All of the sudden Snickers is sneezing every time he goes anywhere near the litter box. He never did this before. Much like humans, felines can develop allergies that come and go. Just to be safe though, take him in for an exam to rule out a more serious condition.
Snickers develops allergies when something that isn’t normally harmful causes his immune system to overreact. Suddenly each time he goes potty, his eyes start watering, he sneezes nonstop and he scratches himself uncontrollably. You may also notice that his paws become bright red after digging through the litter. If his litter is really irritating his skin, he might also pull the fur out of his paws, leaving unsightly bald spots behind. He could even lose his appetite, throw up or have diarrhea if his allergies are really severe.
What’s Causing It?
Clumping cat litters are often scented, and some kitties are overly sensitive to strong aromas. Maybe you bought a different brand of clumping litter because it was on sale this week. Snickers’ usual stuff isn’t as heavily scented and doesn’t bother him. But this new litter sends his allergies into an uproar. Clumping litter also tends to be dusty. It’s possible that the new stuff creates a cloud of dust every time he buries his business, making him have a sudden allergy attack. If you haven’t switched litter varieties, take a look at everything surrounding the pan. Scented plug-in devices, odor-blocking carpet sprinkles or that smelly vase of potpourri next to his toilet could be causing his allergic reaction, not the actual clumping litter.
You’ll need to make Snickers’ litter box area an allergy-free zone. Your first step is providing him with an uncovered pan. Often boxes with lids trap in smells and dust, making his outbreak even worse. You can still use clumping litter, just make sure you select one that is unscented and dust-free. If the area is carpeted, stop using any scented carpet sprays or sprinkles and if you have hard floors, avoid using pine or other strong-scented products to clean. Lastly, get rid of any aromatherapy candles or plug-in units that might be adding to his outbreaks.
Clumping Litter Concerns
While being allergic to clumping litter can make Snickers vomit and have problems going to the bathroom, these symptoms might not be from an allergy. Clumping litter is generally safe and should pass through his digestive tract if he happens to swallow some. However, kittens who aren’t familiar with litter sometimes nibble it to see what it is. Additionally, kitties who suffer from pica – a condition that makes cats eat inedible things – could also wind up with large amounts of clumping litter in their bellies. When clumping litter builds up in the gut, it blocks digestion. Snickers vomits and becomes constipated or has loose watery stools as waste tries to escape around the mass. Because bowel problems and vomiting could be a sign of something more serious, take him to the veterinarian right away.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.