On May 31, 2014, I wrote an article entitled “Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter: Reports It Is Dangerous“. Over about eight years that page has consistently done well in terms of visits. I think it kicked off a big Internet discussion about the product which has encouraged me to revisit it. I wrote several other pages about the product one of which is based upon the evidence of a former employee of the manufacturer of Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter. That I think is very important because websites which promote the product such as All about Cats say that they provide an unbiased review. How can you provide an unbiased review of a product if you want to sell it on your website? The two objectives are incompatible.
On the website Snopes they purport to “fact check” the product referring to reviews on other sites such as mine. In fact, my page is not a review but simply a report from users to flag up potentially serious dangers at that time.
“Tidy Cats litter contains sodium bentonite, perlite, and charcoal… The lightweight core used in their light weight litter is composed of perlite.” – Chewy
Perlite is abrasive
And Snopes says that the criticisms of the product are unproven. Perhaps they missed the very obvious point that Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter contains perlite. It is perlite which makes it light. Perlite is used in toothpaste as an abrasive. It cleans teeth through abrasion. Do you think this is a suitable substrate for cat litter?
Why is there an abrasive substance in the litter? Because it is an unfortunate accident. Perlite is very light and absorbent. The manufacturers don’t want the abrasive quality but they’ve got it. The former employee that I mention confirms this. They said that perlite is “extremely abrasive”. It is also known as “volcanic glass”. That makes the point nicely.
Wikipedia states that perlite contains 17-75% silicon dioxide otherwise known as silica which is the main constituent of sand. Sand as we know is very abrasive.
This is not hearsay or anecdotal evidence. This this is hard fact contrary to what other websites are saying.
Secondly, Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter is very fine, a bit like dust. And in fact it this dust which is kicked up when cats dig around the litter to make a hole in which to poop or pee.
And we know that domestic cats like to cover their poop or pee and then sniff that spot to make sure that it is covered.
Both those actions are going to kick up this fine dust in substantial quantities and ensure that some of it is ingested by their nose from where it is sucked into their lungs.
The only conclusion that one can make is that this brand of litter containing a highly abrasive substance is being breathed in to the lungs of kittens and adult cats where its abrasive nature can injure the cat internally in a potentially critical way.
This is a logical, step-by-step appraisal. As mentioned, it is not anecdotal but factual.
Snopes, in their holier than thou way have dismissed the allegations against this litter as if they are flimsy and unsubstantiated anecdotes from disgruntled users.
It is hard not to come to the conclusion that they are entirely incorrect in their assessment.
Also, we should not dismiss the personal experience of users as useless bits of anecdotal evidence. These are first-hand experiences from reasonable people very often with reasonable thoughts and a voice that needs to be heard.
Tonkinese breeder’s evidence
On 3 May 2016 I published an article based upon a comment from a Tonkinese cat breeder in America who used Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter. She believed that the litter killed four of her Tonkinese kittens. She is a registered Tonkinese breeder. You can read her testimony by clicking on the link above and below is a short extract:
“Once in the house, I topped up the 3 litter boxes in the cat’s room, and left the box in the living room alone, as it still had plenty of the usual brand in it. Later than night, 4 of my 5 Tonkinese kittens (5 weeks old and just starting to explore the litter box) began coughing. There were no other symptoms, and no adult cats had issues. By morning, the 4 kittens were dead, and the kitten who remained probably only survived because she was not involved in the romping around (as young kittens do) in the fresh litter.”
The authors of the Snopes website should read that and reassess what they said. If she knew what they said and if she knew what the other websites said she would be very distraught.
The reason why perlite is included in this lightweight litter is because it is very light. Obvious, I know but that needs to be stated. However, the manufacturers have turned a blind eye to the fact that it’s based on silica which is abrasive. They appear to have taken on board the risk. It must have been obvious to them that something this lightweight is going to be ingested and further, it must have been obvious that if you ingest an abrasive, hard substance in the form of minute particles it’s going to get into the lungs of a domestic cat. There is no other conclusion.
I am perhaps overstating this but this is a toxic combination of a product being light in weight and abrasive. Put those two together and you get the problem that I’m mentioning.
As mentioned, perlite is also absorbent and can hold water which is the other reason why it was selected for this novel product.
Novel substrate to sell the product
The point is that the manufacturers wanted to latch onto something new which would sell the product. They decided that the weight of conventional clay-based cat litter deterred women who are the main purchasers of cat litter. So they scratched their heads and thought that they would come up with something lighter and they searched around for a suitable substance and came up with perlite. Having decided upon it they conveniently brushed aside the potential dangers because they didn’t want to give away the opportunity of making a lot of money.
The product is a success judging by the 4.5/5 given by customer reviews on Amazon. But don’t forget that when a cat owner reviews cat litter they are doing it from their perspective. They’re doing it from the perspective of is it absorbent? Does it clump well? Are the containers easy to carry? Is the product convenient to use? There are not assessing the product from the point of view of the cat or kitten. And they are not assessing the product with regard to any health impact on their cat companion.
The cat companion may become ill perhaps mildly or moderately. They may have no connection between using the cat litter and this illness. So reviews on Amazon are not a good way to assess cat litter.
One last point comes to mind: what about the owners who have bought this product? They are handling it. They are pouring it out into a litter tray. They are breathing in the dust. Are they being slightly injured without realising it when they ingested this abrasive dust? I think they need to reflect on that.
The 5 reasons
- Evidence from an employee of the manufacturer
- Evidence from a breeder (and other users)
- It contains an extremely abrasive substance – perlite
- It is lightweight and therefore dusty
- Kittens and cats have the noses close to the litter and sniff it after digging and covering.
Here is another product from the same manufacturer which is dubious.
Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.