Cat Litter and the Environment

It goes without saying that cat lovers care about nature.

From organic food to cat grass, there are many ways for us to bring the best of the natural world to our furry friends. 



Natusan Cat Grass

Liam's cat Rudie enjoying a quick munch


However, when it comes to what's in the litter tray, the history may surprise you...

From its invention in the mid 20th Century, cat litter has been produced using methods that can be damaging to the environment, and the resulting clay litter is non-biodegradable, so will get thrown away, including sitting on landfill for thousands of years. Natusan, on the other hand, is not only 100% biodegradable, but made from 100% natural wood by-products, the result of sustainable forestry. 

Find out more below!


Who invented cat litter?

Up until the 1940s, cat litter consisted of a box filled with sand, ash, or even dirt.

Then Edward Lowe came along and, at the request of a neighbour whose cat was tracking ash prints around the house, inadvertently sold the first batch of what he came to call “Kitty Litter”.


Two employees of Lowe’s monitor an exhibit at a pet convention in 1961. From the photo album of Darlene Lowe. Courtesy the Edward Lowe Foundation Archives, Hagley Museum & Archives

Two employees of Lowe’s monitor an exhibit at a pet convention, 1961


Although he’d originally intended to market the Fuller’s Earth (a form of crushed clay used to absorb oil spills) as a nesting material for chickens, demand soon grew for the granulated clay and it would go on to replace sand as the primary choice for cat litter.



The traditional processes involved in manufacturing clay litter can be harmful for the planet.

You guessed it, Fuller’s Earth comes directly out of the earth, and the excavation processes involved in mining it can have a drastic effect on our landscape.


Excavator Strip Mining



In strip mining, raw bentonite clay (the kind that clumps in contact with moisture) is pulled up from below ground by the truckload, which can require huge amounts of existing topsoil, vegetation and wildlife to be removed beforehand.


How Clay Litter is Made


Not only can this lead to animals losing their natural habitats and deforestation, the mineral sediments can end up polluting the water cycle, flowing into rivers, changing the watersheds and harming the wildlife there.


Timelapse Habitat Destruction



What you can be left with is a gigantic hole in the ground where there once was natural beauty, but the story doesn’t stop there…


Clay Litter Deodorizer Chemicals


Sadly, the damage doesn’t end there either.

As clay cat litter is not biodegradable, much of the waste ends up in landfill where it will likely stay forever.

Even without the plastic bags and liners which are often used to dispose of litter, the clay does not naturally decompose, but will stick around for thousands of years (much like Roman clay pottery).


Landfill Garbage Dump



As if that wasn’t enough, when cats ingest bentonite (as they can sometimes do when cleaning themselves), the material swells and can cause gastrointestinal problems for your furry friend.


Cat Oh No


To recap, clay litter can create:

  • Pollution
  • Erosion
  • Loss of habitats
  • Flooding
  • Deforestation
  • Millions of tons of litter gets thrown away in the UK
  • Potential health risks for you and your cat!

We’re pleased to see that increased legislation has been brought in many countries to stop this and companies are now embracing the motto of “not going wide but deep” (if deposits allow) to minimise the impacted area. After a deposit is depleted, companies are looking to “re-naturalise” the area to minimise the long-term impact.

This is a step in the right direction and we hope to see more countries bringing in increased legislation in the near future.


What about crystal litter?

Crystal litter, which is sourced using the same strip mining technique, doesn’t fare much better on the environmental scale.

Instead of bentonite clay, crystal litter is made using sodium silicate sand, the same stuff that can be found in the moisture absorbing packets in new shoes - yep, the one’s marked “DO NOT EAT” ☠️



Cat Ew Gross


The future of cat litter

As a pet parent, you may be feeling a little despondent at seeing your cat’s paw print on the environment...


Depressed Cat

Well fear not, we’re here to help change all that...

Natusan's clumping and biodegradable cat litter is produced from 100% natural, PEFC-certified recycled wood. Our litter is made from by-products of sustainable forestry, so no trees are felled in the making.

We add our own natural ingredients such as starch to make our litter just as absorbent without any need for nasty chemicals.

We also work with our partners to plant trees on behalf of our customers and support amazing sustainability projects around the world.

In a world with so many available green alternatives to the growing problems of strip mining and waste, why should your cat miss out on the fun?


Cat Natusan



Make the switch to Natusan cat litter today.

Natusan Cat Litter

Buy now

20/08/2020 by NatuTeam

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