Caretakers know the importance of safe cat litter for their feline companions, themselves and the environment.
Safe Cat Litter: The Clumping Clay Cat Litter Controversy
For many years, there has been an ongoing debate over the safety of clumping clay cat litters that use sodium bentonite as their clumping ingredient. The controversy began with an article written by Marina McInnis in 1994 and still goes on today. To read the article in its entirety, scroll down on the Berner.org website.
Sodium bentonite is natural clay that swells to 15 times its size when liquid is added, similar to expandable cement. The concern of many cat caretakers is the health dangers posed when the clay particles are ingested as a cat licks its paws and fur while cleaning itself. There's also concern that cats might breath in the dust when scratching in the litter box. Young kittens are often curious and may taste the litter when they are first introduced to the litter box. Those who are opposed to this type of litter claim it expands inside the cat or kitten and turns into a gummy, clay mass that can harden in the gastrointestinal tract causing illness and even death.
The Other Side of the Debate
On the other side of the controversy are the manufacturers that claim that clumping clay litters are safe and do not pose a danger to the cats that use them. To date, there have been no studies conducted on this issue. It should be noted that the evidence presented against clumping clay litter is only anecdotal and has not been proven.It must be noted that according to information found on Petfinder.com, the director of the Feline Health Center of Cornel University believes that cats do not face any health dangers from clumping clay cat litters. Many cat caretakers feel that this type of litter poses no danger to their pets and feel it is completely safe to use.
Additional Concerns About Clumping Clay Litter
Other concerns regarding clumping cat litter include:
- Dogs eating litter and having the same health problems as cats
- Litter dust causing respiratory problems in people and pets since it contains crystalline silica particles
- Environmental concerns about the volume of clumping clay litter being discarded since it is not biodegradable
- Environmental concerns about clay strip mining
Organic Biodegradable Cat Litter: Safer Alternatives
Many people feel that organic, biodegradable cat litter is the safest type of litter for their cats, the environment and themselves. There are many cat litters of this type on the market, and new brands are being added as more companies realize the need for this type of product.Alternative cat litters are made from various biogradable materials including:
- Citrus scraps
- Various types of wood shavings
Generally, these cat litters are made from materials that are recycled by consumers or byproducts from different industries.
- Called the World's Best Cat Litter, this litter is made from whole kernel corn and has a fresh clean scent. It is free of chemicals, clays, silicas, perfumes, bentonite or synthetic ingredients. This litter clumps naturally when it absorbs liquid, but the clumps fall apart if they are exposed to water, making this biodegradable litter safe to flush.
- ARM & HAMMER™ Essentials™ Natural Clumping Litter is a blend of corn cob fibers and baking soda. The litter is naturally clumping and far less dusty than some litters. The company also claims this litter is two times more absorbent than clay litter.
Made from naturally processed wheat, Swheat Scoop is clay, chemical and fragrance free.
- One of the most popular cat litters is Feline Pine. Made from 100% recycled material, Feline Pine is available in clumping and pellet varieties.
- Nature's Logic Ponderosa Pine Cat Litter is made completely from Ponderosa pine and is 100 percent natural.
Final Word About Safe Cat Litter
Caring for our feline companions means we have the responsibility to keep them safe and healthy. This article offers the current facts about cat litter, but it is up to each cat caretaker to make the decision about which litter they believe is safest for their pet.