commercial cat poop has long been a taboo subject in the cat world, as it involves the introduction of toxic compounds that are often released in the urine, but now it appears to be on the verge of becoming an accepted part of everyday cat life.
A new study published in Science suggests that when a cat comes into contact with cat litter, it can release a number of toxic substances, including arsenic, copper, arsenic, lead, and cadmium.
The study also found that exposure to the litter can lead to the growth of micro-organisms, and that those organisms could become more prevalent in the litter, potentially posing a health risk.
“The idea that cat litter could be a cause of these micro-problems is quite interesting, because it’s a new concept for us,” said study co-author Christopher Mazzolato, an assistant professor of environmental and public health at Harvard Medical School.
“In addition to this new understanding of how the cat feces can interact with the environment, the study also suggests that this new relationship between the cat and litter could help us understand how to reduce the environmental and health risks of cat litter.”
The study was conducted by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the University of Arizona, the National Institutes of Health, and the University at Buffalo.
The study involved a group of mice living in an indoor environment, where they were exposed to a mixture of urine from three different cats, with three litter types being tested: the litter from the house cat, litter from a house cat (the “caged” litter), and litter from an indoor cat (which had been allowed outside).
The researchers then followed up the mice with a urine test to measure the levels of contaminants in the mice’s urine.
The researchers found that the mice had a range of levels of levels in their urine, from levels around the 10-20 parts per billion (ppb) mark, to levels up to 400ppb.
“We’ve seen before that cats can produce toxins in their feces that are toxic to people, but there has been very little work done to examine the levels and effects of these toxins in humans,” Mazzo said.
“So this study is really the first step in a new direction in the understanding of the toxic effects of the cat’s feces.”
Mazzo and his colleagues also found an association between the levels in the feces of the mice and the levels measured in the body of people, with people being at greater risk for chronic kidney disease and other toxic diseases.
“What’s really cool about this study, especially the lead author Christopher Muzzolato’s work, is that it provides a very robust test for what we call ‘diseases of the microbiome,'” said co-senior author Rachel Sorensen, a postdoctoral fellow at the Chan School.
“We see this association in the microbiome as a way to look at how the microbiome affects our health.”
While the study does not prove that cat feces is a cause for disease in humans, Mazzi said it does suggest that cat owners are making the right decisions about how they dispose of their pets, and to help the cat population become more diverse.
“Cat litter has been a long-standing taboo subject, but what’s really interesting about this new study is that this is a new understanding for us that cat poops can be a causative factor in chronic kidney diseases, and also that this interaction could help the human microbiome,” Mizzo said.
“In fact, we have been studying this interaction for over 30 years, and have now demonstrated that the cat litter can affect the microbiome in ways that affect the human host, and we need to understand the impacts of cat pooping on humans, in order to develop strategies to reduce this potential threat.”###