For those of you who are new to this site or just visit sporadically, we have a parrot, Groucho, who has been with us for 39 years. Several moons ago we got him a much larger cage. It’s so large, that in human terms it would be a three bedroom apartment. The cage resembles that shown in the picture below, save that it has a grill set about six inches above the paper.

The grill allows Groucho to walk around the bottom of the cage, which he really likes to do. The waste and other detritus falls through the spaces of the grill into a well that is filled with paper. The bird cage liner shown above sells for $59.77 at Amazon. You get 100 precut sheets. As Groucho likes to throw anything he can move, the bottom of the cage can rapidly get pretty messy. At almost 60 bucks a box, keeping Groucho in paper got very pricey. Especially as the bottom of his cage is much bigger than the illustration above. So we looked for an alternative.

The obvious substitute is a newspaper. The ink is not a problem as Groucho never comes in contact with the paper saving us the need to iron the pages before inserting them into the cage. Our local newspaper, the fantastically name Avalanche Journal, has too few pages in its daily issue. Lubbock is so flat that you can see Chicago perched atop a tuna fish can. Hence an avalanche here is less likely than return of the passenger pigeon. The Sunday paper is thicker, but at $1.50 a copy it’s not cost effective. We’d have to use about eight of them just to fill the bottom of the cage one time.

We next tried the Sunday Dallas Morning News. It’s $4 a toss. We could likely get by using four. But $16 a cage change was too much. Then we hit on the New York Times. It’s Sunday edition was so weighty that we could get four cage changes out of one copy. And at $6 an issue it was easily the most economical alternative.

Until recently we had a cat. The Sunday Times was also perfect as a liner for its litter box. Doubtless there are other similar household, or even work related, uses you can think of. You could even read it. The multiple functions of the paper has obviously spread across the fruited plain. This “All the news that’s fit to poop” use of the venerable journal is reflected in its stock price. Its more than threefold increase suggests there are a lot of bird lovers and cat fanciers in the Times’ demographic. See chart below.

Of course, somethings are too good to last. Lately, the Times has gotten smaller – ie, there are fewer pages. We now only get three changes from one Sunday paper. I haven’t done a cost estimate of the Times vs the bird cage liner sold by Amazon. But my impression is that the paper still beats the liner as an effective filler for the bottom of Groucho’s cage.

You may have wondered who the we mentioned above are. I must confess that we mostly means my wife who both buys the paper every month or so and then applies it to the bird’s cage. I’ve even caught her reading the fashion section once or twice.