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The Dangers of Clumping Cat Litter

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.

Read more: Pets, Cats, Everyday Pet Care, Safety

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).

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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5:33PM PDT on Sep 19, 2012

WOW, who knew?! Time to switch!

4:24PM PDT on Sep 14, 2012

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.

8:53PM PDT on Sep 13, 2012

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.

6:11AM PDT on Sep 13, 2012

Good article and adorable picture, thank you..

8:24AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

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!

12:43AM PDT on Jun 23, 2012

I use dog pee pads.....

1:18AM PDT on Jun 22, 2012


10:37AM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

Thank you.

7:33AM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

good to know

6:58AM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

I have supposedly eco-friendly(er) flushable clumping litter.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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