A pet can be a great companion, and there’s no doubt that a cat is a great pet to have as a senior. However, you may have a limited amount of space for cat supplies, so you might be considering putting your cat’s litter box in your bedroom. Before you do so, however, you should know if that’s a safe option.
Is it safe to keep a litter box in your bedroom? The best place for a litter box is somewhere that’s somewhat private and quiet. In some homes, a bedroom is a good option, and it can be safe if the litter box is far from the bed, visible in the dark, and the cat doesn’t go to it often at night.
When choosing where to put a litter box, you want to consider what will be best for you and your cat. Of course, you want your cat to get to it easily. However, you don’t want to have to live or sleep in a room that smells like a litter box.
Dangers Of A Litter Box In Bedrooms
Whether your home is small or large, you must consider where to place your cat’s litter box. Not only will it help you feel comfortable at home, but the right place will help your cat take care of their business properly.
If you put the litter box in the wrong place, it can cause problems for you both.
- One of the worst things that can happen is stepping in cat litter or feces.
- In the dark, you might also risk tripping over or stepping in the litter box itself.
- You should also choose a spot where you won’t breathe in the litter easily.
Although it’s uncommon, there are a few dangers to keeping a litter box in your bedroom. The dust and bacteria that come from a litter box can pose problems if you’re not careful.
Can Inhaling Cat Litter Dust Make You Sick?
As we’ll discuss in the following section, inhaling cat litter dust can make you sick via a parasite that some cats carry, although not always. And, unfortunately, you can’t always tell when you inhale cat litter dust, as it can be invisible.
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, “there are no clear answers” to the question of whether the dust, itself, can cause illnesses. He reported doing “a medical literature search to see if there were any studies linking inhalation of cat litter dust to any human health problems and found nothing.”
Due to concerns about litter dust, though, some people are opting for a clay free litter, such as those made from corn, wheat, or pine. FelinePine is one such option that you can find here.
What Disease Can You Get From Cat Litter?
While cat litter, on its own, probably won’t make you sick, it can harbor the disease toxoplasmosis, which comes from the Toxoplasma gondii parasite that cats tend to carry.
If your cat carries the parasite and you don’t clean the litter box each day, you could be increasing the rick of getting toxoplasmosis. This is because the parasite takes a few days to develop – such as when it’s sitting in an unscooped litter box.
While the parasite is found throughout the world, more than 40 million people in the United States may be infected with the Toxoplasma parasite. The Toxoplasma parasite can persist for long periods of time in the bodies of humans (and other animals), possibly even for a lifetime. Of those who are infected however, very few have symptoms because a healthy person’s immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness. —Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Even though your cat (and most people) can handle the parasite with no problem, that’s not always the case – some people can get very sick from it.
A compromised immune system can increase the risk getting sick from the parasite. The CDC says that those at severe risk for getting toxoplasmosis are, “Persons with severely weakened immune systems, such as individuals with AIDS, those taking certain types of chemotherapy, and those who have recently received an organ transplant.”
Pregnant women should also avoid cleaning a litter box because they can get sick from toxoplasmosis, as can their newborn.
Keep that in mind as you consider whether to keep the litter box in your bedroom.
Getting sick is not a reason to stop cleaning the litter box, though. While cleaning it can cause you to inhale the dust, leaving it alone for days gives the parasite the ability to develop. Then, the next time you do clean it, you’ll be at more risk for inhaling the parasite, even if you’re healthy.
Since it takes a few days for the disease to develop, you can avoid it with daily cleanings of the litter box.
What Are The Signs Of Toxoplasmosis In Humans?
While only about 1 to 2 out of 10 people will have symptoms, still, you should know what symptoms to look for in case you do get Toxoplasmosis.
Some of these symptoms are similar to that of other diseases, so you should rule those out first. However, if you notice your symptoms start 5 to 20 days after you inhale cat litter dust, toxoplasmosis might be the cause. Symptoms include:
- Sore body
- Painful lymph nodes
If you do show the signs and symptom of toxoplasmosis, you can see a doctor who can diagnose you and give you treatment. However, it’s very possible to have the disease and not develop any symptoms.
Okay, So Where Should You Keep A Litter Box?
It’s best to put a litter box in a quiet corner that is easily accessible to the cat, according to PetMD.com. Also, keep it away from noisy appliances, such as the washing machine or the furnace. If you have a senior cat, make sure it doesn’t have to go too far in order to use the litter box.
We realize that if you have a small apartment or town home, you may not have much choice in where you keep your litter box. For better or worse, your bedroom may be the best option for you and your cat.
While it is safe to keep your cat’s litter box in your bedroom, you need to take some precautions:
- When possible, keep the litter box as far from your bed as you can, so that you and your cat have some space and you reduce the risk of tripping over the litter box in the dark.
- Of course, you should avoid putting the litter box in a place that would block the door.
- You can use litter box covers, cabinets or furniture, or other items to hide the litter box so that you can contain the litter dust, but these can make it more difficult to clean the box.
Choosing the best spot for the litter box can make things easier. Not only will you be able to sleep and relax, but your cat will be able to do their thing. Of course, there’s more to choosing a spot when it comes to managing your personal safety.
Having a litter box too close to the bed can be a tripping hazard – especially for a senior who may not see very well in the dark. We recommend using a nightlight near the litter box to help eliminate the chances of falling.
How Often Should You Change Cat Litter?
For routine cleaning, all you need to do each day is scoop out the litter and waste your cat has left behind. You also may need to add some new litter each day so that your cat has enough.
The Humane Society recommends changing soiled litter for fresh, often. “Twice a week is a general guideline for replacing clay litter, but depending on your circumstances, you may need to replace it every other day or only once a week.”
They note that, “If you notice an odor or if much of the litter is wet or clumped, it’s time for a change. Scrub the box every time you change the litter. Use mild dish detergent to clean it, as products with ammonia or citrus oils can turn a cat off, and some cleaning products are toxic to cats.”
How Do I Dispose Of Cat Litter?
When you change your cat’s litter, you need to figure out what to do with the used stuff.
Whether you live in an apartment or house, you have a couple of options:
- If you have access to double-lined bags, use those once you scoop out the old litter.
- You can also use two bags to act as a double-lined bag.
- Tie up the bag well and dispose of it in the trash outside, but make sure the trash has a lid so that other cats can’t get to it.
- Another way to seal the bag is if you use two Ziplock bags. Instead of having to tie the bag, you can simply use the zip seal to close it.
After you have a bag of used cat litter, you should get it out of your home as soon as you can. If you don’t have a load of trash, you can take it out on its own. That way, you won’t have to worry about the smell, and your cat won’t be able to get into it.
Don’t ever flush clumping litter, though – it can cause problems with your septic system. Also, if the litter does contain the T. gondii parasite, you should know that flushing it could contaminate the water supply because the parasite is resistant to the chemicals normally used at water treatment plants.
When you own a cat, among other things, you must consider where to put their food, water, and litter box. If you have a small home, you may wonder if it’s safe to keep the litter box in your bedroom. While it can be dangerous in some regards, there are steps you can take to minimize the dangers of your cat’s litter box.