The Dangers of Clumping Cat Litter

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 15 to 18 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.

Adapted from Why is Cancer Killing Our Pets? by Deborah Straw (Inner Traditions, 2000). Copyright (c) 2000 by Deborah Straw. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
Adapted from Why is Cancer Killing Our Pets? by Deborah Straw (Inner Traditions, 2000).

102 comments

Roger J
Roger J16 days ago

I wish I would have known this info months ago.Our cat 'Smoky' just died a horrendous death.He got into it with a stray cat,about 6-8 months ago and he started acting strangely and skittish afterwards. He began losing weight,but his appetite remained normal.We brought him to the vet 1.5 weeks ago and was told he was FIVE positive. She said he didn't have to be euthanized that day,but should be done soon.We were going to put him to sleep Wed of this week.Well,Tue morning to Tue night,he wouldn't eat anything and I noticed it looked as if he was licking the litter a couple times so I showed him away.That night he had a movement that looked blackish/red with black beans here and there.This morning I was woke up by my mom saying something was wrong with Smoky.For almost 35 minutes he was making abnormal meows,lying on his side,couldn't move but once every 5 minutes, just lifting his head up then flopping back down It was a cross between a seizure and being paralyzed. His breathing was fast but I could hear him struggling. Then his breathing slow down,he was staring straight ahead like his eyes wouldn't move.His chest stopped moving,for 20-30 seconds, then he took only 1 breath,stretched his legs straight out,took two more 30 second not breathing movements, stretched his legs out once more,stopped breathing completely and his pupils dilated so much you could barely see any of the whites of his eyes.My best friend just died an excruciating death that

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Arindam Dasgupta
Arindam Dasguptaabout a year ago

Hi, I started a blog on cat litter hazards and referenced (and acknowledged ) your article. I did not check if you are still active here, but if you are, please do visit my post here: http://kapush.org/cat-litter/sodium-bentonite-cat-litter-dangers/ - I have only just updated it. Originally, this was on kapush.net/ .

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Arindam Dasgupta
Arindam Dasguptaabout a year ago

Hi, I started a blog on cat litter hazards and referenced (and acknowledged ) your article. I did not check if you are still active here, but if you are, please do visit my post here: http://kapush.org/cat-litter/sodium-bentonite-cat-litter-dangers/ - I have only just updated it. Originally, this was on kapush.net/ .

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Deb L.
Deb L5 years ago

WOW, who knew?! Time to switch!

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Borg Drone
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank you for this.
I recently changed my cat litter simply for cheaper cost and it is similar to the one described. My cats health are more important to me than my own.. I will rid them of this 'Shitty Litter'..Immediately.

Thank you Annie.

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Joan Mcallister
5 years ago

Thanks for this article, I am cat sitting for a friend for 6 weeks and she uses clumping cat litter, as stated in the article it is certainly more convenient but I am not sure that she is aware of the two harmful ingredients that it contains, I will certainly be e-mailing her a copy of this article, and will be having a talk with her when she gets back, because her cat certainly has respiratory problems, his breathing is so loud.

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Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T5 years ago

Good article and adorable picture, thank you..

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Dale Overall

Interesting article. I have a good mat outside the litter pan that takes all litter (doesn't matter which type it is, works for any litter and also helps prevent tracking of the litter.

Some of the cats owning me have been indoor, others spent parts of the day outdoors and came in at night. Each neighbourhood is unique, if you live in a high traffic area, a rough part of town or other reasons one can keep your cat indoors or build a safe dog/predator proof enclosure to specifications.

The cat that now owns me is16 and blind, she purrfurs to stay indoors but spent much of her life outdoors in the day time. Each situation is unique and where you live plays an essential part of this decision. There is no either or, shades of grey exist for the indoor/outdoor debate. Spay/neutering is essential!

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Emma R.
Emma Rose5 years ago

I use dog pee pads.....

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Laura Hidalgo-Downing
Laura Hidalgo5 years ago

Thanks!

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