It was a long weekend, and I was out of litter for my rabbits.
Standing in my local grocery store, I looked at their pet aisle and I was confused. Which of the many kitty litter brands could I use for my rabbit?
I considered the crystal, clumping, non-clumping, fresh sawdust, and clay litters available on the shelf. None of these were suitable for rabbits to safely use!
To my horror, I discovered that none of the kitty litter brands sold commercially in my local grocery store were suitable for use as litter for my rabbits. Kitty litter will cause digestive problems for rabbits and can even lead to death.
The only safe kitty litter for rabbits are paper pellets and compressed sawdust pellets.
I ended up opting for something else from the grocery store that was a safe litter option for my rabbits, but I won’t spoil the surprise now—read on instead.
Why Is Cat Litter Harmful to Rabbits?
Cat litter is designed to be used by cats.
This may seem like such a basic concept, but cats are fastidious creatures that won’t nibble on non-edible objects, unlike rabbits that chew on everything.
Rabbits will chew on anything in your home, including plastic, wood, and carpeting.
Most of what a rabbit chews will end up in its gut. If they chew something toxic or indigestible, rabbits can get sick and it could also be fatal.
With their unique hind-gut fermentation process of digesting food, rabbits have a delicate gut balance to maintain.
Any object or material that blocks the passage of food in their digestive tract will cause serious problems.
When your rabbit digests food, they need to maintain a free passage of liquid and food particles through the gut where absorption of nutrients occurs.
If your rabbit’s hindgut is obstructed or dried out, they will suffer dehydration, constipation, and starvation, possibly leading to death.
Three Rabbit-Safe Kitty Litter Options to Consider
There are three kitty litter materials that do make good rabbit litter: shredded paper or pellets, medium-sized sawdust flakes, and compressed sawdust flakes.
Compressed Pine or Aspen Sawdust Pellets Litter
When the finer sawdust shavings are compressed into pellet form, these can be a great litter idea for rabbits.
These pellets aren’t palatable to rabbits, so they will be less inclined to eat them.
Sawdust pellets are also soft underfoot and dust-free, making for a suitable litter liner for rabbits.
For old or arthritic rabbits, the sawdust pellets may be unsuitable as bedding, but these are still fine as litter material.
Medium Size Sawdust Flakes Litter
Commercially sold sawdust for rabbit litter is a cheap and effective way to provide your rabbit with bedding and litter.
The one hazard of sawdust for your rabbit’s litter box is when the litter has not been kiln-dried.
Only kiln-dried litter is suitable for rabbit bedding as this kills off any mold spores that logs may have.
Be sure the sawdust flakes you choose as rabbit litter is guaranteed to be dust-free, meaning the sawdust flakes are all large-sized and any dust particles have been sifted out.
Compressed Newspaper Pellets or Shredded Paper
Another great option for rabbit litter is newspaper pellets, which is also a popular kitty litter.
Compressed newspaper pellets are made from recycled paper, and it is free of any harmful chemicals.
The pellets are soft underfoot, and your rabbit will be less inclined to eat the pellets than they would other litter types.
Paper pellets are dust-free and make cleaning the litter box a breeze.
Different Kitty Litter that Are Unsuitable for Rabbit Litter
Different cat litters can be harmful to your rabbits, and here’s why:
Clay kitty litter is a popular choice for cat owners, since it absorbs liquids and smells. While clay litter may seem like a great idea as it would absorb the smells from your rabbit’s litter box, it will also kill your rabbit!
Once your rabbit nibbles on a few clay particles, they will ingest the fine clay sand.
As a result, the rabbit’s digestive tract will become blocked, leading to colic and finally death.
When clay litter is ingested in smaller quantities, it may cause a partial obstruction, which will lead to nutrients not being absorbed and your rabbit starving to death.
Clumping litter is designed to help make cleaning up your cat’s litter box a breeze.
Special chemicals are added to the litter to absorb liquid and create solid particles that are easily scooped out.
With rabbits, the ingestion of clumping litter (of any kind) will lead to the dehydration of the rabbit’s digestive tract. As a result, food will begin to stick in their gut, not move through, and lead to constipation.
Scent Reduction Litter
Again, anything artificial is bad for your rabbit. If you were to use the scent-reducing litter, chances are that you are exposing them to a host of harmful chemicals.
Rabbits are prone to getting lung problems when they inhale strange particles or scents.
A rabbit that inhales too much scented litter can suffer pulmonary complications, leading to pneumonia.
Crystal litter is made from silicon dioxide, which is crystallized into a gel form. Essentially, it is a special kind of sand. This may seem harmless enough to your rabbit, but it’s not.
When rabbits ingest silica, it can lead to colic as the heavier silica particles will stick around in the rabbit’s gut, causing cramps.
Additionally, when a rabbit is exposed to fine silica dust, this can lead to problems with the rabbit’s lungs and breathing as a whole.
Remember, silica dries out liquid, including your rabbit’s lungs.
Wood Shavings Litter
While wood shavings may seem like a great litter idea—after all, this is a natural product—wood shavings can be really harmful to your rabbit’s health.
When rabbits ingest too much wood shavings, they can become blocked and suffer colic.
If a rabbit inhales the fine dust from the sawdust, it can also suffer pulmonary complications.
Naturally dried wood shavings or sawdust can contain bacteria and mold spores, which can grow in your rabbit’s lungs if they inhale the dust.
This can lead to serious respiratory infections and death.
Lastly, wood shavings can have shards that are razor-edged. These can cut your rabbit’s delicate paws, leading to an infection, and if untreated, it can lead to septicemia.
What Makes an Ideal Rabbit Litter?
When I got home, I added my emergency litter option to the litter box and began to wonder just what makes for the perfect rabbit litter.
I realized there were a few things that rabbit litter should do and be:
Rabbit litter should be hygienic, and it should keep the litter box area clean too.
When rabbits get urine stains on their paws or fur, it can lead to skin rot or even flystrike.
The litter area should ensure the rabbit stays hygienically clean when using their toilet.
To ensure the litter box is clean and dry, your rabbit litter should be quick-drying to absorb rabbit urine and keep the area hygienically clean.
In cold areas or in winter, quick-drying rabbit litter is essential.
Rabbits urinate and poop a lot, so you will be using quite a lot of rabbit litter.
This means that one of your considerations for rabbit litter should be the price.
When rabbit litter is expensive, you will be less inclined to change it as frequently as you should. A dirty litter box leads to rabbit diseases.
Rabbits have delicate lungs, and they require good ventilation.
Rabbit litter that produces a lot of fine dust will cause your rabbit to sicken.
By inhaling the fine dust, your rabbit’s lung function will decrease.
Discourage Eating of Litter
Since rabbits eat everything they can get their paws on, you should ensure your rabbit litter material is different from your rabbit bedding.
If you use hay for bedding, then try sawdust pellets for the litter box.
DIY Emergency Bunny Safe Litter Options
The store I was at didn’t sell paper bedding for cats (much less rabbits), and I was desperate. What could I use to ensure my rabbit didn’t sicken and die from their litter box material?
My choice was surprisingly easy: I grabbed some of yesterday’s newspapers.
When I got home, I began to shred the newspaper into long strips.
I preferred to shred as opposed to putting the paper through my little paper guillotine. Cut paper can do exactly that—cut.
So, instead of struggling with cut up rabbit paws, I opted to shred the paper by hand. When I had a nice bowl full, I added this to the rabbit’s hutch. Happiness!
Different Shredded Papers
There are several paper types to consider when choosing paper for a litter box.
For starters, you want paper that is soft but firm.
Sadly, this rules out toilet paper, kitchen paper towels, and office papers or cardboard.
While these may require recycling too, they are not suitable for rabbits.
Some FAQs about Rabbit Litter
Do rabbits need litter?
Having a litter box ready will help ensure the rabbits know where to go potty.
How do you dispose of rabbit bedding?
Rabbit bedding needs to be correctly disposed of. If your rabbit has been using organic litter such as newspaper, wood, or pellets, you will be able to dispose of the bedding appropriately.
You could opt to throw the pellets down the waste disposal, but it’s far better to add the rabbit litter to your compost heap, as rabbit litter is extremely rich in nutrients that plants need.
The Final Litter
Rabbits need careful management to prevent them from getting sick and dying. Making sure they have a fresh litter box is one of the ways to keep your rabbit healthy
The litter you choose can be any material as long as it is not treated with chemicals (like white or clumping litter is) and has dried well to avoid environmental pollutants like mold spores or bacterial infections.
Make sure to keep your rabbit’s hutch clean and avoid introducing litter that is not suitable for your rabbit.
Other rabbit articles you may also like:
- How to Introduce a Cat to a Rabbit?
- Can You Train a Rabbit to Use Litter Box (Potty Training)?
- 10 Tips to Keep a Rabbit Cage from Smelling
- Can You Use Rabbit Poop for Fertilizer? Pros and Cons!
- Why Do Rabbits Eat Their Own Poop?
- Why Do Dogs Eat Rabbit Poop?
- Is It Cruel To Keep A Rabbit In A Cage?
- Is Rabbit Poop Toxic to Humans/Dogs?