Cat Litter: It Can Affect Your Cat’s Health

Cat Litter: It Can Affect Your Cat’s Health

It may be a bit of an odd topic, but let’s talk about cat litter. Did you know that what your cat litter is made of can greatly affect your cat’s health? From what I have seen, most people buy clay litters from the grocery store. I understand that this is very convenient, but this habit can be detrimental to your furry friends. Clay litters are typically high in dust. This dust can get into your cat’s respiratory tract when they are digging around and into their urinary tract while they squat, which causes bacterial infections. If your cat seems to get urinary tract infections often, you may want to try switching litters to see if that helps.

Our favourite alternatives are Naturally Fresh and World’s Best cat litters, which are made with walnut and corn respectively. These natural litters are safe if consumed when the cat is cleaning their paws and acts as a fibre source. Clay litters, on the other hand clump in the digestive system and can cause blockages. These natural litters are also biodegradable and can therefore be flushed down the toilet. No more smelly bags to throw out!

One of the main functions of litter is to cover up bad odours. Most clay litters use perfumes to simply mask the smells and are often chemicals that can be harmful to your cats’ lungs and urinary tract. Natural litters rarely add scents since most absorb the smells and clump harder. When scents are added they tend to use essential oils rather than chemicals. Part of the odour control is due to clumping ability. The corn and walnut litters I mentioned above clump so well that practically nothing is left behind when you scoop it out. No more scraping the bottom of the litter pan and then sifting it all back into the litter box as it falls apart in the scoop.

Some of you may think, “yeah that all sounds nice, but aren’t natural litters more expensive?” The truth is, they are not, and can work out to be less expensive than conventional clay litter! Clay litters are recommended to be scooped daily and completely changed at least once per week. Most natural litters, such as World’s Best and Naturally Fresh, only need to be changed out once per month! Daily scooping is still a must, but what cat wants to step in a used litter box regardless? This means that even though the upfront cost of a bag of natural litter is typically more expensive than a clay litter, a little six-pound bag will last an entire month. You definitely cannot get the same mileage out of clay litters. This also means that instead of lugging around a 40lbs bag of litter, you can grab a six-pound bag instead: much easier on your back!

Now, not all natural litters are made equal, and natural or alternative does not always mean safe. A type of cat litter that is becoming more popular is those made with silica crystals. As a warning, these can be dangerous, especially to kittens. Silica litter absorbs water so fast that it can actually dehydrate a cat if consumed on accident, for example if they are cleaning their paws after a bathroom break. The corn and walnut litters we mentioned are both low dust, amazing at odour control, clump really well, are light in weight, are biodegradable and not harmful. The walnut one has a pleasant, woody smell to it, and the World’s Best does not smell like much but clumps the best. Another couple natural litters that I tend to classify together that are popular are made of pine and wheat. They are safe, lightweight and many people do like them, but through personal experience have not found that they clump as well or have as much odour control. These litters tend to require a full change every 2-4 weeks. Pelleted litters, such as those made with newspaper, do not contain dust since they are in small cylinder shapes and will therefore not cause urinary or respiratory tract infections. However, they do not clump and simply dissolve in water. Pellets are great for cats that have just gone through surgery so that the litter does not get into the wounds.

Low dust clay litters do exist, which is a good alternative if your cat is not taking to a natural litter. Two that we are familiar with and are safer than the grocery clay litters are Odour Buster and Pronature litters. Look for them in your local pet store, it could save your cat from getting sick!

For those of you with questions or want to know more please email me at julia_ries@healthypetfoods.ca.


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