What’s the Big Deal About Cat Litter?
Feb 20th, 2024 - by petmac
Cat Litter is Cat Litter – What’s the Big Deal?
Sodium Bentonite and Crystalline Silica Dust – that’s the big deal!
Clumping cat litters hold great appeal for cat-lovers because they are so convenient. However many pet-owners don’t realize these two ingredients in most clumping cat litters have been implicated in diseases and even deaths in animals and humans.
Sodium bentonite is often added as a clumping agent to traditional cat litters to create “scoopable” clay litters like Tidy Cats. Sodium bentonite acts like an expandable cement, which is why these litters should not be flushed – they swell to 15 to 18 times their dry size. It is also used in grouting, sealing, and plugging materials.
Cats often lick themselves after using the litter box, ingesting pieces of the litter, which expands just as it does in the plumbing. Also, the dust from such litters can coat cats’ lungs, leading to respiratory problems. The HennepinCenter for Poison Control in Minnesota has reported instances of poisoning in humans from chronic ingestion of sodium bentonite, so just imagine what effect it can have on our kitties who breathe it multiple times a day!
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Crystalline silica dust, the other ingredient in most clumping litters, is a known carcinogen for both humans and household pets when inhaled. According to OSHA.gov, “Crystalline silica has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. Additionally, breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal. The silica dust enters the lungs and causes the formation of scar tissue, thus reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen.”
Clumping clay kitty litters may be related to a wide variety of seemingly unrelated cat health problems, included diarrhea, frothy yellow vomiting, mega-bowel syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney problems, respiratory problems, general failure to thrive, anemia, lethargy, and even death.
How does clumping litter affect our pets?
- Cats inhale dust from clay litter, or ingest it while cleaning their feet. Kittens, being curious creatures, sometimes eat litter, as do dogs who like the little “treats” kitties leave for them.
- When combined with natural and ingested liquids, the powerful clumping abilities of sodium bentonite cause the ingested clay dust and particles to form a solid mass in the intestine or stomach.
- Inhaled particles could cause similar problems in the moist climate of the lungs.
- The “clumping activity” in the intestines could draw fluid out of the body, causing dehydration, and possible eventual urinary tract problems.
- The clumping substance coats the digestive tract, attracting the collection of old fecal material, increasing toxicity, bacteria growth and prohibiting proper assimilation of digested food. This can lead to stress on the immune system, leaving the animal susceptible to viral, bacterial, parasitic and yeast infections.
- The problems can also extend to dogs who sometimes are inexplicably drawn to “litter box snacks.”
Oh, and if you care about the environment, read on….. Clay is strip mined for use in cat litters. This not only damages the environment in the same way any strip mining does, but clay is also not biodegradable. Natural cat litters are made from materials such as wheat, corn, walnut shells, pine and recycled newspaper. All are by-products of products we already use and are biodegradable.
Our advice: switch your cat litter to one made from a plant-based material – it’s better for your pet, for you, and for the environment. Some options for all-natural, healthier cat litter products sold at PetMAC are listed below. All are clumping and scoopable.
All-Natural Litters We Carry:
World’s Best Cat Litter – made from corn kernels. This is amazing litter that is easy to scoop and does a wonderful job of odor control. They now have a variety of litters to suit everyone needs. I really like the Low tracking litter, but all are great.
Naturally Fresh cat litter – made from walnut shells!
Smartcat Grass Litter by Pioneer Pet – Can litter made from grass out clump clay? Yes! With the perfect combination of grasses, our litter really does the job. Light in weight but strong in performance, it out clumps clay, every day!
Smartcat Light Weight Litter by Pioneer Pet – is ½ the weight of traditional clay litters. This litter creates a rock hard clump, that you have to see to believe. the technology stops odors on contact, and is 99% dust free.
Swheat Scoop – Made using only farm-grown renewable resources, sWheat Scoop combines the best of both cat litter worlds: it provides the odor-fighting, fast-clumping, easy-scooping, low dust, low-tracking solution you need using the 100% natural, biodegradable, planet-safe ingredients you want.
Pestell Easy Clean Pine Pellet cat litter – Made from 100% natural, 100% biodegradable recycled pine shavings, and featuring a clean, natural smell, Easy Clean Pine can absorb three times its own weight.
Dr. Elsey’s Litter – the herbal ingredient in Cat Attract – can be used with other non or low-scented litters
Clumping Clay Litters We Carry:
Dr. Elsey’s Cat Litters – Especially Cat Attract / We carry a wide range of their litter both Clay and Crystal litters. the Cat Attract is the best for litter box issues. While it is a traditional clumping litter, it has been very beneficial for cats who have litterbox issues and is 99% dust free. They also have litters for seniors & long hair cats. Cats with Respiratory, Dr. Elsey’s has a great litter to handle it.
Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Precious Cat – a traditional clay litter I brought in by request…. At least it has less silica dust than grocery store cat litters,
Everclean Extra Strength Unscented cat litter – The power to conquer even the strongest odors — without any added scent clumping litter.
Freshstep Clumping Unscented Litter – Clumping Cat Litter | Fresh Step®
Freshstep Non-Clumping litter – Premium Non-Clumping Litter now with Febreze | Fresh Step®
Arm & Hammer Superscoop Clumping Unscented Litter 20 lb / 14 lb – https://www.armandhammer.com/en/cat-litter/unscented-litter/unscented-litter/arm-hammer-super-scoop-clumping-litter-fragrance-free-14-lb