What is Zeolite?
When you first hear about Zeolite your response may be “Zeo-what?” Zeolites are naturally occurring microporous aluminosilicate minerals of volcanic origin. Zeolites are also commercially produced and both the natural and commercial versions are commonly used as absorbents and catalysts. This absorption ability is where the zeolites come into the kitty litter discussion. Zeolite cartridges can also be used in aquarium filtration systems to reduce ammonia build-up.
Why cat urine smells and why inhaling it is bad for us
Cats are obligate carnivores which means they must eat meat to survive. Urine contains ammonia which is a by-product of meat consumption. The more concentrated the ammonia in your cat’s urine the stronger the smell is. Increased ammonia smell can occur because your cat isn’t drinking enough water or because there is an underlying health issue.
Ammonia is just nitrogen and hydrogen but breathing in large quantities of ammonia can damage the lungs, especially if you already suffer from respiratory issues. Note that in most cases, a little kitty pee smell won’t harm anyone but, as with anything, if the odor is very strong, extended exposure to the ammonia-laced air can cause not just respiratory distress but can also adversely affect your mood and concentration. One caveat: Do not clear your cat’s litter box with bleach or other dangerous and noxious chemicals. Not only do you want to avoid inadvertently poisoning your feline baby but her nose if much more sensitive than yours and she does still need to smell a bit of her own urine to encourage her to continue to use the box.
How does Zeolite work?
Part of basic litter box management is keeping the litter clean and reducing the odor to an acceptable level. Adding Zeolite to the litter will help absorb your cat’s urine before it converts into ammonium gas, producing the familiar ammonia odor. Specifically, here is how Zeolite works:
- Odors from litter boxes are generated from the conversion of the ammonium in your kitty’s urine to ammonia gas. We all know that familiar smell.
- Zeolite absorbs the urine in its crystal structure and prevents it the conversion into ammonia gas.
- Because Zeolite is the only naturally negatively charged mineral, it attracts and holds positively charged ions and aqueous materials like salts and ammonia in your cat’s urine. The result is a significant reduction in kitty litter box odors!
Additional benefits beyond odor elimination:
Zeolite has benefits beyond just being a great odor eliminator. It also minimizes and prevents the following undesirables:
- mite creation
Another Zeolite bonus is that when your cat is done with it you can use the Zeolite in your garden as an organic fertilizer. The used Zeolite converts to sodium nitrate which is a component in most garden fertilizers. Although the ammonium trapped in the Zeolite crystal structure is not water soluble, it is plant accessible on a slow-release basis, thus also preventing release as pollution to the groundwater.
How to use Zeolite
Loose: You can purchase Zeolite in loose form which requires you to scoop as usual and lasts about 30 days. Depending on the manufacturer, some instruct you to layer the Zeolite with the litter. The bonus to this is you can use any inexpensive clumping clay litter, thus saving you money in the end. Note that there is some debate about the fact that some clumping CLAY based kitty litter products are NOT biodegradable and thus can be an environmental hazard. If used in the loose form added to your regular litter, Zeolite won’t stick to paws and has no odor or perfumes.
Pads: Zeolite is also available in pad form which you use to line the litter box and leave in place for 90 days, after which you must replace the used pad with a new one.
Where to find it: As with almost everything now, you can find many Zeolite manufacturers on line. You can also find reasonably priced Zeolite products in most big box pet stores. Just remember that the loose forms don’t last as long as the pads. The Zeolite pads will cost you more but may be more convenient for every-day cleaning purposes.
Bottom Line: Zeolite is a great natural product to reduce or eliminate unwanted kitty litter odors and enhance everyone’s health. If you garden, you can reap even more savings on your fertilizer expense by using the spent kitty litter Zeolite to benefit your plants without worrying about polluting the groundwater.
©Onpets, LLC 2017. All rights reserved.