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Can Cats Eat Diatomaceous Earth? Is It Safe?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Diatomaceous earth

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, 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 supplemented its diet 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 is a powder that is naturally occurring and plant-based. 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 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? The earth contains tiny silica shards that are like glass. These shards can cut through an insect’s exoskeleton and dry it out.

Diatomaceous earth comes in two grades in stores – Food Grade DE and non-Food Grade DE.

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! Also, Food Grade DE can only be given to cats over two pounds who are not nursing.

For kittens and smaller cats (between 2-6 pounds), it’s recommended you only give them 1/2 to 1 teaspoon. For cats that are larger than that, the recommendation is 2 teaspoons. You can give this to them via food or water once or twice a day.

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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 main reason it is given internally is to get rid of roundworms, pinworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Feeding diatomaceous earth to your pet for 30 days should eliminate adult worms, eggs, and not yet fully grown worms. Always consult with your vet first, though, especially if your cat is on medication.

That’s not the only benefit, though! Because diatomaceous earth contains silica and sodium, magnesium, calcium, and other minerals, feeding it to your cat can improve the health of their coat, increase appetite and metabolism, and even aid with digestion.

Other Uses for Diatomaceous Earth

Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

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 the lungs if you breathe in too much – particularly for those who have asthma or other breathing problems. Let this sit for about 3 days, then vacuum. It’s recommended you repeat this process for at least a month to ensure you’ve gotten all fleas and eggs.

If your cat has fleas as well, you can apply a bit of Food Grade diatomaceous earth to them topically by rubbing it into their coat. Avoid the eyes, nose, and mouth, though, so their eyes and lungs aren’t irritated. Fleas should start dying off rather quickly – within 4 hours – but let the diatomaceous earth sit for a couple of days before bathing your pet. Speak to your vet before doing this; some vets don’t recommend putting diatomaceous earth directly on animals.

You can even use diatomaceous earth in cat litter. It helps to increase odor absorption, plus it clumps, making it a perfect addition. Simply add a thin layer of it to the litter box before adding fresh litter, and you’re good to go!

Final Thoughts

Not only is diatomaceous earth safe for your cat to eat, but it also has some great benefits! It can kill internal parasites, along with improving digestion, the health of their coat, and more. Be sure you’re only using Food Grade DE, though, as the other kind could be harmful to your pet. Lastly, remember to only use this on cats over 2 pounds who are not 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 lungs, especially if you deal with asthma or other breathing issues.

Featured Image Credit: Mona Makela, Shutterstock

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