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Is Cat Litter Flammable? Dangers & Things to Be Aware Of

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By Misty Layne

cat litter box and excess on floor

If you have a cat, you also have a litter box. Cats being litter box trained is just one of the many perks of being a cat parent (yay, no long walks every day!). But having a litter box in your home can raise a few issues if you aren’t careful. One problem with litter boxes is the amount of dust that comes from certain kinds of litter; those with asthma and other respiratory issues can have trouble with that. Another is toxoplasmosis (though this is more of a concern for those who are pregnant and those with compromised immune systems).

One litter box issue you might not have considered is the flammability of it. Wait, what? Is cat litter flammable? It depends on what sort of litter you use, but some cat litter is indeed flammable! So, you need to be cautious with where you place your pet’s litter box if you use one of these litters.

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Cat Litter Types and Their Flammability

First, let’s look at the many types of cat litter available. They can be broken into the categories of non-biodegradable and biodegradable.

Non-Biodegradable Litter

We’ll look at a couple of kinds of non-biodegradable litter here that are the most commonly used.

1. Bentonite Clay

Litter made from bentonite clay is the most common litter and likely the kind you use. It quickly absorbs moisture and clumps incredibly well, so it makes it simpler to clean out the litter box (always a plus!).

If you use bentonite clay, you’ll be glad to know this kind of cat litter isn’t really flammable, so it shouldn’t catch fire.

Bentonite clay texture for cat litter
Image Credit: Hairullah Bin Ponichan, Shutterstock

2. Crystal

Then there’s crystal litter. This type of litter is white and made from silica beads that are extremely small and extra porous. This means this type of litter is terrific at absorbing urine and trapping odors, so your cat’s litter box stays fresh for longer. And there’s even crystal litter available that will help you keep track of your kitty’s health! Plus, being made from silica means this litter has little to no dust.

This kind of litter is also non-flammable.

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Biodegradable Litter

Many people these days are looking at ways they can be eco-friendly, and litter made from biodegradable material is one of the ways this can be accomplished. Biodegradable materials are much better for the environment, and you’ll find that some of this litter is even flushable for easier clean-up!

However, these litters are more flammable than those that are non-biodegradable.

1. Corn/Wheat

Yep, corn and wheat! Corn and wheat might seem like odd materials for litter, but they are incredibly absorbent, so they are an excellent litter option. And surprisingly, most are clumping, which makes scooping out the litter box a breeze. Best of all, litter made from corn and wheat is biodegradable, so it’s eco-friendly, and many litters made from these can even be flushed!

However, corn and wheat are definitely flammable materials.

corn filler granules close up
Image Credit: yarm_sasha, Shutterstock

2. Walnut Shell

Walnut shell might seem like another unusual option for cat litter, but it has a distinct ability to expertly control ammonia odors, making it perfect for the litter box. Like the corn and wheat litters, walnut shell litter is often clumping (though there are plenty of non-clumping options if you prefer). It also has a texture similar to clay litter.

Because walnuts are biodegradable, this litter is definitely flammable, though.


3. Pine

Pine can also be used to make eco-friendly litter, as it absorbs odors and ammonia exceptionally well. It also tends to be less messy than clay litters. However, this material has a few downsides, like its ability to attract bugs and its flammability. Pine is wood, and we know wood catches fire easily!

You can also find litter made of other types of wood; all of these will be highly flammable.

Pine litter Pellets
Image Credit: StanislauV, Shutterstock

4. Paper

Paper litter doesn’t clump and isn’t the best at odor control. But it is incredibly eco-friendly and low-tracking, so some prefer it to traditional types of litter.

Like wood, though, paper litter is highly flammable.

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Fire Safety Tips for Litter Boxes

So, suppose you’re using a litter that’s biodegradable and more flammable than something like clay. How can you keep your kitty (and yourself) safe from fire?

Be careful where you place the litter box. It’s never a good idea to have a litter box anywhere near a source of heat, such as a heater or fireplace, even with non-flammable litter, as the heat could melt the litter box. But it’s an especially bad idea if you’re using litter that is flammable.

The same goes for open flames. You probably don’t have burning candles placed right next to the litter box, but you might have one on a nearby shelf. Just because that flame is on a shelf, though, doesn’t mean it will stay there. Candles can be knocked over (especially by our height-loving feline friends!), and if a candle gets knocked into a litter box full of flammable litter, you’ll have a problem.

Finally, be careful of where you dispose of flammable cat litter. Always dispose of it as per the manufacturer’s instructions for safety.

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Final Thoughts

Some cat litter is indeed flammable, which can be a significant concern. But as long as you keep your kitty’s litter box away from heat sources and open flames, everyone should be safe from the risk of fire. If you’re especially concerned about the fire risk a litter may pose, switching to litter that won’t catch on fire, such as clay or crystal litter, might be best.

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Featured Image Credit: Tanya Plotnikova, Shutterstock

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