Mmmmm... clay. Miaow.
November 2, 2007 5:25 PM   Subscribe

Oh dear. Our 8 week old female kitten arrived in the house last night and she's eating the (clay) kitty litter. She will be an indoor cat, possibly with harness for small walkies. Should I worry? I've seen her act as if she is about to do her business in the tray, but she sort of mimes it, and munches on the litter when she does. She came from a house with a lot of other cats and is feeling a bit lonely I think. I have some of the absorbent crystals for litter but thought I would try her on what she is used to before phasing in the other stuff. What do you reckon?
posted by gerls to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Might be pica, or might be something that passes as the kitty gets acclimated.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:31 PM on November 2, 2007

I know someone who used strips of newsprint for cats and kittens. Maybe try that for a little bit if she is eating a lot of clay. I don't imagine that would be very good for her. Maybe she is trying to find the scent of other cats--??
posted by 45moore45 at 5:48 PM on November 2, 2007

A quick google for "kittens clay litter" confirms what I had read years ago - ingesting clay litter has been reported to be dangerous or fatal to cats and particularly young kittens. I switched to Swheat Scoop the first time I'd read a couple horror stories, and can't complain on any count - it smells fine with no perfumes, clumps hard, and the cats have never objected to it.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:58 PM on November 2, 2007


I think she is looking for the smell of other cats. As a prompt maybe.

I will try a few different configurations. So far she has been here for about 24hrs and hasn't done her business as far as we know. Although of course there are a lot of hidey holes.

Thanks guys.
posted by gerls at 6:01 PM on November 2, 2007

She is probably nervous. Switch out the clay for newspaper or something like Swheat Scoop (which at least won't hurt her if she eats it) until she starts acting normally.

Or adopt another kitten for her to play with! Two cats are better than one, and easier to take care of because they take care of each other! :D
posted by schroedinger at 6:05 PM on November 2, 2007

Yeah-- we're getting another one in the next two weeks, so they can have someone to hang with while we are at work.

I'm in Australia, what is Swheat Scoop? Would I be able to find an alternative do you think?
posted by gerls at 6:11 PM on November 2, 2007

Are you sure she is 8 weeks old? Young kittens get their bowels and bladder stimulated by the mother licking the back end of the kitten. You could try a wet cotton ball and gently try wiping the back end of the kitten while in the box. That will also help her know it's her box to use and if she's been holding out on you, she'll probably do her business with the cotton ball trick. Make sure it's warm water!
posted by 45moore45 at 6:11 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yep, she was born on/around the 7th Sept this year. I'm pretty dodgy on my maths, but that's 8 weeks ain't it?

I think her brothers used to push her around when she tried using the litter box at her old home. Scare her off a bit.

I'll try the cotton wool ball thing, thanks!
posted by gerls at 6:19 PM on November 2, 2007

Seconding the "clay is bad dangerous" notion. I've heard good things about Swheat Scoop but have never used it. My cats and I (and my scent-sensitive wife) get along well with Feline Pine. It's made (as you might guess) of pine sawdust compressed into little pellets.
posted by bryon at 7:29 PM on November 2, 2007

Nthing Swheat Scoop. It's a natural litter made from wheat. It's the kind of texture (fine-grained) that cats like, and it won't harm them if ingested (it's wheat, after all). And, nice bonus, it's not dusty so you (and kitty) aren't inhaling clouds of dust when you fill the litterbox.

If you can't find Swheat, try World's Best Cat Litter which is made from corn. Failing that, go to a pet supply store and read the labels on the cat litter, looking for one that is made from wheat, corn or another plant product, not clay.

Chances are there isn't anything seriously wrong with your kitten; kittens like to mouth and chew things, including - alas- their cat litter.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:06 PM on November 2, 2007

I wouldn't recommend newspaper. I tried that with my cats and they started associating any and all paper with something to poop on.
posted by aetg at 8:08 PM on November 2, 2007

I would highly recommend switching to pine pellet litter. Not only less smelly, but less toxic and less of a pain in the ass to clean up. It's exactly the same stuff sold as pellet stove fuel, by the way (verified with a local pellet manufacturer. It's sometimes sold as horse or rodent bedding.

Our cat used to do that as well, and when we switched to the crystals he continued. Only after we switched to the pine pellets did he stop it and we've been using it as litter for 3+ years now.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:25 PM on November 2, 2007

Excellent, thanks everyone. She has done a little business in the tray but I keep freaking out when she goes in there, because of her eating the clay. I'll go get some pine/non clay stuff this arvo.

I've never had an indoor kitty litter cat before, so I am a bit anxious... MeFi helps!
posted by gerls at 8:47 PM on November 2, 2007

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