Diatomaceous earth for cats has risen sharply in popularity in recent years. Whether it’s as a pesticide for worms or fleas, or to reduce the stink coming from your kitty litter box, ever increasing numbers are turning to this natural product to solve their problems. But before you dive into the diatomaceous earth barrel, pause for a second. Because we don’t yet have a lot of evidence on it’s safety for our feline friends.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of extremely tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Over time, these organism accumulate in the dirt of rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. And these tiny creatures’ skeletons are made out of silica.
Silica is actually extremely common. In fact, it has been theorized that silica makes up about 26% of the earth’s crust. Their fossils, however, become a specific kind of silica compound, called silicon dioxide.
Silicon dixoide is created when silica reacts with oxygen and water. Which is exactly what happens when these organisms die underwater and decay over a long period of time. The resulting diatomaceous earth is rich in silicon dioxide, and it can be mined from beneath lakes, and places water used to be, like some deserts.
How Is Diatomaceous Earth Used For Cats?
The most common use of diatomaceous earth for cats is to combat fleas. Many pet owners are tempted to flee(!) from harsh chemicals and chose something a little more “natural” to combat this problem.
Diatomaceous earth for cats has also been advertised to combat internal parasites, such as tapeworms. This use is not as common as the previous one. However, it is regularly enough suggested that is deserves a look.
Lastly, diatomaceous earth has also been proposed as an all-natural cat litter. Many cat owners are opting to switch to this seemingly better alternative over the more traditional, clay cat litter.
Diatomaceous Earth for Cat Fleas
Diatomaceous earth has been used for a while as a pesticide, and has actually been shown to be pretty good at preventing and disrupting insect infestations. It’s effective against insects because, when finely ground, it can pierce a number of insect’s exoskeletons and dehydrate them from the outside in.
One study in particular explored the effectiveness on diatomaceous earth on beetles. It found that, while diatomaceous earth wasn’t entirely effective against killing older insects, it did cause a substantial drop in the population of various insects.
Another study found that the specific species of the bug, dose rate, and temperature all played a major role in how well it worked. However, in nearly every case, it did prove to be decently effective.
Diatomaceous earth works through a mechanical, rather than chemical function. Because of this, your pet’s liver does not have to work to process it and is does not enter your pet’s blood system.
Due to this fact, it is generally safe. Furthermore, it is also effective against many types of bugs, including fleas, and might therefore be considered an effective treatment and prevention measure.
How to Apply Diatomaceous Earth to Cats
When using diatomaceous earth for fleas on cats, it is important to make sure that it is food grade, not pool or industrial grade. This is because it is not completely uncommon for your pet to ingest whatever you put on their fur.
You should also avoid the eyes when rubbing diatomaceous earth onto your pet’s skin. It is an abrasive after all. Make sure that the product comes into contact with your pet’s skin. You don’t just want it sitting around in the fur, but directly in the area that the fleas will be feeding.
How Often To Use It
Usually, weekly application is plenty to prevent fleas. However, if you’re trying to get rid of a present flea infestation, you might want to re-apply daily until you notice improvement and then move out to weekly for prevention.
Diatomaceous Earth for Cat Worms
Worms are actually extremely common in cats. On top of this, testing for worms is often difficult and ineffective, which can make treatment even more unsure and complex.
However, it has been found that many internal parasites perish when exposed to diatomaceous earth. This is due to the same properties that cause diatomaceous earth for cats to be effective against worms.
Diatomaceous earth is abrasive, and can therefore cut and injure small insects. Its high silica content also dehydrates organisms when they are engulfed in it.
Still, in order for an internal parasite to come into contact with diatomaceous earth you cat would, simply put, have to eat it.
Can Cats Eat Diatomaceous Earth?
This is complicated in itself (my cat won’t even eat cat treats half the time), but also comes with its own set of risks.
Diatomaceous is an abrasive after all, and can cause damage to your pet’s digestive tract. It also has the potential to cause dehydration not just for your cat’s worms, but your cat as well.
On top of this, we simply do not have very much information involving the safety of diatomaceous earth for cats. There have been no studies done on its effectiveness or safety as a treatment for internal parasites.
For this reason, it is extremely important to only use this under a vet’s supervision.
Diatomaceous Earth Cat Litter
Diatomaceous earth has been used as a component in cat litter for a very long time. Now, however, more and more cat litter brands are developing litter that contains more diatomaceous earth than in the past.
This is because diatomaceous earth is both extremely absorbent, like most silica, and more environmentally friendly than clay-based litters.
Most sewer systems can handle diatomaceous earth being flushed down the toilet, while clay tends to be a different story.
Diatomaceous earth also smells better (at least, in my opinion) and can be far less dusty than traditional cat litter.
Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Cats?
There has simply not been enough studies done regarding diatomaceous earth treatments in cats for us to say whether it is truly safe or not.
Many experts agree that diatomaceous earth is okay for external use in cats, such as a flea treatment or cat litter. This is because it does not actually come into contact with a cat’s organs and does not have to be filtered out by a cat’s liver.
However, internal use is a different story. We do not know exactly how diatomaceous earth reacts with a cat’s bodily systems.
Use internally is not complete unadvised, but it does need to be done only under the careful eye of a veterinarian.
Bill Mayne says
where and what type of Diatomacious Earth is recomended for cat litter purposes and where do i buy it
DIY Tube Video says
You can get it at Tractor Supply or most animal feed supply stores. Also at some hardware stores but its not always good grade then.
…if I can’t get the mouse away from the cat, which I try to do first.
DE as kitty litter? What? No!
Invites respiratory problems if inhaled. Digging kicks up the dust.
How long do I put diatomaceous earth food grade in my cats food for fleas and digestion?
DONNA MAGGIOLINO says
My moms cat keeps on having worms what type of Diamaceous Earth Would be good for her to get?
I gave food grade Diamaceous Earth to my two cats for worms. They would wriggle out of the cats’ bottoms whenever they slept, so it was easy to see there was no improvement. When I finally started seeing traces of blood in the smaller cat’s stool, I gave up and got them a dewormer from the pet supply store. I may just try it again, but on their skin this time for fleas.
Thanks for this article. I think it’s important to mention that diatomaceous earth is EXTREMELY damaging to the lungs and so sprinkling it into cats fur or putting it in their litter box is ill advised as they will likely breathe it in causing irreparable damage. Humans also should wear masks when using it for pest control around the house. This is an item that definitely needs more research before we “sprinkle” it anywhere.
sheila pimentel says
My cat got very sick all the sudden and I have diatonateous earth, not the food grade, around the baseboards of my room. My ex seems to think that he ingested some and is poisened by it. I’ve had the same stuff there for a year and it hasn’t done anything all that time. I think its something else and I know what your thinking “take him to the vet” $$ I dont have unfortunatly
Hi Sheila, There are charities that will help if you can’t afford vet treatment. It is very important that your cat goes to the vet if she is sick. Give them a call and ask about financial help, they will hopefully be able to direct you to someone who can make sure your cat gets the care he needs.
Donald Baranowske says
Great suggestion, but it would sure be a lot better post if you would have included some of the charities names, because I am in the same situation my boy Rockie is sick and took him to the vet once 400.00 dollars later and he is still sick, and can not afford another vets opinion and another treatment, kindly list some of those charities.
Without knowing your location, charities typically can’t be named. Check your local rescues. My local rescue helps people in need with their pets. Or google charities. The suggestion is a good one but you have to be willing to do the research. Good luck!
Definitely contact some of your local rescue groups. If you don’t know of any, contact some of the vet offices, and ask them for local rescue groups that could help, or call the local pet stores. Pet stores usually know of rescue groups around town. Our rescue group helps people in need, or we have individuals that will help out when someone needs assistance. I hope both of the posters above kitties recover and are doing better.
Carla Farrar says
Pippa ,Where are you Located??? Because here in Leland NC theses are some real Fake Animal loving Vets .They charge you out the YingYang for a visit much Less treatment…They want to know your Payment Method Before they’ll Speak with you on Phone… Practically… I’ve got several Stray cats that’s taken up here or dropped off that I’ve had fixed myself to prevent More, and they still won’t give me a break, I pray to Win lottery so I can Help Animal lover’s that’s Saved Feral cats lives to have a Vet that will see and Treat , theses Furbabes, For theses Wonderful, Thoughtful People’s…Thanks Blessings your way, Carla
Humane society gives discounts based on your pay. Google discount vet you will see local vet .
Carla Farrar says
What’s Location Not in Wilmington, Leland NC Thanks
Had fleas in my house. Sprinkled diatomaceous earth throughout and let it sift down into the carpeting. Never had fleas in house again. Also good against bed bugs I hear.
DIY Tube Video says
I have been using DE for many years on my cats, chickens and myself as needed. For fleas on cats I just put it at the base of the neck and gently rub it in. If the cat eats some while washing then its a bonus and can kill internal parasites. I have never used any chemicals on my cats for many years now.
I treat chickens with DE to treat mites. This has saved my birds many times through the years.
Which brand do you use? I need it for fleas. If I can put it on my cats fur without harm that will be a great thing!
Go to health food store. It will cost under$30 for a large bag.
Brand does not matter. What matters is that is states “food grade” somewhere on the packaging.
Would DE work as a topical for possible mites around ears and face if food grade and made into a paste?
Sorry, it’s for my cats.
No. Water negates the properties
Jennifer T Wilks says
What, if known, are the eide effects of diatomaceous earth on cats?
Thank you so much for putting a balanced, scientifically supported and cited article on the internet! All I’ve been able to find is people who want to argue one side without acknowledging the other and without giving any proof
I use Food grade Diatomaceous Earth for both my cats, since they were 1 year old. I put half a teaspoon each in their evening meal, and once a week rubbing a little into their fur, especially around their neck, ears and tummies.
They are aged 4 and 5 and neither have ever had an issue with worms or fleas. They spend most of their time either indoors or in the garden. We have a wood nearby and they do visit there daily. They chase rodents etc, and occasionally bring them home, but I have never seen them attempt to eat one.
Most people actually comment on the condition of their coats, which are soft and glossy.
Is DE safe to use with advantage 2 for my cat with fleas.
How young can you use DE on kittens.
My daughter owns a Bengal. Having issues with crystals in her urine. Is in process of veterinarian care….would diatomaceous have any positives with helping in this situation do you think?
No don’t. It is so abrasive. Crystals in urine is a metabolic problem and DE will have no affect, except to irritate an already sensitive system. DE should only be used externally for fleas and with caution. Even external use on skin can cause reaction. DE in the litter box can cause reactions on kitty’s pads, when they clean their paws they will be ingesting the DE. Better to avoid. Better safe than sorry. There are so many natural products to help cats that have the test of testing and time behind them. More research is needed.
Becky Ulmer says
I’m going to start using DE on my cat for fleas, since all other things have stopped working.
I have had great success with adding garlic power, regular from store, in the wet food at night, about 1/4 t. for worms. No worms since I started it.
DO NOT give your cat GARLIC!!! It pops the cats red blood cells. The cat will eventually become anemic.
I was wondering how long you will see the tape worm segments after giving a cat demencus earth?