Is Your Cat Litter Harmful?
Ahh, the litterbox. It's serious business. It can be your cat's (and your) friend or foe. Choosing the "wrong" litter causes health and behavior problems. It's critically important to choose a litter that 1) makes your cat happy 2) causes the least damage to the Earth.
There are literally dozens of litters available on the market today. Clay clumping and non-clumping, scented litters, synthetic crystals, pine, newspaper and other pellets, corn, wheat, walnut shells, plain sand, even tree and tea and grass seed litter!
How to decide?
1) Safety. Clay, pine, citrus-scented and newsprint are NOT good choices. Corn, wheat and grass seed are problematic, especially when wet!
Clay can cause lung problems, especially in old cats, ill cats and kittens. Pine and citrus phenols and synthetic fragrances are damaging to the liver. Newsprint has a whole cocktail of chemicals. Wet corn can release dangerous toxic chemicals and aflatoxin from GMO or Bt corn. Wheat-based and grass-seed likely contains some pesticides and wheat is likely to contain glyphosate, a known carcinogen!
2) Biodegradable/Sustainably sourced. Clay litter is a by-product of strip mining! Synthetic crystals -- just say no. Although the plant and newsprint above ARE biodegradable, as stated, they have chemicals harmful to your cat and the environment.
The three litters that earn the best marks from me for biodegradable and sustainable are:
"BioCharged" which uses "BioChar" wood product. Probably the best choice, but... Downside: Very expensive.
Weruva "Green Tea and Hinoki Wood Tea Potty." Downside: It's in pellet form. (Bummer that Flora doesn't like pellets or this would be my first choice.)
"Naturally Fresh" Walnut-Based Litter. Downside: Pretty dusty and it won't break down easily if digested. (My cats do use and like this one. The dust bothers me, so I use a face mask when scooping.)
3) Disposable. Well, there's no really good news here. The best would be flushable, but if you have a septic tank, forget it. According to "Mr Green," the Sierra Club "answer man," ALL used cat litter should be put in a plastic (yuck) bag and put into the trash. That's probably the most frustrating part. NEVER put it in the garden or compost. (Cat feces should be cleaned up outside, just like dog feces). I will keep my eyes and ears open to alternatives and I promise to share if any good info comes my way.
And a few words about Litterboxes
All litterboxes are not created equal either. Covered, hooded, self-cleaning, corner models, inside cabinets, under plants, top-entering...Lots of options. I have to agree with Dr. Becker that although they help keep litter in the box, hooded or covered may not be a good option in multi-cat households. I've seen cats ambush the box user and prevent them from returning. However, I just saw a clear hood thanks to this awesome article: www.mypetneedsthat.com/best-cat-litter-box/ . That could work! Anyway, check out some of these awesome options and choose the ones best for your fabulous felines.
In the meantime, work at getting your cats comfortable with the best option you can afford. They will thank you and the Earth will thank you.
with Love and gratitude to all,