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Can Cats Eat Diatomaceous Earth? Nutritional Facts & Safety Guide

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Can Cats Eat diatomaceous-earth

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Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

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These days, we seem to be making a move to all-natural and holistic ways of treating disease—not just in humans but in our pets as well. If you’ve been trying to find more holistic ways of treating things like fleas and worms in your cat, you’ve likely come across mentions of feeding your pet diatomaceous earth. But is it safe for your cat?

Yes, cats can eat diatomaceous earth, but with certain conditions. It can only be a specific kind, and only in small quantities. Your cat will also need to be above a certain age to have their diet supplemented with diatomaceous earth. This article will help answer any questions you might have about whether your cat can eat diatomaceous earth.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth
Image Credit: FotoHelin, Shutterstock

Diatomaceous earth (diatomite) is a powder that is naturally occurring and plant-based.1 It forms from the remains of diatoms—or teensy algae-like aquatic organisms—that have become fossilized. Hence, the name of this earth. The skeleton of the diatom is up to 90% silica; when diatoms that have gathered in the sediment of a body of water are exposed to oxygen, they become silicon dioxide. This silicon dioxide is a white chalk-like powder called diatomite.

Diatomaceous earth is used for all sorts of things, mainly as an insecticide for gardens and homes. It’s becoming more popular as a flea control method in pets and homes, as well. How does it work? Diatomaceous earth is not poisonous.2 The earth contains tiny silica shards that are like glass. When insects are exposed to it, these shards can cut through the exoskeleton and dry it out.

Diatomaceous earth comes in two grades in stores—food grade DE and non-food grade DE.3

Can My Cat Eat It? Is It Safe?

British shorthair cat eating
Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

Your cat can eat diatomaceous earth, so long as it is the food grade DE. They cannot eat the other kind! Diatomaceous earth is supposed to pass through the digestive system unchanged and does not enter the bloodstream. Also, food-grade DE can only be given to cats over two pounds that are not pregnant or nursing.

To date, there are no studies that have determined a safe dose of diatomaceous earth in cats. It has been suggested that for kittens and smaller cats (between 2 and 6 pounds), you only give them 1/2 to 1 teaspoon. For larger cats, the recommendation is 2 teaspoons. You can give this to them via food or water once or twice a day.

What Are the Benefits of My Cat Eating Diatomaceous Earth?

Though diatomaceous earth is more commonly used externally rather than internally, giving it to your cat can offer many benefits. The reason it is given internally is to get rid of internal parasites. Some manufacturers recommend feeding diatomaceous earth to your pet for 30 days to eliminate adult worms, eggs, and not yet fully-grown worms. Always consult with your vet first, though, especially if your cat is on medication.

Other Uses for Diatomaceous Earth

As stated above, diatomaceous earth is more commonly used externally, particularly for flea and tick control. If you’re fighting a flea infestation in the home, simply sprinkle some food-grade diatomaceous earth on the furniture, carpets, and anywhere else fleas may be hiding (just be sure you don’t overdo it). Though diatomaceous earth isn’t poisonous, it can irritate your eyes if they come in contact with the powder and can also irritate your nose, nasal passages, and lungs if you breathe in too much, particularly if you have asthma or other breathing problems. To minimize exposure, you can use a face mask when working with diatomaceous earth and let the dust settle in the treated area before entering the room again. Let the product sit for about 3 days, then vacuum.

If you want to apply diatomaceous earth directly onto your cat, you should first speak to your vet. While research has been done on applying diatomaceous earth to surfaces and feeding it in small amounts, no specific studies have proven its safety when applied to pets’ skin and coats. Therefore, some vets don’t recommend putting diatomaceous earth directly on animals.

Now that you know what you can safely feed your cat, it’s just as important to find a bowl that supports their health and well-being. With whisker-friendly bowls and a wide tray to catch any spills, our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is our favorite option.

hungry white cat hepper nom nom bowl licking lip

Final Thoughts

Diatomaceous earth is a natural product that is considered non-toxic in mammals and can have some great benefits for your cat. It can kill internal and external parasites and other other benefits may be proven in the future. Be sure you’re only using Food Grade DE, though, as the other kind would be harmful to your pet. Lastly, remember to only use this on cats over 2 pounds that are not pregnant or nursing. You can also use diatomaceous earth to help absorb kitty litter odors and battle any flea infestations!

Just be careful when applying this product, as it can irritate the lungs, especially if you deal with asthma or other breathing issues.

Featured Image Credit: Mona Makela, Shutterstock

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