Understanding Litter Safety

When it comes to cat litter, not all are created equal. There are many different types of cat litter on the market so it’s important you know which ones are safe for your cat to use and those to avoid.

Cat litter poses a danger to your cat in two ways. When cats use their litter boxes, they route around in the litter to find a place to relieve themselves. All this pawing and digging causes a dust up, which cats inhale. Cats will also ingest any litter stuck on their paws while cleaning themselves.
Dangerous types of cat litter on the market include some types of clumping cat litter, those containing sodium bentonite clay and those containing crystalline silica dust.

Clumping litter

  • Clumping litters are linked to a wide range of cat health problems including diarrhea, vomiting, kidney and respiratory problems, lethargy and more.
  • Clumping litter forms a hard, insoluble mass when it gets wet. It also produces a fine dust. When cats use the litter box, they lick themselves clean and ingest the dust. The ingested dust expands, forms a mass and coats their internal organs, causing dehydration and preventing the absorption of nutrients.

Litter containing sodium bentonite clay

  • Sodium bentonite is a naturally swelling clay added as a clumping agent to litter.
  • When wet, sodium bentonite swells to approximately 15 times its original volume, acting as expandable cement would.
  • When expanded, this clay will block the plumbing pipes in your home and should never be flushed.
  • If this clay can block plumbing pipes, imagine what ingesting the dust does to your cat’s lungs and intestines.

Litter containing crystalline silica dust

  • Some low-quality clay litters contain crystalline silica dust.
  • Crystalline silica is not biodegradable and is said to be a cancer-causing agent.
  • Over time, crystalline silica can accumulate in your cat’s lungs that can result in a condition called silicosis, which causes shortness of breath and reduced lung capacity.
  • Humans are also susceptible to silicosis.

Choosing a quality cat litter is crucial to the health and well-being of your cats and other family members. But regardless of which safe and healthy cat litter you choose, there are some other things you need to be aware of. To encourage your cats to use their litter box without fail you must keep it clean. It’s recommended to scoop out all feces and urine clumps twice a day, throw out used cat litter and give the box a thorough cleaning at least once a week. Most cats prefer a large litter box and if there is more than one cat in the house, it’s a good idea for each cat to have its own litter box.