Emptying the cat litter box can be a big pain. Pet owners searching for a shortcut sometimes turn to alternative methods, like disposing of the cat litter down the toilet. Standard cat litter is designed to expand and clump together when it absorbs moisture. This kind of functionality can spell disaster for your pipes. When flushed down the toilet, cat litter can cause clogs, toilet backups, and sewer problems.
What about "flushable" cat litters?
Some kinds of cat litter are made from flushable substances like silica crystals, which are designed to absorb water without clumping. This type of cat litter may be acceptable for your pipes. However, there's another danger to flushing cat litter that you may not have considered.
Cats can be carriers of a parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii, which can live for months in cat excrement. When it gets into the water supply, Toxoplasma gondii can infect everything from seals to dolphins to humans. Although healthy adults can often fully recover, it can be damaging to pregnant women and other immunocompromised people.
Many waste water treatment facilities can't filter Toxoplasma gondii from the water supply, which means that cat litter that is flushed down the toilet can actually be a health risk to you and people in your community.
What should you do if you've already clogged your toilet with cat litter?
If your toilet becomes clogged with cat litter, use a plunger to unclog the toilet. To do this, put the rubbery end of the plunger down in the bottom of the toilet bowl to create a seal. Pump the plunger up and down forcefully several times in a row. If the bowl is mostly empty and has little or no water in it, flush the toilet first, then put the plunger inside the toilet bowl as it fills with water. This will help you get a better seal when you plunge the toilet. Repeat this process several times until the toilet is unclogged.
For severely clogged toilets, you can fix the problem by first pouring a gallon of water down the toilet, followed by a half cup of liquid dish soap. Make sure you aren't pouring boiling water since that can damage the toilet bowl. Let the mixture sit for about 10 to 15 minutes and then try plunging it again.
What should you do if cat litter clogs your sewer?
If the cat litter has caused a blockage in your sewer, you should be able to tell because multiple drains in your home will be affected. You'll notice that the drains are very slow or that they make a gurgling noise. The best way to handle a sewer clog is to talk with plumbing services, like Roto-Rooter. Contact a reputable plumber in your area today.