Cat Litter Related Pet Health Problems

For the record, I am not a superstitious person by nature, but I am also not inclined to tempt fate either. Therefore, I am not sure what category this seeming dichotomy would fall under. I had been putting off writing the Feline Leukemia Natural Treatment article for a number of years. After it had been posted on my website, this little voice sounded off in the back of my mind with, “Are you sure you want to do this?” Turned out, I was not sure. The article was taken down and put back up on my website several times before I finally decided to leave it there. In retrospect, there must have been something to my reluctance after all – an intuitive knowing on some level.

My FeLV cat (Fairmount) developed an allergy within a few weeks of posting the article. Her symptoms were very similar to those of my first cat (Shema.) The cause for Shema’s allergy was something never pinpointed. As was done with Shema, a process of elimination began with Fairmount to see if she had developed a sensitivity for a specific food. And just like Shema, this was not the case for Fairmount either. It took approximately three weeks for me to locate the actual cause. However, it was too late.

It should be noted that feline leukemia cats require additional mineral supplements. From day one, Fairmount had been taking a liquid vitamin that provided more than standard pet vitamins. The vet was out of her particular brand when more was needed and another brand was purchased. I did not double-check the label, and mistakenly assumed she would be getting the required vitamins and minerals in this new brand. I also did not believe a couple months on another brand would matter, as her leukemia virus had been in remission for several years. Big mistake!

Within a couple of weeks her symptoms had progressed. When Fairmount initially came to live with me, she had a habit of licking cement, which indicated a mineral deficiency. With good food and vitamins, this condition had been eliminated, but something in her environment was causing her earlier symptoms to return. I had no clue what it was and began to monitor her very closely.

One day I caught her coming out of her litter box chewing. Cats are fastidious creatures by nature. Her box was checked and scooped clean several times per day, which meant there was only one thing in that box to eat. The reasons cats eat their litter stems from a mineral deficiency, which had me checking the label on her vitamins. I discovered she had been getting absolutely no iron or minerals whatsoever. This pissed me off because the vet should have made me aware. In any event, it did explain why she was licking cement and eating her cat litter. She was trying to give her body what it needed and was immediately placed back on her original vitamins. Although soon after eating the litter, she became constipated.

Through Fairmount, I learned about a pet product that is very unsafe for our animals. This situation also helped me to determine the actual cause of the allergy that had plagued two of my other cats. Many of us are not aware that pet product suppliers are pretty much given a free pass to do whatever they want. There are very few regulations in place. Suppliers are not required to list all or any ingredients, which put our pets in danger. Sodium Bentonite clay is a common ingredient in clumping cat litter products. In addition to causing allergies, respiratory problems and other pet health problems, clumping clay litter has killed many cats and some dogs that eat cat litter.

This clay is a natural mineral, but fluid of any kind causes it to expand. If the litter does not become lodged in the back of the animal’s throat then, it can become a plug in the intestines that many animals are not able to pass without medical intervention. It can also prevent the proper absorption of nutrients and cause dehydration. Therefore, we must not take anything for granted. We must educate ourselves and become aware of the ingredients used in everything that concerns our pets. If a pet supplier does not list the ingredients for their litter then, you might want to play it safe and not buy the product. Additionally, I highly recommend using natural cat litter products such as corn or wheat litter. Both are a bit more expensive, but neither one of these products will cause any harm whatsoever to your pets should they inhale or ingest it.

Unfortunately, Fairmount already had a fragile immune system that could not counter the harmful effects of the clay litter without the support of her liquid vitamins. I had caught her eating it quickly but not quickly enough. She had six small clay plugs that could be felt in her intestines. Due to her condition, surgery was out of the question. Outside of an enema, administering foods and herbs was the only course available. She was fed everything I could think of. After 24 hours, the plugs began to move, However and unknown to me, the first one became stuck, which caused her to cry out in pain and had me racing her to a nearby animal hospital. Turns out, the plug popped right out when the thermometer was inserted to take her temperature. Although before I learned this, I had reluctantly opted to follow the vet’s recommendation and Fairmount was in the process of receiving an enema along with fluids to treat her dehydration.

Having never had an enema myself, I did not realize this would be painful or weaken her further. In retrospect, I wish I had listened to that intuitive prompting that had me thinking twice and questioning the vet’s recommendation. The enema seemed to stop what the food and herbs had initiated. Contrary to the alleged 24-48 hours, it took an additional 96 hours (four days) before any movement began again. Furthermore, she still could not pass the five remaining plugs on her own. All required the help of lubricating jelly and my little-gloved finger to ease these rock hard things out of her. Had I bypassed the enema then she probably would have been able to rebound with some extra care rather than dying within a matter of hours after passing the last litter plug.


The photograph here reflects one very exhausted Fairmountain taking her last sunbath in her favorite window the day before she died.

Unlike my other pet loss teachings, this was a hard lesson for me, which is one I will never forget.

Clumping clay litter is some very nasty stuff - it should be avoided like the plague!