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Controversy Surrounds Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Questions About Health Dangers Still Persist Among Cat Owners


Questions still persist about the safety of clumping clay cat litter. Many cat owners are avoiding the issue by providing natural cat litter for their kitties instead.

Clumping clay cat litter--it's hard to imagine that something so prosaic as cat litter can be the source of an ongoing controversy. But ever since Marina Michaels' article, "Clumping Clay Kitty Litters: A Deadly Convenience?" was published in the January/February 1995 issue of Tiger Tribe: Holistic Health & More For Cats, the debate about cat litter safety has been continuing.

Is Clumping Clay Cat Litter Hazardous to a Cat's Health?
Marina Michaels breeds Japanese Bobtail cats. In 1994, she lost three litters of kittens to mysterious intestinal problems. The kittens all started life in a healthy state, but as they approached weaning age, they developed yellow diarrhea, along with nose and eye discharges. The kittens eventually stopped moving their bowels, and became thin and dehydrated before they died. Her vet could give her no answers. Also I can advice you best litter boxes for apartments that are 100% safety for your cat's health.

When a fourth litter started showing the same problems, Ms. Michaels put two and two together, and realized that the clumping clay cat litter she was providing for her kittens could be the problem. She switched them over to a plant-based cat litter, and took the kittens to a holistic vet for treatment. Two of the kittens in this litter died, but two of them did survive, although it took months for them to recover completely.
According to Ms. Michaels, sodium betonite is the culprit in clumping clay cat litter. This ingredient absorbs moisture, and it forms hard clumps when cat urine is mixed with it. This litter shouldn't be flushed, because it swells to 15 times its original size, and will clog plumbing. Ms. Michaels believes that if this type of litter will stop up the pipes in a house, it will certainly cause intestinal blockages in felines who may ingest it accidentally while grooming themselves.
The problem is especially severe for kittens, who tend to accidentally eat a lot of cat litter when they're learning to use the cat litter pan.
Ms. Michaels has many letters on her website from cat owners whose kitties developed health problems after using clumping clay cat litter. She has also received reports of dogs who suffered intestinal blockages after eating this type of litter.

No Research on Feline Health Problems Supposedly Caused by Clumping Clay Cat Litter
Franny Syufy published "Cat Litter - To Scoop or Not to Scoop" on in April of 2008. She did quite a bit of research, but found that all the online articles about the dangers of clumping clay cat litter all linked back to Ms. Michaels' original article.
Apart from one article by a vet posted on Ms. Michaels' website, Ms. Syufy was unable to find any articles by vets who had first-hand experience with cats who had developed health problems from ingesting this type of litter. She was also unable to find any studies that may have been done, either by researchers or by cat litter companies.
Ms. Stufy mentions that companies that manufacture natural brands of premium clumping cat litter have been using this controversy to their own advantage by pointing out how safe their products are.
What's the Answer?
There are so many different kinds of cat litter available today that it would seem wise to avoid this issue completely by using another type of litter, especially for kittens. If an adult cat has been using a clumping clay cat litter without incident, there's probably nothing to worry about.
However, Ms. Michaels points out that "clumping clay kitty litters may be related to a wide variety of seemingly unrelated cat health problems, included (sic) diarrhea, frothy yellow vomiting, mega-bowel syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney problems, respiratory problems, general failure to thrive, anemia, lethargy, and even death." Any cat that has been using this kind of cat litter, and then develops mysterious health problems, probably should be switched over to a natural cat litter instead.
The jury is still out on whether or not clumping clay cat litter is safe, but today most cat owners are erring on the side of caution, and using a different type of cat litter instead.

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