Can silicon-based cat litter cause silicosis? - Fluther
Question: A friend of mine recently lost her horse to a lung decease called silicone pneumonia. This is found in some horses in Monterey County, California. I was told that cats have gotten a similar decease from cat litter. Can breathing the litter particles cause lung decease? If so, what can be done to prevent it. Is there a particular type of cat litter that can cause this. Thank You, Lisa
Exposure to cat litter products is unlikely to cause silicosis. Cat litter products that do contain silica, generally are gel based which will not cause any lung disease. If you use a dust or particle based cat litter do check the product labeling to ensure it does not contain silica.
The present study in cats with and without lung disease was initiated to determine whether silica can be detected in airway secretions, and if so, to determine if a quantitative difference between groups could be found. It was found that cats with respiratory disease had a greater number of particles retrieved than those without lung disease. The questions that need to be answered are, (i) why did it accumulate more in cats with lung disease, and (ii) whether the presence of silica causes changes in cat lungs similar to those in man. It is suggested that cat litter induces pulmonary disease in workers who bagged aluminum silica used in cat litter (19). None of the cats in the present study had pulmonary function tests or post-mortems performed so no conclusion can could be drawn regarding alteration in pulmonary structure and function. The radiographic changes of cats with lung disease were not interpreted as consistent with pulmonary fibrosis, a common finding in radiographs from humans with silicosis. Some of the cats' radiographs were interpreted as having a nodular pattern. This pattern may be consistent with mucus accumulation in airways and not necessarily the pulmonary silicotic nodules seen in humans. Radiographically, none of the cats had intrathoracic nodal enlargement, pleural placques, or calcification of their lymph nodes. None of the cats had pulmonary neoplasia.The whole point of switching to this stuff was my cat sneezing too much, and I figured the clay and clumping clay caused too much dust. After the silicon stuff, i’ll try the newspaper pellets, but I bet that kind of litter is gonna stink unless changed often.Silica dust can be a real concern for some cat owners and cats. A dusty clay litter can contribute to silicosis, which is an inflammatory lung disease. Some veterinarians no longer recomend the use of clay litter, although documented cases of silicosis caused by cat litter are rare.I use silica gel, because I find it has the best odor control, since it desiccates everything very rapidly. It also is the lowest tracking in my estimation, but what does track is sizeable crystals. Silicosis is apparently less of an issue, since it is not nearly as dusty as clay. It has, reputedly, the same issue with possible ingestion by kittens. It also costs more, but tends to last longer. Some picky cats don't care for the texture, which can certainly cause some litterbox issues.Clay litter, if anything, tracks worse and there is a mild controversy over how healthy it is. Some cats have apparently developed respiratory silicosis from inhaling all that dust. But most cats seem to do fine.As an added absorption and deodorizing benefit, many kitty litter companies also use silica gel in their formulations. Silica gel is a porous form of silicon dioxide and is made synthetically from a compound called sodium silicate. Silica gel is most commonly found in desiccant packets in newly purchased shoes, electronics or vitamins where excess moisture would encourage the growth of mold or spoilage. Silica gel crystals work as drying agents in by trapping cat urine in their small pores while allowing the excess water to evaporate. In 1997, the classified silica as a human carcinogen yet it is estimated that roughly 95 percent of U.S. cat litter is a form of silica.