Living

All the news that's fit to scoop

Apparently newspapers weren’t satisfied with being crapped on by dwindling circulation, lower ad revenue, giving away online content for free, Craigslist, news aggregators and birds.

Cats can now join the fun too.

Purina’s Yesterday’s News litter is made from recycled newspaper and touted as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional clay litter, which some say is unhealthy due to dust inhalation and ingestion of the expanding particles.

Some of you may be shaking your head as you prepare a comment or e-mail informing me that this product has been available for years, so I’ll save you the trouble.

This product has been available for years. Despite being a cat owner for almost eight years now, however, I only became aware of its existence when esteemed Assistant City Editor Kristina Lord commanded me to write a blog item about it.

I’d like to say this has been a “where have you been all my life?” experience, but after a month of using the litter, I have mixed feelings.

First, the dark, hard pellets camouflage the cat poop. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy “Where’s Waldo” as much as the next guy, but anything that prolongs the amount of time I spend hovering over the crapceptacle is a negative.

Second, the pellets are just small enough to fit through the slots on my scoop. This means lots of shaking to try and minimize the amount of litter I’m throwing out, but more often than not, I think, “#@%* it!” and toss the scoopful away, somewhat negating the green aspect of using this litter. To try to combat this hypocrisy, I clipped my scoop to make some larger holes, but that means some of the smaller waste can slip through, which turns into even more time hovering over the box as I finesse the little marbles out with the edge of my scoop.

And, worst of all, it doesn’t handle urine that well. I supposed I’ve been spoiled by convenient clumps for too long, but the pellets appear to simply break down in the bottom of the box — doing little to combat the heavy smell you can almost taste. This has caused my finicky box-user to commit what cutesy pet owners call “accidents,” but what I call “pissing on the carpet,” and caused me to spend more time than I care to admit crawling around and sniffing my carpet from corner to corner.

Yes, I slowly introduced the new litter by mixing it with clay.

I now have a second box with 2/3 clay litter and 1/3 Yesterday’s News on top placed behind my TV, where she makes her calculated accidents. I haven’t given up on a full transition yet, but perhaps I should have implemented the baby steps approach I wrote about before.

It’s a strategy mirrored by the newspaper industry, which has resembled an engine-less oil tanker paddling its way to avoid an iceberg. And while there is something cathartic about having my cat defecate onto the processed remains of newspapers after all the terrible industry news — layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts, oh my — if the future of community journalism lies in multimedia, let’s hope it’s a little fresher than Yesterday’s News.

-- Kai-Huei Yau is a Herald staff photographer and blames Kermit the Frog for climate change. You can read his weekly photo blog every Friday at tricityherald.com/behindthefold.

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