Is Cat Litter Flammable?

This article will answer the following question: “Is Cat Litter Flammable?”. We will also show some specific safety information for many cat litter products.

Is Cat Litter Flammable?

It depends. There are types of cat litter that are potentially flammable, especially biodegradable ones. Silica gel and clay-based litters are not flammable.

What is cat litter?

A cat litter box (also called sandbox, cat box, litter tray, among others) is an indoor box made for collecting urine and feces from cats.

Tutors of rabbits, ferrets, miniature pigs, dogs, and other pets also commonly use litter boxes. The pet may have to undergo some training to start using it, but several species use the box instinctively. 

Cats allowed to go to the wild contribute to the extinction of birds, mammals, and reptile species. Besides, indoor cats can live much longer than loosen ones.

Conventional litter

Conventional litter uses clay as an absorbent. Invented in the late 40s, this kind of litter had an absorption power much bigger than sand. 

Since its particles are bigger, it’s harder for the cat to make a mess while trying to hide its feces.

Clumping litter

This one is made of granulated calcium bentonite clay. It can form a solid mass when wet, which can be separated from the dried.

Clumping litter can contain quartz and diatomaceous earth as well. This last ingredient can also be called diatomaceous silica, but it’s not the same as silica gel litter.

Silica gel litter

Silica litters are made of porous and granular grains of sodium silicate. It is considered to have the highest absorption power among the litter types, can prevent moisture, and control the odor more easily than the others as well. It’s also more expensive.

The compound will absorb the moisture and, at some point, will get saturated. Since the material absorbs a lot, sometimes it is not easy to predict when it will be saturated.

Biodegradable litter

Biodegradable litters are usually made of wood, paper, pine, corn, nut shell, coconut, wheat, or any natural fibers. Some may have clay as well.

This material can be considered better for the environment because they are organic. Microorganisms can break their molecules over time. The litter might “vanish” in months if the right conditions are given, while clay-based will stay wherever they’re disposed of.

Since biodegradable litters are organic, they are also combustible.

Can cat litter catch fire?

Only litters made of organic compounds (which is a synonym for biodegradable in this case) can catch fire. All the others are inorganic and can’t catch fire or decompose thermally.

Although, dried cat feces may present some flammability. At least part of a cat litter box could catch fire if flames are directly applied to it.

New/ unused cat litter can only catch fire according to their ingredients. Overall, wood, paper, natural fibers, and wheat-based litter can catch fire.

Is litter box a fire hazard?

The litter box itself shouldn’t be flammable. If it’s made of certain kinds of plastic or paper, it might ignite if in contact with a source of intense heat or flames.

Although, in order for the cat box to become flammable, you would need direct flames to burn it. Autoignition shouldn’t happen in any cat box unless it’s covered with a highly flammable component, like powdered coal or something.

In order for a cat litter box to become flammable, a really bad scenario would be required, one that would already have put your cat and yourself in danger.

Is cat litter a fire hazard?

As we discuss, only biodegradable litter can catch fire.

But it doesn’t mean that cat litter will be a fire hazard.

Let’s first discuss a few important terms before we answer to this question.

Flammability

Flammability is the ability of a compound to be set on fire easily. But how easily?

It depends on the scenario in which each product is meant to be used. Every Safety Data Sheet is written considering the context in which the product will be applied.

Flammable compounds are combustible substances in a gas form, or that can achieve a gas state in mild conditions. 

Take diesel for example, it can’t catch fire if we toss a lit match on it. If we let an opened bottle of diesel in the sunlight it will warm up. Vapors (gases) will start rising from it, and they can ignite easily if there’s a source of ignition nearby.

What is a substance made of? Where is it at? Do volatile organic compounds (VOCs) arise from it easily? This is what we must have in mind every time we wonder if a substance is flammable or not. 

Flashpoint

Flashpoint is a measure of when those VOCs will start leaking out of a liquid or solid material. If the substance is already a gas, we don’t normally care about its flashpoint because it is already a gas at all times.

The flashpoint is the temperature at which the substance starts giving out VOCs. The lower the value is, the less temperature is required to generate gases that will allow the substance to catch fire.

Biodegradable cat litters have high flashpoints (around 150 – 300ºC/ 302ºF – 572ºF), which means that they only start catching fire at such temperatures.

Of course, if we put direct flames on it the flashpoint temperature is reached asap, so the compound can start burning instantly.

Can you use cat litter in ashtrays?

You can use some kinds of cat litter in ashtrays. Cat litter may help you with cigarette odors, and prevent ash from flying away if the wind is blown on it. 

Although, biodegradable types of litter may ignite when in contact with ember because they are flammable, and shouldn’t be used in ashtrays. 

Any kind of litter may unleash dust that might be unpleasant if it comes in contact with a cigarette, but they are not likely to be toxic. 

To use cat litter for this purpose, simply cover the bottom of the ashtray with a layer of litter. At the same time, the ashtray may suddenly become interesting for cats, and they might even consider using it as a cat box. 

Safety Data Sheets

Here we list Safety Data Sheets for several cat litter brands. None of them presents a high risk of flammability, and most can’t burn at all.

We will write in red the labels that can present some levels of flammability but as we said, all of them are safe to be used if the instructions on the label and in the safety data sheets are followed.

Conclusion

Cat litter is normally not flammable. It is only combustible if it’s made of biodegradable ingredients such as wood, paper, and wheat, but even in such cases, the fire hazard is not big. 

Biodegradable cat litter can ignite if flames are directly applied to it, or if it’s heated to a temperature above 150ºC. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS): Is Cat Litter Flammable?

Is cat litter toxic?

Cat litter is minimally toxic. Your country probably has government agencies that regulate products designed for animals, often linked to agriculture. 

An official cat litter label had undergone extensive trials to assess the safety of the products, so it’s not likely that any cat litter would be toxic for us or our pets. 

Although, there might be flavored compounds within or dust particles in a litter that might be irritating for humans and pets’ respiratory systems. In such cases, consider changing the brand.

is cat litter compostable?

Well, it depends. The cat litter must be biodegradable to become compostable (in fact, this is essentially how composting works).

Cat litters made of wood, paper, recycled paper, wheat or any other plant source are biodegradable and can be used for composting. 

Clay, bentonite, and silica ones cannot. Crystal Litter and pretty litter also can’t be compostable.

If the composting is not made by yourself, but by a company or in a condo, it’s better to check first if they accept pet waste.

Is cat litter flushable?

If the cat litter is biodegradable, it might be flushable. 

However, it also depends on how good your plumbing system is and how is the sewer condition in your area. There are reports online of people who used a cat litter that has written on the label that it was flushable, but it ended up obstructing the pipes.

If poop can clog plumbings, so can cat litter.

Citations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litter_box
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/caught-by-cats-birds
https://balcasenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Wood-Pellets-Material-Safety-Data-Sheet-MSDS.pdf
https://chemmanagement.ehs.com/9/947674d3-d158-49c3-b902-52ef45099bc9/pdf/XMRK64
https://images.homedepot-static.com/catalog/pdfImages/96/96ab7cb9-fc30-46a0-a92a-cbc30d9eafab.pdf
https://www.thecloroxcompany.com/wp-content/uploads/freshstepcrystalspremiumcatlitterjw2014-09-14.pdf
https://www.thecloroxcompany.com/wp-content/uploads/evercleanclumpingcatlitter-lesstrail-ukenglish1.pdf
https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71kDtNgGTOS.pdf
https://content.interlinebrands.com/product/document/10049%5C3556938_SDS_E.pdf
https://s3.amazonaws.com/tai-epminerals-blue-production/assets/documents/documents/436/original/US_GHS_-_Clay_BLUE_RIBBON_CAT_LITTER.pdf?1647298709

http://www.warrenoil.com/MSDS-Spec/SDS/temp/_2019%20SDS/WARREN/WOC047%20-%20SDS%20-%20All%20Natural%20Kitty%20Kitty%20Cat%20Litter.pdf

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a5ed1e780bd5eb5cce8c05b/t/5cdb5db4f4e1fcbd74f2eb02/1557880244847/DE+MSDS.pdf

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