Is Flushable Cat Litter Environmentally Friendly

Is it safe to flush cat feces in the toilet? Is flushable cat litter really safe to flush? What is toxoplasmosis and how is it killing sea otters? Can I flush my cat's litter down the toilet? How do cats spread toxoplasmosis? Is flushable cat litter

Many cat owners enjoy using flushable cat litter, which is normally made out of biodegradable products such as corn and wheat. These flushable litters have been marketed as being environmentally friendly because such waste is not going into the landfill,but it still has to go somewhere; leading to the question of “Is flushable cat litter really environmentally friendly?”. Many people are suggesting this environmental option may not really be as environmentally friendly as people think.

It is not the litter itself that could be a potential problem, in most cases it is the cat feces themselves.

Studies done in Morro Bay, California, show that sea otters are particularly at risk from a disease that can be spread by fat feces, possibly contributing to the premature death of these animals.

The disease is called toxoplasmosis and is the result of the toxoplasma gondii parasite. This parasite is often found in birds and mice. When a cat eats the infected animal it sheds the parasite in its feces for a few days (after which the cat is immune). These parasites are not killed by water or purification plants and can travel to the sea, making sea life sick.

A study released in 2003 by UC Davis researchers found T. gondii in 42% of live otters and 62% of deceased ones. Sea otters are a food source for sharks and Killer Whales.

It should be noted this parasite is also sometimes found in raw meat. It is best known for putting unborn fetuses at risk, but pregnant women can easily avoid it by using gloves when cleaning the litter box, or by keeping their cat indoors. Sea otters, and other sea life, cannot be so safe.

Other concerns regarding the environmental impact of flushing flushable cat litter include concerns of chemicals added to the litter for smell control, or perfumes added. These chemicals may be partially responsible for killing coral reefs, which has also been found to be linked with the run off of chemicals from our lawns and gardens.

An other thought is that flushing cat litter down the toilet is wasting water. Water is a very valuable resource and should not be wasted.

What to Do with Flushable Litter?

You can put it in the garbage just like you would regular cat litter, however another thought, which may require more work on your part, is that it can be buried in biodegradable bags. It can also be disposed of in the same way regular cat litter is disposed of, sealed in a garbage bag and put in the garbage – while this does defeat the purpose of using “flushable” litter it keeps potential parasites from entering the water.

Important Factors to Keep in Mind Regarding Flushable Cat Litter

Overall flushable litter is still more environmentally friendly than most other cat litter because it comes from a renewable resource, whether you flush it or not.

If your cat does not go outside it is not eating mice or birds, as such toxoplasmosis gondii is not an issue or risk factor with your cat.

Note that not all cat litter is flusable, some will clog your pipes.


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Debbie Edwards
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Posted on Feb 21, 2012
Roberta Baxter
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Diane Zoller-Ciatto
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Posted on Feb 21, 2012