Can Corn Litter Hurt Cats?

Clumping and non-clumping cat litters can be made from dried corn.

Clumping and non-clumping cat litters can be made from dried corn.

When companies recall pet products because of an issue with supposedly harmless, natural ingredients, it raises the red flag on other products containing the same elements. Your cat doesn't munch on the corn litter in her box, but there still could be an issue with corn and her health.

Corn Allergy

Corn products are on the list of the top substances that cats are allergic to. That should be a concern if your cat is allergic to corn. Even the smallest bit of cat litter accidentally swallowed during a grooming session could produce an allergic reaction, depending on how sensitive your kitty is. Also, many times the decision to switch to an organic cat litter starts out with wanting to reduce or eliminate litter dust. But corn litter is not entirely dust-free, and it has been linked to increased incidents of asthma in cats as well as to making symptoms worse for cats who already have asthma.

A Possibly Dangerous Development

One of the reasons for pet food recalls from 2005 through 2011 was a chemical called aflatoxin. This substance is produced by mold on corn and other crops, Pet Place explains. Aflatoxin can cause liver damage in pets. Symptoms can include fever, vomiting, loss of appetite and sluggishness. Aflatoxin reportedly has harmed dogs, and cats aren't immune to the substance. That is why both dog and cat foods have been recalled. The aflatoxin issue has been limited to contaminated foods. But you might want to ask your vet whether you should avoid using corn litter in your kitty's box, as a safety precaution against aflatoxin.

Other Organic Cat Litters

If you were thinking of using corn litter and now aren't sure, there's still other organic options for kitty's commode. An entire industry puts out alternative litters made from things such as wheat, pine, cedar, walnut shells and paper. Vetinfo reports that these are available in clumping and or non-clumping forms that perform as well as their sand and clay counterparts. Some organic varieties are even flushable.

Advantages of Organic

There are a number of reasons for choosing organic cat litters made from corn or other non-clay ingredients. Although not dust-free, most produce less dust than clay litters, which is a plus not just for housekeeping, but also for the respiratory health of you and your cat. Some natural litters are green, too: Many are made from recycled products and are biodegradable.

Ingredients to Avoid

When you're kitty health-conscious, you start reading labels, even on cat litter. Just because the packaging says "natural" doesn't mean that all of the ingredients are safe. When deciding which type of litter to buy for your cat's box, avoid those that contain crystalline silica and sodium bentonite, which can cause respiratory and digestive problems. Also, according to Vetinfo, sodium bentonite is not biodegradable and has been known to prevent plants from growing in soil that contains that compound.

 

About the Author

Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images