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Your Cat's Litter Box can be Dangerous - Part - 3 Injuries
The third category of health risks from your cat's litter
box (The first and second items of risk, toxoplasmosis and
E. coli, are covered in the first two articles of this
series.) involved injuries to you or your cat that are
caused by an automatic litter box or self cleaning litter
Cat litter box injuries are not common, but they can happen.
An automatic or self cleaning litter box does just what it's
name describes: the litter box automatically cleans itself,
between ten to fifteen minutes after a cat uses it, by
raking the urine and feces clumps into a sealed bag or
special compartment, (depending on the brand of automatic
If a small child puts his or her hand into the automatic
cleaning litter box during the cleaning cycle, the child can
be injured. Most automatic litter boxes have built-in
sensors designed to keep the cleaning mechanism from
activating when a cat or other foreign object is inside the
box, but, children can still be injured if they put their
hand inside the cleaning mechanism in a way that avoids the
Although these types of injuries are very rare it is best to
use preventative measures. Try to put the litter box in a
location where your cat can get to it but small children
cannot. Some possibilities include putting the litter box in
a bathroom in a part of the house where your children don't
play, or on an enclosed porch with a cat door between the
house and the porch. This is recommended for any litter box,
as that is the best way to protect children from the
bacteria and parasites that can be passed from cat to human,
as described in the other articles of this series.
If you don't have a place that will prevent the child from
accessing the automatic litter box, put the litter box under
another, larger box that has an opening large enough for the
cat but not a child or inside a commercial litter box cover.
There are many types of covers and any of them will help
keep your child from reaching the litter box and the
If that doesn't work, unplug the litter box or put it into
"manual operation." You will need to manually start the
cleaning cycle whenever needed. Although this reduces some
of the convenience of an automatic litter box it removes the
danger to your children, and if your cat is small (under
five pounds), it is safer for the cat as well.
Cats are great pets, and the problems associated with living
with them are mostly easily resolved. But it is best to be
aware of the possibility of trouble and use preventative
measures to make your cat ownership more satisfying to both
you and your cats.
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