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We have tried many litter brands here. None of them made any difference for Suki and Hiro, but they did to us. Some didn’t clump good enough, some were too dusty. And even the ones with an odor didn’t mask the poop-smell — of course! Right now we have a good clumping litter, but it’s a bit dusty. This is why we took off the flap-door from one of the boxes. But then I was linked to some websites about clumping litter and the danger that can cause it to our kitties. Is it really that dangerous as they say it is?
Clumping Litter & Sodium Bentonite
Sodium bentonite is an ingredient found in a lot of cat litter brands. It is used to absorb liquids and to clump. Sodium Bentonite can swell up to 15 times its volume when it absorbs water.
A few years ago, people found out there were issues about scoopable (clumping) litter. Most problems were about inhalation of the dust that can irritate the lungs causing asthma, but also about ingestion of the litter. The litter may clump in the intestine causing a gastrointestinal foreign body and may be only solved with surgery. This is common in kittens.
Not to be confused with beneficial calcium bentonite clay – non-biodegradable sodium bentonite clay can be harmful if ingested. Sodium bentonite clay contains high levels of sodium ions which have a higher hydration sphere than calcium ions. Sodium bentonite therefore absorbs moisture much better than its calcium counterpart and when wet swells about 15 times its original volume. – Naturalnews.com
There are no hard facts that the Sodum Bentonite can cause internal problems, but as cats lick their paws and whatever after using the litter box, I’m sure some of the litter may be ingested. And as it can swell up to 15 times its volume, I wouldn’t be surprise that it can actually cause problems to your cat’s health (blockage in the stomach). 1 + 1 = 2, right? But that’s not all. The dust from this litter can coat our cats’ lungs, leading to respiratory problems.
Inhaled particles could cause similar problems in the moist climate of the lungs. (The dust in clay is silica dust, which is not particularly friendly to either human or feline lungs.)- Franny Syufy Cats.about.com
On the internet there are a few vets (those who answer questions) who may have experienced the same problems or tell the cat owners not to use it if they know that their cat is ingesting the litter after using the litter box.
Manufacturers of the cat litter are often aware of this. But they may tell us that it is our responsibility as an owner to make sure it is used safely and that our cats won’t digest it. I understand this point of view, but I hope all cat owners know that it’s almost impossible to make sure that our cats do not eat the litter. We may not be home all the time, and you know… Cats being cats.
That’s why scoopable litters that contain sodium bentonite are not recommended for kittens (they may be curious and eat it) or any cats that are known to ingest litter. I don’t mean to scare any of you who use a clumping litter. Maybe there is nothing wrong with your cat. If your cat does not eat it, I would suggest an open box to give the dust enough space to ‘float’ away. But always keep an eye out on your cat.
If your cat or kitten may have ingested litter with sodium bentonite it may have several symptoms such as;
- Yellowish vomiting
- Kidney problems
- Respiratory problems
The symptoms are for vets often too vague to diagnose.
What kind of litter do you use?