Zero Waste Cat

Zero Waste Cat

Spread the Sustainable Gospel!

Last Updated: September 20th, 2020

Zero Waste Cat | Having a cat can pose a new set of obstacles to overcome when trying to avoid waste. The food, the litter, the treats, and the toys all have some sort of environmental impact.

There are so many things that come with cat ownership that can lead to a mountain of trash. Cat litter alone, contributes to vast holes from strip mining over 2 million tons’ worth that is pulled from the earth every single year.

Below, I have put together a few tips that can either lead you to a completely waste free feline, or significantly reduce the amount of waste Mr. Fluffy Bottom produces.

Zero Waste Cat

Zero Waste Cat



Buy your cat food in bulk.
There are several pet stores now that are selling pet food in bulk, which means without packaging. Take your own container/bag to the store and fill up. I typically look for wholesale pet stores because it’s usually these locations that I find pet food in bulk. Also, make sure the quality of the food is still to your standards. I always value nutrition over packaging.
Make your own cat food.


Buy raw ingredients to make your own cat food instead of purchasing the kibble or canned food. Do this by taking your own containers to the butcher to have filled. There are some mixed reviews on whether or not it’s better for your cat so I suggest you do your own research. Keep in mind that there are additional vitamins and minerals that cats will still require that you’ll need to buy separately, in glass, to add to their food. 

Buy your cat food in recyclable packaging.
More and more pet food companies are “going green” with their food packaging like TLC Pet Food. As long as the food quality lines up with what you feed your cat, opt for this option. Terracycle also offers a recycling program on certain pet food packaging, like plastic lined bags, that you can send to them.
Give your non-recyclable pet food bags a second life.
If none of the above suggestions work for you, you can at least give that bag a second life. Use the bag to fill up with thrift store donations, use them to transport mulch and soil back home from the landscaping store, use it to store your compost, turn it into a tote bag, or use it as your garbage can liner.  

Zero Waste Cat Litter Box

Having a zero waste litter box for your Zero Waste Cat can be tricky. Especially, if you live in an apartment or rental. However, there are ways to do it or at the very least, reduce the overall waste the litter box can produce.

Consider the impact of your litter box as well. Avoid buying a new plastic tray if you can. Check out local second hand shops or even repurpose a storage tote. If you are looking for a plastic-free box, check out this one HERE. Though they are exceptionally more expensive, these will literally last forever and not begin to absorb the ammonia smell that plastic ones will eventually succumb to. 

Use sawdust, mulch, or dirt as your “litter”
I recommend slowly incorporating the new stuff gradually into their existing litter so they don’t retaliate to something new. You can get sawdust, mulch, and dirt package free from your local landscaping store or even for free on sites such as Most traditional pet litters come with “fragrances” to minimize the odors. I just add baking soda in with mine to reduce the smell. Keeping the litter box maintained also helps.
Compost the doo-doo.
Using the natural cat litters allows you to compost the waste. Build a cat doo specific compost bin and keep it away from your garden.. Over time the poop and litter will naturally break down. You can use the compost when it has fully broken down, however, I would just stick to ornamental plants and not your garden produce – just to be safe.
Check to see if your local/city compost programs take animal waste.
If you don’t have your own yard to compost you kitties’ waste, check to see if your cities’ compost program accepts animals waste. Some might.
Train your cat to go outside, “supervised”.
Leash train your cat or set up a catio type enclosure to allow kitty to potty outside just like a dog. Never allow them to be loose as cats are a major threat to native bird species. Cats have contributed to the extinction of 63 species of birds, mammals, and reptiles in the wild.
Buy bulk litter.
Some pet stores like Petco allow you to purchase your clay litter in bulk. This doesn’t make it completely zero waste but does reduce the overall plastic waste that is getting sent to the landfill.
Buy litter in compostable packaging.
Purchase litter in paper bags or cardboard containers. That way, plastic waste is being reduced and the natural packaging can be composted. 

Zero Waste Cat Toys/Accessories

Utilize items you already have or make your own.
It’s very easy to make cat toys from old ripped up clothing or by simply attaching a string to a stick. I even bring in pine cones from the yard for them to play with. A cardboard box is a house favorite among my feline herd – those usually keep them busy. We also make cat scratching posts from some scrap wood and rope. Cats will play with anything, they’re not picky
Related: 21 Genius Ways to Repurpose Old Clothing
Cats can eat and drink out of  bowls you already own, there’s no need to buy anything special. Also, check around your house for something you can repurpose into a litter box. It’s always better to try and make do with what you already have then to buy new.
Buy all natural/quality items.
Did you know that a lot of pet toys are made from or filled with plastic and are toxic? Instead of purchasing cheap toys from the store, regardless if they’re packaged or not, always opt for the all natural/compostable toys. This ensures that, when they wear out, they can be composted and not sent to the dump.
One of my favorite all natural pet toy companies is Purrfectplay! Check out their amazing selection of pet safe toys!


Opt for second hand.

Thrift stores are great for finding second hand pet products such as toys, bowls, litter boxes, leashes, collars, you name it! Buying second hand takes new products out of the waste stream and is better for your wallet. Also, check friends and family for any items they’d give you for free.


Zero Waste Cat Treats 

Buy in Bulk.
Many pet stores have treats in bulk where you can skip the packaging and use your own containers. 
Make homemade treats.
Make your kitty treats from scratch. There are many recipes out there that are quick, cheap, simple, and very healthy for your cat. It sure beats the questionable treats that you get at the store.
I hope I have covered everything that you’ve had questions on regarding “greening” your cat. With a few changes, the amount of waste your cat produces could be reduced quite a bit or even eliminated all together!
What do you do to have a Zero Waste Cat?
For more kitty related posts, check out:


27 thoughts on “Zero Waste Cat

  1. I enjoyed these tips! When we got our kitten she went in the liter for a few months and then we started teaching her go outside. No only is it zero waste of liter it saves us money too

    • Vet here. There are no effective and safe flea treatments that come without packaging. There are a few holistic remedies that I know people use, like clove oil, but it is not effective and I do not think it is safe as cats like to lick it off. Medications you get from your vet are the safest option and do the best job but they have to give them to you in approved packaging for dosing reasons, just like any medications you might get from a pharmacy. I would opt for safety and try to recycle as much of the packaging as you can.

  2. For flees you can use herbal sprays. I suggest looking them up and make sure they're safe for kitty as some herbs and oils aren't good for them in the long run. But once you find a good choice (I prefer lemongrass) it'll be healthier then chemicals, cheaper, and easier to use. Also, dawn dish soap is great for washing your pets, it kills the fleas quickly without harming your pets. I've got 16 cats a dog and 9 rats and use these methods to keep my home free of flees and ticks and roaches while still living in the middle of the woods.

  3. What if you can't compost the waste. My worry is throwing the waste in a plastic bag, and throwing that in a landfill. I guess I could use paper bags…but I have 3 cats and the wet urine soaked litter (I clean the litter box quite often during the day) would not work with a paper bag…

    • This is a late comment but:
      There are compostable doggie doo bags, so if you really can’t do anything but throw the waste away, you can do that I suppose… However, I’ve read that even compostable things often don’t break down at the landfill because there isn’t enough oxygen and bacteria. That being said, we can only do as much as we can and trying is important! Just try your best! 🙂

    • You could save a coffee can to keep next to the box. Since you clean the box often you can just dump from the litter box to the can, and when that’s filled dump the contents directly into the garbage, rather than using plastic bags.

  4. I’m really concerned about cat food… specially “humid” food. Dry food is easy to find. What about humid food?? each day, we generate one can or one plastic bag.

  5. After researching everything there is to know about toxoplasmosis, I’ve decided that my cat is likely not at risk to be killing sea otters, and I’ve decided to compost her waste. She’s on the raw diet so she has less droppings overall. The packaging that the raw food comes in is also compostable.

  6. You can also train your cat to use the toilet. There are rings you put on the toilet seat with a bit of litter and you reduce the ring size until the cat only uses the toilet.

    • I always think how weird would it be to get up in the night to use the restroom, open the door, and see that your cat has the bathroom occupied. Do you just excuse yourself and wait your turn? LOL I have 4 cats so I don’t think I’d ever get a turn.

  7. hello! ‘ve been trying to use a mixture of peatmoss and saw dust, however he (Schrodinger) seems to think that it’s just getting him more dirty or he may just not think he has to cover up his doings as well as he did with normal litter. suggestions for zero waste clean kitty paw mats?

  8. This is an older post but it still comes up pretty high in my google search on the subject, so I thought I should let you know that you can not flush or compost cat poop because it can spread certain parasites to wildlife and humans!

  9. Thank you so so much for this post!! The food ideas are helpful! Have you heard of TofuKittyClub? They sell biodegradable cat litter I’m looking into trying out!

  10. Hi! I really like and appreciate this post as I switch over to a zero waste lifestyle. How do you suggest taking care of indoor cat vomit accidents? It usually requires a plastic glove, bag, paper towels, and a store bought carpet/floor cleaner. What do you think could so the job, beside the obvious hack of chasing your sick cat outside to do their business in the lawn. Thanks!

    • Hi Avery! Personally, I use a cloth rag and shake off the excess outside. I use cold water and soap to scrub the stains out and a little baking soda if it’s set in a little. Hope this helps!

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