KITTY LITTER DANGERS
One of the biggest dangers to a cats health and a dogs (some dogs ingest kitty litter as those with cat/dog households know) is “Litter Box Fillers”. Cats, Rabbits, Ferrets and even some apartment dogs are litter box trained. What is not known by many are the dangers certain litter poses to pets and humans alike. If you have a multi-mixed pet household of cats and dogs you must read this. As your dog sometimes will delve into that litter box as you know – look what your pets are ingesting. Here is a copy of an article by Marina Michaels. We thank her for allowing us to share her research.
Clumping Clay Kitty Litters: A Deadly Convenience?
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. Clumping litter is designed to form a hard, insoluble mass when it gets wet. It also produces a fine dust when stirred (as when a cat scratches around to bury a recent deposit). And these clumping litters absorb many times their weight in fluids. When cats or kittens use the litter box, they lick themselves clean; anything their tongues encounter gets ingested. Kittens especially tend to ingest a lot of litter when they are first learning to use the box. Once the litter is inside a kitten or cat, it expands, forming a mass and coating the interior-thus, both causing dehydration by drawing fluids out of the cat or kitten, and compounding the problem by preventing any absorption of nutrients or fluids. "There has been a rise in depressed immune systems, respiratory distress, irritable bowel syndrome, and vomiting (other than hair balls) among cats that I have seen in the past two years. All had one thing in common...a clumping product in their litter box. In several cases, simply removing the litter improved the condition of the cat." ("Great Clumping Cat Litter--Is That Why Kitty is So Sick?" Lisa Newman, Healthy Pets--Naturally, April 1994.)
The problem of health difficulties and even deaths resulting from clumping litters appears to be more prevalent than most people are aware of. I recently spoke with another Japanese Bobtail breeder, who told me of a kitten she sold that subsequently became very ill with a severe respiratory problem. The new owner used a clumping litter, and her veterinarian found that the kitten's lungs were coated with dust from the litter. For a veterinarian to spot this problem is unusual. A more common diagnosis would lay the blame at the door of a virus, germ, fungus or parasite. There is not a general awareness yet that the clumping litters can be harmful--even fatal--to cats.
And the problem extends beyond cats. As Lisa Newman points out in her article, dogs get into the litter box for "snacks," and ingest the litter too. She reports that the autopsy of one dog revealed that his stomach was filled with the clumping litter. An article entitled "How Cat Litter is Made" appeared in Cat Fancy magazine (October 1994). Shockingly, the article contains no cautions against the use of clumping litters, even though the description of one of the main ingredients in such products should be enough to alarm any thinking person. "Sodium bentonite, a naturally swelling clay, is often added as an extremely effective clumping agent. When liquid is added, bentonite swells to approximately 15 times its original volume. But because sodium bentonite acts as an expandable cement would, litters containing sodium bentonite should never be flushed; when they expand they can block plumbing." A few moments' thought is all that is needed to realize that something able to block household plumbing must be wreaking havoc on the plumbing of our feline companions.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
You may feel as horrified as I do at the thought that there must be thousands of kittens and cats (and other animals) ailing or even dying from clumping clay litters. What can we do to prevent such suffering? One thing is let the manufacturers know we won't buy such products. My husband called a company that makes one of these clumping litters. The woman he spoke with said that the company is aware that clumping litters may be causing health problems, but that it is the consumer's responsibility to make sure their cats don't eat the stuff. My husband pointed out that cats clean themselves with their mouths, so of course they're going to eat the litter every time they use their cat boxes. Unfortunately, the company's representative maintained her "buyer beware" position.
Given the attitudes of such companies, we can vote with our pocketbooks by purchasing products from businesses that are more responsive to our concerns. Be sure to let the makers of the clumping litter know why you no longer purchase their product. You might even choose to boycott all products made by these companies (it isn't hard to find out who makes what--just read the labels). An even more effective move might be to show this article to the owners or managers of stores selling these products. If you suspect that an animal may be suffering an ailment caused by clumping litter, take him or her to a veterinarian or holistic practitioner immediately, and explain what you think may be happening. If you encounter resistance, it may mean that the veterinarian is unfamiliar with the problem and doesn't know how to handle it.
Try to find a holistic vet--either locally or someone you can work with by phone--who has some experience with clumping litter impacting the intestines. Most importantly, replace the clumping litter right away with one of the plant-based alternatives. Even if your cat is healthy, it makes sense to switch to a different litter. If you love cats as I do, spread the word. Tell everyone you know about this problem. Tell your veterinarian. You may save the lives of many kittens, cats, and other beloved creatures. So what do you use? There are many alternative. A favorite for me is PAPURR. It’s flushable, Kills odors, and just like regular litter only dust free. Even clumps pretty well! Cedar chips are great for cats but not dogs or bunnies. For an all around SAFE choice It is best to stick with paper-type, wheat, corn based litter such as Papurr, Carefresh®, Cat Country, Yesterday's News, S’Wheat etc….Cedar is very good for cat only house holds but not around dogs. Remember to research what you pet uses in all areas. Not just what it eats!