Composting Pet Waste, Again
April 13, 2021
I’m so glad a resource like this exists. Thank you for your time. I just have a couple of questions.
I’m in ABQ old town area, 87104. I have a rolling plastic compost bin that I put kitchen and yard waste in and have had some pretty good success (other than the downfalls of a rolling composter with it all clumping together). In a small backyard, I have ornamental in-ground gardens and a raised garden bed for vegetables.
My questions all revolve around what to do with my 3 cat’s feces. I know it can’t go in the compost, be flushed, or just go into the ground.
I know there’s products and DIY options for in ground pet waste composters. That could be an option, but I wonder: Are those a good option in NM with our underground water sources?
It seems like the essential function is a container in the ground and you add waste on top… but what’s the endgame? If it’s buried, are you every getting composted things out of it? What do you do when it fills?
I asked the Green Bucket if they take pet waste and the person who answered was very helpful and told me about Bokashi composting (as an option since they don’t take pet waste). So I was looking at something like this: https://store.bokashicycle.com/bpcfs Does this method effectively take care of the toxoplasma?
Is the end result of this able to be added into my other compost? Into just the ornamental garden or into the vegetable garden too?
Again, thank you so much for your valuable time
Answer by JH: As a cat owner I too have been interested in this subject so I’ve spent some time researching your question.
Toxoplasmosis is reported to be killed at 122-140 degrees F for a couple minutes. This temperature range can easily be accomplished with a hot composting method as set forth in resource materials available at nmcomposters.org. But can you be sure that 100% of the pet waste was thus exposed? Perhaps so but it is not recommended to use composted pet waste on or in the vicinity of a vegetable garden.
Options? If using clay litter or any litter with preservatives or other chemicals, it’s probably best to toss in a paper bag into the garbage where it might end up in the commercial-grade composter. There are many plant based litters available now and I would recommend pet waste with one of these litters being buried away from vegetables. Perhaps exposure to sunlight for a period of time prior to burying might also be considered provided that it is kept away from pets and humans.
One thing to never do with pet waste is to dispose of in sewage or septic systems.
I hope this helps, but if you find an authoritative source with definitive recommendations, please do share with us.
Answer by JZ: Your questions will be received by a few of may colleagues who may also respond. Great to hear about your composting efforts. JH has already responded to you. Here are my thoughts:
Clumping in your tumbler may be decreased by adding a small amount of coarse bulking material from time to time. It may be helpful to read about Tumbler Bins under Composting Info in our main menu.
The Bokashi bucket is a fermentation method. The Bokashi folks are saying that the acidity produced in the method will disable the Taxoplasma gondi. So then you could add the contents of your bucket to your tumbler or an in-the-soil covered container, then allow the decomposition process to continue. See Homemade Bins under Composting Info.
When in soil composting containers become full of decomposed material, then you have options. You may scoop out the finished compost and use in garden, then start refilling the container with organics OR you may pull up the container and allow the finished compost to drop into the hole and stay in place, thus amending the soil on that spot.
After that if you are still concerned about T. gondi, then use that compost on only ornamentals.
Municipal water in NM is, I think treated so that pathogens are not a concern.
Another option for cat manure – consider a well managed hot process composting setup. Properly maintained this process will disable pathogens.
docs.nmcomposters.org/composting-in-the-desert-2018.pdf See pages 3-4.
Let us know if the responses have been helpful and if you have more questions.