Off Topic

November 12, 2009


February 3, 2009

Cat Wine for Cancer!

September 1, 2008


A friend of mine recently was raving about this wine and its super-cute bottles. Take a look and buy some its for good causes!

Pink Cat Wine Bottle
As a cat lover (I’ve got two…or…erh…three have me) and wine lover, I thought these cool cat-shaped wine bottles were very cool. You can read about how they were developed and the special pink cat wine bottle’s purpose over at the Moselland blog:
WE DO NOT SELL THESE, we are only an eco-friendly pet blog.

Becoming Litter-ate.

August 18, 2008

I had a 1-year-old toddling around my house last weekend.

This is always entertaining, for both me and my cats. I tend to think there is a point at which children become smarter than animals, but in general this is around 3 or 4 years old. Until then, they make great buddies with similar intellects.

The tot at my house is just beginning to show interest in sandboxes. See where this is going?

I have several litter boxes at my house: The recommended number is one more than the number of cats that live in a house. I have four; my roommate has one. That makes for a lot of potential sandbox fun — if you’re 1. This sandbox appeal got me thinking about other types of cat litter. And today’s visit to the pet store was an eye-opener. It’s not all about the dusty clay pellets anymore.

There are several premium varieties of pet litter that espouse environmentally friendly benefits.

One I found sort of interesting was called Yesterday’s News — made out of recycled newsprint, of course — that is 99 percent “dust free” and claims to be three times more absorbent than clay, according to its maker, Purina. One of its better selling points is that the newspaper pellets won’t be tracked all over the house. Their larger size prevents that. This product however, if not well-maintained can cause a soggy urine odor and once wet can be tracked about the area.

Another variety, Crinklepaw’s “Eco-Clump” granular litter, is made from milled corn by-products and naturally absorbing green-polymers. What attracted me to this variety was that it is completely flushable and safe for septic systems (and not to mention our pets’ digestive system should they ingest any), making the scooping poop chore so much easier, this kind also does not create the hardened crust layer like other wheat and corn based offerings on the market. The formulated mixture of natural elements paired with the absorbent neutralizing polymers masks odors from pet urine and feces quite well.

There are several varieties of pine litter now available. The pellets are made from compressed natural pine wood. (One company adds in its description that “no new trees were cut down” for the making of this product.) According to several users I have spoken with, this is the best type of litter available. The pine scent overwhelms any negative cat smells which may cause the cat to refuse to use it. It also is extremely absorbent yet creates a soggy trackable mess if the user does not maintain the litter box at least every couple of days.

But the best part about these environmentally friendly, biodegradable products — they can’t be confused with a sandbox.

Thinking Outside the (Litter) Box

August 18, 2008
Preventing Common Litter Box Problems  

Litter Box SolutionsIf you’re a cat owner, chances are you’ve probably encountered litter box problems at one time or another. 

Have no fear: Litter box problems are common, and for the most part, easily solved.

If you’re a life-long cat owner or a potential owner thinking about bringing a cat or kitten into your home, the following can help you understand your cat’s litter box aversion issues or get kitty’s litter box training started off on the right paw.Keep It Clean   

Cats, by nature, are clean animals. And just as humans don’t like to use dirty bathrooms and toilets, the same probably goes for your cat. It may seem simple enough, but keeping your cat’s litter box clean and feces-free can keep Miss Kitty from finding an alternative place to do her business.

If you find the smell of your cat’s box less than appealing, chances are your cat does too. Experts suggest scooping your cat’s litter box at least once a day and changing the litter completely at least once a week.

Love cats, but hate cleaning up after them? Consider using disposable plastic cat pan liners. Pan liners can make cleaning your cat’s box quick, easy and spill-free while helping to extend the life of your cat’s litter box. 

Location, Location, Location

Do you have a multiple cat household? If so, the old idiom, “There’s safety in numbers,” can be applied to the number of litter boxes you have interspersed throughout your home.

Depending on the amount of cats you have roaming around your house, be sure to provide one litter box for each cat, plus extras in alternate locations depending on the number of levels within your abode. Providing your cat(s) with readily accessible “facilities” can deter them from leaving a not-so-special surprise for you to find at a later time in an unexpected place.


Depending on the amount of cats you have roaming around your house, be sure to provide one litter box for each cat, plus extras in alternate locations.

Besides the amount of litter boxes your cat has at its “disposal”, litter box placement is another factor to consider. Have you recently changed the location of your cat’s litter box? This can cause your cat to become confused and to return to the previous location to do her business. Also, is your cat’s box out in an open area that’s always busy with traffic—from humans or other animals? If so, your cat may avoid using her litter box because she often hears noises, or has been trapped when using her box in the past and doesn’t feel like she’s in a safe place. 

Also consider keeping litter boxes separate from the area where your cat is fed. The rationale behind this is simple enough: Do you want to eat in your bathroom? The answer is probably no. The same is true for your cat.

Type of Litter Matters

Litter Box SolutionsWe all have likes and dislikes, and your cat is no different. The type and texture of litter—clay, pine, crystals, etc.—can impact whether or not your cat chooses to use it. The discriminating kitty might also prefer unscented litter over scented.

If you’ve recently introduced a new kitten to your home and are beginning litter box training, or recently changed litters and are noticing your cat has turned her snout up in disgust, it might be a good idea to have multiple boxes available with different litters to see which one she prefers. Although you may be tempted to buy the litter that’s on sale, choose a litter that’s right for your cat instead.

Environmental Factors

Paying attention to your cat’s environment can help you make the right choices when it comes to your selection of litter boxes.

Is your cat an arthritic senior or a small kitten? If so, choosing a litter box with low sides can help make climbing in and out of the box easier for your feline friend. Notice that Fluffy is missing her intended corner of the box? Perhaps a larger pan can give her the room she needs to dig around and do her business.

Another common mistake cat owners make when choosing a litter box is choosing a style with a covered top. Although it may be more aesthetically pleasing, odors are easily trapped within the hood of the covered pan, making litter box odors more pungent than normal. Since cats (and all animals) have extreme sense of smells, don’t be surprised if your cat chooses an alternate, better-smelling location to eliminate.

Of course, there can be other reasons your cat has stopped using her litter box, possibly due to painful urination or defecation related to a potential medical issue. Should you suspect your cat is ill, schedule a visit with your veterinarian right away.

Save The Coasts From Dead Zones!

August 18, 2008

The green pet litter community has recently become aware of a serious health threat to sea otters living off the coast of California, caused by improper disposal of cat waste. As a community rooted in the mission of pet health and environmental responsibility, we feel we need to help educate the public.

Most domestic cats carry a parasite called Toxoplasmosis Gondii (TG). Traditionally, TG has only been a concern for pregnant women handling the litter box. TG has no effect on other family members, including cats, dogs or other pets. However, research has found that TG is making its way to our oceans by way of toilets and storm drains.

TG can survive the sewage treatment process and flow freely into the ocean along with otherwise clean treated water. Shockingly, TG is to blame for nearly 20% of all sea otter deaths today. The State of California has already passed a law requiring citizens to properly dispose of cat feces in the trash, with hefty fines for non-compliance. Pressure is being applied to other coastal communities, both east and west, to do the same.

Cat Litter – The Dust Settles

August 18, 2008

First of all, what is Kitty Litter? If you have a cat or two, you are well acquainted with kitty litter; a substance you deal with on a daily basis. You wrestle the boxes or bags home from the grocery store, you pour the mixture into your litter pan(s) and then in the days that follow, you diligently scoop and scoop, and discard soiled litter placing new in the pan every time.

But what exactly is it made of? Where did it come from? Why does some kitty litter clump and others do not? How many different kinds of kitty litter are there? Is kitty litter really safe?

Starting from Scratch…

In 1947 a neighbor asked a gentleman, by the name of Edward Lowe, for something to use for her cat’s elimination needs. Currently using ashes and dirt, she explained her husband was upset over the odor and had told her that if she couldn’t find something else, the cat had to go!

Lowe operated a small business out of his home, where he sold clay to garage owners to soak up oil spills and cover gasoline leaks. He suggested his clay as an alternate means for his neighbor’s problem. Lowe went into his garage and came back with a cardboard box full of his clay product and presented it to his neighbor. The next morning, the neighbor elatedly reported that the clay litter was a wonderful alternative for her.

Upon hearing this, Edward decided to take a big chance. He rented a large semi-trailer and truck, and coined the phrase “kitty litter” bypainting a sign for the sides of the truck. Then he began to truck his kitty litter across the United States. He stopped at cat shows and trade shows to give away his product.

The gamble paid off. The idea was so well received by grateful catowners, and the litter industry was born. In 1991 Edward Lowe sold the rights to the kitty litter filler from his then multi-million multi-national company.

The Inside Scoop

The conventional kitty litter consists of filler made from clay and/or sometimes silica. You know what silica is. Silica comes in those really small envelopes inside new aspirin bottles, shoeboxes and beef jerky. Silica’s purpose; too maintain freshness.

The clay litter comes as Bentonite or Attapulgite/Montmorillonite. Bentonite known also as the “performance mineral,” can be found in a wide variety of products ranging from environmental products to hazardous waste control. Bentonite is dug out of the earth and processed in special manufacturing plants. Bentonite attracts water to its negative face and magnetically holds the water firmly in place. Bentonite can absorb up to 7-10 times its own weight.

Transported to a special facility in large trucks, then loaded into long cylinder rotary dryers, the clay has approximately 15-20% of its moisture removed. The finished product contains a moisture content of between 7-10%. The bentonite then becomes processed into either a fine powder or granulated into small flakes, packaged for commercial use, the mixture becomes something cat owners now utilize; Scoopable Kitty Litter.

What A Waste

If it comes from the earth, then it must be environmentally safe, right? According to the Bureau of Waste Management, approximately 8 billion pounds of kitty litter is dumped into landfills every year! That is over twice the amount of disposable diapers! Also within the clay litter there lays an inherent risk factor. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, silicon particles which can be found in clay litter are a known human carcinogen. Breathing in these particles can cause respiratory illness.

When your cat goes to cover her waste, this dust is kicked up and introduced into the room. Distributed on the floor and anywhere else it chooses to settle, the dust becomes an invasive intruder. Research has shown that silicon particles do indeed cause cancer-like symptoms in lab rats, but so far, there is no data available to say if it does the same in cats. Although there exists evidence that silicon particles cause problems in humans, case studies available only show that cats with respiratory illnesses have six times the amount of silica in their lungs than healthy cats do. But the studies are greatly overshadowed by the needs of cat owners, and the availability and ease of using clay litter.

Another fact that immerged as this article was being researched included numerous reports that clumping litter and kittens do not mix. Kittens are quite curious and some of them taste the litter, or lay down in the pan. Because the litter performs when it meets moisture and swells, and kittens routinely lick themselves clean after using the litter pan, if clumping litter gets inside of their system problems can result. Vomiting, frothing at the mouth, and intestinal blockages are only some of the symptoms that can occur. Always err on the side of caution with kittens and use an alternative litter until they are grown and not so apt to sample kitty litter. Green litters are a good choice for the kitten’s needs.

Cat Litter Goes Green

Although Green Litters are slowly making their appearance and steadily gaining in popularity, it will be quite some time before they actually corner the market and take away the potential sales that clay litter now holds so firm. Green litters are made out of everything from crushed walnut shells, to compressed sawdust, recycled paper, wheat, pine, alfalfa, and even corn. The Green Movement Group claims their litter is safe, biodegradable, even scoopable and/ or flushable, as well as super absorbent. One company boasts that not only does their litter weigh less, but you use less, for the litter goes a long way before needing to be replaced.

Plastic trays to hold the litter have made headway into technological advances, and now you have your choice between computerized litter pans that remove the waste after the cat exists the pan, or a litter robot (an ingenious device that rotates and removes the waste material in timed intervals after your cat exits the robot). There are companies that design litter containment furniture, litter air filtration devices, and even a kit where you can train your cat to use your toilet instead of the litter pan.

The litter industry has traveled a long way since 1947 when Edward Lowe displayed his burst of generosity, trucking his product to give it away to all the cat lovers across the United States. Today the Litter Industry rakes in over 700 million dollars a year! It’s a competitive business, but someone has to help make it cleaner, and smell fresher. There are a lot of companies trying and succeeding, because with careful research, and cautious investing, they are finding the needs of cat owners are paramount. If they can come up with the right formula to stop the odor, and cut down on the waste, they can become a success in the kitty litter industry today. They can really clean up!

Mary Anne Miller is a free-lance writer, and member of the Cat Writers’ Association. She is a web copy writer, and passionate about feral cats/kittens and bottle babies. You can read more by Mary Anne at her Feral Cat Behavior Blog.

Silicosis and Lung Cancer News: Silica Cat Litters

August 18, 2008

What are the health effects of clumping cat litter on humans? Are there any negative side effects from breathing the actual litter?

–Andy and Taeja Klukas, Maple Grove, MN

Clay-based cat litters contain crystalline silica, the main component in sand, rock and mineral ores. A possible health threat from clay-based litters is posed by silica dust, which can be kicked up and breathed in by both cats and humans. Prolonged exposure to silica dust causes silicosis, a non-cancerous but sometimes fatal lung disease. Crystalline silica dust is also a suspected carcinogen, associated with bronchitis and tuberculosis. Although exposure to this dust is of great concern to those working in mines or on construction sites, the effects on cat owners exposed while cleaning their cat’s litter box are virtually unknown.

However, respiration problems are not the only thing to consider when purchasing litter for your cat. All cats clean their fur and paws, which can be coated with clay litter from using the litter box. Clumping litters in particular can be harmful to your pet because, once ingested, the litter expands and absorbs moisture in the intestines, causing blockages and dehydration, and preventing the absorption of nutrients. For this reason, the ASPCA recommends not using clumping litter for kittens.

Aware of the possible risks of silica dust and other side effects from clay litters, many cat owners are opting for healthier, more environmentally-sound alternatives. Dust-free litters like Feline Pine or Swheat Scoop are biodegradable, less harmful if ingested by pets, and produce no dangerous respirable dusts. They both contain no chemical additives, fragrances or dyes, are completely flushable, and can even be used as compost or mulch.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30333
Tel. (404) 639-3311 

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