I got angry this morning. In one of the news-feeds there was a story about the dangers of clumping litter. It looked like the story happened yesterday but as I read it I realized that was quoting an article from 1995. There have, over the years, been numerous stories in cat magazines and internet about the dangers of clumping litter for cats and dogs. The basic idea is that they breathe in the dust and lick it off their coats and then suffer – sometimes fatally — the expansion of the clay in their stomachs. Other claims are the chemicals in litter are poisonous.
Now I confess that I have used this kind of litter for my cats – though I have never observed ill-effects. The real story for me is that in all the years that the story appeared there is no detailed evidence to prove the dangers of clumping litter either way. The original much distributed 1995 article by Marina Michaels is certainly dramatic:
Dangers of clumping litters
Cats die. Kittens die. It’s part of life. But we still grieve when they die, even though we know it is only the body, not the spirit, that is gone. How much worse we feel when those deaths were unnecessary, could have been prevented by something as simple as changing the kind of litter we use. I breed Japanese Bobtail cats and I grieved in 1994 when an entire litter of kittens (born in November 1993) died. Despite round-the-clock nursing and force-feeding of fluids and food, one kitten, then another, let go of his grasp on life.
The three kittens started out as a robust, lively group. Then, at weaning time, just as they were learning to use the litter box, they began to vomit a yellow frothy substance and to pass yellow diarrhea; the diarrhea looked and smelled like clay. They also had nasal and eye discharge. The diarrhea proceeded to turn harder and even more clay-like, and finally the kittens stopped moving their bowels at all. The veterinarians said they could feel “a hard mass” inside. The kittens dwindled into thin, dehydrated, frail little skeletons, sunk in apathy. Then they died.
So what should you do? You must make your own decision. Certainly be very careful to ensure kittens and cats do not eat this litter. Personally, I now use more environment friendly plant-based litter. My view is that products like clumping litter need testing independently and the results published. That way we would know the truth, good or bad — our much loved cats deserve that. How this can drag on for all these years makes me despair.
I would very much like to hear your views on the dangers of clumping litter. Have you previously been aware of a potential problem? Has a veterinarian ever attributed an illness of your cat to this cause? Let us all know in the comments below.