While ferrets may not have been a popular pet a few decades ago, more and more pet lovers have begun adopting these fun, furry, intelligent creatures. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 32.6% of United States homes own ferrets. Other studies report that a whopping 8 million people keep ferrets as pets, making them the third most popular household pet.
If you have a ferret as a pet, you might be wondering basic things, like if your ferret can use cat litter to go to the bathroom. We’ll detail all of that and more in our article below.
Technically, yes, ferrets can use cat litter. Ferrets are intelligent creatures, and as a result, you can house train them by using a litter box.
However, some types of litter are harmful to your ferret. For example, you should steer clear from sand-based litter or litter with heavy oils. Instead, it’s much safer to stick with wood pellets or recycled paper for your ferret’s box.
Some ferret owners also opt for pee pads to provide ferrets with a toilet where no litter box would fit.
As mentioned, some litters are okay for your ferret, while other types will harm your pet. For example, sand-based litters are not suitable for your ferret’s health since most ferrets sniff and snorkel a lot. When they sniff sand-based litter, they can form sand clots in their sinuses, leading to further health complications.
When properly trained, ferret owners can help their beloved ferrets use the box as easily as they can when training a cat. However, unlike a cat (who sometimes naturally finds a box), ferrets don’t find using a litter box natural.
Their mothers are the ones who teach them to go to the bathroom in the same spot every time, and because most ferrets are separated from their mothers too young, ferrets don’t instinctively know to use a box.
As a result, ferret owners must be patient when training their ferrets. Luckily, ferrets are intelligent creatures. With a little bit of patience and care, your ferret can pick up using the box in no time. Training your ferret to use the litter box, of course, makes taking care of your ferret much more manageable than finding surprises around your home.
Some litter brands pose more significant risk threats than other brands, styles, or types of litter.
Clay litter is especially risky, as when clay litter gets wet, it clumps together. While this is not an issue for cats, ferrets tend to scoot their bums after they go to the bathroom – this means the clay litter can clump up and stick to their anus, which can cause a potential blockage.
Additionally, ferrets also tend to dig and burrow into the litter, and when they dig in clay litter, they can accidentally cake their nostrils. Sometimes they can even ingest this material, which can lead to further health problems like digestion obstruction.
Another considerable risk is damaging their respiratory system. We already mentioned how some sand-based litters aren’t suitable as ferrets can inhale the dust and irritate their sinus passageways. Additionally, cedar and pine have a heavy oil base.
Too much oil inhalation can further damage their respiratory system and even cause some changes in liver enzymes.
Therefore, when choosing litter, pay special attention to the oil composition.
There are plenty of litter options that are safe and healthy for ferrets to use.
Wood pellets are perhaps the safest option. Because of this, wood pellets are the most common litter type amongst ferret owners. Pellet litters are safe for their respiratory systems, but they are also easy for owners to use. In addition, they are cost-effective, odorless, and clump when wet, making it easy for you to scoop and clean the box.
However, there are some types of wood pellets to avoid. You shouldn’t buy hard pellets because they don’t absorb liquid easily, which can mean a bigger mess for you to clean up.
Another great option is to use recycled litter. Recycled litter is made from recycled paper, and as a result, it’s affordable, low in dust, safe, and effective.
However, even when you purchase recycled litter, you must ensure it is unscented, as scented litter can lead to allergies and irritation.
If you’re looking for another cost-effective option, you may want to look into wood-stove pellets. These are sawdust chips that are compressed into harder pellets. However, make sure you read the label before purchasing these pellets.
You never want to buy pellets that contain softwood (like cedar) as the acids in this wood can have harmful effects on your ferret. You also want to make sure the wood-stove pellets are safe for animals; some wood-stove pellet brands have toxic chemicals that are not safe for ferrets.
Ferrets can use many types of cat litter, although you want to avoid what consumers refer to as “regular” cat litter. When purchasing litter for your ferret, you want to make sure you avoid clay litter, silica-based litters, corncob litters, and pine and cedarwood litters.
While you can’t use baking soda in the actual litter pan, you can use it to help fight odors in other ways. For example, baking soda is an excellent trick amongst pet owners to eliminate foul smells like urine and feces. As a result, most cat owners use baking soda in the litter box.
Ferrets, though, dig and inhale dust, which can damage their respiratory system. So while small amounts are probably okay, you don’t want your ferret inhaling large quantities of baking soda, which will hurt their respiratory system.
Instead, you can put baking soda in a spray bottle and spray around the bathroom if you’re looking to eliminate odor. However, you might just want to find odor-eliminating litter instead. Additionally, ferrets go to the bathroom much more than cats, so you’ll want to scoop their box daily anyway. Scooping regularly should be effective in fighting odors.
What Cat Litter Can You Use For Ferrets?
In short, you’re going to want to use recycled paper, wood pellets, or sand-based is the best cat litter for ferrets. You want to make sure that whatever litter you choose does not contain odors, dust, or clay.
Additionally, recycled paper wood pellets are highly absorbent. This means not only do they make for easier cleanup, but they also have excellent odor control.
If you’re stumped on what to buy, try a wheat-based natural cat litter. This litter is 100% biodegradable and is also clay and chemical-free, which means it’s entirely safe for your ferret. It also has easy clean-up as you can flush the litter right down the toilet.
Choosing the perfect litter for your pet ferret can be an overwhelming process. However, many types of cat litter are safe and effective for your ferret to use and enjoy. When purchasing litter, make sure to avoid any dust, chemicals, artificial scents, or cedar or pine (since this is harmful to their health. Instead, stick with recycled paper or wood pellets.