You might have heard from your friends that certain cat litters will cause respiratory problems in cats and humans. If you haven’t, this article might be helpful to you the next time you out doing grocery shopping.
No such thing as dust free cat sand
The most common type of cat litter found in the market and easily the most popular among cat owners has to be the clay type cat sand (the one that literally looks like sand). It’s inexpensive, clumps well – making it easy to scoop, absorbs moisture effectively resulting in less odour after the sand is soiled.
However, when you are clearing the litter box or when your kitty digs the litter, it kicks up dust particles which is breathed in and some of which consumed, when they lick their paws. You must be thinking that it’s no biggie especially when there’s already so much airborne pollutants.
The deadly particle
The problem however is that the main ingredient in cat litter, is Sodium Bentonite and some of which contains crystalline silica (this includes silica gel cat litter). Research has shown that prolonged exposure to crystalline silica dust may cause silicosis (a fatal lung disease) as well as bronchitis and tuberculosis. Secondly, Sodium Bentonite has the ability to soak up large amounts of moisture and expands in the process, that’s why it works so well as cat litter. Like how smoking clogs up the lungs, imagine what damage the dust would do if it absorbs the moisture and expands in the lungs.
Furthermore, ingesting Bentonite and silica dust may cause them to accumulate in the intestines over time. Because of their ability to absorb, it may cause malabsorption of nutrients, as well as blockages.
Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives available including:
- Recycled paper
- Pine pellets
- Corn cob granules
Although they are more expensive, but like I always say, it might save you vet bills and heartaches in time to come. Besides, they are from environmentally friendly sources, biodegradable and can be flushed down the toilet in small quantities.
Alternatively, why not shred some news paper and sprinkle some baking soda? Works too! (Not baking powder. You can get one big box of Arm & Hammer baking soda around $4-6. Really cheap and you can use them for a ton of other applications! You can find them either in the baking section or laundry detergent section.)
But the best solution would be investing in a litter tray with a sieve, like the one from PeeWee. Because with a separate sieve, most of the cat’s urine would pass through straight to the collecting tray at the bottom. Rest of the urine would be absorbed by the litter which would break down and also fall into the collecting tray when the cat scratches the litter.
Giving a little more for a healthier cat
However, just like how healthy food seldom tastes great, ‘cleaner’ alternatives does have their disadvantages. You might find that some of the brands are not being able to clump or smells faster. But all of these disadvantages will be offset if you used a cat litter tray with a separate sieve. There’s a few clumping paper litter that seems to be highly recommended but still not yet available in Singapore, so I’ll have to keep a look out for that. But from experience, it’s just a matter of spending a minute more to pick up the soiled litter more carefully (Just use a scoop without holes, that would help a lot) or investing in a new litter box. No big deal. We can’t be thinking about ourselves all the time can we?
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