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Rats Rule! => Rat Care Corner => Topic started by: Nysander on July 22, 2017, 04:40:36 PM

Title: What cat litter to use when cat and rats live in the same house?
Post by: Nysander on July 22, 2017, 04:40:36 PM
Hey guys my cat ( who normally lives in the air conditioned sunroom with an attached outdoor kennel) has been in the hospital for bladder stones and will need to live in the main house for awhile under observation while he recuperates.

Normally, our three rats have free-time access to the entire main house. ( they stay in their cage upstairs at night but we let them out for a few hours each day to run around the house)

I am worried about having the cat litter box ( and possible tracked litter peices) where the rats might find some of the litter.
I do not expect them to have free access to the litter box since I probably won't let them free range as much with all the cat smell around which will probably make them nervous, but if the litter gets tracked around the house and then LATER the rats find bits of it how dangerous would that be for them? And what kind of litter would be safest to use for the cat assuming that the rats might find small pieces later?

I know clumping clay litter can be bad because it can clump and block the digestive tract.
All- natural paper litters are probably out because they don't control smell well and the box will be right by my mothers bedroom and she will complain horribly over the slightest smell.

Would a silica litter be an ok compromise? What would happen if a rat were to 'try' or eat say a single grain of this kind of litter?
Again, the rats will not be around this litter in large quantities, in just worried about stray pieces that might get lost under furniture and later found by the rats.
Title: Re: What cat litter to use when cat and rats live in the same house?
Post by: BigBen on July 22, 2017, 06:18:06 PM
How likely a rat would be to eat cat litter is a good question, and I hope one of our more-expert members will wander by and comment.  What I do know is that rats are pretty sensible.  I always thought the warning against using clumping cat litter was against using it in the cage (as bedding or as litter), and more because of the chemicals that make it clump than because they would eat it.

On the other hand, there is a disease called pica, which involves the eating of non-food substances, and rats can develop it.  But I've only encountered it in the context of a rat after surgery, when the opioid, buprenorphine, that they normally give to help control during and immediately after the operation has pica as a known side effect.  Since my first rat opened up a tumor incision the night after surgery, I've been careful to keep an eye on the rat till the buprenorphine wears off, and I've never found it all that difficult to distract the rat from the chewing behavior.

This is a long-winded way of saying that if you can keep the litter confined pretty much to one section of the house, and if you can keep an eye on the rats while they're out, it will probably be okay.  Can you manage supervised out time and possibly restrict their range while out--just for the duration of your kitty's convalescence?  Even if they don't get as much out time for a while, they'll be fine--just give them lots of love in the cage!  And treats--my rats are reminding me to tell you that ratties need their treats, lol!
Title: Re: What cat litter to use when cat and rats live in the same house?
Post by: Kitsch Slapped on July 22, 2017, 09:59:24 PM
I probably would skip the silica cat litter (isnt that whats in those oxygen absorber packets that come in shoes and purses (etc) that they warn you not to eat? Maybe its different?). We used it for our cats at one point and I hated it. It didnt soak up pee at all. It stunk. I would just keep the clay litter and limit the area where the rats go (making sure its swept before hand). Although I have cats and rats and never even thought about stray bits of litter... I dont think they'd even nibble on it to be honest but a good sweep should eliminate any potentials. I think Im pretty much trying to say what BigBen already said ^ So +1 to BigBens post :)
Title: Re: What cat litter to use when cat and rats live in the same house?
Post by: mamarat2 on July 23, 2017, 03:27:25 PM
Definitely wouldn't want the rats eating the cat litter especially if it is one of the clay based ones; I think my main concerns would be respiratory as cat litters tend to be very dusty.  I wouldn't want the rats getting into the litter pan to "play" and then breathing stuff in.
Title: Re: What cat litter to use when cat and rats live in the same house?
Post by: gramma2jaakk on July 25, 2017, 01:00:42 PM
I have no experiences with this. But remember that cats have to be introduced to a different litter, just like changing cat foods. I use a clay litter for Abby, and tried to change her to a different litter. Once. She refused to use it! Of course, at the time I didn't know to introduce her by mixing the two litters until she was using the paper pellets.
Title: Re: What cat litter to use when cat and rats live in the same house?
Post by: Been to the Mountaintop on July 25, 2017, 02:00:28 PM
I'm with Gramma. I'd be more worried about changing litter with a kitty with bladder stones. The kitty may already be reluctant to pee in the box if it was hurting, and coming back from surgery is a big change. Rats are pretty sensible. The only worry I've heard about rats eating litter is if you get the kind made of corn cobs--it can get toxic when it goes bad, I think some kind of corn fungus but I'm not sure.

Can you close the kitty off from the rats during free range, and maybe shorten the free range time since kitty is used to having its own turf? I've heard too many horror stories of interspecies accidents. Especially when kitty first gets home--they can get weird at the tail end of anesthetic. I learned when one sweet kitty was neutered that he was a MEAN drunk.

By the way, decades ago I had a kitty with stone problems. After surgery she was genius at detecting the supposedly undetectable urinary acidifier when I put it in her KD food. We tried all kinds of meds and additives, no luck. An expert at ISU vet college suggested tomato juice to acidify the urinary tract, and would you believe she lapped it right up, straight?  :eek:  It also worked with a very flat-faced black Persian who was a total sweetie but would look up with huge orange eyes and tomato juice dripping from his mouth, looking like a horror movie extra.
Title: Re: What cat litter to use when cat and rats live in the same house?
Post by: Nysander on July 29, 2017, 06:04:38 PM
Lmao at the Persian! ^-^

We did end up getting silica litter and Tor ( the cat) has been using it fine, so no worries there. The rats and cat are never allowed out together and in fact the rats haven't even come down stairs since the cat came home. They reeeally don't like the car smell so I've been keeping them limited to their room, my room, and dads bedroom ( where they play on the playground he built them and do tricks with him)
My main worry was just them finding little pieces of litter after the cat moves out again, since as I suspected it is getting tracked EVERYWHERE downstairs. Under furniture, into carpet, in every corner. I'm sure I'll never find every piece no matter how thoroughly I clean....

I know this isn't the cat forum but since you guys have been mentioning it, Tor is really not wanting to eat or drink since he got home. He's been back and fourth to the vets several times to try to keep him hydrated and get him eating and he will eat and drink for the vet but not at home! I'm about at my wits end. Any suggestions?

As mentioned, he needs to eat his urinary medicated food to finish getting over this ( tomatoe juice is an interesting thought...I've also heard maybe Apple cider vinegar?) but even more critical is that he eat and drink at all!
Title: Re: What cat litter to use when cat and rats live in the same house?
Post by: BigBen on July 31, 2017, 03:58:46 PM
Too bad they don't make liver-flavored Ensure! :cheeky:
Title: Re: What cat litter to use when cat and rats live in the same house?
Post by: Been to the Mountaintop on August 01, 2017, 12:46:49 AM
I'm gonna drop a note to one of the mods who's a cat expert RE eating. Glad you're keeping the species apart and so glad she's using her box!
Title: Re: What cat litter to use when cat and rats live in the same house?
Post by: Marybelle on August 01, 2017, 03:52:29 PM
I know this isn't the cat forum but since you guys have been mentioning it, Tor is really not wanting to eat or drink since he got home. He's been back and fourth to the vets several times to try to keep him hydrated and get him eating and he will eat and drink for the vet but not at home! I'm about at my wits end. Any suggestions?

As mentioned, he needs to eat his urinary medicated food to finish getting over this ( tomatoe juice is an interesting thought...I've also heard maybe Apple cider vinegar?) but even more critical is that he eat and drink at all!

I know you wanted to keep him closer post surgery, but I wonder if he's just as uncomfortable in the house as the rats are with him in the house...  Have you tried letting him back out in his normal space, and see if he'll eat and drink where he did before surgery?  It might just be a matter of discomfort in a new living spot. 

It's very odd that he'll eat and drink for the vet but not at home.  Usually that's backwards!
Title: Re: What cat litter to use when cat and rats live in the same house?
Post by: Nysander on January 31, 2018, 12:32:45 PM
Just to update anyone still looking at this thread, Tor ( the cat) did finally start eating again fairly consistently and has been doing pretty well for the last few months ( save for a curious limp he developed in one of his back legs that showed up right after his stone surgery and never went away).  He's moved back out into our sunroom ( with additional access to his outdoor kennel) exclusively and the rats are starting to be ok with the downstairs again. I cleaned as well as I could and so far I haven't seen any indication that the rats have found, much less tried to eat, any of the litter. I'll probably always be slightly worried about it but for now it pretty much seems to be a non- problem as life picks up again with the different species living separate lives. :)
Title: Re: What cat litter to use when cat and rats live in the same house?
Post by: BigBen on February 01, 2018, 02:01:16 AM
I love happy endings!