The Dangers of Clumping Cat Litter

Adapted from Why is Cancer Killing Our Pets? by Deborah Straw (Inner Traditions, 2000).Clumping cat litters hold great appeal for cat-lovers because they are so convenient. But what many pet-owners don’t realize is that two ingredients in most clumping cat litters have been implicated in diseases and even the deaths of many animals and humans.

Sodium bentonite is often added as a clumping agent to traditional cat litters to create the “scoopable” clay litters on the market. Sodium bentonite acts like an expandable cement, which is why these litters should not be flushed: they swell to fifteen to eighteen times their dry size and can be used as grouting, sealing, and plugging materials.

Cats often lick themselves after using the litter box, ingesting pieces of the litter. If litter gets inside them, it expands just as it does in the plumbing. Also, the dust from such litters can coat our cats’ lungs, leading to respiratory problems.

The Hennepin Center for Poison Control in Minnesota has reported instances of poisoning in humans from chronic ingestion of sodium bentonite, so just imagine what effect it can have on our kitties!

Quartz silica (sand), the other ingredient in most clumping litters, is a known carcinogen for both humans and household pets when inhaled. Switch your cat litter to one made from a plant-based material, better for your pet and for the environment. There are many commercially-available products using compacted pine shavings, cedar, newspaper, or corn cobs that make healthier alternatives.

Once again, this is from the Care2 website.   

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-dangers-of-clumping-cat-litter.html

14 thoughts on “The Dangers of Clumping Cat Litter

  1. Hi
    I was very much helped by the information with this article.
    Many thanks at you very fascinating resource.

    Bye

  2. Thank you and you are welcome. Once again, using a search engine like “Google” and typing in what you want info on will lead you to many things. :-)

  3. I have read much about the hazards of clumping litter, and have changed the KIND of litter we use here for our four kitties. In 2003, my beloved best friend, Simon, became unable to pass stool. He spent most of the rest of his life in the animal hospital. I was referred to a “Specialist” who took x-rays, examined Simon for about one hour, and reported to us that Simon would be fine. I MENTIONED CLUMPING LITTER to this so-called Specialist, and would you BELIEVE that he told us that HE USED CLUMPING LITTER ON HIS CATS? That visit cost me $500.00 for one hour; and I had to put my beloved Simon down shortly thereafter. I STILL CANNOT BELIEVE THAT A CAT SPECIALIST WOULD USE AND RECOMMEND CLUMPING LITTER. Obviously, he doesn’t read the items that I read. Such a shame!

    For all of you who use clumping litter, PLEASE STOP IMMEDIATELY. It will harm both your cat{s} and you.

    Thanks gizz.

  4. Thank you Eyeusta for sharing your own experiences with this. I am sorry to hear you lost your Simon like that. :-(

    I first learned of this issue with clumping cat litter about 3 years or so ago and struggled to find “natural” based litters that don’t clump and “do the job”. I finally found a brand I liked and then Petsmart stopped carrying it. Then I found it on the Internet. Heartypet has given me the best service on this. :-)

  5. I HAVE A 12 YR OLD CAT NAMED CHEESE AFTER LEAVING HIM IN THE CARE OF SOMEONE FOR 2 WEEKS AFTER MY SURGERY I CAME HOME TO FIND HIM VERY SICK MY VET IS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT COULD BE WRONG MY SUSPISION IS THAT HE MAY HAVE A BLOCKAGE DUE TO CLUMPING LITTER THE PERSON THAT WAS SUPOSED TO CARE FOR HIM NEVER CLEANED THE CAT BOX AND HE HAD LOTS OF LITTER STUCK IN THE WEBBING OF HIS FEET IF HE INGESTIDED THIS THIS MIGHT BE THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM AFTER READING ALL THIS INFO I WILL BE CONTACTING MY VET AGAIN PS **** DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY ADVISE ON HOW TO HELP MY PET RID HIS SYSTEM OF THIS POISEN?*****
    PLEASE POST A RESPONSE OR EMAIL ME AT ANALOGGIRL1@YAHOO.COM THANK YOU

  6. Hello Deana,

    I apologize for the late response. I hope your cat is doing better. I have not had to deal with this myself…yet…and hopefully I won’t.

    Most blockages that my friends’ cats have had to deal with pertaining to other things required surgery. I have not heard how you could deal with this type of blockage other than perhaps surgery if it is severe.

    I would discuss it with your vet or go to another vet. I would Google this also and see what pops up. I will do that after I leave this response for you.

    If it is not severe, some type of medicinal treatment of some sort may work. But, I am not a vet nor am I qualified to tell you how to deal with your cat’s problem. I can only suggest different avenues for you to try and get info from.

    Please let us know how your cat is doing and what was causing his illness. I wish you and Cheese well and I hope your next response will be good news.

    Take care,
    Gizzaroo

  7. Hey Deana,

    I did a quick search on Google and saw many items discssing urinary tract blockages as well. Some cats have this problem and I know there is special food for cats that have this. This may be something to look into as well. I did not see anything on how one cured their cat of blockages due to clumping cat litter. Once again, I assume surgery would be the answer.

    Take care,
    Gizzaroo

  8. Has anyone used Kittty Klupms from a company called Consolidated Seed and Pet? It says that it is an all natural clumping litter that is 99% dust free. I emailed asking about the ingredients and the reponse was; Bentonite, Saponite and Hectorite. All are natural clay based minerals that are mined from the earth. The dust content is less than 1%. This can be flushed but not into a septic tank. Thank you for your inquiry.

  9. Hey Cindy,

    Your comments here would fit better under the “Cat Litter” post located in the August profile since you are asking about use of this litter. I tried to move your comments but could not. So, I will comment on them here. :-)

    This post is discussing the health issues/effects of using any clumping cat litter.

    I do not use clumping cat litter any more…those made of clays, etc., that are designed to “clump.” I have not seen this particular brand myself, but have seen many with the same ingredients. I used clumping clay litters at first and they were flushable, too.

    Some natural-based litters will kind of clump together but they fall apart when you scoop them up. The really good clumping litters have been known to cause severe intestinal blockages with cats due to the inhalation of dusts and ingestion of the litter dust, etc.

    I may be jumping the gun a bit, but I am afraid to use clumping litters anymore. So many things can happen with cats these days and anything I can do to minimize health issues I try to do.

    The clumping clay-based cat litters with very minimal dust may not be an issue for someone whose cat is not an intense groomer. Maybe they were just freak incidents with the people whose cats have gone through the blockage issues. The cats may have actually ingested the litter. I could see that really being an issue.

    I am sorry I could not be more helpful about this particular brand. :-( It may be okay. Just be careful and watch your cats.

  10. I USE WOOD PELLETS FROM MENARDS FOUR DOLLARS A BAG FOR FORTY POUNDS, ALL THE BREEDERS USE THEM , THEY ARE ACTUALLY FOR WOOD PELLET STOVES AND ARE MADE FROM PINE SAWDUST , NOTHING ELSE . WHEN YOU CHANGE OVER TO THEM JUST USE A LITTLE LITTER ON TOP , WE SCOOP OUT THE POOP AND PUT THE USED PELLETS ON MY FLOWERS AND SHRUBS.
    YOU CAN FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON FELINE PINE BAGS . THIS STUFF IS GREAT , I HAVE LOTS OF CATS .
    MARY

  11. We normally use Tidy Cat (conventional litter) our nieghbor used clumping litter for years. His cat died from intestinal blockage. He gave us the rest of his clumping litter.
    We added some to our regular litter. Our black and white “pathfinder” suddenly began having loose stools. (we call it “mud-butt”) We didn’t attribute it to the litter.
    NOW! When I changed the litter, our boy got better. I was using straight tidy cat. My wife added clumping and he would get mud butt. didn’t attribute to the litter, YET.
    last week he wanted out. (indoor cat who gets 10 mins around the backyard. Mostly concrete walks.) He went straight for the grass, and was chomping it. (He eats cat grass regularly)He ate it with fervor and I was suprised.
    After a few minuets he chucks the grass up, and is fine.

    That night the wife informed me his mud butt was back, and he was throwing up. He couldn’t keep food down. We were up late with him, I encouraged him to drink water, he did and was finally able to keep it down. I thought perhaps he ate a bit of weed in the grass. I changed the box. straight tidy cat. The next morning he was able to keep food down, water, and he slept most of the day. He kept his night food down, drank alot and slept. Friday he was his old self and into mischeif.

    Late friday the wife added some clumping to the box. Today he is sick all over again, and we figgered it out. It is that DAMN CLUMPING LITTER! Whether an allergic reaction or sensitivity, he only got mud butt and progressivly sicker when the clump was in the box. We will keep you informed of his condition from here on out. but that clumping litter is GONE!

    If clumping litter is so safe, lets see the makers of it A) EAT some for a period of two weeks, and B) go into a booth, with the clumping dust swirling around, TWICE or THREE times a day,(stand for 20-30 seconds)breathing that dust for a month. If they are willing, and nothing happens, I sure would be suprised. BUT you know what? None of them would. Because it would be dangerous. Money is more important than your cat. That litter makes millions. Some cats are not “paw lickers” like ours is. some may be unaffected. but not all cats are alike. If our boy is O.K. from here on out, well the clumping litter will be the reason, cos’ we have watched him like a hawk, and the symtoms have only manefested during the times the clumping was in the box.
    We will report back tomo

  12. Well, it was the clumping litter. I am not kidding. Our boy is fine, his only problem was with the litter. I Didn’t get back sooner, but he has been his old self for the third time, again, once we took the clumping cat litter away.
    If you have a cat who has been sick, and you use the clumping litters, try regular litter, or try the other green litters and see if that doesn’t help. I will be happy to explain to anyone I meet, and I will certainly tell our vet.
    CLUMPING LITTER DOES MAKE CATS SICK! WHETHER FAST OR SLOW, CLUMPING LITTER IS A DANGER TO CATS, AND A SERIOUS DANGER TO KITTENS.

    Thanks to these boards and forums, our suspicions were well founded, and the action we took SAVED our CAT!!!

    D&C

  13. Beware a product called Kitty Klumps. It says it is 99% dust free. It is the dustiest litter I have ever worked with and is causing Me breathing problems.

Leave a Reply