Nature CallsTM: A Unique Pet Supplement
From Durk & Sandy...

Deodorant for your Pet

n a world in which your best friend is often an animal, it's important to make sure that you don't have a reason to wish it weren't so. Let's face it ... the price we pay for our animals is often a barrage of odor we wouldn't wish on anyone. In the name of a better home environment, Durk & Sandy have an unusual product intended to improve your life by making it easier to live with your pet whether cat or dog, bird or ferret ... whichever. Appropriately the name of this product is Nature Calls and the story behind it is rather unusual.

WILL: Many of our customers are very fond of their pets and treat them as members of their families. Which means that they often get the same foods and the same supplements their owners are taking. But all animals have individualized, as well as special, needs. And toward that end, the two of you have formulated a supplement for pets.

DURK: Our formulation, Nature Calls, is intended to make animals more house-friendly. We've got 140 cattle out in the pastures and they're on thousands of acres of land. Their smell is not a problem because they're widely dispersed and outside. But if you have a bunch of cats or other animals inside, that can be a different matter. Or if you've got 100 or 200 mice in a mouse colony, like we do, that can be a really different matter, believe me. We used to have gerbils, and that was a problem as well. So we searched for some way of dealing with that.

And we found a very interesting item, a yucca extract, which is the basis for Nature Calls. It's from the yucca plant that grows wild all over the southwest. It has been used by the Native Americans for a long, long time as a cleanser (in fact, some native Americans use it as part of a ritual hair cleansing). It's a foaming agent. In fact, one of the major commercial root beers uses it as a foaming agent. It's generally recognized as safe for that purpose. If you take a few drops of our Nature Calls and put it into a glass of water and shake it up or put it into a bottle half-filled with water and shake it up and then smell it. You'll not only get the foam, you'll also notice the scent of root beer. But we're not giving this to our animals because they like root beer. We're giving it to our animals for another reason.

The reason is a special property that the yucca plant evolved to supply itself with bioavailable nitrogen fertilizer. Here's the story behind the how and why of the yucca's mechanism.

Nature Calls is intended to make
animals more house-friendly.

If you spend much time out in the desert where yuccas grow, you'll notice that little animals, pack rats and kangaroo rats and mice and so forth, live underneath the yucca plants. They need the shade or they'll end up overheating and consequently, dying. The sharp, pointy leaves of the yucca plants help protect them from enemies. Rabbits hide under the yucca plants. If they're sitting out in the open, they get baked by the sun and overheat rapidly. They're also prey to hawks, eagles and coyotes who can see them. Whereas, if they're crouching under a plant, they're a lot harder to locate.

Out in the desert, plants don't really have much of a supply of bioavailable nitrogen. The urine and feces of the little animals provide most of the nitrogen the plant gets. And it builds up under plants like yuccas where they live. The problem is that mammals excrete most of their nitrogen waste in the form of urea. Bacteria that contain an enzyme called urease make their living by breaking the urea down and releasing the nitrogen in the form of ammonia, which on a hot day - especially when it's dry - just evaporates like crazy. That's why you have an ammonia smell in your kitty litter box. Much of the nasty smell that you get from a kitty litter box or any animal waste is ammonia. The second unpleasant thing that you'll smell is hydrogen sulfide, the gas released when bacteria break down sulfur containing amino acids like cysteine.

The yucca plant would really like to get hold of urea and cysteine. So the yucca plant produces compounds in its roots which circulate up to the leaves that later fall down to the ground carrying the compounds with them. These yucca compounds have a couple of different properties. One, they act as surfactants reducing the surface tension of water and thus making the water wetter and more ground penetrable. This is important because frequently in the desert you get a flash thunder storm, where the water comes down terrifically fast for a very short period of time. And in a lot of places on the bare ground, it just runs off rather than sinking in. The yucca plant would be better off if the water became wetter and was absorbed into the ground. And in fact, the yucca formulation has this surfactant effect. That's why it produces a foam. But the reason the yucca plant does this is to help the water sink into the ground so that its roots can absorb it.

The other thing yucca does is inhibit certain enzymes and bacteria, which gets rid of the stink. One of the enzymes it inhibits is urease, thereby preventing the urea from breaking down into ammonia and carbon dioxide, which would then evaporate. Instead, the urea ends up going into the ground where it can be picked up by the roots of the yucca plant. Yucca also inhibits the enzymes that convert cysteine into hydrogen sulfide. It is interesting to note that the plant values these inhibiting substances, called saponins, so much that the roots actually reuptake this material from the soil and recycle it back up into the leaves.

So saponins are obviously quite valuable materials to the yucca plant. Now what happens if you give saponin-containing yucca extract to your animals? It's FDA approved as a foaming agent for use in root beer and other soft drinks; thus, it's approved for consumption by human beings. If you use Nature Calls at about the same concentration in the animal's food or in its water, something quite remarkable will happen. The feces and urine will smell a lot less. You'll have very little in the way of hydrogen sulfide or ammonia smells.

Much of the nasty smell that you get from
 a kitty litter box or any animal waste is ammonia.

SANDY: It can make a tremendous difference if you have many cats in your house or a couple of hundred mice or a bunch of gerbils. All you do is add one drop of this to each ounce of food or water, and that's it. It does not taste bad so the animals are going to find the food and water perfectly acceptable after you've added Nature Calls. Yet you won't have nearly as much of a problem with the smell of what comes out the other end.

DURK: And although we're not selling this for human use, it is interesting to note the results of an experiment I did. I like baked beans so I decided to eat a whole can of baked beans at one sitting - I really stuffed myself with those beans - along with one drop of Nature Calls per ounce. The results were quite surprising, as a matter of fact, a lot better than I expected. It was "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." There was a whole lot of gas, but it didn't smell; I couldn't believe it. There was no usual bean smell. Sandy really appreciated it.

WILL: (Laughing) That's great and very interesting. Now, is there any other technology involved in the yucca or any other applications to which its use would be relevant with regard to animals

DURK: You can add a few drops of Nature Calls to your animal's shampoo if you bathe them. As I said, Native Americans have used it for this purpose in the southwest for a very long time.

WILL: As a body cleanser or just for their hair?

Yucca acts to inhibit certain enzymes
and bacteria and gets rid
of the stink.

DURK: Both for the hair and for the skin. But there are better, more modern materials for a complete human body shampoo. But for making your cats and mice and gerbils and so forth more house friendly, Nature Calls will do a great job.

WILL: You've left out dogs. Why not dogs as well?

DURK: Dogs can usually be trained to do their thing outside. Now when you have a bunch of puppies inside, that's a different matter. When they haven't learned yet about being "toilet-trained," or if you're living in an area where it is forty below zero during the winter and your dog has to do it inside ... then you can definitely use this on your dog. For any animal that doesn't know how to use a flush toilet and is going to be living inside your home, you really ought to consider giving them a little gift of Nature Calls.

WILL: I go to local fairs here in California where there are all kinds of animal supplements available. Yet, I just haven't seen yucca extract used at all in either the litter products or in the animals supplements of any kind.

DURK: It's really surprising. It works so well and yet so few people know about it.

If you use Nature Calls at about the same concentration
in the animal's food or in its water, something quite
remarkable will happen. The feces and urine
will smell a lot less.

WILL: What are the impacts of high levels of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide on someone who might breath them in?

DURK: Besides stinking, they're both very toxic. In fact, the hydrogen sulfide has about two thirds the toxicity of hydrogen cyanide gas. Unless you have an awful lot of pets, you're unlikely to have that problem. There have been pig and chicken farmers, however, that have actually been killed by hydrogen sulfide gas in the buildings. This is not a minor problem. That's also what kills people in sewer gas. Unfortunately, a person's nose becomes very rapidly fatigued by hydrogen sulfide. At first, it smells like rotten eggs; even a few parts per million really stinks. But continual exposure to that over a period of 20 minutes or so just turns off your smeller. And you can't smell it anymore. Hundreds of people have died as a result of that, primarily sewer workers and people working in sewage treatment plants. You're unlikely to get enough of that in your home to be a health hazard, but it will certainly be a hazard to the conviviality that you might expect with your friends. Because even if you can't smell it anymore, when your guests come in, their noses aren't fatigued - Pew! And you're not smelling anything.

WILL: How about the animals; are they offended by their own smells?

DURK: Yes. If your kitty is going where your kitty shouldn't be going, it might be that your kitty doesn't like the ammonia and hydrogen sulfide stink in its kitty litter box any more than you do. Some things people say, "Oh they're accidents ... it's just a dumb animal ... they're not that smart ..." may not be true. When you're hiking out in the forest and there's an outhouse that stinks to hell, you're going to bypass it for a bush. Our pets may be doing the same when they go behind the sofa, instead of the stinky kitty litter pan.

Now, of course, you can get treated kitty litter and all sorts of other things, but it can be very expensive. I saw a figure that the average person who uses that type of litter pays, per cat, about $300 a year for the stuff. I don't know whether that's correct; we don't have a cat.

You can add a few drops of Nature Calls
to your animal's shampoo.

WILL: It seems that the cats (or other animals) could end up getting depressed and possibly in need of some other kind of animal supplement to deal with those issues.

DURK: One thing that I've noticed is that if we don't take care of the smell in our mouse room, it definitely suppresses the reproduction rate of the mice. It goes down quite dramatically. Obviously, that's part of the system that tells mice when they're getting overcrowded. And there's also more aggression when there's more mouse odor.

WILL: Aggression can be indicative of low serotonin levels.

DURK: Yes. Although I don't know of any experiments that have measured the effects of fecal odors on serotonin levels in animals, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a relationship. I suppose if you live in an area with a lot of raw sewage, it might lower your self-esteem, another result of low serotonin levels in monkeys.

WILL: So in a way, Nature Calls may help avoid the need to take your animal to an animal psychologist.

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