Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

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Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  joagraha on Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:56 pm

Does anyone have experience using natural cat litter (straight fired clay, no scent of other additives) as an alternative soil medium for bonsai? I had read it on a UK-based bonsai forum discussion some time back and wanted to get some input. Given the expense and difficulty in getting akadama, I was hopeful this is might be a real alternative.

adam

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  sunip on Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:27 pm

Hello.
Very good as bonsai soil.
Make sure you get the right sort and see if it does not falls apart in water or after been frozen.
I use Damoline cat litter, it is a diatomaceous earth, called diatomite and not fired as far as i know.
It drains very well and holds enough moisture, after a repot you can use it again.
Before use one should wash it to get rid of the dust.
In your climatzone with hot summers some additional bark could be useful
Sunip Wink

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  stavros on Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:31 pm

sunip wrote:Hello.
Very good as bonsai soil.
Make sure you get the right sort and see if it does not falls apart in water or after been frozen.
I use Damoline cat litter, it is a diatomaceous earth, called diatomite and not fired as far as i know.
It drains very well and holds enough moisture, after a repot you can use it again.
Before use one should wash it to get rid of the dust.
Sunip Wink

I use the same.
It is fired.
One piece of advice; it holds lots of water and if you get cold winters it might be a problem
Have a look a this thread http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t6318-kitty-litter

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  coh on Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:59 pm

I think the stuff available in Europe is more suitable than what can be found in the U.S...at least from what I've read.

On one of the other forums, some users were touting a U.S. product called "Special Kitty" as being acceptable. I purchased some to test - available at WalMart, very cheap. However, it was relatively soft and quickly broke down when wet - and this breakdown was further enhanced by freezing. I wouldn't use it for bonsai.

Turface is widely used in the U.S. - if you're not familiar with it, do some searching...it has been discussed here many times.

Whatever you decide to try, the best advice is to test it before potting any special trees in it. See what happens when it is watered, when it freezes, etc.

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  Justin_ on Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:04 pm

The cat litter being successfully used in the UK are a just few brands made from Danish moler clay. However bonsai nurseries here also sell moler clay which is a better size for larger trees and does not have the deodorant that is added to the cat litter.

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  sunip on Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:50 pm

Justin_ wrote:The cat litter being successfully used in the UK are a just few brands made from Danish moler clay. However bonsai nurseries here also sell moler clay which is a better size for larger trees and does not have the deodorant that is added to the cat litter.
Hello,
Yes that is the one i mentioned, it is from Denmark.
It is available specially as a horticulteral soil without deodorant, but the catty litter one is cheaper.
The smell disappears quickly when it is washed, i had no problem with that.
Add first some bigger grains on the bottom of the pot and mix some with the diatomite to get a better drainage
when you experience it stays to wet, in my climate conditions pure diatomite works well.
Turface will hold less water and could be mixed also.
Maybe a bit of experimenting is good to see what works in your specific climate condition.
Sunip Wink

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  Mr Miyagi on Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:07 pm

Hi Adam,
I live in the UK and use pure Sophisticat low dust for all my collected trees. It has a slightly larger particle size than other brands (5-7 mm). It is scented but doesn’t matter as the trees don’t mind and it’s gone after the 3rd or 4th water.
http://www.pet-supermarket.co.uk/products-Sophisticat-Pink-Cat-Litter_CN194003.htm
Also check out Harry Harrington’s page on it. Talks about cat litter as bonsai soil internationally
http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basicscatlitter.htm

Thanks Sam

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  drgonzo on Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:15 pm

Name one brand of actual high fired calcined clay cat litter available for sale in the USA and I'll mail you a willow leaf ficus.
-Jay

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  marcus watts on Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:45 pm

drgonzo wrote:Name one brand of actual high fired calcined clay cat litter available for sale in the USA and I'll mail you a willow leaf ficus.
-Jay

hahaha - the gauntlet is well and truely thrown down............. Very Happy Very Happy -I guess the replies will be similar to my request for hints on striking successfull deshojo cuttings on another thread.....................hello, is there anybody out there?? Wink

For me Personally..........cat litter is total rubbish, holds too much water, does not drain and does not aid bonsai health in anything but fast growing thirsty twigs, but that is just in my wet but mild climate with my tree species -it makes it root rot city. The cost of any soil is a fraction of the trees value so buy the best that the people in your local club or neibourhood use - the ones with excelent trees that is.

cheers Marcus

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  Mr Miyagi on Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:42 pm

marcus watts wrote:
drgonzo wrote:Name one brand of actual high fired calcined clay cat litter available for sale in the USA and I'll mail you a willow leaf ficus.
-Jay

hahaha - the gauntlet is well and truely thrown down............. Very Happy Very Happy -I guess the replies will be similar to my request for hints on striking successfull deshojo cuttings on another thread.....................hello, is there anybody out there?? Wink

For me Personally..........cat litter is total rubbish, holds too much water, does not drain and does not aid bonsai health in anything but fast growing thirsty twigs, but that is just in my wet but mild climate with my tree species -it makes it root rot city. The cost of any soil is a fraction of the trees value so buy the best that the people in your local club or neibourhood use - the ones with excelent trees that is.

cheers Marcus

I have found this with smaller granules but the larger granulated stuff seems to work a lot better for me.

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  Tona on Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:47 pm

I use approximately 35% oil dry from Napa Auto Parts, 45% Pumace from Osh and 20% Cactus soil from Home Depot or Lowes. I combine them and sift them all together and remove or crush any large wood chips from the cactus soil. It's simple and all of my trees seems to like it. I have mostly conifers but I even have a healthy Manzanita growing in it and budding out everywhere. Oil Dry is cheap. Because of the white color of Oil Dry and Pumice, I usually top dress before any displaying. I live in an area of California that gets very hot in the summer hence the 20% organic.

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  Poink88 on Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:45 am

Get Turface instead. Check Ewing http://www.ewing1.com/ Wink

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  David D on Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:38 am

Used unscented litter once.....that was enough. It was possibly the wrong kind. I have used aquatic plant soil which I got at the end of the year at Menards and it works well but needs to be supplemented because it is very fast draining. I also have "borrowed" a bucket of what I assumed is turface from the baseball field before they spread it on the basepaths and it too worked well.

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  sunip on Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:35 am

[quote="Mr Miyagi"]Hi Adam,
I live in the UK and use pure Sophisticat low dust for all my collected trees. It has a slightly larger particle size than other brands (5-7 mm). It is scented but doesn’t matter as the trees don’t mind and it’s gone after the 3rd or 4th water.
http://www.pet-supermarket.co.uk/products-Sophisticat-Pink-Cat-Litter_CN194003.htm
Also check out Harry Harrington’s page on it. Talks about cat litter as bonsai soil internationally
http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basicscatlitter.htm
Hello Marcus.
With catlitter you are talking about the diatomaceous earth?
Hello Jay,
It is all there on the bonsai4me basiccatlitter page.
Sunip Wink


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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  chagoi10 on Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:56 am

Mr Miyagi wrote:Hi Adam,
I live in the UK and use pure Sophisticat low dust for all my collected trees. It has a slightly larger particle size than other brands (5-7 mm). It is scented but doesn’t matter as the trees don’t mind and it’s gone after the 3rd or 4th water.
http://www.pet-supermarket.co.uk/products-Sophisticat-Pink-Cat-Litter_CN194003.htm
Also check out Harry Harrington’s page on it. Talks about cat litter as bonsai soil internationally
http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basicscatlitter.htm

Thanks Sam

I'll second that, I use exactly the same brand available in the UK - Sophisticat Pink litter and also the Tesco low dust litter which has a smaller grain size with some sifted pine bark added for all my trees. No more root rot, trees are more vigorous and also NO more Vine Weevils eating the roots over winter - they seem to hate the stuff. Thoroughly recommend it

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  stavros on Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:10 am

marcus watts wrote:
drgonzo wrote:Name one brand of actual high fired calcined clay cat litter available for sale in the USA and I'll mail you a willow leaf ficus.
-Jay

hahaha - the gauntlet is well and truely thrown down............. Very Happy Very Happy -I guess the replies will be similar to my request for hints on striking successfull deshojo cuttings on another thread.....................hello, is there anybody out there?? Wink

For me Personally..........cat litter is total rubbish, holds too much water, does not drain and does not aid bonsai health in anything but fast growing thirsty twigs, but that is just in my wet but mild climate with my tree species -it makes it root rot city. The cost of any soil is a fraction of the trees value so buy the best that the people in your local club or neibourhood use - the ones with excelent trees that is.

cheers Marcus

Marcus, you must stress out that it might be rubbish for your climate, because in warmer countries it works just fine.
I use it pure or with 10% of organic material on all my trees. The trees love it, they thrive in it. It holds moisture and drains nicely.
I have quite expensive trees and i would not insist of its good qualities if it was not working for me, taking into account the climate.
I guess we should not generalise our statements, especially on a forum with members from every part of the globe where the climate might be different.

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  will baddeley on Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:30 pm

The use of Molar clay or Sophisticat seems to cause major arguments on a regular basis. I have been using it as part of my mix for some time and am pleased with its performance alongside other products. I would no more use it on its own as I would anything else (Acadama etc)
Stavros raises the point again about factoring in the weather conditions and adjusting percentages accordingly.
The Western side of the UK, from Cornwall to Scotland is generally quite wet but areas on the East are as dry as parts of the Middle East. A standard mix cannot work the same from coast to coast.
I would also add that information gleaned from other bonsai websites can be misleading and I know one such site that advocates the use of router bits in Die grinders Confused But thats another topic

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Re: Natural Cat Litter as Alternative to Akadama?

Post  JimLewis on Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:38 pm

Cat Litter

Post Bonsai Kas Yesterday at 4:43 pm
This link explains pretty much everything you'd like to know about cat litter. Including brand names and availability of the right ones per country.
www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basicscatlitter


Moved - Jim Lewis

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