While you love your cat, you probably don’t love handling its litter box and droppings. Cat owners are often looking for ways to make this essential chore a little easier and a little less smelly.
Most of the problems with disposing of cat litter down the toilet have to do with the parasites that are in cat poop. These parasites are called Toxoplasma gondii. The parasites can be very dangerous for humans, especially pregnant women whose infants, when exposed to the parasite, can develop seizures, jaundice, enlarged livers, enlarged spleens, and serious eye infections. Unfortunately, this parasitic infection can also cause the death of the child or miscarriage if the infection happens early in the pregnancy.
Pregnant women aren’t the only vulnerable people. Those who have compromised immune systems, (such as the elderly or those with major illnesses) may also see negative health effects from infection with this parasite. However, as most people don’t immediately experience symptoms when they get the parasite, it is hard to track and, therefore, hard to eliminate from the environment. Some research has suggested thatthirty to fifty percent of people have been exposed to the parasite.
This parasite is why you should avoid touching cat poop, never mind flushing it down the toilet and exposing the whole water system to the parasite. Some water systems may not be properly equipped to kill Toxoplasma. The prevalence of the parasite in the water system may have an impact on more than just humans, too. Ithas been found in river otters and may infect any other warm-blooded animal as well. Ultimately, anything we can do to reduce this parasite can help the overall environment.
There is another reason that you shouldn’t put your cat’s poop down the toilet. Try as you might to separate it from the litter, some litter will be stuck to it when you flush it. And even flushable litter isn’t flushable.
Manufacturers may claim that the litter is fine to deposit into the toilet in small amounts, but as plumbers, we’ve seen our fair share of clogs caused by natural litters combined with the fats and oils you’d normally find in the sewer. Toilet and sewer clogs can be quick fixes, but they can also be expensive and time-consuming repairs that are not worth the convenience of flushing your cat’s poop.
Septic tanks also cannot handle cat litter, even organic or natural kinds of litter. Litter has a tendency to collect and solidify, often in essential parts of the tank, like the inlet baffle, which can create major problems.
Ways to Better Handle Cat Poop
Instead of flushing your cat poop down the toilet, consider adopting these methods to make your cat’s business easier to handle:
- Add baking soda: It can help reduce smells in the box. Just don’t use so much that your cat dislikes the box.
- Replace the box: Replacing the box once a year can actually reduce the smell in the space you keep the cat box, and it’s more hygienic for the cat.
- Try a new litter: Litter formulas have come a long way in the last few years. The new litters are better at trapping smells. But don’t be fooled, none are good for your sewer.