A cat litter allergy can be a very serious thing for you and your cat to deal with. Obviously they need to be able to use their cat litter regularly, and to be able to do so in comfort and ease. If you suspect that your cat has an allergy to the litter they’re using, there are certain symptoms you can look for, and simple steps you can take to relieve their symptoms and make it easier for them to use their litter box.
Symptoms of a Cat Litter Allergy
Cats can either immediately be allergic to a certain type of cat litter, especially if it’s a new kind they’ve never used before or they can develop an allergy to a litter they’ve used for a long period of time.
Either way, there are some common symptoms that you can look for to quickly assess the problem and take steps to correct it.
- Respiratory problems. If there are certain allergens in the litter your cat is using, your cat could experience respiratory problems anytime they’re near the litter. They don’t have to be right inside the box or close up to the litter in order to show symptoms, sometimes just walking by it will be enough to trigger an allergic reaction. These respiratory symptoms include sneezing, panting, wheezing, coughing, snoring, and an inflamed and irritated throat.
- Digestive problems. These are most present after a cat has used their litter box and then grooms themselves soon after coming out of it. In these cases the cat can sometimes pick up small pieces of dust from the litter and consume them, causing an allergic reaction. This is a particular problem when the cat licks their feet soon after exiting the litter box, possibly causing vomiting and diarrhea.
- Skin problems. There are often airborne irritants, especially in the areas around litter boxes that can be absorbed through the skin and cause an allergic reaction. When this happens, the cat will display symptoms such as chewing and gnawing on the paws or other random areas of the body, itchy skin, increased scratching, biting, and licking. These symptoms can often be difficult to spot because many of these are common behaviors a cat will exhibit during regular grooming. It’s when these behaviors become more excessive that there’s reason for concern.
- Physical problems. When your cat has an allergy to their litter, they may experience a number of different physical symptoms. They can be as minor as watery eyes or frequent ear infections, but they can also be much more serious, such as a swelling of the face. If this occurs you need to get your cat to a vet immediately. Swelling in the face is a common sign of anaphylactic shock in cats, which can restrict your cat’s breathing entirely. Time is of the essence when treating this type of allergic reaction because the situation can turn fatal quickly.
How to Treat a Cat Litter Allergy
The only real way to treat a cat litter allergy is to get rid of the cat litter that’s causing the allergic reaction and replace it with another. This may take some time as it’s a process of trial and error, but your patience will be rewarded with a kitty that’s comfortable and happy to use their cat litter.
Start by getting rid of any clay-based litters. These are extremely dusty and that dust that’s getting kicked up contains microscopic particles of silica, something that is especially dangerous and irritating to the lungs. Also be sure to get rid of any cat litter that is scented or has deodorizers in them. These additives contain a lot of chemicals and are not necessary for cat litter. With regular changing, you’ll keep toxins out of the air and the litter box will always smell fresh. When you use hypoallergenic cat litters, you can be sure that there are no preservatives, toxins, or additives, so you can be virtually guaranteed that your cat will not suffer an allergic reaction from it.
Clumping litters are also thought to be helpful in preventing cat litter allergies. This is because as the litter clumps, there are fewer chances that dust will get into the air or be inhaled by your cat.
A cat litter allergy can be a very frustrating thing for you and your cat. While your cat is suffering, you’ll be trying out different litters trying to find one that isn’t going to cause a reaction in your cat. But know that once you find a litter that your cat doesn’t react to, you likely won’t have to endure the process again, or go through the heartbreak of watching your cat suffer from allergy symptoms. Know which cat litters to look for, so you can know how to best help your cat.
Kate Elliott has been a freelance content writer for the past 8 years, and has written creatively her entire life. In addition to her online work, she has written a fiction novel, as well as had poetry published in the “Songs of the Heart” collection. A lover of animals since she was young, she’s also always had a dog by her side. Currently her best friend is a 13-year-old German Shepherd named Chewy.