dangers of cat litter to humans

For a long time, cat clay litter was the norm. It’s cheap, readily available, and effectively does its job. Unfortunately, vets and cat parents have discovered over the years that cat clay litter causes a host of health problems for our feline friends. And that’s not all. Cat clay litter is also hazardous to pregnant women and terrible for the environment, too.

What is Cat Clay Litter?

If you’re a new cat parent or planning to become one, one of the essential choices you’ll have to make is choosing the cat litter for your pet kitty.

Clumping clay litter is cheap, and you can find it anywhere, but are the hazards worth it? The answer is a big no. But what is cat clay litter in the first place?

Clay cat litter was invented in 1947 by a successful businessman in the building supply industry named H. Edward Lowe. The process involves getting clay from beneath the earth’s surface, about 30 to 40 feet down, and then sending it to a processing plant for drying.

The clay is then broken into smaller pieces and baked in a 2000-degree Fahrenheit kiln, removing any moisture. The clay is then processed by crushing, sifting, grounding, and crushing.

Lastly, sodium bentonite is added to the clay, making it swell or expand when it comes into contact with moisture.

Before sending the cat clay litter to packaging, some manufacturers add dust-reducers, scents, and other chemicals.

Most cat owners would think that cat clay litter is safe since it comes from a natural resource. However, most cat parents don’t know that cat clay litter contains aluminum silicates and minerals that cause cat health problems.

Is Cat Clay Litter Bad for Cats?

The answer to this question is yes, cat clay litter is bad for cats. Here are some of the health problems that can be caused by using cat clay litter:

1. Feline Asthma

This is one of the most common health problems caused by cat clay litter. Feline asthma is also known as Feline Allergic Bronchitis or FAB. The symptoms include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hacking

Cat clay litter causes feline asthma because of the dust it produces as your cat sifts through it while peeing or pooping. The dust also swirls around when you clean the litter box. Anytime you move the clay, it produces dust, and that is why it causes feline asthma.

Though some manufacturers add dust reducers, these are still insufficient to remove the dust from the clay composition. No cat clay litter is ever dust-free.

According to Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, repeated exposure to allergens, such as dust from clay, can cause your kitty’s immune system to go into hyperdrive. When this happens, your cat will suffer from inflammation, swelling, irritation, and constricted airways.

Feline asthma is very hard to treat once it starts and can even be fatal. This means you must avoid allergens as much as possible if you want your cat to be healthy.

2. Internal Blockage

When the cat clay litter is exposed to moisture, such as your cat’s urine and feces, it expands. It can expand up to 15 times its size. Cats are naturally curious, especially kittens, and there’s a considerable potential that they might ingest the granules. This could lead to internal blockage, which can cause a wide range of gastrointestinal problems in your cats and may even need surgery to remove.

The clay granules are non-biodegradable, so they stay hard and won’t naturally degrade inside your cat’s stomach. Even older cats are at risk for ingesting the granules, as these can get into their fingernails, and they can accidentally ingest them while grooming themselves.

3. Bacterial Infection

Cat clay litter holds moisture in the granules. Today’s cat litter, such as Pretty Litter and other natural cat litter, encourages moisture to evaporate.¬†However, for cat clay litter, wet granules mixed with urine and cat waste are breeding grounds for bacteria.

Moisture is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. If you don’t remove the granules immediately, they could reproduce and cause infections when ingested, when exposed to your cat’s private parts, to cuts, wounds, and other parts of the body.

One of these bacteria is Toxoplasma gondii, which is dangerous to pregnant women. Thus, cat clay litter is hazardous to the health of cats and human beings.

This bacteria is a parasite that can cause congenital disabilities and even blindness and mental disability to the fetus inside the pregnant woman’s womb. The parasite can quickly get inside the human body through inhalation, making it extremely dangerous.

If you are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or you have a pregnant woman in your home, please avoid cat clay litter at all costs.

Related: How to Dispose of Cat Litter

What is the Best Cat Litter to Use?

Natural cat litter is the best type to use for your cat’s litter box. It includes cedar, pine, corn, beet, soybean, pulp, sawdust, and even recycled paper products.

Most natural cat litters are unscented, produce less dust, and are good at minimizing odor with their natural scents and composition filled with fiber.

If you want to use clumping cat litter, silica gel is a better option than clay. If you’re unsure about what kinds of cat litter to use, you can consult a veterinarian to make the best choice for your pet kitty.

Also Read: How to litter train your kitten?


Cat clay litter is hazardous to the health of cats and even pregnant women. It produces tremendous amounts of dust, which can cause feline asthma, hold moisture, cause bacteria to form, and expand to a bigger size, which can cause an internal blockage if ingested by your cat.

While cat clay litter is cheap, readily available everywhere, and works well, it’s not worth the health risks for your cat and your family. Natural cat litter is ideal, or you can use silica gel cat litter like Pretty Litter, which is quite expensive but definitely worth the hefty price tag if you’re willing to spend for the health and happiness of your pet kitty.


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