Environment Fight Club: Biodegradable VS. Non-Biodegradable Cat Litter

With so many options of cat litter out there, choosing the right one for your cat can be a daunting task. Understanding your cat's needs and keeping their safety in mind can help narrow the choices down. There are three main types:

CLAY

  • Pros: The clumping types are very easy to use, resulting in using far less of it, which saves money. Most brands tend to absorb quite well, saving time regarding the frequency with which you have to wash out the box. 
  • Cons: I used six different kinds in various price ranges and found them all very dusty, despite claims to the contrary. Sodium bentonite clay, a mined clay, is often used as a main ingredient in the litter. This substance can be very harmful as it absorbs 15 times its original volume meaning, if ingested, it can cause severe health issues and even death. 

SILICA

  • Pros: Very resistant to bacteria due to their high absorption rate and many manufacturers claim that it is a flushable, non-dusty litter. The small beads don't stick to your cat's paws and hair, and therefore doesn't track as much out of the litter box. This litter is easy to clean and does not have to be changed as often.
  • Cons: I used two different kinds and they ARE dusty. Because of its high absorption rate, it is one of the more expensive cat litters on the market. The gel expands to absorb liquid, making it dangerous in much the same way as bentonite clay. Severe health issues and death can occur in pets that ingest this litter, including cancer. 

BIODEGRADABLE

  • Pros: These types of litter are made from products like wood or grains that have a normal absorption rate, eliminating the severe health risks of the higher absorption rates of silica and bentonite clays; the natural ingredients are sustainable. I have personally found all brands of this type of litter far less dusty than clay based litters, so much less that I can't smell it on my hands or clothes after cleaning the box.
  • Cons: The grain and wood based litters do not clump as well, making it more difficult to clean out the litter box, resulting in more litter used. If grain-based litters are left warm and moist, they are susceptible to contamination by Aspergillus which produces aflatoxin, which attacks the liver and can cause severe health issues (the wood based litters do not have this issue). 

For me the choice was clear. A sustainable, natural litter that had far less dust and eliminated the health risks to my cat won, hands down. Now I'm happy to say that I deal with less dust, my cat's litter box smells better, and most importantly, I've reduced the risks to their health.  

For more information, we invite you to check out the following links:

Pets Go Natural: Hidden Dangers of Cat Litter

Health Guidance: Cat Litter & Lung Problems

Natural News: Does Kitty Litter Contain Harmful Substances

PetMD: What is in Cat Litter?

Mother Earth Living: The Scoop on Cat Litter

VetInfo: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Silica Litter

Photo Credit: McCorkle Creations

Writtenby: Heather M.