Whether cat litter can cause allergies in humans and cats is an interesting question because almost all we hear about (concerning cats and allergies) is the human allergy to cats caused by the protein Fel D1 in the cat’s saliva.
It would be ironic if cat litter caused allergies in cats and humans. Without researching the matter it seems eminently possible that cat litter can contain allergens affecting cats and humans.
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So diving in and researching the matter (as I write) I have come to the following findings:
Cats can be sensitive to some types of cat litter causing a contact allergy (Everything Cats Expect You To Know by Elizabeth Martyn).
More than 2,000 chemicals are used by the fragrance industry. Some fragranced products can contain ‘up to several hundred chemicals’. Cat litter is often fragranced.
‘Fragrance-related respiratory symptoms are frequently reported in general populations’… and often occur in asthmatic people. (Contact Dermatitis by Jean-Pierre Lepoittevin)
The nest.com states that cat litter can be ‘a major source of allergic reactions from dust residue, dust mites, fragrances or chemicals’.
The veterinarian authors of the respected book: Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook states in relation to irritant contact and allergic contact dermatitis:
“Litter box dermatitis, in which the cat is allergic to the litter being used or an additive in the litter, affects the feet, the skin around the tail and the anus.”
Although slightly off-topic, sodium betonite in clumping litter can get into a person’s lungs and swell up inside causing health issues.
It is probably fair to say that if the cat’s owner can suffer from an allergic reaction to one of the components of cat litter then it is perfectly feasible to presume that their cat can have the same reaction. After all the cat and human anatomy is not dissimilar at a fundamental level.
The World’s Best Cat Litter website has a page devoted to either humans or cats (or both) being allergic to cat litter. This is a strong endorsement that cat litter can stimulate an allergic reaction. They say that some cat litters might trigger an allergic reaction in cats and/or people. Silica dust used in clay-based litters can be the culprit.
Unsurprisingly they have testimonials stating that their litter is the best for people with allergies as it minimises the risk of causing an allergic reaction.
One lady on petforums.com states that when she changed cat litter from Yesterday’s News to OkoPlus she immediately developed an allergic reaction to the litter. She changed back.
Author Jane Kelley writes on her blog, paws-and-effect.com that she is allergic to the cat litter that she was using at the time and she was pleading for help in find a hypoallergenic cat litter.
There is such a product as hypoallergenic cat litter. It is easy to search for on the internet. I will presume that it creates very little dust and is unscented.
Petmd.com reports that cats can suffer from contact dermatitis caused by cat litter deodorisers. There are many other products that can cause the same health problem.
Vetinfo.com reports that when a cat has an allergy one thing the owner can do is to change the litter. The author states that feline allergies to cat litter come from the different constituents used in cat litters and which are inhaled by the cat.
These are silica dust, chemicals, fragrances and bentonite (as mentioned). Kittens and senior cats are more likely to develop litter allergies.
A cat owner on catforum.com came to the conclusion that her cat Isabelle was allergic to Scoop Away unscented cat litter. She says it is actually scented! And quite dusty. Isabelle exhibited classic itchy skin symptoms. She wanted to rule out the litter as a possible cause: wise.
The inevitable conclusion having surfed the internet on this topic for forty minutes is that cat litter can cause allergic reactions in people and pets. It is one household product that needs to be eliminated as a possible source if your cat or someone in the house has developed an allergic reaction.
Do you have any experience of either yourself or your cat becoming allergic to cat litter? If so please share your thoughts in a comment.