Don't forget about your pets

One of my first steps...changing the kitty litter. Most popular retail cat litters are made out of clay, specifically sodium bentonite clay. This clay is what absorbs so well in cat litters and are non-biodegradable and usually produces a lot of dust. This dust consists of tiny particles of silica which can be harmful if inhaled too often. Silica is a mineral very commonly found in sand and different types of rocks. When those rocks are ground or broken apart in any way, silica particles are released in the form of dust. Constant inhalation of this dust can lead to Silicosis, a lung disease caused by silica exposure. The symptoms are comparable to pneumonia and other respiratory diseases and usually become detectable after 10 years of the first exposure. On more rare occasions the inhalation of silica can result in cancer. The reason silica is so dangerous is because it does not dissolve and we, as well as animals, do not have the ablity to cough up the dust from our lungs. Over time, if one is continuously exposed to silica, it will continue to accumulate until breathing becomes difficult. This could be especially dangerous to ashtmatics and elderly or immuno-suppresed people. Imagine how this could be affecting our pets as well. One study has been done on the possible effects of inhaling this dust in felines. ( ) The results mainly show that cats already suffering from respiratory problems can worsen after inhaling litter dust.

So let's take a look at the alternatives. I chose to try out Feline Pine which basically consists of condensed pine pellets which means barely any tracking. The litter is fragrance and dust free and is very absorbent. It doesn't clump but absorbs and breaks apart like sawdust. Of course it is also biodegradable and 100% natural. It's also relatively inexpensive. A 20lb bag runs about $11 dollars. They also have a version that clumps which is a little pricier. Since this litter comes in pellets, the makers recommend to add a small amount to your regular litter to transition your pet easily. I was a little nervous at first because one of my cats is incredibly picky and she'll let you know if she doesn't like something...either on the bed, the bathroom mat, or the couch. And of course I didn't realize at first that they recommend mixing both litters. But amazingly enough my cats have taken to it pretty well and it seems to be taking care of the odor wonderfully. For more:

Swheat Scoop
Some other litters that I've found out about are Swheat Scoop which is an all wheat litter that is just as natural as Feline Pine. This is only sold as a clumping litter and some reviewers have said the clumping is lacking to their standards. Some pluses for Swheat Scoop are that it is 100% safe to flush down the toilet (even with a septic tank) and can be added to compost piles(not for vegetable gardens!). The makers also promise less dust than clay litters. Though I haven't tried this litter, the website claims that it looks and feels like conventional litter so pets are more easily accustomed to it. The price range is relatively the same as Feline Pine. For more:

World's Best Cat Litter
World's Best Cat Litter is another all natural litter made from whole-kernel corn. This litter clumps as well and like the rest is 100% natural and biodegradable. Also, like Swheat Scoop, WBCL can be flushed down the toilet. The makers promise almost no tracking and superior odor control. This litter seems to be very comparable to Swheat Scoop. The price range for this litter is a little on the higher side. A 17lb bag at Petsmart runs about $19-20 bucks. For more:

Yesterday's News
Purina makes a litter called Yesterday's News which is made out of recycled newspapers. This litter comes in pellets like Feline Pine and absorbs pretty much the same. We actually use this litter at my job because it's ideal for post-surgical pets since it doesn't stick to incision sites like powder or clay litters. This one is like the rest, flushable, biodegradable, super-absorbent, and odor-busting. Some cats may be sensitive to the pine smell of Feline Pine so this may be a better alternative if you want a pellet-like litter. The makers offer two kinds, one being 'softer' than the other. Both are priced at $17 dollars for either a 27lb or 30lb bag. For more:

So far these are all of the natural cat litters that I've found and they're all silica free. These are great options if you want to green up your cats litter box. There is another option though that may be the most natural of all and is virtually free to try! Toilet train your cat! This may seem laughable and all together impossible but it has been done. Here's a link if you're interested =)