Why Can’t I Flush My Cat’s Litter Down the Toilet?

You love the feline members of your family and so do we here at Express Septic Services. Pets just make the household happier, and they offer the added benefit of teaching your little ones responsibility. You’ve heard you cannot flush cat litter down the toilet, so why does it say on the container that you can? This is a clever marketing ploy by the litter manufacturers that you shouldn’t fall for, even if your home has a septic system rather than a sewer system. Here’s the 411 on this issue.

Litter Clogs Plumbing and Septic Systems

Whether you buy clumping, regular, or natural cat litter, all types can clog your plumbing and your septic system. Think about the clumping litter alone. This litter is designed to solidify liquid waste into hard balls that are easy to scoop out of the litter box and dispose of. The clumps may break down once they meet the water inside your toilet, but the litter will build up inside your pipes and septic system; it doesn’t breakdown and dissolve completely. Keep in mind that cat litter granules expand as much as 15 times their original size, even after they’ve initially expanded to absorb your furry friend’s urination.

Felines and Toxoplasma gondii

Please don’t freak out and get rid of your cats after you read this; they are not a risk to your household’s health. Some cats carry Toxoplasma gondii in their fecal matter, and this is a parasite that in rare cases can be harmful to humans. Toxoplasma gondii is the reason why pregnant women should not clean a cat litter during their pregnancy and while they are breastfeeding. Anyone with a compromised immune system, such as being pregnant, could experience symptoms such as blurry and red eyes and pain if they get the parasite in their system. The parasite is also harmful to the unborn fetus.

This said, most people never contract the parasite and if they do, their immune systems kill it. If you practice litter safety, i.e. don’t clean the litter(s) if you’re pregnant and wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap after you clean the litter box(es), you will likely never have to worry about Toxoplasma gondii. If you flush your cat’s fecal matter down the toilet, however, you do introduce the parasite into your septic system and should your system begin to leak, you introduce it into your yard soil and possibly your home if the system backs up through the drains.
This is why you should dispose of your cat litter properly. Use an enclosed cat litter disposal system or empty it into plastic bags that can be tied shut and tossed in the garbage. Change your behavior next time you are tempted to flush cat litter and call Express Septic Services at 864-302-1810 for a septic system safety check if you’ve been emptying your litter into the toilet. We service the entire Greenville, SC, area. 

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