So flushable cat litter is apparently a thing now… or is it?
Just when so many excited cat parents are gearing up to get the inside scoop on flushing kitty litter, it now seems this new invention isn’t good for our planet, its people, its marine life or its felines.
So, is flushing cat litter really eco-friendly?
Will it hurt the environment, or your toilet, or your pipes?
What are the pros and cons of using flushable cat litter versus the regular kind?
Are there any brands of flushable cat litter that are safe to use in every way and with every type of pipe system (the holy grail of flushable kitty litter)?
Read on as we sift through the claims, the critics and the clumps to discover the real truth about flushable cat litter!
What is flushable kitty litter?
Imagine you are a brand-new kitty parent.
You love everything about caring for your new feline – except for changing and cleaning out the litter box.
Yuck! So stinky! So dusty! Such a mess!
But then one day as you are browsing through the “pet care” aisle at your local grocer, you spy the most interesting new product.
“Flushable kitty litter!” the package proclaims.
You are delighted! You nab one – okay, two – bags, thinking this is the perfect solution to all your litter box woes.
What you don’t yet realize, however, is that just because something is labeled flushable doesn’t mean it should be flushed.
Like that oh-so-good deal that sounds too good to be true, there can be more to flushable cat litter than what the package label indicates.
Flushable kitty litter pros
There is no doubt the pros of flushable cat litter can sound pretty attractive.
The biggest pro, of course, is that you don’t have to clean the cat litter box the old-fashioned way anymore.
No crouching, no scraping, no wiping, no washing, no heavy lifting – just flush the used litter down the commode and go on about your day.
You can also do away with the need for plastic bags, which represent a significant landfill hazard in their own right.
(Of course, here you could always just switch to using biodegradable plastic bags, but more on that option in a later section here.)
Another pro is that flushable cat litter is non-clay-based, so if you are trying to get away from using clay litters for reasons of feline health, personal preference or planetary impact, this can be another attractive incentive to switch to a flushable cat litter.
Flushable cat litter cons
Even with all the pros, the use of flushable cat litter also carries potentially pricey cons that go way beyond simply saving the planet or easing your aching back.
One huge con many cat parents don’t learn about until too late is the impact of flushing cat litter down the toilet.
Even so-called flushable cat litter isn’t designed to flush easily (or at all) across all types of waste disposal systems.
Flushing cat litter down your pipes
Unless your home pipe system is a perfect match for the system the manufacturer used to test the “flushability” of the flushable cat litter brand you plan to use, there is simply no way to make a blanket guarantee that your particular toilet and pipes can handle it.
Plus, when you flush a cat litter product which works by expanding to absorb the moisture in cat waste, the potential for pipe clogs only increases.
If you can picture small granules moving down your toilet pipe, even while expanding by as much as 15 times their size as they go, you are already visualizing the giant pipe clog you will soon be calling your plumber in to break up!
Your toilet. Your poor, poor toilet.
If you are using the new “smart flush” toilets, the potential hazards of flushing cat litter compound still further.
The reason for this is part cat poop and part water flow.
Cat poop dehydrates rapidly after it exits your cat.
Where at first glance the waste might appear to be a soft yucky log, give it a few hours and it will rapidly transform into a fossilized yucky log.
With regular toilets that still use unhealthy amounts of biologically precious water per flush, there might still be a chance this fossil poop could disappear safely down your pipes by sheer force of water flow.
But plumbers say it is folly to even try if you are using a smart toilet.
The amount of water these new toilets operate with (around 1.6 gallons per flush) just won’t handle kitty litter, which can readily get stuck mid-flush, back up into the bowl and then spew out all over your bathroom floor. YUCK.
Is flushable cat litter septic safe?
The situation only worsens if you choose to flush kitty litter and your home uses a septic system.
Flushing anything but septic-friendly toilet paper and human waste into these sensitive systems can quickly lead to clogs, system failures and contamination of the septic field.
The truth is, there is not yet any truly flushable cat litter septic safe product.
As well, the scary truth is that no human-grade septic, sewer or waste treatment facility in use today can neutralize Toxoplasma gondii, a microscopic parasite present in cat waste that has many more lives than the average cat.
Flushable kitty litter and Toxoplasmosis
Scientific studies have proven that Toxoplasma gondii passing through human waste treatment sites emerges intact and goes on to damage the surrounding ecosystem, killing off threatened marine life and ultimately infecting people, sometimes with disastrous results.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates more than 30 million persons nationwide are currently carrying Toxoplasma gondii without realizing it.
This ticking parasitic time bomb may not manifest if you have a strong immune system, but the moment your immune system becomes compromised, you are at risk of T. gondii infection.
As well, toxoplasma infection during pregnancy can result in irreversible fetal brain damage, hearing loss and vision damage, and sometimes in infant fatality.
Safe flushable cat litter
After reading the previous sections here, you may legitimately be wondering “is kitty litter flushable after all?”
The answer is “not fully,” but perhaps not for the reasons you might be thinking.
There are two issues at work here: the litter itself and the cat waste.
There are certain newer cat litter products that are made from biodegradable materials such as cedar, pine, corn cobs, wheat and paper.
In very small amounts, paper excepting, these materials might pass safely through a non-septic toilet and pipe system, although there is still the potential for clogs to build up over time.
However, even these products often carry instructions to scoop only very small amounts into the toilet at a time, and to wait 20 to 30 minutes to let the material soften further before flushing the cat litter.
As we will discuss next, currently there is no way to safely pass both urine and solid cat waste through the human sewer system without risk of introducing the Toxoplasma gondii parasite into the human water supply and/or into the ocean, where vulnerable marine mammals will contract it and die.
Safe flushable cat litter for indoor cats
Not all cats are hosts for Toxoplasma gondii.
However, it is a very common parasite and felines are the only known beginning-stage life cycle hosts.
Most cats won’t develop symptoms so you may not know if your cat carries it.
There are two methods to reduce the chance your cat will be a T. gondii carrier: 1) keep him indoors, 2) do not feed him raw or under-cooked meat.
Cats that live indoors 24/7 and never eat raw or under-cooked meat may not contract the parasite.
If this describes your cat, then there is a higher than average chance that he may not be carrying T. gondii and will not pass the parasite into his solid waste.
In this case, you may be able to use certain flushable cat litter brands, so long as you can meet these three requirements:
- You follow the manufacturer’s flushing instructions precisely.
- Your plumber clears you to use flushable cat litter with your in-home plumbing system.
- It is legal to flush cat litter in your area (certain area prohibit it, especially in locations near marine areas).
Best safe flushable cat litter
So which cat litter is flushable?
What brands can you truly trust?
Flushable kitty litter is still a new and evolving product, and more different options are being added each year.
The best known and most popular flushable cat litter products thus far typically use wheat, corn, wood or walnut shells as a base material.
Here are our pick of products trying to grab a piece of this market:
sWheat Scoop All-Natural Fast Clumping Cat Litter
sWheat Scoop has three types: single cat fast clumping, multi-cat and premium+.
They also have several bag sizes ranging from 7 pounds to 25 pounds so you can start off small until you see how your cat reacts.
This flushable clumping cat litter is free from dyes or perfumes, is 100 percent biodegradable and is vet recommended.
World’s Best Cat Litter
This is a popular brand, but is World’s Best Cat Litter flushable?
The package does not explicitly state this litter is flushable, but cat owners not only say it is their cat’s favorite litter, but also say it flushes easily and well.
The base material for this litter is corn and there is no scent.
You can choose from bag sizes 7 pounds and up.
Healthy Pet ökocat Natural Pine Cat Litter
This cat litter that can be flushed comes in two versions: pine and wood.
Both are made of sustainable wood and are biodegradable and flushable.
This litter is pellet-based and does not clump.
The wood has an anti-microbial effect to neutralize bacteria.
You can choose from small, medium and large package sizes.
It’s A Tea Potty! Hinoki Wood & Green Tea Natural Cat Litter by Weruva
This unique wood-based flushable cat litter is low dust and free from clay, wheat, soy, corn and other grains.
It comes in two sizes.
The wood pellet cat litter flushable material clumps naturally and owners say the green tea really helps with odor control.
Next Gen Pet Green Tea Fresh Cat Litter
This all-natural wood-based cat litter uses green tea for odor control and wood for bacterial control.
The small pellets are light and easy to manage and owners really love the tea scent.
Flushable cat litter reviews state that this litter is compostable as well as flushable.
Blue Buffalo Naturally Fresh Cat Litter
The dark crushed walnut flushing kitty litter may take some getting used to, because it looks so different than what you are likely used to.
However, cat owners say it is worth a chance, and it is very low dust, biodegradable and can be flushed or composted.
You can choose from packages starting at 6 pounds.
Cat safe flushable cat litter
Whenever you decide to try a new type of cat litter, it is always a good idea to talk with your veterinarian first.
Your cat’s age, health issues, prior history and stage of life can all impact whether a given cat litter material may be more or less safe to use.
For example, even though cat litter is for the kitty toilet and isn’t supposed to be eaten, your cat may ingest small amounts when he cleans himself and licks his paws (and even when the cat litter manufacturer claims it absolutely won’t stick to the paws, it can still get trapped in your cat’s fur and ingested that way).
As well, some brands of flushable kitty litter made from grain, corn or wheat may cause food allergies or digestive disturbances or even diabetic flare-ups if your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes.
In every case, if you have any concerns it just makes sense to ask your veterinarian in advance before potentially exposing your feline to a material that might cause an adverse reaction and put her off the litter box altogether!
Cat friendly flushable cat litter
Of course, after you go through all of the preparation to switch to the best flushable cat litter, you may discover your kitty doesn’t want to use it!
Cats, like people, often resist change.
If your cat is still young, you may find it a bit easier to make the switch.
But if your cat is used to a certain type of litter that looks and smells and acts a certain way, he may be understandably hesitant to step into a litter box that contains a new and unfamiliar litter material.
Introducing your cat to flushable cat litter
The best way to help him over this hurdle is to stage the transition over a week-long period of time.
Start by using the new litter in a thin layer only on the bottom of his litter box, and then add a top layer of his familiar litter over it.
Over the course of a week, gradually change the amount of each, always using his old litter as the top layer.
At the end of a week, you may find your cat is ready to transition to the new flushable kitty litter entirely.
But don’t invest a lot in a new flushable cat litter before you see how your kitty reacts!
Buy the smallest possible amount that you can, in the event you end up having to try more than one litter before you find “the one.”
Biodegradable cat litter bags
In some areas, you may be able to at least flush biodegradable litter and cat urine down the toilet safely.
But it is never truly safe to flush cat solid waste, where it may enter the human or marine water supply.
Here, the next best option is to dispose of any material you cannot flush, such as cat solid waste, by using biodegradable plastic bags instead of regular plastic bags.
Biodegradable plastic bags are relatively inexpensive and better for the planet in every way.
They definitely provide a workable alternative to simply tossing cat litter and cat waste into a plastic bag that will sit in a landfill indefinitely.
If you want to learn more about the best biodegradable plastic bags for disposing of cat litter and waste, we invite you to take a look at this informative article.
Flushable cat litter
As you now know, the question of “can you flush cat litter?” isn’t as simple as it sounds! And neither is the question of “what cat litter is flushable?”
The most difficult part of the flushable litter versus scoop-able cat litter dilemma is that there is no “perfect” solution available as of yet.
There are only solutions that are more and less risky to people, marine life and the ecosystem.
In this article, we’ve reviewed some of the best flushable kitty litter brands so you can pick the one that sounds like the best fit for your toilet, pipes and local sewer system.
We hope this article has offered the information you need to make the best personal choice for you and your cat!
Have you tried using cat litter that can be flushed?
Have you cat and your toilet survived the change??
Please tell us how you got on in the comments section below!
Castillo, P., et al, “Kitty Litter Killer: Toxoplasma Gondii,” Rutgers, 2009.
“Parasites – Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasmis Infection),” Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 2017.
Gundel-Krieg, D., “The Scoop on Poop,” Three Lakes Association Quarterly, 2014.
Rayl, A.J.S., “Researchers Focus on Sea Otter Deaths,” Gale Academic OneFile, 2001.
Jaynes, W.F., et al, “Origin of Talc, Iron Phosphates, and Other Minerals in Biosolids,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, 2004.
Gibbs, K.B., “Things never to flush down the toilet,” Today, 2017.
Yang, W., “Detection of Toxoplasma gondii Oocysts in Water Sample Concentrates by Real-Time PCR,” Applied and Environmental Microbiology Journal, 2009.
Sanderson, S.L., “Dog and Cat Foods,” Merck Veterinary Manual, 2018.
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