Could your kitty litter be harmful?

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In today’s world there seems to be an increasingly strong shift towards consumer awareness.  People are questioning where their food/products come from, is it ethical, is it organic, does it contain parabens, is it genetically modified, is it made locally, etc.  It is extremely important to be informed and know what products we can trust.   Which is why I decided to take a closer look at some of the products we use for our pets.  After all, they are a part of our family and it is up to us to provide them with the means necessary to live healthy, happy lives!

Being a pet sitter I have seen a wide range of products designed to keep pets happy and healthy.  But what if some of these products were actually harming our beloved pets?  What if something as simple as the type of litter we use is actually detrimental to our cat’s health?

I did a bit of research and found that many common cat litters contain harmful ingredients to both humans and animals alike.  Clumping litter is generally made with super-absorbent sodium bentonite clay.  This is harmful when ingested.  It causes a build-up of insoluble material which can lead to bowel and kidney problems, dehydration, decreases in nutrient absorption, lung cancer, bronchitis, tuberculosis and even death if left untreated.  Sure cats don’t eat their litter but they do spend countless hours grooming their paws and that is how it becomes ingested.  It is also harmful when inhaled, which happens when they dig and bury their waste.  The clay expands in their lungs and can lead to lung problems and cause asthma.  Some kitties even develop sores on their paw pads.

The next harmful ingredient is silica gel, which is great for absorption and deodorizing but is also classified as a human carcinogen.  These gel crystals trap urine and allow the water to evaporate, which is why they are such a common ingredient.  The dust in silica, over time, can pose health risks to us and our pets.  It can damage our mucous membranes in our lungs, upper respiratory tract and even lead to silicosis and lung cancer.

So what should we do?  Opt for something natural?  Even certain litter made from grains like corn and wheat can be susceptible to contamination by aflatoxin producing aspergillus (basically mold).  Warm temperatures and moist environment, like a litter box, make these grains more prone to infection.  Exposure to aflatoxin mainly attacks the liver and causes many illnesses.

It is up to us to protect our pets and ourselves by opting for non-clumping/non-toxic litter.  Look for litter made from recycled newspaper, which is also biodegradable.  Try using sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to control odor.  Or… train your kitty to use the toilet!

I greatly encourage your feedback or advice!  The more we know the better we can protect our kitties!

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