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Is clumping litter really bad for cats?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I've been reading so much litter information over the past hour, my head is spinning! I can't believe I'm spending this much time contemplating my cats' potty .

I've seen conflicting info on clumping litter- some say it's bad for cats' respiratory systems, some do not. What's the consensus? I'm referring to the standard, clay clumping varieties.

I also saw a few opinions that any type of clay litter is bad, even non-clumping? Why is that?

Thanks
post #2 of 16
I guess ideal would be a garden in your house that the cats could use, and you could replace every day.

Not practical.

So, that leaves the more practical possibilities.

You could use sand. That would be expensive, and hard to dispose of.

You could use sawdust. Lots of the same problems as clay litter.

There are non-clay litters, such as one made out of recycled newspapers, one made out of wheat, and one made out of chicken feed. Some people like them.

But clay litter, in the long run, has proven to be safer than going outside. You have to balance risks, I guess.

We've used clumping litter for many years, and our cats have lived to ripe old ages. Same's true of my brother. Many here have cats that have used clumping litters for as much as 20 years.

Kittens, some say, should not use clumping litter because of their tendency to ingest it, but that only really applies to the kittens.
post #3 of 16
the thing with the respiratory issues is the dust. If you pour out a container of clay litter, there is a lot of dust. If your kitty is prone to asthma, you might want to avoid that. There is also an enviormental factor too, that clay has to come from somewhere.

"They" like pine because there is no dust, and is enviromentally friendly, but the volital oils in it can also cause a problem, and a lot of cats don't like using it.

I can't use corn or wheat, because my carb addicted cat eats it right out of the bag.

I foster kittens from a shelter that depends on donations, so I've tried all of the alternative litters out there. I didn't like the pine because it smelled (both of pine and pine scented urine) and was not easy to clean. I didn't like the corn because it really smelled and did not scoop very well. the wheat went everywhere and also smelled. (not to mention both the wheat and corn litter bags had holes in them because of my carb addicted kitty. I could only imagine the confusion of foster kittens, this corn and wheat is for pooping in but the stuff in my food bowl is food?)

You have to use what works for you though. If your kitty has issues - or you just want to, then by all means try some of the alternative litters out there. But remember for every product out there, there is going to be someone who is going to tell you it is bad for one reason or another.

Connie
http://www.kittyblog.net
post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cesg View Post
I can't use corn or wheat, because my carb addicted cat eats it right out of the bag.
I have one that will do this too. The secret is to mix a tiny bit of used litter back in so the appropriate smell is there... that or keep the sneaky cat away until one of the others has jumped in and did their business (which usually happens).


All in all it just depends on what you can handle using, afford, and what your cats will actually use. I use an actual chicken feed that has very little dust. I pour it out of it's 40lb bag and into old tidy cat pails. The dust is the tiny bit that is at the very bottom of the bag so I throw that away. Clumping ability is on par with any clay I've used.
My reason for using this:
1) I have one cat that cannot use any sort of clay. For some reason even the very low dust no additive clays cause him to cough, sneeze, get some mild congestion, and if he gets any in his eyes will make his eyes swell and get very red.
2) Clay seems to really bother my husband's asthma.
3) Chicken feed costs me (currently) $8.95 for 40lbs
4) I can change the litter boxes myself because it's lighter weight. Clay is difficult to handle with my back the way it is.

Not everyone has the problems I do so clay works for them.
post #5 of 16
I'm in the same throes of re-evaluating the entire litter situation at my hosue, if only because we are spending $1,122 per year on CAT LITTER!!! Not including the plastic pan liners, or the extra plastic bags we put underneath those to prevent claws holes letting kitty urine to seep underneath.

I discovered that litter was invented in 1964 and until then cats were let out at night to do their business. I am of the impression that some households of that era did in fact use newspapers (whichh have lead ink in the print so that was not a good choice). Sand was also used, but it is very heavy, and contains a lot of silica dust, which could present the same lung issue. Others used chicken feed/mash, various corn cob etc. The old farm standby's.

But with the invention of litter, cats were truly able to become indoor cats, and not face the dangers (ahem! and "wonders") of the night.

(And so I thought about all that being a factor correlated to the recently written about "epidemic" of cat degenerative illnesses).

In any case, I have nixed the Cat Genie flushable option at this point for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being I'd have to have two of them AND rig an IP address to the Cat Genie devices so I could run a Flush command over the Internet, after I have viewed what they did over an IP Camera. I see a product opportunity here - any guesses as to what to name it! LOL!

Right now, we have decided on a mix of Sweatstuff (wheat) and Arm and Hammer corn based option. I feel that spreading the risk over a variety of products might be the best way for the cats not to develop allergies from prolonged use.

BTW the first day I made up the mix (this Monday) the cats would use ONLY THAT LITTER BOX FOR EVERYTHING for two days. See how long that lasts.
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2furgirls View Post
Right now, we have decided on a mix of Sweatstuff (wheat) and Arm and Hammer corn based option. I feel that spreading the risk over a variety of products might be the best way for the cats not to develop allergies from prolonged use.

BTW the first day I made up the mix (this Monday) the cats would use ONLY THAT LITTER BOX FOR EVERYTHING for two days. See how long that lasts.
One warning, though, and I suspect a lot of people run into this and it's why they think the wheat and corn litters don't work... If very heavily peed in, they can't keep up. In fact, I haven't found a clay that could handle 3-4 cats peeing in the same spot in succession, either.

Don't let that discourage you, when put in all boxes and when there's enough around the house it's not a big problem.

Some people will mix a bit of a fine clay litter with the corn or wheat based ones. I did this with Siri and the kittens (because they were separated and in no way could Tomas get to their litter boxes) when switching them over to the chicken feed.
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
One warning, though, and I suspect a lot of people run into this and it's why they think the wheat and corn litters don't work... If very heavily peed in, they can't keep up. In fact, I haven't found a clay that could handle 3-4 cats peeing in the same spot in succession, either.

Don't let that discourage you, when put in all boxes and when there's enough around the house it's not a big problem.

Some people will mix a bit of a fine clay litter with the corn or wheat based ones. I did this with Siri and the kittens (because they were separated and in no way could Tomas get to their litter boxes) when switching them over to the chicken feed.
Soleste's Daddy had read about the chicken feed yesterday. Since he grew up on a farm, guess what he wants to do: make it something he calls chicken MASH which he says is something soft what the chickens lay down on to lay their eggs. what will happen in my bathrooms! Before he gets too carried away I'll print your advice.

PS I had better correct this, as he will laugh if I think chickens LAY DOWN like humans to give birth to their eggs, they squat or sit, and the soft MASH? is so the eggs don't break. Anyone know what MASH is? I bet it's sawdust. Or Hay.
post #8 of 16
mash is another term for crumbles... basically it is chicken feed that the pellets have been crushed( for litter is is great cause the crushed absorbs very well)

Mash or crumbles is a feed designed to feed egg layers ... ie only feed to layers because of the nutrition
post #9 of 16
Just wanted to add to what others have mentioned - really high-dust and heavily-perfumed clay litters are no better for YOU than they are for the kitties. I started out with Fresh Step clumping/clay, and the dust was incredible. I have a litter box near my television, and I had to wipe off the TV every other day to remove the dust. Then I started getting random rashes on exposed skin - arms, hands, legs - and eventually connected it to the litter. There was so much dust that I was coming into contact with it pretty much constantly, even if I was nowhere near a litter box.

That said, after much experimentation, I am still using clay litter. But I switched to Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra, which has no noticeable dust, clumps nicely, and definitely holds up better than the natural (wheat, corn, etc) litters, which my cats wouldn't use anyway. The brand is well-regarded, and the cats highly prefer the clay texture, so it works out.

I haven't done any price comparisons on the stuff though - it's definitely more expensive than chicken feed! I know I've seen mentions of a few grocery store brands that are pretty low-dust as well, but I went the expensive, extra-gentle route since I was having such severe skin reactions.
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
mash is another term for crumbles... basically it is chicken feed that the pellets have been crushed
I was scratching my head a bit on what the person was meaning by mash. I've always heard of mash as another name for crumbles or when talking about a rich (nutrient) food that warm water has been added to. Each region calls things by slightly different names, though..

You couldn't use any sort of chicken feed as an actual bedding for a chicken. Given that what is in their poop and on their feathers.. the fungus growth alone would probably get pretty bad. Sawdust, shavings, or straw (not hay - that's feed) gets used in nest boxes.
This isn't a problem with using it for cat litter boxes because 1) they get scooped daily and 2) cats don't carry that like birds do.

And I can't answer what position a chicken is in when they lay their eggs. I assumed it was always a sort of a laying/squat. I don't think the in-laws hens would appreciate me watching them so I'll never personally witness it.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hmm, this is all very interesting. How is the odor control with chicken feed?

I used to use non-clumping clay litter, but my new cat's litter deposits are so disgustingly smelly, I changed to clumping, hoping that it would help. It's a bit better (I'm using the new Arm & Hammer kind), but still stinky.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by BreaMarie View Post
Hmm, this is all very interesting. How is the odor control with chicken feed?

I used to use non-clumping clay litter, but my new cat's litter deposits are so disgustingly smelly, I changed to clumping, hoping that it would help. It's a bit better (I'm using the new Arm & Hammer kind), but still stinky.
Realize I like farm animals...

at first its smells like a clean barn.. but that is only right after pouring it into box... the urine smell is nearly non existent but poo smell lingers like any litter if like mine they forget to cover completely...
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
Realize I like farm animals...

at first its smells like a clean barn.. but that is only right after pouring it into box... the urine smell is nearly non existent but poo smell lingers like any litter if like mine they forget to cover completely...
Is there such a thing as a 'clean barn'?

I'm going to go to the feed store this weekend and pick up some of the feed. Is there some particular kind I have to get, or just anything?
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by at129 View Post
That said, after much experimentation, I am still using clay litter. But I switched to Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra, which has no noticeable dust, clumps nicely, and definitely holds up better than the natural (wheat, corn, etc) litters, which my cats wouldn't use anyway. The brand is well-regarded, and the cats highly prefer the clay texture, so it works out. .
Same here - No dust, Great clumping even for three cats, great odor control, no scent, no additives, no allergic reactions, no problems at all. My cats use it religiously, and I love it for that.
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by BreaMarie View Post
Is there such a thing as a 'clean barn'?

I'm going to go to the feed store this weekend and pick up some of the feed. Is there some particular kind I have to get, or just anything?
Sure there is! And I like the grainy smell, too. Maybe because I'm from a rural area and have been around barns and chickens a fair amount growing up?
A lot of people like the purina brand, though your local feed store may not have that. You do have to make sure you get non medicated as you do not want your cats digging around in the medicated.
The finer the crumbles, the better.

Just try it out in one box at first, and to keep you cats from trying to munch on it sprinkle a tiny bit of used litter on top.

Odor control on the type I use is fairly good for the first couple of weeks then the heavily used boxes (remember 7 cats here) start needing more of the litter replaced or replaced entirely - same problem with clay. Poops really depend on each cat and the food they're eating... and if the cat buries. I can smell Tomas, Tanna, and sometimes Sherman, for example, but usually have to actually look to see if the other cats pooped - so again, about the same as a clay or even a bit better. When I had all three kittens on clay several months ago it couldn't handle them.
post #16 of 16
Well when I got Pixie my sis said she likes the cheap dollar store stuff so she uses tidy cats but she was buying the non clumping kind so I bought her some nine lives which has a very small amount of dust and the litter is fine and it clumps so I will see how she takes to it. I mixed the nine lives in with the litter she has been using so she will gradually adjust to the clumping kind as opposed to the clay. And we will see how she does.
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