Breathing in Cat Litter Fumes & Dangers of Dust: Is it Toxic?

health concerns litter
(Last Updated On: March 29, 2023)

When you think about risks associated with owning a cat, you wouldn’t be crazy to think there aren’t any. Apart from the occasional scratch when playing with your feline friend, it seems silly to associate them with any sort of danger.

But in reality, there is possibly something more dangerous than most of us know. Cat litter. A lot of experts and caretakers have expressed their concerns and the importance of safe cat litter for the cats, people, and the environment.

Why? Well, it’s because, for both humans and cats, cat litter fumes can be potentially toxic. Breathing in cat litter dust is toxic too. Is cat litter dust harmful? Find out our suggestions on avoiding issues for you or your kitty in the post below!

Can Cat Litter Be Flushed?

Can You Vacuum Cat Litter?

Dangers of Cat Litter Dust: The Clumping Clay Debate

health concerns litter

The debate about the safety of clumping clay cat litters that use sodium bentonite as their clumping ingredient started back in the 90s and has been active ever since. Sodium bentonite is a natural clay, there are two concerns about it. (1) The health dangers it exposes to cats ones it’s been ingested when cats lick their paws, and (2) that cats can breathe the dust in while scratching in the large cat litter box.

This is a problem because once it’s inside the cat, the clay starts expanding and turning into a mass that can cause problems to the gastrointestinal tract, thus causing illness or in worst cases – death.

But, it’s important to note that a lot of experts do not support this theory since it has never been proven by research, it’s simply based on opinions and experience of vets and cat owners.

Dangers of Not Cleaning Cat Litter

Some other concerns about clumping cat litter are that dogs that eat it have the same problems as cats, the litter dust can cause respiratory problems to both cats and people, and it’s bad for the environment because it’s not biodegradable. Inhaling cat litter dust is dangerous as well.

Safer Alternatives

I say – why risk it? Even if it hasn’t be proven by any research, why risk the health of your cat and yourself? There are some safer options that you can consider, and the safest option according to many is the organic, biodegradable cat litter. But it’s not that simple, since there are different types of it, made out of different biodegradable materials, that you can choose from, basically:

  • Corn
  • Corncob
  • Citrus scraps
  • Grains
  • Wheat
  • Paper
  • Various types of wood shavings

Even though all of them are organic and biodegradable, many would argue that corn litter is the best and safest option out there. It’s made from whole-kernel corn and is free of any chemicals, clay, bentonite, or synthetic ingredients.

On the other hand, some prefer wheat and wood litter more than corn. Wheat litter is made from naturally processed wheat and it’s also free of clay, chemicals and is fragrance-free. Wood litter on the other hand is another popular safe option usually made out of 100% recycled materials and is fully natural and biodegradable.

Tips on placing the litter box in your home

Even if you choose an all natural, safe option you should be cautious with placing the automatic litter box (see this post here). First of all – don’t put it near the kitchen or where you eat. Also, don’t forget to clean the box everyday, and wash your hands afterwards. In order to be extra cautious empty the box once a month and fill it with boiling water for five minutes.

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