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Can You Use Cat Litter for Rats? (All You Need to Know)

If you have rat friends in your home that you are taking care of, you may be always looking for ways to give them a comfortable life. These tiny little creatures are fun to watch. While some pet rodents are considered to be harmful to humans, there are rats that you can keep as pets.

Can you use cat litter for rats?

You should not use cat litter for rats. Unlike cats, rats often use the litter as their bedding. Rats are sensitive to smell and most cat litters contain elements bad for their health. You have to provide them with something that won’t cause any harm to their health even if they use it as bedding.

Let’s see if you can use the following litter for rats –

Wood cat litter:

Litters made of pine and cedar woods are dangerous for rats. These woods contain acids and phenols that are very bad for their liver and respiratory system. The ammonia from urine combines with the strong scent and affects the respiratory tract.

Long-time inhalation of this can compromise their immune system. Only hardwood shavings like aspen are considered to be safe for rats. They are dust-free and don’t contain phenols. Also, aspen is easily available and quite inexpensive.

Paper cat litter:

Some paper cat litters may be used for rats but they must be unscented. But you must be careful not to give the rats any paper litters that claim to stop or control odor.

These litters come with odor control elements that can trigger health issues in your rats. Natural or paper litters that claim to be 100% paper can be used for the rats.

Silica cat litter:

It will be wise not to use silica cat litter for rats. Even though this litter doesn’t contain any harmful components, it is a bit dusty. Also, it is a drying agent that can cause your little critter’s feet and fur to dry out too much. 

Also, some rats can chew on them which is not at all good for their health.

Clay cat litter:

Clay cat litter is harmful to rats. Even though the manufacturers claim them to be not dusty at all, they do contain the dust that is bad for the lungs of the rats.

Also, the dust and clays stick to the fur of the rats. As rats like to groom most times of the day, they are likely to ingest the dust and clays. Clay doesn’t digest and can cause buildup in the stomach causing the rat to get ill.

Are rats attracted to cat litter? Will cat litter deter rats?

Rats are not attracted to cat litter. Rats are tiny creatures that try to avoid any other animals bigger than them. As rats can’t stand strong scents, they are very unlikely to be attracted to cat litter.

Some may believe that cat litter deters rats. Again, this is not the best option for deterring rats. Rats are not at all deterred by unused cat litter. But in some cases, rats may want to avoid areas with used cat litter. 

So you can try placing some used cat litter containing urine or feces from your cat to deter rats. But again, this is hardly an option.

Can you use cat litter for rat cages? Can you use cat litter for pet rats?

Rats are different than cats. While cats use their litter only for excretion, some rats use the litter as their bedding as well. Therefore, you should not use cat litter for rat cages. Rats are sensitive to smell. 

They can’t stand the smell of scented things and most cat litters are scented to overpower the smell of the excretion.

Similarly, you should not use cat litter for pet rats. Most cat litters are dusty, scented, and contain clumping and odor-controlling agents that are injurious to your pet rats. Rats like to groom their furs just like cats and end up consuming litter which is bad for their health.

What cat litter is safe for rats?

No cat litter should be used for rats. Rats are small animals with sensitive respiratory and digestive systems. They are easily disturbed by strong scents as their respiratory tracts can’t handle them. Most cat litters contain strong scents to mask the smell of urine.

Also, cat litters come with clumping agents to cover the faeces and urine. These agents are toxic and life-threatening for rats. If you search through the internet or talk with manufacturers, you may find some cat litters that are claimed to be safe for rats.

Be your judge and carefully check the list of materials before choosing one for your tiny rats. The litter has to be free of fragrance, dust, clumping agents, odor control agents and should be big enough so the rats don’t chew on them and try to swallow them.

3 reasons why you cannot use cat litter for rats

Three reasons why you cannot use cat litter for rats are given below –

Respiratory issues:

Most cat litters contain harmful elements that can cause breathing issues for rodents. Rats are quite sensitive to smell. Scented cat litter causes them discomfort. Also, their lungs are not strong enough to deal with toxic elements present in some cat litter.

Some may suggest using a corncob for the rats but keep in mind that corncob can mold and rot when it is wet for a long time. It is not ideal for rats to breathe in. Also, the rotting develops harmful bacteria that can attack their immune system.

Digestive issues:

Most cat litters contain elements like acids, phenols, masking scents, and baking soda that are very harmful to the rats. Rats can ingest parts of these elements when they lick or groom themselves. 

The elements made their way through their intestines but fail to digest properly. A lot of these elements can cause your rats to fall seriously ill and even pass.

Not the best bedding:

One important difference between cats and rats is that rats use litter as their bedding while cats don’t. While cat litters in crystal or powder forms work well for cats, they don’t work for rats. Rats can’t bed in powder as it will harm their sensitive respiratory system.

Similarly, most crystal form litters come with an odor control system that is a big no for rats. Rats can also try to eat these crystals which are very bad for their health. Therefore, apart from being harmful to rats, most cat litters are not good for their bedding.

Can you use cat litter bedding for rats?

Can litter should never be used as bedding for rats. These litters are designed for cats and most of them are proven to be harmful to your rat friends. But if you must, make sure that the litter is made of paper or aspen wood shavings with no added chemical or odor control system.

The materials have to be 100% natural, unscented, easy to replace, and comfortable for the rats to bed in. All these criteria are hard to find in cat litter. So it is suggested to avoid using cat litter for rats.

Something as little as a piece of thread can be life-threatening for rats. They are small animals with small intestines and respiratory systems. Check for harmful objects every time you wash and replace the bedding for rats.

What do you put in a rat litter box?

Let’s walk through this section to know more about what to put in a litter box –

Shredded paper:

100% natural shredded papers are the best options for a rat litter box. Rats are sensitive to smell and dust. Natural shredded papers are free of dust and scents hence they are ideal for rats.

Unbleached paper towels:

Unbleached toilet tissues or paper towels can be a great option for the litter box as well. These towels are non-dusty and don’t contain any harmful elements.

Hardwood shavings:

While softwood shavings are not at all good for rats, you can try using hardwood shavings to put in a rat litter box. Aspen, oak, and ash wood shavings work great in this case.

They are free of harmful phenols and acids and don’t have the strong scent that pine and cedar woods have. Also, they are not dusty and don’t cause harm to the respiratory tracts of the rats.

Cloth or safe fabric:

You can also use a cloth or pieces of fabric to put in a rat litter box. Since clothes are thin and don’t give good coverage, they can easily get soaking wet and cause a bad smell of urine and faeces. 

This can cause problems for your rat buddies as well. You will have to clean and replace the cloth regularly to avoid these problems.

Final Thoughts

You should not use cat litter for rats. Cat litters are harmful to rats as they come with masking scents, clumping agents, dust, and an odor management system that are bad for their respiratory and digestive systems. Use homemade litter instead as it would be safer and more convenient to use.