Steve’s Best Cat Litter

Our dear departed Bus, scornfully staring at a bag of our former litter.  

While we lived on land in the States, we were well paid and the cat litter options were many.  Our choice was a litter touted to be made from milled corn, very environmentally friendly.  For being a substance for an animal to poop and pee on, it was ridiculously expensive, but we felt good about using something so biodegradable and safe.  And anyways, it worked well.  We packed the boat with lots of it before we left.

Sailing through the Bahamas, we were happy we’d stocked up:  it was a rare store that stocked cat litter, and when it was available it cost a king’s ransom.  Bahamians, as with lots of cultures, generally allow their animals to roam outside, so to them the idea of keeping a box of cat poop in one’s home is both ridiculous and unnecessary.   Any boats with ship’s cats planning to cruise the Bahamas would be wise to bring lots of litter from home.

When our stash finally ran out, we were in the Dominican Republic.  Dominican cats use a litter box as seldomly as their Bahamian counterparts, and so litter was not available in town.  We brainstormed other substances we might try to use instead.  Shredded newspaper?  No.  Newspaper quickly gets damp and gross on a boat.  Beach sand?  No.  Too messy and critter-filled.  We even toyed with the idea of trying to toilet train Steve.  In the end, we did what anyone with a bizarre problem does these days: we got online and tried some artfully worded Google searches.

The internet told us to go to an animal feed store.  The Dominican Republic being a highly agrarian country, feed stores are everywhere.  In Luperon, the feed store is important enough to occupy some prime real estate on the main drag of town.   We sauntered in and bought ourselves ten pounds of baby chick food, leaving the quizzical shopkeeper to wonder if these crazy gringos were starting a chicken farm on their boat.

The obliging feed store man weighs out some chick feed.

Back onboard, we dumped the chicken feed into the litter box, and right away Steve began the consumer testing process.  He emerged looking relieved and pleased.  Verdict:  chicken feed, specifically feed meant for baby chicks, is an excellent cat litter!  It clumps, absorbs odors, doesn’t track all over, and being meant for food, it’s perfectly biodegradable.  We can attest that fish will even actually eat it when you’re tossing the clumps overboard, a fact that is both gross and conscience-soothing.  It looks and performs very much like the expensive, corn-based cat litter we used back in the States, for which we paid about $1.42 per pound.   For our new Dominican cat litter, we paid about $0.28 per pound.  Hooray!  Just in case chicken feed isn’t so easy to find in our other cruising locations, we bought lots and lots.

The only possible drawback we can foresee would be the unwanted emergence of weevils, so we recommend careful inspection before purchase, and using all the usual anti-weevil tricks.  We've stored ours in some old tonic bottles with plenty of bay leaves.  Bang the bottles as you're filling them up to make the litter settle well and stick the bottles out in the sun to heat up all afternoon.  When you seal them tightly and bring them inside at the end of the day, the change in temperature as the bottles cool down will create a slight vacuum.  Sounds crazy, we know.  But then again, weevils are evil and we want to make things really hard for them.

"Keep those bugs out of my toilet!"