As many of you already know, I am not a fan of scented cat litter. Why? Because it is offensive to
the cat. The feline sense of smell is 14x stronger than that of a human. Imagine that! Now imagine how strong ANY smell in the litter box must be for our cat friends.
So, I could hardly believe it when I saw that Tidy Cat was adding Febreze to their product line to hide odors (or as an incentive to boost sales). Febreze, a Proctor and Gamble product, has been sold in the US since 1998. It can be found in candles, diffusers, mist form as well as aerosol spray -and now our cat litter!
Veterinary toxicology experts working for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
consider Febreze fabric freshener products to be non-toxic to pets if
used per instructions on the label. But this information was published
BEFORE the Febreze/Cat Litter product was introduced. I am concerned
that unsuspecting cat owners will now be subjecting their cats to
Febreze. And this product seems to adhere to the cats coat, which could
mean bad news for the cat.
And my experience has shown me that just because a product
is NOT TOXIC to pets, does not mean it is a product that I recommend to USE around pets. Any scented product could cause bronchitis in your cat.
But, if you spray Febreze on your couch, your cat has a choice of
avoiding the couch. HOWEVER, if Febreze is in the cat box, you area leaving your cat with NO choice.
Two weeks ago I saw a patient named Punkin, a little orange girl that is very sweet. Punkin suddenly developed a red, inflamed, itchy face and flaming red ear, and the owner was very concerned. Poor Punkin was very uncomfortable, as you can imagine. But what I found surprising was how the cat smelled! Febrezey!! I asked Punkin's owner to smell her cat. She agreed, but she told me she does not use Febreze in her house. Hmm.... But, she did try a new cat litter recently. Hmmm.... Doing some detective work at home, she realized her Tidy Cat was now laced with Febreze. The smell from the cat litter was so strong, it was sticking to the cats coat. And Punkin was breathing this in 24/7. And developing allergic facial itchiness and discomfort. Within 24 hours of bathing Punkin and removing the offensive Tidy Cat, Punkin was back to normal.
One week later, I examined a senior cat named Elizabeth who was having respiratory symptoms -wheezing, sneezing and coughing. She had lost her appetite and was mildly dehydrated. AND she smelled like Febreze! You guessed it, Elizabeth's owner just bought a new brand of cat litter. She did not realize that it contained Febreze. Because Elizabeth was dehydrated, she required medical care to get back on her feet, but happily she is back to normal (and enjoying her new UNSCENTED cat box).
So, watch for this potential danger when you are purchasing cat litter. In my opinion, unscented cat litter is the only choice for cat litter. Use regular baking soda at the bottom of the pan if you need odor control. Scooping daily is the BEST and CHEAPEST odor control. Cat boxes do not smell if they are clean. Period.
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic LLC