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Clay Cat Litter & the Dangers it poses to your Cat's Health
Can clay cat litter really pose a serious risk to your cat's
health? Yes, it most certainly can, and does. The reason is
very simple. Clay particles when broken down contain silica
dust (which is also found in sand, so crystal cat litter is
a danger too.) Silica dust has been implicated as a cause of
lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, not only in cats
but in humans and other animal species as well.
It has been studied and documented that when examined, cats
that had died of a respiratory disease often had silica
particles in their lungs. Whether this was what caused the
disease or it simply aggravated the disease to the point
that it became fatal has not yet been determined.
A study was done using electron microscopy and x-ray
spectroscopy to identify and characterize dust particles
from seven brands of commercially available clay cat
litters, and to identify and analyze particles in the lung
wash fluid of six cats with symptoms and six cats without
symptoms of respiratory disease. Dust particles from clay
cat litter have an identifiable appearance and elemental
ratio (primarily aluminum and silica) and the same pattern
as that of the various cat litter brands was also observed
in particles obtained from lung wash fluid.
Significantly more silica particles were obtained from cats
that had respiratory symptoms than in those without
respiratory disease. This suggests that there is an
association between the presence of silica particles in the
lungs and respiratory disease.
Many people use the clay clumping cat litter because of the
ease of cleaning. But keep in mind that this cat litter that
your cat is using can cause not only respiratory problems in
cats but in other pets and humans. Clumping cat litter, when
wet, clumps together as it is designed to do. So when you,
your family members, your dog or your cat inhale the dust
into your nose and throat, when it hits wet lungs it turns
into a paste that is very hard to get out, especially if you
already have respiratory issues or allergies. Also, dogs
have been seen with serious intestinal blockages from eating
cat feces along with the litter.
Just because a clay or crystal cat litter says that it is
"dust-free" does not mean that after some use and the cat's
digging in the litter that the particles will not break down
and make dust in the bottom of the cat litter box.
Respiratory problems that have been linked to inhaling
silica particles are: allergies, hay fever, bronchial
asthma, chronic bronchitis, bacterial and pyogranulomatous
pneumonia, pulmonary neoplasia, and lung cancer.
By far and away the best cat litter is the natural and
biodegradable cat litter made from pine, paper, wheat or
corn. It not only does not produce dust in the air but it
usually is just as good as any other cat litter with odor
control. And it poses no known risk to your cat's health or