The Benefits of Dust Free Cat Litter

Dust free cat litter provides many benefits to cats and their owners. These include both intangible health benefits as well as the tangible benefits of a cleaner, less dusty home.

Where Litter Dust Comes From

For many years, cat owners had only one litter choice: clay. Clay was better than the previous choices (ashes, sand or sawdust), but it was dusty. The clay granules rubbed together in the bag and created dust as the cat owner brought litter home from the store. The dust escaped the bag when the litter was poured into the litter box, or the cat tracked it through the house as he walked away from his litter box.

As the cat litter industry began to expand about 20 years ago, manufacturers looked beyond clay for absorbent cat box fillers. Among the materials developed as litter box filler were wheat, corn, pine wood, recycled newspapers, citrus pulp and silica gel. All have excellent absorbing properties, they clump well to make box cleaning easier, and they provide some degree of odor control. Many of them are flushable and biodegradable, which reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills. Best of all, these natural litters are less dusty than traditional clay litters.

Litter Dust Health Concerns

Anecdotal evidence has surfaced to indicate that the dust from clay-based litters, especially those clumping litters containing bentonite, may cause health problems in cats and people. Signs and symptoms associated with litter dust include allergy and asthma concerns from inhaling the dust, and digestive system problems from a cat licking the dust off his paws or fur.

How to Prevent Litter Dust

The best way to prevent litter dust in your home is to use a natural, non-clay, dust-free litter. If some dust still escapes from the litter box, you can try the following to further reduce litter dust in your home:

  • Put a mat directly outside the litter box so your cat steps on it before he walks on your carpets or floors.
  • Set up the litter box in a well-ventilated area so air can circulate around it.
  • Wipe out the litter box with a damp paper towel when you change the litter to remove litter dust left in the box.
  • Locate the litter box out of the main traffic flow of your home to reduce the chance that litter dust will enter your home's ventilation system.
  • Wear a dust mask when changing the litter box to reduce the chances you will inhale dust.
  • Pour fresh litter into the litter box slowly and carefully to reduce the amount of dusting created during pouring.

Pregnant women and those with immune system problems need to leave litter box cleaning to someone else to protect themselves from exposure to toxoplasmosis, a spore that may be present in cat feces.