Cat Litter Conundrum & The Beach Sand Experiment

Cat Litter Conundrum & The Beach Sand Experiment

I’ve had nightmares about this day. Most sailors’ night terrors consist of the perfect storm filled with skyscraper high seas, crew being flung overboard and clogged heads. But not mine.

No, mine reek of nostril stinging cat purrfume.

And if you think the standard household cat urine scent is memorable, add some salt water and boat must for a stick-with-you-for-life effect.

Yes, my dear friends, we have run out of cat litter aboard sailing vessel Curiosity.

I wanted to dash for the radio and give my rehearsed Pan-Pan call. “Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan. All stations, All stations, All stations. This is sailing vessel Curiosity. We are out of litter. I repeat, we are out of cat litter. Requesting immediate support in the form of wood pellets, shavings, shredded paper or any brand of cat litter. I will be monitoring Channel 16 on the quarter-hour.”

But, I refrained and shoved my panic down to the pit of my stomach while repeating the phrase, “its going to be fine, everything will be just fine.”

We left Ecuador with a solid two-month supply, enough for crossing the Pacific Ocean and a month in the remote parts of the Marquesas. We thought for sure we could find some sort of cat litter or a litter substitute upon arrival. I mean, even the tiniest villages in Panama and Ecuador had cat litter. Surely, they have pet cats in the Marquesas.

Wrong! They have cats alright, but they’re outside, free roaming cats. What were we thinking?!? This is the most remote island chain in the world! Many of the homes don’t even bother with putting glass in the windows, much less a litter box for the cat.

And here we are, walking around town, surprised by the questionable reaction we get when we ask for cat litter. But, none the less…it is a conundrum. The video below is the story of what happened next.

So, if you are on a remote island and run out of cat litter, tiny rocks or sand will work.

Cats have been passengers on boats dating back to the early 1600’s. They were considered good luck and excellent rodent prevention (we concur on both accounts). And, while we can find all sorts of feline sailing tales, none of them discuss the infamous litter box. Which leaves me wondering, what did they do about cat excrement? Or, did they do anything at all? My guess is sailors of old probably did nothing with all that kitty waste.

scooping sand on the beach for litter box on a sailboat
scooping sand on the beach for litter box on a sailboat
traveling cats on a sailboat

Now, you might also be wondering…

What is the cats favorite cat litter?

Back in the good ol’ USA we always purchased Worlds Best. It was the cats fave. All natural, clumped great, smelled like lavender, could be flushed and in combination with a litter rug, it tracked the least of any litter we’d previously purchased. At first we didn’t like the name, thought it was a little boastful…but after a few months we were believers.

What is the cats favorite food?

Our cats, like all cats, are picky little creatures. Finding a food that is well balanced, not filled with chemicals or fillers, and one that both cats enjoy eating is a challenge. But, they both love Taste of the Wild. We always stock up on the dry and wet versions when we find it. It’s all they’ve ever eaten since Singa was a little bengal baby (that is until we run out of that as well).

Why not take the cats to the beach?

The cats are still in quarantine and not legal to take to shore yet. Even still, there are dogs running around everywhere (there aren’t leash laws here in French Polynesia). No doubt if we brought the cats to land they would get attacked, or worse.

Why not use the fine sand?

Sand is like the gift that just keeps giving. It never goes away and would be tracked everywhere. Plus, there are lots of creatures that live in sand and we don’t want to bring those onto the boat.

Why not just get new sand/rocks every day?

It is a time-consuming process to find the perfect litter sized rocks, and either way we would need to wash, rinse and dry. It just made more sense to reuse the same rocks. Plus, its what we’ll have to do for the passage to the Tuamotus and Tahiti anyway.

Why not use the coco coir that we use in the composting toilets?

We did consider this, but the coco coir we use in our composting toilet is like dirt or earth…it’s not something we want tracked all over the boat or stuck to their paws. There would be dirt smudges everywhere in no time. However, it is a viable back up and we would if we had to.

Why not use dirt?

Because its dirt and home to many critters that do not belong on a boat.

🙏Thanks for being a part of the journey!

Sharing our lives and what we learn along the way is possible because of viewers like you.



🎶AWESOME tunes for vids: Artists Used In This Video: Rex Banner, Eill


  • Dates: June 5 – 12, 2018
  • Island: Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia
  • Anchorage: Bay de Taiohae