It is quite possible that you have a cat as well as guinea pigs with you. And you may also wonder if you can use cat litter for your guinea pig’s litter pan or not. So, in this article, We will learn if cat litter is safe for guinea pigs or not. So, let’s get right into it.
Most of the cat litters are not safe for your guinea pigs. Some of the litters, like crystal, clumping, and clay, can cause digestive issues and life-threatening conditions in guinea pigs. However, paper and natural wood-based litter are safe for your guinea pigs.
Using the same litter for your cats as well as guinea pigs can be convenient for the owners.
However, you must be mindful while choosing the litter. Some alternative choices of cat litter include compressed wood shavings, newspaper shavings, and the hay.
Can you use cat litter for guinea pigs?
Cat litter is not safe for guinea pigs; it will be harmful to their health if you choose the wrong litter.
Guinea pigs and cats are different creatures, and the cat litters are not designed for guinea pigs, these are only for cats.
But, there are different kinds of cat litter used by guinea pigs; nevertheless, most of them need to be avoided.
There are few side effects of using inappropriate cat litter which is common in guinea pigs, which are given below:
Guinea pigs are more likely to eat litter as compared to cats. But sometimes, kitties eat their litter on their own, which is supposed to be a behavioral problem.
However, it is a natural and typical behavior in guinea pigs to chew on their litter. So it needs to be considered whenever you arrange the litter box for your guinea pigs.
Whenever the litter of cats is designed, there is no chance of ingestion in mind. Guinea pigs can be in danger of ingesting when they use cat litter.
Many cat litters can cause the digestive system’s problems when ingested, and sometimes, it can cause life-threatening conditions. Those cat litter containing clay or silica can cause blockages in the intestine of your guinea pig.
Also read: Gastrointestinal problems in guinea pigs
Just like intestinal blockages, there is also a risk for digestive problems in guinea pigs.
But very minor compared to blockages, digestive problems still put the health of guinea pigs at risk.
Also read: All about constipation in guinea pigs
Respiratory illness is another problem that needs to be noted. Guinea pigs have a susceptible respiratory system as compared to cats.
Some of the cat’s litter contains a lot of dust particles, including crystal and clay particles.
Whenever the guinea pigs breathe in, these dust particles can cause problems with the respiratory system.
Cat litter bad for guinea pigs
Many of the cats’ litters are harmful to guinea pigs, but some of them can be good for guinea pigs.
How will you get to know which type of cat litter is good or bad for your guinea pig?
Here are different types of cat litters which you need to avoid:
Crystal cat litter is not safe for guinea pigs, While sometimes other types of cat litter can be considered a more reliable choice. Out of all kinds of cat litters, crystal cat litter is the most harmful to being ingested.
More than that, crystal cat litter also includes chemicals to keep it look in a crystal form. Some formulations can be poisonous for your guinea pig when ingested.
All kinds of clumping cat litter are not safe for guinea pigs. Also, clumping cat litter is a kind of litter that is very much dangerous for your guinea pigs.
The clumping cat litter expands to 15 times in the size when it absorbs the moisture.
Clumping litter can be expanded in the abdomen of a guinea pig due to ingestion.
Also, this will create blockages, which can shut down the whole digestive system of your guinea pig. So, avoid all kinds of clumping cat litter for your guinea pig.
Clay doesn’t cause physical damage compared to clumping litter, but it is also not safe for guinea pigs during ingestion.
This type of litter can also cause digestive problems, along with blockages. The dust particles from this litter can be dangerous, no matter whether your guinea pig eats the clay or not.
Also, by breathing in the dust particles of clay litter can give rise to respiratory illness.
Cat litter safe for guinea pigs
What makes safe litters for guinea pigs? Here are some of the things that need to be noted when you want to buy a litter or brand for your guinea pigs:
Should be toxic free
Guinea pigs always try to bite on their litter. That is normal and collective behavior, but improper litter is harmful to your guinea pig as it can cause health problems.
Whenever you want to buy the litter for your guinea pig, make sure that you purchase a toxic-free litter to stop your guinea pig from consuming toxic materials.
Natural materials will be an excellent option for toxic-free articles, but it doesn’t mean that all of the natural elements are toxic-free.
Do some research on certain materials while buying a litter to know whether it is toxic-free for your guinea pig or not.
Must be super absorbent
Guinea pigs always avoid those litter boxes which are smelly. Hence, it can cause dirty smell around the house, along with messy guinea pigs.
The distinctive smell which comes from the boxes of dusty litter is because of ammonia.
Ammonia occurs when you don’t clean the area where the urine of your guinea pig leftover for an extended time.
Hence, to avoid the distinctive and unpleasant smell, the litters that soak moisture, especially the urine, is essential.
Should be chemical free
Guinea pigs always stick to the materials according to their natural behavior, and they will frequently start chewing on their litter.
Whenever you buy a litter, don’t try to have the combinations which have additions. It can be dangerous for your guinea pig when you try to add and mix these substances to make it more spongy or easy to clean.
When you buy litter, always try to check the list of ingredients on a packet of litter. And if you see any risky mixes or additions, then do some research to make sure that these mixtures are safe for your guinea pig or not.
What is the best litter for guinea pigs?
Many litters of cats are not safe for guinea pigs. But, there are some of the litters of cats that can be safe for your guinea pig to use:
The most suitable litter to use for guinea pigs is paper pellets. Paper is naturally free of chemicals, free of toxins, and capable of being decomposed by biological activity, eco-friendly.
Also, papers are useful in absorption. It is a safe and good choice for other kinds of kitty litter. And it is digestible by both guinea pigs and cats, so it is also reliable when ingested.
The Commercial litters of cats that use this material are made up of recycled paper, which is free of chemicals and toxic-free. And also completely eco-friendly.
Natural wood fibers are an excellent choice as it is most of the standard material for the litters of guinea pigs.
Most of the wood fibers are comfortable for guinea pigs to eat or consume, and absorbent.
For example, paper, these are capable of being decomposed too. Also, some of the woods deliver a nice aroma that you and your guinea pig can enjoy.
Cedar and pine are most of the common woods which are used in the litter of cats.
Both of the woods can cover the urine smell of your guinea pig with its aromatic scent. However, it is less beneficial than those litters designed to absorb urine and odor.
It must be pointed out that some of the owners of guinea pigs are unwilling and hesitant to use the wood as a litter as there are some statements which say that wood can cause liver diseases.
In the laboratory, it is founded on how scientists prevent the softwoods because of its side effect in the liver.
However, papers are more beneficial at absorption as compared to wood. Also, wood shavings can be rough for the feet of guinea pigs.
If you don’t want to use wood shavings, either it is because of its ineffectiveness or the liver disease statements, but still, there are different choices for your guinea pig.
Guinea pig litter alternatives
Many commercial litters are designed for small creatures, which cannot be fit for guinea pig’s desire.
But this is not an issue, as breeders and owners can pick the litters from many different types of stuff that are obtainable to them.
Some choices to think about when you want to choose the correct litter for your guinea pig are given below:
- Newspaper shavings: It is a great choice to choose guinea pig litter, which is made up of paper.
- As they are toxic-free, free of chemicals, and biodegradable.
- Most of the commercial litters are made up of paper.
- However, you can also make it yourself with newspaper shavings.
- Compressed wood stove prills: You can use compressed wood stove prills for litter, as a choice to wood shavings.
- It is also named as wood fuel prills, as these woods can be available in hardware shops.
- Hay: Hay is always used as a guinea pig’s food, but you can also use it as a litter of guinea pig.
- Guinea pigs know that they do not have to eat dirty hay.
- However, you need to make sure that there should be enough clean hay in your guinea pig’s litter.
- Aspen: Except cedar and pine, there is another standard wood product which is aspen.
- However, it can be harder than cedar and pine, but aspen can be the right choice in touch.
Guinea pig litter box setup
The most common problem of behavior in guinea pigs is that they don’t want to use a litter box.
The question is, how will you ensure that your guinea pig uses their litter box? That could be done by arranging your box of litter suitably.
These are some of the steps to set up your litter box properly for your guinea pig:
Guinea pigs like to chew when they are willing to do something. Putting the bunch of hay in the box if litter will increase a guinea pig’s possibilities to use their box.
It will also reduce the chances of your guinea pig to consume or eat the litter which is engaged for them.
Don’t worry while adding the hay to the litter by yourself. As guinea pigs will not consume the hay, which is stained but they will enjoy hay put aside for chewing.
Try to add the hay should be 1 inch thick to the one part of the box. This hay needs to be taken up for at least 1/3 of the litter box, to leave the area for the litter.
Move the hay to one side
You can cut a portion of cardboard around the litter box’s length to separate the hay from the litter of your guinea pig.
Clean the hay of the first part with your one hand by using the cardboard, and then restore the other part of the box with your litter that you have been selected as the best.
Remove the box of cardboard and allow the measurement even out.
On the other hand, you can also put hay on the litter’s top. That could make the cleaning process harder, as the hay can be mixed easily with the litter.
However, adding the hay on the top of the litter can help in a pinch if you do not have much space.
Add the litter
Put the litter that you have chosen for your guinea pig. Also, the litter needs to be spread not less than 1 inch thick.
Those guinea pigs who love to dig can freely increase this about 2 to 3 inches thick. Hence, this litter needs to be filled up nearly 2/3 of the box for your guinea pig.
Also read: How to litter train your guinea pigs?
How to change guinea pig litter in the litter box?
If you have chosen the new litter for your guinea pig, how will you change the litter from the old litter? Simply changing the new litter with the old one will not work for most of the guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs grow familiarized with the feeling of litter, smell, and sight. Changing the new litter by another can confuse your guinea pig, they will lose interest from using the litter box.
How will you change the new litter so that your guinea pig will still use the litter? Some of the steps to change from one type of litter to another litter are given below:
- Mix the new one with old: Start with a small rather than changing the litter completely.
- Add a new litter coating very lightly on top of the old one.
- Also, it is not compulsory to coat the old litter as you may need to have some of its aromas to come from it.
- You will need to exchange nearly 10% old litter with the new litter.
- Put more of the new litter: Later on, you can clean the litter and put some more of the new litter.
- Again interchange it more nearly 10% of the old litter from the original material.
- Exchange more of it after following the clean-ups.
- Keep an eye on your guinea pig: After the litter’s exchange, assume that whether your guinea pig likes the change or not.
- Guinea pigs have their preferences and personalities as some of the guinea pigs may not even like the fresh material.
- You should remove the new litter if you find your guinea pig is not using their litter box with any sign of change.
Setting up a litter box, selecting a litter, changing the new litter for another one can take an extended period.
You can relax simply by realizing that your guinea pig is happy, safe, and comfortable because it doesn’t matter how much time it takes.