How Can You Avoid Dusty Litter
In this article I am going to offer you some suggestions on how you can avoid dusty cat litter. Most of us know, that even the best of cat litters contain some amount of dust. With some litters though the dust exists in larger quantities and in some others is a great deal thicker. In many ways it is simply the nature of the litter products.
The vast majority of dust found in cat litters is as a result of how it is transported. More specifically it is how it is handled during that transport stage. Generally speaking most manufacturers do a good job of making and packing their litters into bags or boxes.
It has been made in the factory, passed the various quality tests, and has then been placed into bags or boxes. At that stage there is not really a great deal of dust existing. There is however always a small amount as that is simply the nature of the cat litter ingredients.
As soon as it comes to transport though, then the bags have to be handled, so as they can be taken to the various destinations where they will eventually be sold to the general public.
The main problem though is that it is very often quite roughly handled as they are moved on to pallets or other types of storage containers. It is this movement that makes the litter inside the bags start to rub against itself, and it is this that creates the dust.
We will know that cat litter is made from either clay or crystals mainly. When those rough ingredients are rubbed against each other it is inevitable that they will create dust.
Over time there can be a lot of this type of movement as it is moved from one location to another. Each time the contents get shaken a bit more, and moved around a bit more. The dust can easily build up so as when we open the box or bag, we are met with puffs or even clouds of dust.
Pouring Out Cat Litter & Health Risks
If you have experienced a cloud of dust when pouring out your cat litter into a box or pan, then you know that it isn’t a pleasant experience. It can quite easily irritate the throat, make you cough or sneeze, and it gets into your nose and mouth areas.
The same thing happens when you clean a litter, though the amount of dust created by that is considerably less. Nonetheless it still happens, and it also happens to your cat. I have written an article here on the health risks associated with using cat litter.
If you have the time, then that article is worth a read so as you know all of the potential health risks, associated with the general handling of cat litter. For those that don’t have the time to read that in-depth article, the main risks with dust in litter is of course breathing it in.
That applies as much to your cat as it does to human beings. There is a lot of debate around the actual risks of breathing in cat litter dust, but sadly, not that much scientific evidence to support a strong argument on just how dangerous this can actually be.
In this article I just want to focus on the actual dust that you can breathe in rather than the general risks. There is some evidence that inhaling dust from the litter can coat the lungs of your cat, which in turn can lead to respiratory problems.
It is also safe enough to state that if they can coat a cat’s lungs then there is a chance that it can have the same effect on a human’s lungs. Crystalline silica dust, a main ingredient in clumping litters, is a known carcinogen for both humans and household pets.
That can cause an illness called silicosis. That is an illness that reduces the lungs ability to take in oxygen as it creates scar tissue on the lungs.
As you can see this is all pretty serious stuff to consider. The argument against much of this is that if this where a huge problem, then vets and others would be complaining a great deal more about cat deaths, and also the high risk to humans.
My own thoughts are that if you can avoid cat litter dust, then that would be a good thing to do. If you can’t avoid it, then at least do your best to minimize the risk.
Finding Dust Free Cat Litter
As I mentioned earlier, almost every single cat litter has some dust. Clumping and non-clumping clay based cat litters will always have some amount of dust, though some brands are better than others. Silica gel litters have a lot less dust than any of the clay varieties, so it is worth considering changing to, or at least trying out one of these litters.
The silica gel litters still have a little dust in there, but nothing compared to the clay based one. If you want to be dust free then the best idea is to make the move to something like a pine or recycled paper litter.
The pine litters that are available are made from small pine pellets. Now having said that, clearly these pellets have a strong pine scent, and some cats really do not like that. It is worth a try though as some cats are quite happy to use this type of litter. With this pine option it really is a question of trial and error.
Consider Recycled Newspaper Litters for a Dust Free Option
Recycled newspaper litters are another option that I have mentioned. These are growing in popularity, and the manufacturers advertise these as being 99.99% dust free, and that is as close to completely dust free as you are going to get.
They are more expensive than many of the more common litters, but buyers who have used these, do rate them very highly indeed. These paper style litters are also lighter than many other litters, so that is an added bonus.
Tips to Help Reduce Dust When Using Cat Litter
Below I have included a few tips of my own that will go a long way to reducing the amount of cat litter dust. Hopefully you will find them very useful.
Pouring Technique to Reduce Dust
There are a few times when you will need to pour the litter from the box or bag into the litter box or tray/pan. Normally this is when you are cleaning out the litter, replacing the litter or doing a quick top-up of the litter. When doing this keep the bag or box as low to the cat litter box as you can. The less distance the litter has to fall, the less dust it will create.
Cleaning and Refilling a Litter Box
It is always best to do both of these cleaning and refilling activities outside. Dust particles will hang in the air and when you are outside any type of light breeze will carry those away. Inside the dust will tend to linger and also to land on furniture and floors.
Wearing a Mask
For some cat lovers this will sound like over kill, but there is no doubt that wearing a small paper mask for a couple of minutes when using cat litter will help protect your lungs from cat litter dust. These small masks are very cheap and can be used a few times before needing to be replaced.
Conclusion On Dust in Cat Litter
It is almost inevitable that if you are handling cat litter, and especially pouring it out, there is going to be some dust associated with that. Ideally when pouring it into a litter box, do that outside whenever possible. Also keep the litter bag or box as close to the bottom of the litter box as you can. That certainly helps reduce the larger plumes of dust.
Pregnant ladies should avoid handling cat litter as much as they can. They should only do that if they truly have no alternative. There has been no huge scientific research into this issue, so no real hard evidence based facts to go on. I think it is just common sense that keeping dust out of the air, and out of your lungs is simply a sensible thing to do.