Cat Litter Dust Management

Cat litter dust has traditionally been a less pleasant part of cat ownership, but smart owners can reduce the amount of litter dust by using some readily available products.

Cat Litter Dust Hazards

The dust created by clay-based cat litter can pose a risk to both cats and people. Cat owners have reported allergic or asthmatic reactions to the dust in both their pets and themselves. If you suddenly develop allergic symptoms (such as sneezing, watery eyes or runny nose), consult with an allergist to determine if you’re allergic to the litter dust or something else in your home. Ask another, non-allergic family member to handle the litter box cleaning chores until you and your doctor have determined the cause of your allergy.

If your cat suddenly starts showing signs of allergies, such as sneezing, coughing or if she refuses to use the litter box, change to a dust-free litter. You might also have to switch to a ceramic or metal litter box, which are less likely to collect dust and dirt than plastic litter boxes.

Make Dust-Free Cat Litter Choices

One way to lower the amount of dust created by your cat’s litter box is to choose a litter that isn’t made of clay or bentonite. Among the materials used in cat box fillers are wheat, corn, recycled newspapers, silica gel and pine, all of which are less dusty than traditional clay litters. Another innovative method some frugal cat owners have chosen involves making litter from newspaper, water, baking soda and dishwashing liquid.

Covered Litter Boxes Help Contain Dust

Another way to reduce the dust levels in your home is to use a covered litter box. Any dust kicked up by your cat’s scratching will stay in the box, rather than being circulated in the air. Adding an air cleaner or air filter to the room that contains the litter box can also help reduce the amount of airborne dust.

In addition to the covered box, provide your cat with a mat or towel she can walk across after she’s used the litter box. Having a towel underfoot will help clean her paws so she won’t track litter dust through your home.

Wear a Dust Mask

When filling your litter box, pour the litter in slowly to minimize the amount of dust that's stirred up. Wear a dust mask if necessary to reduce the amount of potential dust you'll inhale. Consider filling or changing your cat's litter box in the garage to reduce the amount of airborne dust in your home. If you live in a temperate climate, changing or filling the litter box on a porch or patio provides additional air circulation around the box and reduces the amount of dust you'll inhale or bring into your home.