Kitten and Whiskers

clay litter risks for cats and humans

Dr. Justine Lee, gives us the scoop on the dangers of clay cat litter for cats and humans:

as a veterinarian and cat owner, I love my cats but hate the mess that comes with them. in our small, 800-square-foot house, my husband and I live with one dog, two cats and three litter boxes.

since we all share such a small living space, I know what it’s like to deal with kitty litter problems. as my cats sleep with me, I’ve grown accustomed to having small pieces of clay litter dragged into bed with me.

I’ve always kept my litter boxes in the basement, but I soon discovered that my entire basement was constantly covered in a fine dust from the clay kitty litter. the dust was getting into everything — the carpet, clothes, blankets, etc. I installed a high-efficiency HEPA filter in the basement to minimize the dust, but even it didn’t make a noticeable difference. in fact, I scooped the litter boxes while wearing a surgical mask so I didn’t inhale the stuff — that’s how dusty it was!

during one memorably cold Minnesota winter, I had to call the furnace company out at 2 a.m. because the furnace had broken down (our cold winters makes this an emergency in Minnesota). after fixing my furnace, the workman told me that the dust from the kitty litter had blocked off some of the intake tubing, resulting in the breakdown. apparently, he saw this frequently from kitty litter dust.

bentonite clay, the primary component of litter, works well in kitty litter due to its ability to absorb liquid and form hard clumps, making it easy to scoop. unfortunately, however, bentonite clay also poses potential health dangers to you, your pets and your family.

so, after 16 years of cat ownership, I made the change to a more eco-friendly, safer wheat-based kitty litter and here’s why:

  • first, natural kitty litters are more eco-friendly. Sodium bentonite is acquired by clay litter manufacturers through strip mining, which destroys the top level of the earth (removing trees, shrubs, animal habitats, etc.). being an environmentally conscious person, I wanted a kitty litter that didn’t have this kind of impact on our planet.

  • next, the bentonite clay dust. When cuddling with my cats, I could smell the dust and fragrance from traditional clumping litter, which made me worried my cats were inhaling this every time they went into their covered litter box. as my furnace and house can attest, the dust can be easily inhaled chronically into the respiratory tract of any living creature. this is especially dangerous to cats and children with underlying asthma.

luckily, you, as a cat owner, have some options. check to see if the litter you buy lists sodium bentonite as an ingredient. if it does, make the switch to an eco- and pet-friendlier alternative, like Swheat Scoop.® The environment, your cat and your conscience will thank you!

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