Backyard composting can be as simple as layering your kitchen scraps with fall leaves in a corner of your yard. Stocking up on raked leaves from your neighborhood in the fall can supply your composting needs for the year.
Monitoring the moisture content, frequent turning of the pile, and attention to what is added and in what proportions will hasten its break down into compost.
Ed Rishell, Master Gardener, has written a comprehensive guide for backyard composting for the Virginia Cooperative Extension here.
The US Composting Council has compiled a great list of online resources here: Home and School Composting Information
There is no definitive consensus among composters as to whether or not pet wastes may be safely composted in open backyard compost piles especially if intended for vegetable gardens. Industrial composting operations achieve the high heat needed to kill off potential pathogens in these wastes to then be used for all compost needs. An alternative is to dispose of them in lined or unlined backyard holes where they can decompose more safely.
Www.cityfarmer.info provides some ideas for this here.
How to Compost Your Cat’s Litter blogpost on a Vancouver, Canada neighborhood zero waste project website has some useful thoughts on the process.