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Cat Litter Dangers
By Judy Kody Paulsen
(Excerpt from Winter/Spring 2006 issue of GCNM News)

If you have cats, you probably have litter boxes and most likely, you use a commercial cat litter. Many cat litters present numerous hazards to cats, humans, and dogs (and other animals, too). Clay-based and “clumping” litters are the real culprits.

Sodium bentonite and silica are two of the most common ingredients in clumping cat litters. Both of these ingredients are considered to be health threats. The dust produced from litters containing silica can coat the lungs of humans and animals and has been identified as a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). Sodium bentonite is a toxin and has been implicated in the poisoning deaths of animals.

Cat litter that clumps is so efficient in hardening that it could actually be used as grout! These litters swell to 15-18 times their dry size and can cause serious blockages in the intestines of animals that ingest the dry material. Dogs often will be attracted to the smell of a cat litter box and will ingest feces and/or litter material. Turning to a cement-like substance in the stomach or intestines, clumping cat litters are probably responsible for far more deaths and illness in animals than is realized.

All cat litter boxes should be inaccessible to dogs in the house (and children, too). Don’t assume your dog isn’t sneaking a bite or two from the cat box, just because you never see it. Keep the litter box up high enough so the dogs can’t get to it, or keep it behind a closed door that has a small cat door installed, so only the cats can get into that room.

There are a number of natural, organic based cat litters on the market, and these are safe for everyone in the household. These alternative products are made of various materials, including pulverized woods and/or corncobs. One litter, called World’s Best Cat Litter (www.worldsbestcatlitter.com) is made of whole kernel corn. Others consist of pelletized newspaper, which is dustless.

These alternative cat litters are also flushable, compostable, and biodegradable, and some feature a natural odor control. In any case, be sure your dogs can’t get to the litter box. Even when using organic products, dogs may have a tendency to eat the feces, which isn’t good for them, either.

Cancer is now the number one killer of dogs and cats as determined by a study conducted by Morris Animal Foundation. We should be doing everything we can to protect our animals from toxins. We, as guardians for our animal companions, need to be more proactive in reducing the environmental factors that are contributing to the high incidence of cancer and other illnesses.


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