Monday, September 9, 2013

The Dirty Truth About Cat Litter

Most of us look at the sandy little grains of cat litter as just a necessity of kitty ownership that we  really don’t need to or want to think about any further than ‘Did I scoop it today?’. Well let me tell you, there are some serious and scary things hiding in that litter – and I don’t mean the clumps!  In my quest to find the healthiest ways to care and provide for my felines’ needs I came across some interesting facts about the clay litter I was using. What I found made just as concerned for my health as I was for their health.

Let’s start with clay cat litter, shall we? Clay cat litter contains sodium bentonite which is a clumping agent that causes the litter to expand to 15-18 times its dry size when it gets wet. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Well, have you ever seen your cat grooming (licking) itself after using the potty box? Can you imagine what that expanding cat litter and its remnant dust is doing in your kitty’s body? Yeah, not so pretty! You especially have to be cautious when using this litter around kittens that have a tendency to eat things out of curiosity – litter not excluded. The ingestion of this litter can potentially cause an intestinal blockage and have deadly consequences (not to mention what it must being doing in the lungs of anything that inhales a whiff of the dust it creates!).  

The potential hazards do not just apply to cats – does your dog ever venture over to the litter box for a ‘snack’? Now, I know my canines are not the only ones on the planet that do this. What do you think that litter is doing inside their gut? Holistic animal care specialist and PhD. Lisa S. Newman reported on a fatal case of canine bloat, “When his stomach was opened, it was full of clumping cat litter! Some dogs have been known to root around in the litter daily, creating respiratory conditions (from gel coating of the lung tissue), eye irritation, colon distress and even mal absorption of nutrients.”
Lucky for us, there are many widely available alternatives to clay cat litters like World’s Best Cat Litter, Feline Pine, Yesterday’s News and Blue Buffalo Naturally Fresh Litter, just to name a few. This of course is a matter of personal choice and preference – just know that what your precious feline is pooping in may be more sinister than what meets the nose.

I must tell you that there are no official scientific studies concerning bentonite toxicosis, only many anecdotal reports from former clay litter consumers. I don’t know about you but I certainly do not want to take that chance and I can tell you that I personally feel a lot better now that I am not breathing in a clay dust cloud during litter duty.
 Happy Scooping!

Michelle Brockman for
Jonah’s Place

References:; Lisa Newman,

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