Using Flushable Scoopable Cat Litter
Since 1948, when Ed Lowe pioneered the use of clay-based cat litter, cat lovers have been searching for more convenient ways to keep their indoor spaces clean and odor-free, while still enjoying the company of their feline friends. Clumping litters, introduced in the 1980s and composed of bentonite clay, have proved convenient, effective, and relatively inexpensive, which is why they make up about 60% of the total market for cat litter products.
One drawback of these litters, however, is that they are not flushable because of the characteristics that cause them to clump in the presence of moisture. But science marches on, and now there are an array of flushable, scoopable cat litters that will help keep your house smelling fresh and don’t require the labor-intensive process of dumping the soiled litter into a trash bag and hauling the heavy contents out to the dumpster or garbage can.
To Flush or Not to Flush?
Some recent studies suggest that caution is in order with regard to flushing scoopable cat litter into the sewage system, especially if you live in a highly populated coastal area with a high volume of water flow into the sea. Some researchers have noted increased mortality among sea otters and other marine mammals such as whales, believed to be caused by a parasite, toxoplasma gondii, often found in its egg stage in cat feces. In fact, pregnant women should not handle soiled cat litter at all, to completely avoid risk of contamination with this organism, which can harm developing fetuses.
The primary source of the microbe in marine mammals, scientists believe, is feces from cats that eat infected birds or other small animals, then defecate outdoors. It is thought that the toxoplasma are washed into the local watershed and, especially in coastal areas, can end up in the sea. They are thought to be concentrated in mussels and oysters, a primary food source for sea otters. However, scoopable flushable cat litter that goes into a sewer or septic system is much less likely to directly contact groundwater.
Clay or Organic Litters?
The main advantage of clay-based flushable scoopable litters is their absorbency. Some consumers also prefer the dye- and perfume-free scoopable cat litters that are widely available. However, many users prefer to use products made from renewable resources, unlike clay litters, many of which come from strip mines that can alter landscapes in unsightly ways. Fortunately, flushable scoopable litters made from corn and corn products, wheat and wheat bran, and pine are also available.