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Can Cats Be Allergic to Litter? Vet-Approved Facts & Safety Guide

Written by: Kerry-Ann Kerr

Last Updated on May 9, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

gray british shorthair kitten in cat litter box

Can Cats Be Allergic to Litter? Vet-Approved Facts & Safety Guide


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Humans aren’t the only ones unlucky enough to be affected by allergies. Cats can also be allergic to various items, like pollen, food, and potentially even cat litter. Signs your cat might be allergic to litter are similar to those seen in humans, so it probably won’t surprise you to find out that it can affect your cat’s mood, too.

If you suspect your cat is suffering from an allergy, it might not be entirely clear what is causing it. So, knowing what to look out for and how to care for your cat is essential, which is probably why you’re here. So, let’s get started!

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What Is a Litter Allergy?

Although no current research has shown definitive proof that cats can be allergic to litter, many vets and cat owners alike believe it to be very likely. Cats can develop an allergy at any age, but those between 1 and 6 years old are most susceptible. According to VCA, allergies are among the most common medical conditions that affect cats.

Allergies occur when the cat’s immune system is hypersensitive or overreacts to an allergen or foreign substance. The body will try to remove these allergens, which are foreign proteins. Many irritants are overlooked because they’re in something commonplace that we don’t expect to upset our cat, such as cat litter. If you’re worried your cat has developed an allergy to their litter, contact your veterinarian to discuss potential allergens your cat could have been exposed to.

cat cough
Image Credit: Ada K, Pixabay

What Are the Potential Signs of a Litter Allergy?

Signs that indicate your cat could be suffering from a litter allergy include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Itchy skin
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery or red eyes

Keep an eye on your cat: does anything else seem like it might be a cause of your cat’s discomfort? Are the signs seasonal, or only when certain foods are offered? Allergies are often a case of ruling in or out causes through various means, so look for patterns and clues that you can discuss with your cat’s vet.

street cat itches on a green background
Image Credit: AlexanderDubrovsky, Shutterstock

What Are the Potential Causes of a Litter Allergy?

There are several potential causes of a litter allergy. Like humans, cats can develop allergies for multiple reasons; they might be sensitive to the dust or fragrance. Cats that already are sensitive or have allergies to other things are also prone to developing other allergies. Some cat litter, like corn-based litter, can develop mold, triggering allergies (or worse) when inhaled.

How Do I Care for a Cat With a Suspected Litter Allergy?

The first step is contacting your vet, who might want to prescribe medications to help with the inflammation depending on the signs your cat is exhibiting. Your next step is changing the litter, which is much easier said than done. Your vet can offer recommendations if you’re stuck. Be sure to avoid litter with fragrances or dyes.

If your cat is suffering from primarily respiratory problems due to their allergy, find ways to increase the ventilation in your home. And if you’re using a covered litter box, switching to an open one might be wise as this will allow air to circulate more freely. Ideally, try a few types of litter at the same time in different boxes, to see which one is preferred by your cat.

light gray cat curiously looking at the litter box while being cleaned by its owner
Image Credit: Mila Naumova, Shutterstock

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When Should I Take My Cat to the Vet?

Generally, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially if your cat is uncomfortable. It’s particularly important to go to the vet if your cat shows any allergies, especially skin or respiratory signs. Several conditions are easy to confuse with allergies, but your vet can rule out other medical conditions, such as external parasites, and confirm the allergy.

vet doctors brushing scottish fold cat
Image Credit: Denys Kurbatov, Shutterstock

How Are Litter Allergies Diagnosed?

How do you confirm your cat is allergic to litter specifically? Narrowing down the culprit is tricky, especially with an outdoor cat that constantly comes into contact with many potential allergens.

If you suspect your cat may have an allergy, bring notes on times of the year your cat seems most affected, when the allergy started, any new foods, toys or bedding in their environment, the brands of foods and treats you are feeding your cat and any recent changes to these, and the names and doses any medications they are receiving, With regards to litter, you can bring a sample of the litter with you, the name of the litter, and the list of the ingredients. Upon arrival, your vet will then take a detailed medical history, complete a physical exam, and examine the litter to see if a common allergen is listed.

Testing usually involves a skin test or blood test; both have pros and cons, and sometimes vets will perform both to gain the best understanding of your cat’s allergies.

vet checking up a cat
Image Credit: brodtcast, Shutterstock

What Is the Best Litter Type for Cats With Allergies?

Fragrance-free and dust-free litter is generally beneficial to all cats, not just those with allergies. Sometimes, it will require trial and error to find the ideal brand that works best for your and your cat.3 cat face divider


Any cat can develop an allergy, even if they have been previously unaffected. Litter allergies remain to be documented in scientific research, but they are strongly suspected by many cat owners and vets. If you notice signs of a suspected cat litter allergy, or any other health problems, it’s best to take your cat to the veterinarian for a check-up just to be safe.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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