Dangers of Clumping Litter
Cats spend a decent amount of time in their litter boxes scraping around to make sure that the offending excrement has been sufficiently covered. Upon leaving the box most cats will give themselves a good wash removing litter box dust and grit from their fur and feet. Because of these behaviors it is important to choose a littler that is as safe as possible.
The dangers of breathing silica dust, the main component of clay based litter, is well documented in humans. Silica dust is quite abrasive and when breathed in causes irritation of the nose throat and lung tissue. Chronic exposure does lead to lung disease in humans and is a suspected carcinogen. Since the tissue that makes up the nasal and throat passages and lungs are made up of the same type of cells as the corresponding human tissue it stand to reason that cats could suffer the same health effects with long term exposure.
There are additional dangers to using clay based litters. The reason this type of litter gained popularity is because of it’s amazing ability to adsorb liquid. Silica has amazing water absorbing qualities which make it very effective in the litter box but very dangerous to ingest. Since we know that cats consume litter off their paws and fur it is fairly safe to assume that the daily consumption of even small quantities of clay based litter could cause a state of chronic mild dehydration, which can lead to renal failure over time. Blockages of the intestines and prevention of nutrient absorption are still more reasons to avoid this type of litter.