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Clay Clumping Cat

Litter - what every

Cat owner should know.

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Guidance from an Expert Feline on Clay Clumping Cat Litter
By: Alfred (the expert feline in charge of the cat section)

Everyone has probably heard something about it if they own a
feline pet - the controversy surrounding clay based cat
litter and what it does to a cat. Because of this recent
danger alert, many people have forgone the clay cat litters
for other substitutes such as crystal, or natural pet
litters such as pine, corn or wheat. You'll find many
articles on the Internet on clay cat litter and its effects.
Here are the facts and what you need to know...

Clay based clumping cat litter, although it does have some
controversy surrounding it, is still the most popular cat
litter today. About sixty percent of all cat litter sold is
clumping litter. Most clumping clay cat litter is advertised
as being dust free. It also has the advantage of being easy
to clean up, biodegradable, and non-toxic.

Clay-based clumping litter absorbs liquid waste and forms
easily removable clumps that can then be disposed of by
being thrown away. It has excellent odor control if waste is
removed regularly. Waste should be disposed of daily and the
entire litter replaced every four to six weeks or sooner if
it develops a distinct smell.

Clumping litters were first developed in the UK in the
1950s. The clumping litter they developed was calcium
bentonite, which swells less and is less sticky than
American bentonite. Now most clumping litters use granulated
bentonite clay, which clumps together when wet and the
clumps then can then be disposed of while leaving most of
the litter behind and usable. Clumping litter also usually
contains quartz or diatomaceous earth.

Again, despite the convenience and increased cleanliness
that clumping cat litter provides, the entire content of the
litter box or pan should be changed on a regular basis to
prevent buildup of bacteria; every four to six weeks is
recommended. At that time the litter box itself should be

It has been reported that clumping litters can be harmful to
pets because if the clay is ingested or inhaled as dust, it
will swell and harden inside the animal and may damage lungs
or block the intestines. This is particularly dangerous for
kittens because they are more likely to swallow the cat
litter and more vulnerable to health problems. Because of
the tendency of clay to harden, you are not advised to flush
clumping litters down the toilet either.

However, there are professionals who say exactly the
opposite, that clumping clay litter has no inherent danger.

One resource we found online was a few articles that
referred back to a case of one woman losing a couple of
litters of kittens to the "clay clumping litter". She
visited a veterinarian who had no idea what caused the death
of her kittens. Then she visited a holistic veterinarian who
confirmed that this is what caused their death. There are
also some letters from readers and quotes from said holistic
veterinarian in the article stating that clumping cat litter
killed their cats.

I've made some observations myself on the subject. When
buying clay clumping cat litter and letting my cats use the
litter I noticed some things that indicate that the claims
against clay clumping cat litter may have fact behind them.

For one, although clay clumping cat litter says that it is
"dust free," after a while all things break down, this is a
law of physics. I noticed when cleaning my clumping cat
litter that after 4 weeks there was a very fine powdery
substance in the bottom of the cat litter box. If my cat dug
in the litter box a lot, I noticed it sneezing after using
the litter.

Also, although I never witnessed my cat ingesting the cat
litter, my dog certainly did if I wasn't vigilant to keep
him away from it, and sure enough he had problems passing
stool the next day. This was with two adult cats and an
adult dog. I also raised one kitten that survived the cat
litter just fine as far as we know. One of my cats did
eventually die but there was no proof that the litter caused it.

So in my case I can not say whether the litter I used was
dangerous or not. However I do believe in the statement
"better safe than sorry." It could be that there is nothing
seriously dangerous with clay clumping cat litter at all,
but I will use the natural cat litter just in case. Not only
are the natural cat litters just as good as the clay cat
litters you buy, but they are made from pine, paper, corn or
wheat and are biodegradable and digestible should they be
ingested. I don't know of any animal that can safely eat
clay as part of their diet, so providing a safer alternative
is a good idea to me.

Conclusion: no there is no real documented reason to not use
clay clumping cat litter; in fact a lot of people prefer it
because of its convenience. However, companies have now come
out with an all natural alternative that also clumps, and we
may see a general shift from clay clumping to the natural litter.

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