Recently, I came across a recipe for making your own recycled newspaper cat litter. Naturally, since I’m a big DIY proponent, I couldn’t resist trying out the instructions for making kitty litter out of recycled newspaper. The litter recipe was the invention of Allie Larkin and is posted on her blog, Allie’s Answers.
My first concern about making litter from newsprint was the ink on the paper. Was it safe for my cat and me and was it safe to rinse it down the drain? Good old Wikipedia had the answers under an article about Soy Ink. It cited a 2004 article from Graphics Arts Online that states, “Currently, about a third of the nation’s daily and weekly newspapers print with soy inks, including about 95% of the 1,500-plus high-circulation dailies. Soy inks have become the prime source for newspaper color printing, with publishers citing their performance on press, vibrant colors, and environmental friendliness (no volatile organic compounds). Though black soy news inks cost slightly more than their conventional counterparts, publishers still find them competitive because of the extra coverage they afford.” To be extra sure, you could always contact your local newspaper and ask them.
This was actually a moot point for my experiment in making my own cat litter because I have newsprint packing paper that I can use. I have literally been reusing the same packing paper for over 4 years through 3 moves and I’m planning to keep reusing it for the next time I move, maybe in a few years. However, some pieces have become so tattered that they’re really not that good for packing stuff anymore. I used these sheets of newsprint to try out the cat litter recipe.
Since there’s no ink on my packing paper, I skipped the first two steps that entail washing off the ink. For my test batch, I used the equivalent of 1.5 full sheets of a newspaper. Allie’s instructions call for a paper shredder, but I don’t have one, so I tried tearing the paper into strips. I found that by stacking 4 sheets together and following the grain of the newspaper, it was relatively simple to tear it into strips about 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide.
Next I added some warm water and my big pile of shredded paper shrank down into a wet mass. I dumped it into a collander, squeezed out the water and using my hands, mixed in about 1/4 cup of baking soda. The newsprint shrank down to a small ball.
Allie suggests crumbling the newspaper mixture onto a screen and leaving it to dry for a few days. I also don’t happen to have a screen, so I tried improvising by using a really old towel that was beyond donating except to an animal shelter. It’s about 90 degrees outside, so I spread out the towel in the sun. Then, I put a layer of mesh fabric on top of it. The mesh is leftover from a DIY Hallowe’en costume where my husband went as a beekeeper. We knew if we kept the mesh, we’d find a use for it one day.
I crumbled the newsprint, which took a bit longer than I expected. I think I was crumbling too small based on Allie’s photo on her blog, so you should try making bigger “crumbs” if you’re going to make your own recycled newspaper cat litter.
Next, I waited for about a day for the do-it-yourself cat litter to dry. In the end, the recipe yielded about 3 to 4 cups of recycled newspaper cat litter. The final texture came out a bit like wood shavings. Allie’s looked more like little balls, so I’m wondering if I didn’t add enough baking soda or conversely, added too much.
I tossed it into Furball’s box, mixed it up with his organic wheatgrass litter, and waited to see how he would react. Because it was such a small amount and he had used recycled newspaper litter before, I wasn’t too concerned about the homemade litter upsetting his normal routine. He did his business as usual.
I can’t really comment on how the homemade litter made from newsprint was for controlling odors because I made such a small amount. It also won’t fit neatly through the standard litter scoop. However, if you’ve got the time, want to save some money and are hardcore green, making your own litter may be a great option — especially if you know people who have a newspaper subscription (try friends/neighbours/the library). Why not give it a try?