Having a cat can make for a lot of choices. We want them to be healthy and happy, and really their lives are in our hands. Here you will find that there are dangers in cat litter for your cat and yourself. There are some that are worse than others, and these I am mentioning here.
A patient of mine had asked me about the safety of Sodium Bentonite in Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Litter. She had congestion in her nose and lungs. I had tried this myself, and within a couple of days I also had a stuffy nose, and difficult breathing. I had quickly looked into it and found out how dangerous this substance can be for certain folks who have a tendency to allergies and asthma, yet for others of us as well.
Breathing Sodium Bentonite dust can cause irritation to the nose and lungs, and even can cause silicosis and lung cancer. And that is not just for us, but for our pets it can cause sneezing, cold-like symptoms, and diarrhea as the substance that causes it to be a clumping litter swells up in their abdomens as they lick their fur, and then the body tries to cleanse itself through bouts of diarrhea. It can cause kidney damage as well.
You may be looking into more “Natural” kitty litters, yet be really careful about those that contain corn or wheat. These can grow molds when wet and aflatoxins, as well as contain GMOs, pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed on these plants, and we are breathing in these in the dust of the litter… as well as our pets are licking in all of these toxins.
Then there is the litter made from recycled paper. Take care about this one also, as it contains a ton of chemicals from the paper making to the inks and dyes, and all of these become airborne toxins in our homes, and our cat has to lick them.
Then there is the walnut hulls. Sounds good. Yet the dust is so strong, and your cat is licking undigestible particles that will irritate their intestines all the way down.
How about the pine needles? Well, perhaps you can handle the smell from them, which is very, very strong. And it does not mask the odor of the box.
And what about the new charcoal litter, supposedly safe and good? Again the dust is horrific, and it is a fine, black dust that gets over everything. And we are breathing it in, and so is our furry pet.
So what do I recommend? After going round the block, twice, OK three times at least, I have decided that there is no perfect litter unless you have the ability to create a composting toilet for your cat or cats. Now that would be a really great thing, right? For now I have gone back to a clay litter. Reading the article from Dr. Andrew Weil, that says after 20 plus years no shorter lifespans have been found from cats using clumping litters, I found the new Fresh Step ULTRA UNSCENTED Litter. I had tried one of their others, and it was very dusty, but this one is just recently out… it says low dust but I have found no dust at all. And yes, it does clump, but it is not the 100% non-biodegradable sodium bentonite clay as the crystals are. Yes, it is mixed with limestone, but there is no dust.
As I said, there does not seem to be an ideal litter out there. If you find one, please let us all know! For now my cat and I are happily breathing easy, with no problems noticed from either smell or allergies or dust. One more suggestion: Buy some face masks to wear when changing litter boxes. Good luck to us cat lovers all.