Cat Pee Cardio
March 26, 2010 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Will exercising in a poorly ventilated basement near a cat's litterbox have any detrimental effects on my health or the quality of my workout? (Aside from the unpleasantness). Should I be worried about breathing heavily in this environment? Moderate-to-vigorous cardio (elliptical) plus heavy-ish weight training, about 30-40 minutes 5x per week.
posted by Alabaster to Health & Fitness (20 answers total)
 
It won't be good for you. If you're working on cardio then you should be gulping deep lungfuls of air. It sounds like you can tell that there's unpleasantness in the air or you probably wouldn't have asked. I wouldn't worry about the weight training as much but I wouldn't want to do cardio without inhaling decent oxygen.
posted by vito90 at 12:51 PM on March 26, 2010


Are you pregnant? There's some disease associated with cat scat that Pregnant women shouldn't be near. ( do I have to say pregnant women? I know it is not redundant, but ...)
posted by Gungho at 12:51 PM on March 26, 2010


Is the litter box clean? Mine is scooped daily and I don't ever notice any fumes emanating from it.
posted by something something at 12:53 PM on March 26, 2010


gungho - you are thinking of toxoplasmosis.
posted by pinky at 12:55 PM on March 26, 2010


You're only at risk for toxoplasmosis if you handle the infected feces of a cat (or soil that has toxo in it, which a lot of soil does, or ingest infected meat) and then don't wash your hands.

Clean the litterbox so it's not smelly. Particles of litter are not going to just leap into the air if nothing's disturbing them. I'd be more concerned about possible mold spores on a (damp?) basement than the litterbox.
posted by rtha at 12:55 PM on March 26, 2010


Not to state the obvious, but clean out the litterbox on a daily basis (use scoopable litter) and there will not be an issue with unpleasantness.

Gungho is referring to toxoplasmosis, which is not an airborne concern.
posted by labwench at 12:56 PM on March 26, 2010


I'm male, and not pregnant. At least I hope not.

Follow-up: this is the only place in my house where an elliptical and weight bench will fit. If there are ill effects, any sure-fire ways to counteract them (fans?)
posted by Alabaster at 12:56 PM on March 26, 2010


If the basement doesn't have any openings to the outside - a door, a window - then the fan is just going to blow the badness around.
posted by rtha at 1:02 PM on March 26, 2010


Not to state the obvious, but clean out the litterbox on a daily basis (use scoopable litter) and there will not be an issue with unpleasantness.

Except that you may well be releasing a significant amount of diatomaceous earth into the air (lots of kitty litters use it, and it is so light it just sort of hangs as a haze after you clean the boxes for a while), and that's also not so good for the breathin'.
posted by Shepherd at 1:09 PM on March 26, 2010


any sure-fire ways to counteract them

Um, yeah, cleaning the cat litter box. If it smells bad to you then it's too dirty for the cat anyway. If it's clean then you're good.

And if you're worred about dust and stuff as Shepard mentions then get a cat litter without that problem (I've used one made from recycled paper for example).
posted by shelleycat at 1:19 PM on March 26, 2010


To clarify: It's not that the litterbox is horrible smelling. We keep it reasonably clean. It's just that it's, you know, a litterbox. Do I want to circulate that air through my cardiovascular system?

The basement doesn't have moisture problems except after extreme weather. There's a french drain and sump pump.

There are no openable windows and the door to the staircase/outside access can't be left open for various reasons.

The basement has a bathroom with a vent fan. Maybe I can leave the bathroom door open and run this fan to at least circulate a little bit of air?
posted by Alabaster at 1:21 PM on March 26, 2010


Replace one of the windows with an open-able one? Windows are pretty cheap.
posted by fshgrl at 1:31 PM on March 26, 2010


You could train your cat to use the toilet.
posted by ian1977 at 1:32 PM on March 26, 2010


To clarify: It's not that the litterbox is horrible smelling. We keep it reasonably clean. It's just that it's, you know, a litterbox. Do I want to circulate that air through my cardiovascular system?

No, as per the "significant amount of diatomaceous earth" noted by Shepherd above, which cumulatively will damage your lung tissue. Also, the less pleasant-smelling the air, the less deeply you'll breathe, and the less oxygen your body will get as you exercise, which will make you tired faster. Over time, that'll add up to not being as healthy as you could be.
posted by davejay at 1:45 PM on March 26, 2010


I'd worry more about the possibility of radon than anything to do with the cat litter.
posted by DarkForest at 2:13 PM on March 26, 2010


Put the litter box in the bathroom with the vent fan and close the door while you are exercising in the basement. Don't forget to open it when done, or the kitty won't know what to do.
posted by CathyG at 2:41 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't forget there are much healthier alternatives to clay litter. Also, you won't have a problem with odor if you clean their litter box several times a day: when you wake up, before bed, and every single time you notice the cats using it. You probably ought to get a fan in any event.
posted by aquafortis at 6:20 PM on March 26, 2010


Instead of a fan, I'd recommend a HEPA air filter. It will pick up mold spores, cat litter dust, regular basement dust, that funky smell, etc. You can buy them pretty cheap these days, and it will actually clean the air instead of just moving it around like a fan would.
posted by ErikaB at 6:53 PM on March 26, 2010


Second to what ErikaB said.
posted by Dubs at 8:17 PM on March 26, 2010


3rding the suggestion of a HEPA air filter, although I wouldn't buy just any old one off the shelf. In my experience, some perform much, much better than others. Here's a great site to reference; lots of really helpful info there including Ed's Top 10 list of air purifiers.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 4:31 PM on March 27, 2010


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