stick in paws and track what seems like everywhere. Litter dust can seem to fill the entire apartment during cleaning.
Litter dust is more than just an annoyance. It can be harmful to the health of both you and your pet. Learn more about the dangers of cat litter dust.
Choosing wood or paper pellets will go a long way to reducing mess, as both are naturally dust-free options.
But while either will minimize dust, each type has its own material-specific benefits. Pine pellets are better for odor control and paper pellets for tracking.
Pine, and other wood pellets, have the natural ability to suppress the odors of urine and ammonia. Paper litter, on the other hand, has very little built-in odor control.
And while full pellets will be tracked considerably less often than clay granules, sawdust from dissolved wood pellets can still be tracked. Paper pellets absorb liquid rather than dissolve, and we’ve found them to be the least-tracking litter.
It really becomes a choice of preference. Do I need a litter with better odor control or one that tracks less?
What You Shouldn’t Do
- Don’t flush litter. It seems like the obvious solution. But the harmful parasite Toxoplasma gondii, sometimes found in cat waste, can be spread by flushing. Unfortunately, most wastewater treatment plants aren’t equipped to handle Toxoplasma gondii. When the parasite enters waterways, it can spread.
- Avoid using clay litter whenever possible. Clay litter contains more dust and tracks more than most other types of litter. Not to mention, it’s often much worse for the environment and for your cat’s health.
- Don’t leave the litter box dirty. A dirty litter box can make your cat sick. Scoop solids as soon as possible. Scoop or sift soiled litter on at least a daily basis. Empty and clean the litter box with water and a mild detergent at least once a month. And keep in mind, even if you no longer notice the smell of the litter box, your guests probably do.
- Don’t have your litter box in a poorly ventilated area. Choose an area with proper ventilation to minimize odor and health risks. That stuffy, windowless closet probably isn’t the best choice.
The best way to dispose of cat poop in an apartment is to seal in airtight pet waste bags or a litter disposal system and take it out with the trash. Flushing cat feces is strongly advised against, as it can be harmful to wildlife and other people.
- Bienkowski, B (2019, February 19). Plastic threatens our health from before production to long after it’s thrown away. Environmental Health News. https://www.ehn.org/plastic-pollution-and-human-health-2629322391.html
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.