A new study by scientists from MIT and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found that a cat litter that is not properly cleaned can have the opposite effect on a litter that contains silica, which can be a health risk for cats.
The researchers studied mice, which are more susceptible to bacterial infections, in an indoor cat house.
In order to test their hypothesis, the researchers took the mice out of their litter box at night and gave them a high-quality cat litter and allowed them to clean their litter daily for six weeks.
After six weeks, the mice had significantly reduced levels of bacteria in their urine and feces, as well as levels of mold, silica (found in cat litter) and other particles in their litter.
The researchers also found that mice with less-than-perfect litter hygiene (those that had no regular washing) had higher levels of silicosis, an immune-system-related disorder.
As they put it, the results indicate that “litter is not the most effective method to clean cat litter.”
The researchers say that they plan to conduct a larger study with more mice in order to assess the effectiveness of different types of cat litter.
They are also working to figure out whether it is possible to get a cat with a more normal diet to clean the litter and if it is even safe.
The MIT team, which published its findings online in the journal Nature, suggests that litter should be cleaned in accordance with guidelines from the American Academy of Dermatology.
It is not clear why the mice with more-than average hygiene did not improve.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the M.I.T. and Massachusetts Institute teams.