Taking Care of Your Cat’s Litter Box
Taking Care of Your Cat’s Litter Box . The majority of households in the United States keep cats as pets. The most recent edition of the United States Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook was published in 2002, and it said that there were approximately 70 million cats kept as pets in the United States. Why are cats considered to be so popular? There are as many responses to this question as there are people who keep cats, but the fact that cats represent very few health concerns to their owners is almost surely going to be towards the top of the list. Even though there is a little probability of people being exposed to health hazards from cats, it is essential for individuals who own cats to be aware of these dangers and knowledgeable about how to minimize them.
The cat’s litter box and/or the cat’s waste are responsible for the vast majority of the potential health problems that might arise as a result of owning a cat. There are two types of dangers to consider. The first category discusses the dangers that germs and parasites bring to the health of cat owners as well as the cats in their care. The second group includes injuries that occurred as a result of using an automated litter box or a litter box that cleans itself.
Toxoplasmosis is the most significant of the health concerns associated with cats, and the majority of the health issues that cat owners or their cats face originate from the first group of health problems. Toxoplasmosis is an infection that is caused by a tiny parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite can be found in foods such as raw or undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and vegetables, dirty cat litter boxes, and outdoor soil that contains cat feces. Toxoplasmosis can lead to serious health complications, including blindness and even death. More than sixty million people in the United States may be infected with the Toxoplasma parasite, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (1). Because of this, fortunately, very few people ever suffer any symptoms. This is because the immune system of a healthy person typically prevents the parasite from producing sickness. On the other hand, pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems, such as those who are infected with the HIV virus, are at danger and should take steps to avoid contracting the parasite that causes the disease. An infection with the parasite Toxoplasma might result in major health issues for the patient, as well as for the unborn child of a pregnant woman, if the patient is a pregnant woman.
Again, the vast majority of the more than 60 million people in the United States who are infected with the toxoplasmosis parasite will never show any signs of the disease. The vast majority of people who do have symptoms will mistakenly believe they have the flu since the symptoms most commonly associated with influenza include swollen glands, fever, headache, muscular discomfort, or a stiff neck. Toxoplasmosis can cause damage to the brain, eyes, and internal organs in those who are considered to be at high risk for the disease. According to the Food and Drug Administration of the United States, infants born with Toxoplasma gondii might suffer from hearing loss, mental retardation, and blindness. Additionally, some children may have issues with their brain or eyes years after birth (2). According to estimates provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 400 and 4,000 fetuses become infected with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite each year, and as many as 80 newborns succumb to toxoplasmosis each year (2).
The question now is, how can a person become infected with toxoplasmosis? Ingestion of the Toxoplasma gondi parasite will result in the development of a toxoplasmosis infection. The majority of people who keep cats become infected with the parasite as a result of unintentionally consuming parasite-ridden cat excrement. When a person touches their lips after handling a cat litter box, working in a garden or sand box, or touching anything that has come into contact with cat excrement, they run the risk of contracting this illness (3).
People who fall into the high-risk category may ponder whether or not they should get rid of their cats in order to protect themselves from being infected. It is not necessary for those who love cats to give up their cats, as stated by the CDC; nonetheless, it is essential for those people to take measures to protect themselves against illnesses. The following guidelines for preventing infections are provided by the US Food and Drug Administration (2):
1) If you can’t do it yourself, have someone person clean up the litter box. If you need to clean it, put on some disposable gloves first, and then wash your hands well with some soap and warm water when you’re done.
2) Make sure to clean the litter box every day. It can take anywhere from one to five days for the parasite to become contagious after the feces have been left in the litter box after it has been put there.
3) When gardening in a garden or touching sand from a sandbox, always be sure to use gloves since cat feces might be present in either of these items. After that, you should thoroughly clean your hands with some soap and warm water.
4) If you want to prevent cats from utilizing outdoor sandboxes as litter boxes, you should cover them.
5) Give your cat commercially prepared food, either dry or in cans. You should never provide raw meat to your cat since it might expose them to the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis gondii.
6) Keep indoor cats indoors. Take extra precautions if you introduce cats that normally live outside into the house.
7) Keep away from stray cats, particularly kittens.
8) If you’re expecting a baby, you shouldn’t adopt a new cat.
The following are some other recommendations that have been made by Safer Child, Inc.:
1) Have your cat checked by a veterinary professional to see if it is infected with the toxoplasmosis parasite. In the event that your cat has the infection, you should probably think about asking a friend or family member to take care of it for you while you are pregnant.
2) Sandboxes should be kept covered so that cats do not use them as litter boxes. This will discourage them from utilizing the sandbox.
3) Sandboxes in the neighborhood should be avoided at all costs since the parasite can be carried home on footwear, clothes, and toys.
Escherichia coli, more generally referred to as E. coli, can infect humans by contact with feline fecal material, just like toxoplasmosis does. However, the most common way to contract Escherichia coli is through the consumption of raw or undercooked foods. The bacteria known as E. coli is frequently discovered in the digestive tracts of both humans and animals. The vast majority of the bacterial strains do not cause any damage. However, certain strains have the potential to create potent toxins that can result in serious disease, particularly in children younger than 5 years of age (5). Symptoms often consist of diarrhea as well as cramping in the abdominal region. In children under the age of 5, renal failure can be caused by E. coli in between 2 and 7 percent of cases. Fortunately, E. coli infection may be avoided with little effort. If you or your children take the precautions that were mentioned above for toxoplasmosis, there will be a significant reduction in the likelihood that you or they may become infected with E. coli.
In addition to the dangers that cat litter boxes pose to people, there are also a few health hazards that cats face from using them, and owners of cats should be aware of these dangers. If a cat is coerced into using a dirty litter box, it puts its health in jeopardy in the same way that using a dirty litter box puts people at danger. Because cats keep themselves clean by licking themselves, letting a cat’s litter box to become excessively unclean might cause infections in cats when they wipe their paws after using the dirty litter box. This is because cats keep themselves clean by licking themselves. Urinary tract infections are the most frequent form of infection, and while they seldom result in the cat’s death, they may be quite painful for your cat and will likely require treatment from your veterinarian.
The usage of cat litter itself is really the source of one of the less well-known dangers to cats’ health. What many people who own cats don’t understand is that some varieties of cat litter may be extremely hazardous to their pet’s health, and in extreme cases, even death. Cats are susceptible to a variety of health issues caused by their litter, regardless of whether or not it clumps. Because of its ease, their sanitary properties, and the fact that clumping litters are necessary for use in self-cleaning litter boxes, clumping cat litters are perhaps the most common form of cat litter. Clumping litters are also required for use in automatic litter boxes. Regrettably, some clumping litters include chemicals that are toxic to cats. Clumping litters made with clay have a chance of containing the mineral sodium bentonite, which is toxic to cats and might even be deadly to them. Clay-based cat litters should be avoided at all costs, especially when dealing with young kittens. Clumping cat litters made from wheat or maize, such as Swheat Scoop, World’s Best Cat Litter, and Littermaid cat litter, are highly effective and do not include any hazardous ingredients (6).
Clumping litters are designed to absorb and isolate a cat’s urine and feces, whereas non-clumping litters are designed to not achieve either of these things. When you use litter that does not clump together, it will be much more difficult to maintain a clean litter box for your cat. It is imperative that the litter box be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis when using litter that does not form clumps. This will help limit the likelihood of bacterial buildups, which can lead to urinary or other types of illnesses in your cat.
Injuries resulting from the usage of an automated litter box, also known as a self-cleaning litter box, fall under the second category of health concerns. Although instances of this kind of damage are not common, they are not unheard of either. The function of an automated or self-cleaning litter box is exactly what one may expect from its name. After a cat has used the litter box, the litter box will automatically clean itself by “sweeping” or “raking” the cat waste into a bag or compartment that is shut off. This process typically takes between ten and fifteen minutes. If a young kid or toddler is allowed to play with an automated litter box while it is going through its cleaning cycle, the owner of the cat might be seriously injured. Sensors are included in all of the major manufacturers of automated litter boxes today. These sensors are designed to deactivate the cleaning process if they detect a cat or another foreign object within the litter box. However, even if youngsters put their hands within the cleaning mechanism in such a way as to avoid the sensors, they still run the risk of sustaining injuries.
Even though incidents of this kind of injury are extremely uncommon, it is nevertheless prudent to take measures. The litter box should be placed in an area that is accessible to your cat but not to little children. This is a straightforward procedure. This is sound advice for any litter box, since it is the most effective approach to protect youngsters from becoming infected with one of the diseases that were discussed previously in this article. If you are unable to keep the automated litter box out of your child’s reach, the safest option is to place the litter box inside of a cover designed specifically for litter boxes. There are many different kinds of coverings, and each one of them can assist in preventing a youngster from gaining access to the litter box and the mechanism that cleans it. The last choice is to either disconnect the litter box from its power supply or switch its mode to “manual operation.” In any case, the person who owns the cat will be responsible for initiating the cleaning cycle whenever it is required. Even if the automated litter box loses part of its convenience as a result of this change, there is no longer any risk to the safety of children.
Litter boxes that clean themselves, often known as automatic or self-cleaning litter boxes, are fully risk-free for virtually all cats. However, the majority of manufacturers suggest that the “manual operation” mode of the litter box be utilized for cats weighing less than 5 pounds. Cats weighing less than 5 pounds could not be big enough to trigger the sensors, and the machinery that cleans the litter box might hurt them. Because most adult cats weigh more than 5 pounds, the “manual operation” option should only be used on kittens until they reach a weight of 5 pounds themselves.
This post is not meant to discourage anybody from keeping a cat in any way, shape, or form. It’s impossible for 70 million cat owners to be mistaken: cats make wonderful pets. Therefore, whether you currently have a cat or are considering getting one in the near future, it is in your best interest to be informed of the potential health problems that are linked with cat ownership. If you are a cat owner, it is in your best interest to educate yourself on the potential dangers.