Cat Litter 101

by Rob on August 3, 2013

Where the heck does cat litter come from anyhow? If you’ve got a cat or two wandering around your house you’re probably intimately familiar with the stuff. Is it safe for you and your cat?

Cat litter seems to have been invented in 1947 by a man named Edward Lowe. At the time he was using clay as an alternative for dirt and ashes which tended to smell badly. Today cat litter is made of filler containing silica and clay. Silica comes in many household products in small packets designed to absorb moisture and keep things fresh. The clay used in cat litter contains a compound called Bentonite that acts to absorb moisture.

Is cat litter safe? According to the government over 8 billion pounds of cat litter makes it way into our landfills every year. Trace amounts of silicon found in many brands of cat litters are known to be carcinogenic. If you breathe these particles in they can cause respiratory diseases. The problem with cat litter is that it produces dust every time your cat uses the box. Cancer researchers believe that silicon particles can cause tumors in laboratory animals and research suggests silicon can cause tumors in humans.

There are alternatives to silicon based cat litters on the market. These “green” cat litters are made from recycled paper, seed shells, sawdust, and grains. You can find scoopable varieties of green cat litter, even flushable cat litter.

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