While some eco-friendly cat litter can burn, doing so is a bad idea as burning cat litter releases toxins into the air.
These toxins are bad for your health and the environment.
Clay and silica-based cat litter cannot burn at all as they are not flammable and will clump together rather than burn away.
Dangers Of Burning Cat Litter
While burning cat litter may seem like a better idea than just dumping it, it’s actually far worse because it releases a lot of dangerous airborne toxins, the smoke will smell very bad and it’s bad for the environment.
1. Airborne Cat Waste
One of the dangers of burning cat waste is that it can cause specks of cat waste and faecal matter to become airborne.
This could not only contaminate the area you are burning in but you also risk breathing it in every time you open or stand near the burn bin.
Burning cat waste will also produce ash and dust that can irritate your throat and lungs if inhaled.
In addition to this, cat faeces and used cat litter carry a lot of bacteria and parasites. This bacteria can cause illness and discomfort.
As mentioned, there are a high number of harmful toxins that can be released into the air during burning.
Inhaling the smoke from a fire such as this can cause a wide range of issues including breathing problems, asthma, allergies, dizziness, nausea, and nose, eye, and throat irritation.
The exposure to the fire and the amount of toxins inhaled can determine the health impact, how unwell you feel and whether the health issues experienced are short or long term.
2. (Very) Bad Smell
Burning cat litter smells terrible and it’s the kind of smell that lingers for a long time after the burning is finished.
For this reason, cat litter is not something people want to burn inside their home or garden.
If you try to burn fresh cat poop it can produce a lot of smoke due to the moisture content of the faeces.
The fire will have to be extremely high if the fire is going to burn the poop and other materials within the cat litter.
Used cat litter already smells bad thanks to the ammonia in the cat urine and the poop.
Burning this can produce a lot of smoke and smells terrible. Fortunately, there are alternative methods of disposal that involve a lot less risk and less odour too.
3. Bad For The Environment
Finally, burning cat litter is bad for the environment.
When cat litter burns it releases harmful toxins and greenhouse gases into the air.
The release of greenhouse gases contributes to climate change and the fumes from the fire can harm local ecosystems and damage vegetation.
Which Types Of Cat Litters Are Safe To Burn?
If cat litter has been used it should not be burnt under any circumstances, the litter will not burn well, it will smell terrible and there is a risk of you inhaling cat faeces as well as a number of toxins.
With that said, some cat litter is flammable and can be used in fires if it is unused.
If unused, you can burn these types of cat litter:
- Recycled paper
These types, particularly wood and paper-based litter, will burn better than other types of cat litter.
However, most plant-based biodegradable cat litter should be safe to burn providing it does not have any clay or silica in it.
While these biodegradable cat litter types are flammable and can be burned, there is no risk of the litter just randomly catching fire.
They are safe to use in homes and can be used in litter boxes without worry.
After use can be disposed of in a number of ways, including composting.
Some people put wood-based litter into wood burners and wood fires, adding the litter once the fire is already burning well.
While there are a few people who do this with dirty cat litter, we do not recommend the practice as there are considerably more drawbacks than benefits.
Does All Cat Litter Burn?
No, unlike biodegradable cat litter, clay and silica litters are non-flammable and will not burn.
Silica dust is abrasive and can cause irritation if inhaled so this is not something you want to try to burn.
Some types of plant-based cat litter include clay as part of the clumping formula so check the ingredients of the cat litter before you try to burn it.
If the clumping litter contains clay, it will not burn.
Even small amounts of clay will impact the flammability of the litter so this may have an effect on your fire.
This may not be particularly noticeable if you add it to a large fire but it is unlikely you’d be able to start a fire using cat litter with clay in the mixture.
Something else you will notice if you try to burn clay litter is that it will not burn away, instead, it will clump at the bottom of the barrel.
This means you will still have a mess to clean up after the burning is complete so you may as well skip the burning and bag the litter and bin it to start with.
Alternative Uses For Clay Litter
Clay-based litter can be used to help put out fires because the litter does not burn.
Some people use clay litter at the bottom of a BBQ as it can soak up the grease without catching fire.
Once the litter is grease-soaked it can be placed into a bag and disposed of appropriately.
Flammable Cat Litter Safety Tips
Some cat owners are concerned about using cat litter that is flammable, however, the risk of a spontaneous fire is extremely low particularly if you follow these tips:
- Don’t burn candles near the litter box or cat litter storage bags
- Use a covered cat litter box to prevent accidentally dropping anything into the litter
- Position the litter box away from heat sources such as fireplaces, stoves etc.
- Ensure the litter box is away from exposed electrical wires, hot water pipes, and anything else that may generate sparks or heat