Saturday, December 04, 2004

Allergies and a New Type of Litter

Last night, we decided to try a new brand of litter. As you may have read before, Liz and I have been sneezing almost as soon as we walk into our kitchen, where we keep the litter box. We have some theories about what is wrong in the kitchen:
  • Our sneezing started when we opened an air vent which spewed a lot of dust. However, we have since closed up the vent again and cleaned the counters and floor of dust.
  • We could be allergic to the cats' waste products, but we are really diligent about scooping the litter box (daily) and changing the litter entirely (twice a week).
  • We could actually be allergic to the litter itself.

Testing the theory that we may be allergic to Swheat Scoop, the brand of litter we have been using, we have bought a bag of The World's Best Cat Litter to try. The difference, besides the higher cost of World's Best is that World's Best is a corn-based litter while Swheat Scoop is wheat-based. Unlike, clumping clay litters, both brands are natural, non-toxic and free of sodium bentonite. BTW, if you're wondering about the dangers of sodium bentonite-based litters, check out About.com's article on clumping clay litter and health problems.

Our hope is that the corn-based litter will produce less dust and, if the litter is responsible for our allergies, hopefully we won't be allergic to the new brand. We changed the litter last night so it's too early to say whether World's Best is better for our noses than Swheat Scoop. We don't even know if the litter itself is the problem. However, I will say that the air seems a bit clearer in the kitchen this morning.

No matter what happens with our litter choices, I do want to give props to the Swheat Scoop litter. If it turns out that the litter is not the cause of our problems, we might go back to using it. It clumps well, does a competent job of eliminating odor, and we feel really good about using it b/c it is safe and organic. World's Best Cat Litter offers the same benefits, but it costs a lot more. However, if it solves our allergy problem, it's worth it.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is also a type of pellet litter that is made of recycled paper. And another one made from pine trees. I know a breeder who uses rabbit feed (alfalfa pellets or something like that). Of course, that one might be allergenic, too!
Peggy

Avram said...

Actually, we did try Yesterday's News (pellets made from recycled newspaper) because that's what the cats were used to at the shelter. We mixed it with the Swheat Scoop, but even if it's hypoallergenic, we just can't stand it as litter, because it doesn't clumb and it gets everywhere.

Thumper said...

Wow...I had never heard any of that, but I'm grateful you posted the link. Our cat has had coughing problems that don't seem to be conneted to anything, so now I'm wondering if he might e having problems with the silica dust associted with clumping litter.

It sure wouldn't hurt to switch to something else and see what happens.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

If you want to eliminate the dust in the Swheat Scoop litter, try adding small amounts of cooking oil to the litter (1/4 teaspoon at a time) and mixing it in. The oil will absorb the dust, but will not make the litter oily or change the effectiveness of the litter. Keep adding in these small increments until you are satisfied that the dust is gone. It shouldn't take much!

Anonymous said...

I am using Nature's Miracle Cat Litter which is corn-based, relatively dust free and does a marvelous job controlling odors. I see that Merrick makes a wheatgrass based litter and I may try it, since my poor cat is reacting to something in the house and it may be the corn in the litter. Good luck with your two boys, they have a very nice daddy!

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midnightbride said...

I have been using corn based cat litter for about six months and one of my cats is extremely itchy all the time and chewing one of his paws raw. The vet thought it was some type of allergy but we can't seem to figure it out and get it to heal. Has anyone ever heard of this from corn based litter? I haven't switched back yet because I didn't really think that was the cause (and neither did the vet), but now I'm starting to wonder.

Anonymous said...

I have been using World's Best cat litter (corn) for our one cat since we got her a year ago, with no problem. We added another older cat, and she is sneezing daily. We had her checked at the vet right after we got her due to the sneezing, and he prescribed antibiotic in the event it was an URI, saying if it didn't help it was probably allergy related, and we could try an antihistamine. I don't want to go that route because she was in a very bad situation and traumatized - we don't want her to be dopey from meds, so am trying another litter to see if this helps.
Marie

smiley said...

I switched to Swheat litter about 6 weeks ago. I think it's great for the reasons others have noted in their posts. However, my typically sweet natured 2 year old cat has taken to yowling, increasingly so in the past week. Tonight he is very unsettled and his eyes are watery. I have been wondering if he could possibly be allergic to the litter. I googled and came to this posting. After reading the posts I am thinking of trying a different litter.

DixieMartn said...

My kitten did the same thing when he started using the World's best litter. The vet thought he could be allergic to it. Anyone have any idea how long before the hair grows back that he's been licking and biting off?

Anonymous said...

Arm & Hammer just brought out a corn-based litter, so I bought a bag to try. I am mixing it with the clay to get them used to it. However, our CRF cat has been vomiting since I started using it, and I haven't changed food, so I'm concerned she might be ingesting it when she cleans her paws?

joan said...

I have developed allergies to my cats. It occurred at the time 2 things changed: I went from 2 cats to 6 (but I even have a cat room now) and I switched to clumping litter. When I gently sift it, my eyes dry out and feel as though they are full of particle or cat fur. This occurs even though I wear goggles when I sift the litter, brush my cats. I can no longer touch them.

Anonymous said...

I have 2 cats and use the Worlds Best Cat litter as well. I have been using it since I adopted the cats, and for the first year or so, I had no problems with the cats. Over the past 6 months or so, my female cat started itching, and licking/chewing her paws raw as well, My vet suggested that it might be an allergy and to cut out any wheat, corn, or type of cereals out of their food, and well I'm guessing the litter as well. I have yet to switch out the Worlds Best littler, as I just changed the food over to an all organic brand, and am seeing if that has any results, next will be the litter, I'm guessing it's an allergy to the litter as my boy cat has had watery eyes, and as mentioned my female cat has had the itching and chewing... So hopefully making these changes will correct the issue... Anyone else besides me and another post on here have the same problem? What did you find out?

joan said...

What company made Litter Green cat litter. It was made of chlorophyll and was not dusty. In addition, if some went down the toilet...no problem. It was sold in plastic bags.

TabbyJ said...

We have always used Tidy Cats litter and were pleased with the results however, they have recently changed the formula and we've noticed that the litter is extremely dusty. We wanted to try something that was healthier for the cats, and us so I bought a bag of Arm & Hammer Essentials. Being that it is corn based I thought it would be a good choice. It is highly scented, something that a lot of cats, (and some humans), really don't care for. On top of that, our oldest cat, Wolf was allergic to it. Whether it was the fragrance that was added or the corn itself we're not sure. He started scratching excessively and began to lose fur around his neck. As soon as we stopped using Arm & Hammer he stopped scratching and his fur has grown back.

I don't know when some of these comments were posted, but I wanted to let those who asked about corn litter allergy possiblities know that yes, it can and does happen.

I found this blog because I was trying to find reviews on Swheat Scoop. After reading that it might be just as dusty as what we are currently using I think my search for a new litter continues.

Anonymous said...

I have three indoor cats and have used Swheat Scoop litter for more than three years. All three cats have developed respiratory problems and the vet thinks they have allergies. The older cat experiences sneezing and runny nose after using the litterbox. I am beginning to think she has an allergie to wheat. The cat food has no wheat in the contents.

Anonymous said...

I have over 10 cats..Researching something called chicken scratch as a cat litter..Anyone have good results with using this.please post and let me know.For years ive used fresh step,my cats are having much distress with the dust and so are we and our home

Anonymous said...

We use WBCL and love it. We brought in Swheat Scoop for a foster and my allergy kitty reacted immediately. I had to switch the foster over to the WB quickly. Having experience with allergy cats I think they can react to either wheat or corn based litters (or both). If you suspect your cat has allergies it's best to switch them to something like Arm & Hammer unscented to check.

With regard to the person who mentioned food allergies, keep in mind it takes 8-12 weeks to clear a food allergen from their systems so be patient with the new food!

Si'smom said...

I have used corn litter for several years. Cat has developed excesive vomiting. changed to grain free diet - now am suspecting litter - World's best. It could also be laden with pesticides and genetically modified!!! I hate newspaper - so hard to keep clean. YOur posts are making me fear sWeatscoop wheat which is what I was going to try next. clay is too toxic and FreshStep, etc. as well. Help - need an all nateral non-allergenic litter!!!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone had cats allergic to the pine leter. We are in the process of determining why our recently aquired ca has been scratching and loosing fur off her legs.

Anonymous said...

I cried and cried thinking I was going to have to get rid of my cats - that I had developed a horrid allergy to them. I could hardly breathe.

Then, it struck me that it might be the litter. Sure enough. For me, it seems to be the fine dust, which of course they also track around the house on their feet.

The culprits, for me are BOTH Nature's Miracle (pine) and SWheatscoop (wheat).

I was using Nature's Miracle for about 3 months before I started having real problems, that's why I didn't connect it.

I thought my issues were just seasonal/mould allergies and then thought it had to be the cats, when my symptoms became unbearable because everywhere in the house they were, I had the problem.

Switch back to World's Best and I was fine, again, THANK GOODNESS.
I thought the issue was the pine dust and had never used Swheatscoop, so gave it a try. I had no idea that it, too, was dusty but it is.

Sure enough, second month in and I'm a mess again. When I'm done typing this, I'm dumping it out, washing all my sheets, giving everything a great dusting and vacuuming, and going back to World's Best.

I just wanted to know whether this was happening to others. Sad but glad to find out I'm not the only one!!

imnokid said...

We switched to world's best about a month ago. Definitely the best we've tried for dust. The cats are about 14 months now. One of them has been licking his paws, legs and tail a real lot and we are afraid that it may be the litter. I'll try another different litter and keep you all posted.

Shirley Reul said...

we love Swheatscoop...I find it dust free and it has elimated my and my cats sneezing and wheezing attacks. I swear by it! I don't mind spending the extra money. Those other PERFUME scoopable litters are very dangerous for both cats and humans. Become a fan of Ben and Oreo - www.facebook.com/benandoreo

Anonymous said...

I used Feline Pine clumping for a long time and seemed to be fine. For no reason, I decided to switch to World's Best and found it to clump better so continued to use it for about the last year. About 4 months ago, one cat has been over grooming, pulling fur out. A steroid shot helped her for about 3 weeks and now back to the licking and fur pulling. During the 3 weeks, I did not change anything (food, litter). She eats raw and Natural Balance can...NO dry kibble. Now, thinking the itching, allergy may be to the litter. Think I'll switch back to Feline Pine and see what happens.

Rahima said...

I have used mostly sWheat Scoop for the past 12 or more years with the 6 various cats I've had. I've also used Feline Pine (and some other pine- or cedar based). My cats don't like hard pellets like Feline Pine.

All these are natural organic (meaning a plant-based product like corn, wheat, trees not necessarily organically grown or non-pesticided or fungicided etc.) I agree the allergy reactions might be due to pesticides or treatments on the product. I wish there was more information and transparency in pet product labeling about this.

Swheat Scoop was a vast improvement in odor control and the well-being of my cats. I also tried paper litter. Those never help with odor or clump at all.

All these natural products seem far superior to the clay or artificial litter, for health or odor control.

I wonder those with allergies might result from insects or invisible mites that like plant-base litters. With sWheat Scoop I got a moth problem concurrently, but after I saw the moths in my pantry. You can notice slight webbing and tiny white worms or grubs in the litter box as the moths appear. Amazon.com has info on this in the reviewer comments. As insects go, small moths are not the worst though unesthetic. I threw out all open packages (rice, flour, popcorn, etc.) and put new products in air-tight containers and fixed the problem. I would rather hand-control a non-dangerous insect than be poisoned by pesticides.

I'm excited now to try Nature's Miracle corn product where the enzymatic microbiotic ingredient might solve some insect problems. Plus it is lighter weight.

Re Clumping solidity -- it is simpler for my plumbing to put used litter in the garbage. sWheatScoop doesn't clump hard and can stick to the pan, but I use a gardening hand shovel, and don't let it accumulate to dry on the plastic.

My current, long-haired Manx is an enthusiastic litter kicker and tracks all over the bathroom. I sweep and use a rug. My cats have have had problems of struvite crystals due to dietary Ph. so I feed urinary care dry food. Could litter choices affect that since cats ingest what they groom?

I continue to mainly use and appreciate SWheat Scoop until the corn or something comes along that is an improvement.

Happily more diversity is becoming available in the natural litters so people can try to find what that works for them. PetSmart and even K-Mart have a store brand of some wheat, corn, or pine litters. As these become more common, maybe prices will keep coming down.

I only hope that manufacturers will continue to give us more information--specific, accurate, technical, and not just puff --about the ingredients. We owners/caretakers and our felines are discriminating; we want evidence-based product development, not puffery and perfume.

Lastly, applause to some large chains starting to have a store brand of bulk litter which can be picked up in a your own container. Kudos hoping they bring on board a plant-based litter as well. I would put in a regular order if they did provide that service.

This is a great blog, thanks for the information. Moderator, edit away as needed.

Anonymous said...

I've had all sorts of problems with cat litter. My new cat seems to be allergic to corn, so had to change from WBCL am using Blue's Walnut now, but don't like the brown dust in my bed and on my baby's beautiful white fur. Swheat is way too dusty. Feline pine too hard for their tiny paws. I have COPD and asthma, so this remains a real challenge.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to agree that the Arm & Hammer (looks like ground up corn) gave my youngest kitten allergies with itching and biting that he lost most of his fur all over his body until I got a clue that it might be the litter and not fleas. I switched back to my clumping litter (tried several brands with no issues) and my cats are healthy again. Just saying....

Anonymous said...

Have been using WBCL for a few years and have an 8 year old Siamese that has always tended to be a vomiter. This got much worse over past few months, but improved somewhat when I switched him to a limited ingredient turkey-based grain-free diet. Just this week it hit me that a corn-based litter might still be a causative factor due to grooming and contact. After switching to the walnut-shell litter, we have had a few days of no vomiting in months. Fingers crossed that we may be on to something! I also am not crazy about the dark brown color as it is hard to determine solid vs urine waste when scooping the box. Not dusty and less tracking than corn it seems.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at all the positive comments about SwheatScoop. We switched to it about 4 months ago and I hate it. (We're still using it because my roommate likes it.) In my experience, its odor control qualities are practically nil, and although it does clump, the clumps fall apart when you try to remove them. Now, on top of all that, one of our cats has started licking the fur off his haunches, and we think it's the litter. Hopefully, the vet will confirm that tomorrow and we'll switch to something else.

Anonymous said...

I switched to Sweat Scoop a couple of months ago and I cannot breathe! I thought it might be something else and even went on antibiotics and it's still with me. I am wondering now if it is the Sweat Scoop (which I really like) because I started using it about a couple months ago. I think I will also throw it out and go back to the Arm and Hammer. I hope this is all it is. So frustrating!!! Any one else having these issues?

Anonymous said...

We recently switched to yesterday news and our one cat has started losing fur on his hind legs and belly. Has anyone heard of a cat being allergic to this type of recycled paper?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Beware of pine litter. It contains plicatic acid which can cause respiratory problems and induce asthma in cats. Our cat was so allergic she started itching uncontrollably within 2 days of us trying the litter. Then we went online and found that this is very common and that pine and cedar litter can actually be dangerous for cats. Here is one such site. There are several others.
http://felineasthma.org/triggers/index.htm