Should You Switch To A Premium Clumping Cat Litter?

There has been a lot of conversation within the pet community these last few years about the dangers of using a clumping cat litter. Is it really a danger? Can a premium clumping cat litter minimize these dangers?
What The Fuss Is About
There are two components in cat litter that people are concerned about. The first is sodium bentonite. When wet, the pieces of bentonite clay will stick together – clump – making it very easily removed from the rest of the litter. The entire litter box does not need to be discarded weekly – the soiled portions can be scooped out and discarded, and more added to bring the level of litter back up to the appropriate level for your cat (usually 2-3 inches).
However, those pieces, when wet, will grow to up to 15 – 18 times their original size, making them dangerous if ingested. A kitty or cat, cleaning itself with its tongue, could easily ingest a few pieces of the litter. If it is eaten, critics of clumping cat litter suggest than the litter can expand with the kitten, given the moist conditions, and that the litter can grow to block the digestive passage of the cat or kitten. They claim many kittens have died from this very condition, eating clumping cat litter. The Premium style is less likely to be ingested accidentally, and that’s one benefit of premium clumping cat litter.
Pet owners are also concerned about the dust from the kitty litter that their cat or kitten might breath in. The dust, fine as it is, could conceivably coat the inside of the cat’s lungs, giving them respiratory problems.
Also, clumping cat litter includes quartz silica. This component is a known carcinogen. It has been tested and deemed dangerous for humans. Can we even dare to assume it would be less dangerous for smaller creatures, cats and kittens?
What The Premium Clumping Cat Litter Manufacturers And Other Experts Say
Those who manufacture premium clumping cat litters say that they have studies the claims extensively. Many are members of the Sorptive Minerals Institute (SMI), their nationwide trade organization. As soon as the SMI heard of any concerns, they began an extensive investigation. They interviewed people who had no preconceived bias one way or the other about the issue. These included pet store owners, cat owners, and veterinarians. None were aware of any problems of a health nature that could be directly linked back to the clumping litters. They also investigated the situation thorough the National Animal Poison Control Center (University of Illinois), and followed up on the names and comments that had been reported through that agency. Those who were available were contacted, as well as their veterinarians. They even autopsied the animals that supposedly had died from the clumping litter. All autopsies showed that death was due to some other underlying cause.
But did the premium clumping cat litter manufacturers or SMI check into the claims of the original holistic veterinarian who raised this issue in the first place? Yes, SMI did. That veterinarian was not able to give any evidence that links clumping cat litter (premium or otherwise) to either sickness or death. Also, the ASPCA still recommends clumping cat litter, as they have identified no health risks related to using it with pets.
The Bottom Line?
Despite the claims to the contrary, there is no scientific evidence that links clumping cat litter (premium, dust free types or otherwise) to any health issues. We can continue to use clumping cat litter, whether premium or not, in comfort.