Uses for cat manure?

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Buck Jones (Buck Jones)

June 5th, 2012 at 4:32am

Hi my wife & I have built a 27 foot long 6 12 f wide 6 12 f high cattery on our property to house our 7 cats, which are the result of our Tabby cat escaping on me while she was on heat & coming home 3 days later... and the rest is obvious. Anyway this lot produce a sizable amount of feces. I have been told not to use predator droppings on vegies but when I asked why the only answer I was given was because of the risk of disease. These cats are not diseased & when I asked if he meant disease to the plants such as leaves going brown or spotty etc or if he meant disease to the people who eat the vegetables he did not know & changed the subject. I know lots of people use pig manure & they are omnivores. So does anyone know anything more about this subject or have any suggestions for use for cat droppings? It seems a waste to throw away this much of anything every week. Thanks

Bearclover Bear (Bearclover)

June 5th, 2012 at 8:33am
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii.[1] The parasite infects most genera of warm-blooded animals, including humans, but the primary host is the felid (cat) family. The parasite spreads by ingestion of infected meat or the feces of an infected cat, or by transmission from mother to fetus. A 2001 study found that direct contact with pet cats is probably a less common route of transmission to human hosts than contamination of hands with cat faeces by touching the earth, and that "contact with infected raw meat is probably a more important cause of human infection in many countries".[2]

Up to half of the world's human population is estimated to carry a Toxoplasma infection.[3][4] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that overall seroprevalence in the United States as determined with specimens collected by the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1999 and 2004 was found to be 10.8%, with seroprevalence among women of childbearing age (15 to 44 years) at 11%.[5] Another study placed seroprevalence in the U.S. at 22.5%.[4] The same study claimed a seroprevalence of 75% in El Salvador.[4] A sample of 273 people in rural France was measured at 47% prevalence.[6]

During the first few weeks after exposure, the infection typically causes a mild, flu-like illness or no illness. Thereafter, the parasite rarely causes any symptoms in otherwise healthy adults. However, those with a weakened immune system, such as AIDS patients or pregnant women, may become seriously ill, and it can occasionally be fatal. The parasite can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and neurologic diseases, and can affect the heart, liver, inner ears, and eyes (chorioretinitis). Recent research has also linked toxoplasmosis with brain cancer, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.[7][8]

Eric Herrlein (Skinny)

June 5th, 2012 at 8:33am

It is generally recommended not to use dog or cat manure in the garden because they can be carriers of diseases that affect humans. If you want to use it, it is best used on fruit trees or composted first.

Bearclover Bear (Bearclover)

June 5th, 2012 at 8:39am

Even when its composted, it doesn't always kill it. The gut of carnivores is different than the gut of omnivores which is why pig manure can be used but not dog and cat. It's also why humans don't usually eat other predators (like mountain lions).

The University of Wisconsin did a study on the pros and cons of using dog and cat manure vs cow manure and can be found here:

There have been several requests from home gardeners asking about the advisability of using pet wastes for fertilizer. There are no studies that we could find to document the pros or cons for this method of waste disposal. We have two major concerns to bring to your attention: Public Health Aspect, Fertilizer Values.

Is there any human health danger to this practice?
Yes, both dog and cat manure may contain organisms that cause human health problems.

What is the hazard in dog manure?
The common large roundworm, called Toxocara canis can also infect humans.

How common is this worm in dogs?
It is estimated that 90% of young puppies are infected with ascarids or large roundworms.

How do humans become infected?
They get the infective eggs in their mouth. The eggs are transferred to mouth by the person's fingers, food, or other objects contaminated by dog feces.

What kind of symptoms would a person have who is infected by dog worms?
1) A condition called Visceral Larval Migrans. The ascarid eggs hatch in a person's small intestine. The little worms or larvae get into the blood stream and float to the liver. They migrate in the liver and get to the blood stream that goes to the lungs. Some may enter the general circulation and end up in different parts of the body. They have been found in the human heart, brain, spinal cord, skin, and other tissues. The symptoms would vary depending on where the larvae become attached.

2) Another condition is called Ocular Larval Migrans. The immature ascarid worms or larvae can affect the human eye. The larvae attack the retina and cause blindness. Many eyes of children have had to be removed which until recently was the only treatment for this problem.

How long can ascarid eggs live in the soil?
They can live for many months, or many years depending on soil conditions.

How common are these infections in humans?
Probably more common than the figures show. It's a difficult disease to specifically diagnose. Physicians are not required to report this disease so there are no accurate statistics. A test in 1978 used by the U.S. Public Health Service on 2,606 human samples showed 30% positive. In a pediatric hospital 37% of all the retinal diseases of children's eyes were positive for dog ascarid larvae. This is definitely a potential human health hazard.

What problem does cat feces pose as a human health problem?
The principal disease transmissible to humans is called Toxoplasmosis.

What is Toxoplasmosis?
This is an intestinal parasitic disease of cats and other animals. It affects the intestines and other tissues and the cysts are shed in the feces.

How does it affect humans?
It is associated with abortion and malformation of the unborn child in pregnant women. How common is this disease in Wisconsin cats? About 45% of the cats tested at the Central Animal Health Laboratory were positive.

How long do cats spread this organism?
They spread this organism for about 7-10 days after they become infected. They then become resistant, and fewer eggs are shed.

How is Toxoplasmosis spread to humans?
The eggs are usually placed in the mouth by fingers or objects contaminated with cat feces. Garden produce contaminated with cat feces containing infective eggs could be a human health hazard for pregnant women.

What is the fertilizer value of cat and dog manure?
The composition of cat and dog manure is similar. The feces contain about 0.7% nitrogen (N), 0.25% phosphate (P2O5) and 0.02% potash (K2O). The urine contains about 1.1% N, 0.01% P2O5 and 0.5% K2O.

How does this compare with cattle manure?
Cat and dog manure, as excreted, contains about 2-1/2 times as much N, the same amount of P2O5 and half as much K2O as cattle manure. However, the fertilizer value depends on the kind and amount of associated litter or bedding as well as on the manure itself.

Since the urine from dogs is not normally collected, how does the composition of the feces compare with cattle manure with bedding?
Assuming no bedding or litter associated with dog feces, the feces would have about 40% more N, the same amount of P2O5 and 1/20 as much K2O as cattle manure.

What would be a recommended rate of application of dog manure?
As application of 20 lb per 100 square feet would provide most of the N and P2O5 needed for a lawn and about half of that for gardens. Owing to the potential problems with parasites indicated above, however, the use of dog and cat manure on lawns and gardens is not recommended.

With normal "kitty litter," what is the fertilizer value of cat manure?
Since both the urine and feces are collected, cat manure with litter will contain about 0.85 lb N, 0.2 lb P2O5 and 0.15 lb K2O per 100 lb of manure. If the litter is sawdust or wood shavings, the N will be temporarily "locked up" by the bacteria and fungi in decomposing the litter and little, if any, will be available to plants for several weeks.

Will composting dog and cat manure make it safe for use on gardens?
Composting would sterilize the manure and make it safe for use if the temperature of the compost heap exceeds 165oF for about five days. Unfortunately, backyard compost heaps rarely reach this temperature, and the outer several inches never do.

Can pet manure be sterilized chemically to make it safe?
There are chemical sterilants such as methyl bromide and others that could be used, but the cost and bother is probably not worth the value of the manure. Also, the average homeowner probably is not equipped to handle chemical sterilants. CONCLUSIONS

The health hazards associated with cat and dog manure are greater than the potential benefit from its fertilizer value. Cat and dog manure should be disposed of by flushing down the toilet, burying deep in the soil (six inches or more) or by placement in tight plastic bags for garbage collection.

Reviewed 2/99

gwen kahler (gwen kahler)

June 5th, 2012 at 9:23am

don't do it!

Buck Jones (Buck Jones)

June 5th, 2012 at 7:09pm

Thanks folks that was very informative, & supports the conclusions I had already drawn from the conversation with the old guy I described in my opening blog, but it is helpful to know species, effects etc. The only other possible use I have thought of for any manure is methane production. If & these are definately ifs, we build a methane extractor, could we put it in the extractor with the goat manure we would be using as our main stock? I say goat because our land is too small for a cow, we may move to a bigger block but finances govern that. I have heard of people making fire place fuel bricks out of camel manure, but I imagine this works as camels eat grass & grass burns, cats eat meat & meat does not burn so that is probably out too. what a stick it would probably make hahaha

Jason Jason (Jason)

June 5th, 2012 at 7:35pm

I throw my cat poop in the wood furnace in the spring/fall/winter. It burns very good. In a properly installed wood burner all smell goes out the chimney, if you get a whiff outside it can be unpleasant, no big deal might last ten minutes. Cat food is generally made from grain (by)products with some additives for flavor so they will eat it. The moisture is what might keep it from burning, once he moisture is driven off, the poop burns just like anything else, just throw it on a fire that is already burning fairly hot.

If you think meat doesn't burn you've never seen me BBQ--just sayin'

Kevin 2 ( Wild Squirrel 2)

June 5th, 2012 at 8:22pm


William Free (ShadyGlade Farm)

June 5th, 2012 at 8:43pm

I'm thinking it was from a a Backwoods Home article that a guy was making "bricks" of horse manure that he air dried for fireplace fuel. He reported no unpleasant odor from the burning, his wife finally relented and loaded the stove with no ill effects & the resultant ash was supposedly a spectacular amendment to the garden. Like camel manure it has a fibrous content that's lacking in cat or dog 'manure'.

Lloyd George (Lloyd George)

June 5th, 2012 at 9:40pm

Dog treats?

He who invents a cat box that the dog cannot raid will be a wealthy man...

Catherine Lyon (Catherine Lyon)

June 5th, 2012 at 10:11pm

I use sawdust as a cat litter in my cathouse. I clean out the litter box every other day. Let it dry, then burn it when burning brush or leaves or chicken yards. There is not much of a smell from the feces, just the now dried sawdust with cat urine smells(not so nice), but it burns well.
Or I throw it over the fence into the cow pasture and let it rot down to nothing in the pasture. I do that too with the dog manure, which keeps the coyotes out of the yard and away from the chicken coop.

V Sacha (Spun Gold Farm)

June 6th, 2012 at 1:24am

Poke it down gopher holes...

Ellendra Nauriel (Ellendra Nauriel)

June 6th, 2012 at 11:01am

I second the burning idea, that will get rid of any "nasties" that might be in there.

Susan Monroe (Susan Monroe)

November 19th, 2012 at 2:57pm

Have your cats tested for Toxoplasmosis. If they don't have it, no problem.

Move on to Roundworms (Ascarids/Toxocara family), the most common parasite of dogs and cats, and the most likely to contaminate and infect people if precautions aren't taken.

Roundworms develop an outer "shell" that hardens in 15-30 days, when it becomes almost impervious to extreme heat or cold. Alaska winters won't kill it. Texas summers won't kill it. Composting won't kill it. Did you notice that 15-30 days part?

BUT... if you compost FRESH waste in a HOT compost pile, you will kill the eggs. But you have to pay attention, take the time, and do it right. Few people are up to this, to tell the truth. Most people are too lazy, too occupied with other things. But if you want to do it, use the composted manure around fruit trees or ornaments, just for safety.

That being said, these parasites do not crawl INTO the vegetables, they remain on the surface, and are usually removed by washing. Fruits/veggies that don't touch the soil surface won't be affected.