Apr 152012

What is meant by “flushable”? Are they safe only for regular sewers, or are they safe for septic tanks as well?

Most flushable cat litter is safe for septic systems as well as sewer systems. You will need to check the packaging to be sure.

Advantages of flushable cat litter?

  1. Cat waste gets processed along with human waste and doesn’t end up in landfills where it could leak into groundwater.
  2. No need to use plastic bags to dispose of the cat litter, thereby hurting the environment more.

Disadvantages of flushable cat litter?

  1. Can clog the plumbing.
  2. Takes a long time to empty a box – even if only flushing daily scoops.

So, is flushable cat litter worth it?

In my opinion – no. Here’s my experience: we have three cats and we do use a litter that can be flushed. While we used to flush it, it becomes extremely tedious to do so.

When scooping a box and pulling out cat poop, flushing is simple with no problems. The thing is – cat’s don’t just poop. Of course, they pee too. And while the litter clumps nice and tight around liquids, it makes very large clumps. So, in order to get them to flush, you have to break them up.

I don’t know about you, but to me, the point of a clumping cat litter is so that you can get the waste out as easily as possible. Therefore, having to break it into smaller pieces seems to miss the point. It’s also not easy, and very messy. You can’t really break it up in the box, because you end up with some small pieces the slip through the slots on the sifting scoop. If you break it up in the toilet, you may still get pieces too big to flush.

I needed to flush at least half a dozen times in order to get all the clumped litter to go down the toilet. And, I don’t remember any time I tried flushing that I didn’t need to use the plunger to clear the toilet.

Believe me, I tried. I don’t like the idea of cluttering up a landfill with waste, or with plastic. But, it just became too ridiculous to get the litter to flush. I tried smaller and smaller pieces, but still had flushing problems. So, I gave up.

Recently, after five years or so, I tried again. This time, the results were even worse. We recently had our toilet replaced and these days, you can’t buy anything but a low flow toilet. Fortunately, our plumber showed us a way to hold the handle down longer to get twice as much water to flush out the toilet. Yet, even with this, and small pieces, I clogged the toilet with the litter.

The one thing I didn’t do in my quest to flush the litter was change the type of litter I was using. Because one of my cats is sensitive to changes, she didn’t like when I used another litter (which I wasn’t even thinking of trying to flush at that point). So, we switched back to the first litter. There are few things worse as a cat parent than a cat that won’t use the box because she doesn’t like the litter. The only change we’ve made since we now have three cats and three boxes is to buy larger quantities of litter.

However, manufacturers will continue to make flushable cat litter because some people find success with it. For that reason, I encourage you to give it a try and see if it works for you. Worst case scenario, you can still use the same litter, just bag it and trash it, instead of flushing it.

Major brands of flushable cat litter:

Swheat Scoop Multi Cat Natural Wheat Cat Litter, 25 Pound Bag Swheat Scoop Natural Wheat Litter
Oil Dri #1934 14LB Jug Cat Litter Cat’s Pride Scoopable
Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Clumping Litter, 10.5-Pounds Arm & Hammer Essentials Clumping
World's Best Cat Litter (17-lb bag) World’s Best Cat Litter
Feline Pine  Original Cat Litter, 20-Pound Bag Feline Pine
Nature's Miracle Odor Control Clumping Cat Litter 10 Pounds Nature’s Miracle

  7 Responses to “Flushable Cat Litter – To Flush Or Not To Flush – Your Options”

Comments (7)
  1. I haved used Worlds Best Cat Litter for a number of years. Currently, I have 5 indoor kitties. I use 4 boxes. I have not experienced any of the problems you’ve encountered. So sorry. I flush the scoops but dispose of the litter from a full cleaning into the garbage. I never have large balls of urine. It is corn-based and breaks up quickly. I notice that most scoopers have spaces too wide. I have found scoopers much thinner in a particular store for 99 cents. My original query when I began searching is still unanswered – is it safe to flush litter if the maker reports that flushing is safe.
    Linda Douthart

  2. I also use the world’s best Cat Litter and flush it readily. Absolutely no problems. Do you get kick backs from litter companies? With a septic, it will add mass that will require more frequent servicing than if you do not flush.

    • Good to know about septic systems. I’ve always lived in an area connected to the public sewer system so didn’t know that.

      As for a kickback from litter companies? Nope. Might be nice though, since the litter I use (Swheat Scoop) is pretty expensive. The pics at the end of this post aren’t even affiliate links to Amazon or another retailer.

      The reason I suggested readers try flushable litters is because not everyone’s experience is like mine. As you mentioned, you don’t have a problem with flushing The World’s Best Cat Litter, so maybe my problem was the brand.

      • I too use World’s Best. I tried sweet scoop to support my family members who grow wheat, but it got funky if I didn’t change it more often then I have to change the brand I’m using. The Worlds best, because I think it is exactly that.
        I have a certain concerned about flushing kitty litter just environmentally. I rationalize it because now my cats are indoor cats and my outdoor cats went wherever they wanted to. So I guess it balances out. You might want to try worlds best in all but one litter box and keep the sweet scoop for the cat who prefers it.

        By the way, I really appreciate your straightforward talk about cats because it’s franker and more complex than most of the discussions I’m able to have with people who are not as attached to cats as I am.

  3. IMO, no clumping cat litter should ever be considered flushable for the very reasons listed in this post. I use Feline Pine, a non-clumping, 100% pine (which means all-natural and completely bio-degradable) cat litter that is designed to be flushable. When it gets wet, it just disintegrates – like in seconds – into sawdust. As long as you pull the solids out right away, there’s no smell except for the smell of fresh pine.

    That said, any flushable litter should not be flushed in large quantities at a time. Small quantities and lots of water should be used when flushing. Clogs are very easy to get, and clearing cat litter clogs is a lot harder than other kinds of clogs.

    In addition, a lot of cats are particularly picky about litter, and some may not like the pellets.

    Finally, flushing any litter into a septic system is not advised, as it will fill the septic tank very quickly, and flushable litters will expand as they soak up water.

    Also, check the laws in your state to confirm that flushable litters are permitted. It is a law in many states now that no cat litter may be flushed due to environmental hazards associated with cat waste. I personally think the laws are useless, however, as there are plenty of outdoor cats doing their business near water sources to do plenty of damage on their own.

    Moral: If you’re intent on flushing litter, use a non-clumping one, make sure you are following disposal instructions on the bag/box, and check your local laws. You might also talk to a plumber. I’m sure they have their own expert opinions on the subject.

  4. FYI
    The WBCL you show is the non-flushable, should be the RED bag.

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