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United States Patent im
[ii] Patent Number:  Date of Patent:
 BIODEGRADABLE HYDRATING CAT LITTER
 Inventor: Theodore M. Kiebke, Rt. 1 Box 276A, Detroit Lakes, Minn. 56501
[ * ] Notice: The portion of the term of this patent subsequent to Jun. 8, 2010 has been disclaimed.
 Appl. No.: 72,921
 Filed: Jun. 7, 1993
Related U.S. Application Data
 Continuation-in-part of Ser. No. 858,688, Mar. 27, 1992, Pat. No. 5,216,980.
 Int. CI.5 A01K1/01
 U.S. CI 119/171
 Field of Search 119/171, 172, 173
 References Cited
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
3,983,842 10/1976 Marion et al 119/171
4,206,718 6/1980 Brewer 119/171
4,217,858 8/1980 Dantoni 119/171
4,341,180 7/1982 Cortigene et al 119/172
4,519,340 5/1985 Dicky 119/171
4,571,389 2/1986 Goodwin et al 119/171
4,883,021 11/1989 Ducharme et al 119/171
FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS
3021251 1/1991 Japan 119/171
Primary Examiner—John G. Weiss
Attorney, Agent, or Firm—Douglas L. Tschida
A hydrating cat litter which solidifies upon contact with liquids to encapsulate pet waste matter. The litter comprises a mixture of a granulated, organic base material, which is susceptible to decomposition, a gluten containing material, such as ground wheat, and may include a fragrance carrier. In a preferred mixture, the base comprises a quantity of coarse ground agricultural grains, pulse crops or agricultural by-products or mixtures thereof, which support in suspension a quantity of semolina.
16 Claims, 2 Drawing Sheets
U.S. Patent Nov. 8, 1994 Sheet 2 of 2 5,361,
BIODEGRADABLE HYDRATING CAT LITTER
This is a continuation-in-part of co-pending application Ser. No. 07/858,688, filed Mar. 27, 1992 now U.S. 5 Pat No. 5,216,980.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to cat litters and, in particular, to an improved scoopable litter. 10
Pet owners and particularly urban cat owners have numerous concerns pertaining to the care and maintenance of pets. An ever present problem is collecting and disposing of animal wastes. A secondary problem is masking any odor, pending disposal. 15
For cat owners, the predominate mechanism for collecting and disposing of the wastes is a so called "cat litter". Typically, the cat litter is contained within an appropriate container that is placed about the residence of the pet owner and where the cat overtime becomes 20 accustomed to urinating or defecating. The liquids of the feces and urine are absorbed by the cat litter, which is periodically cleaned or discarded.
Commonly used cat litters may comprise a clay based particulate, sand or gravel mixture, sawdust or wood 25 chips. Deodorants or masking scents can be added to the base particulate material to mask the odor, pending collection. Such deodorizers can be added directly to the particulate or impregnated into an absorbent carrier. Depending upon the aroma and, if the cat is being 30 trained to use an odoriferous mixture, the cat may either accept or reject the litter. Rejection is indicated by undesired messes at other than preferred locations about the household.
Another litter is a so called "scoopable" litter which 35 has been recently introduced to the pet owner market. Such litters typically are comprised of a clay based particulate and to which a deodorizer is added, along with a hydrophilic material. The hydrophilic material reacts with the water in the urine and fecal matter to 40 coalesce and produce clumps of litter where the animal has urinated or defecated. These clumps can be scooped from the container and disposed of along with any solid feces. A difficulty encountered with currently available litters is that a relatively soft clump of waste matter is 45 formed with the hydrophilic action.
With subsequent use of the container by the same or multiple cats, the cats can cause the clumps to break-up and remix with the litter, unless the pet owner regularly cleans the litter container. With any remixing of the 50 fecal matter, the pet owner is faced with the same problems as with a non-scoopable litter. Should the cats have worms or other digestive tract parasites, the released parasites can be spread amongst the cats and even possibly to other pets. 55
Another difficulty is that cats tend to exhibit a preference for certain litters. Once trained to use one litter, a cat may reject another, even if offering improvements.
A further difficulty of clay based litters arises from disposal by pet owners into community sewer systems. 60 That is, many pet owners flush the used litter or clumped fecal matter into their toilet. Because the clay is not susceptible to decomposition, the particles over time can collect and obstruct the system conduits. The problem is of special concern in large municipalities or 65 metropolitan areas. Preferably, all of the litter ingredients should comprise materials which decompose in a relatively short time.
Accordingly, applicant has sought to develop a litter mixture which produces relatively hard clumps that encapsulate the waste and do not break up with continuing use by one or more cats. Desirably, the additive is also biodegradable and presents no undesired health problems to the cat.
The litter may include an attractant to minimize rejection of the litter by the cat. Moreover, the active ingredients of the mixture can be commercially sold as an additive mixture for use with commercially available non-scoopable litters. A non-scoopable litter upon mixing with the additive can thus be converted to a scoopable litter. As significant, any modified litter will be of a type familiar to the pet and not readily rejected.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is accordingly a primary object of the present invention to provide a biodegradable cat litter mixture including a decomposable base material and a decomposable hydrophilic media, which produces a stableclump upon exposure to urine and fecal matter to encapsulate same.
It is a further object of the invention to provide a cat litter including a biodegradable, hydrating media having a relatively high gluten concentration capable of encapsulating animal waste, particularly urine, into a permanently hard clump.
It is a further object to suspend the hydrating media in a liquid permeable, biodegradable base material or mixture, such as whole or coarse ground agricultural materials.
It is a further object of the invention to provide a hydrating media comprising a granular, wheat based additive.
It is a further object of the invention to provide a hydrating media comprising purified middlings of hard wheat, such as durum wheat and commonly known as semolina.
It is a still further object of the invention to provide a mixture including sodium bicarbonate and ground corn cob which is impregnated with a moisture released masking deodorizer.
It is a still further object of the invention to provide an attractant fragrance having "cat nip" qualities.
Various of the foregoing objects and advantages are achieved in a biodegradable cat litter mixture of the present invention. In a presently preferred form, the active clumping ingredient comprises quantities of semolina of a 20 to 80 mesh size. Quantities of sodium bicarbonate and ground corn cob, impregnated with a moisture released, masking and/or attractant fragrance may be added as desired. The fragrance is mixed with an oil derived from materials to which cats demonstrate an attraction, such as "catnip" type fragrances. The additive composition is biodegradable and digestible and not harmful to the animal's health.
The semolina is suspended in an organic, base material or mixture of base materials of an 8 to 80 mesh size, for example, whole or coarse ground grains, pulse crops or grasses (e.g. wheat, corn, barley, rice, sunflower, beans) or by-products of agricultural processes (e.g. corn cob, orange peels, peanut shells, hulls, husks, wood) or shredded and dried matter (e.g. paper). In combination, a biodegradable scoopable litter is obtained which is capable of decomposition upon disposal.
Still other objects, advantages and distinctions of the invention will become more apparent from the following description with respect to the appended drawings.