When it comes to taking care of our rabbits and guinea pigs, we want to make the best choice we can and make sure we’re taking the best care of our furry friends that we can.
Part of having a rabbit or guinea pig is taking care of their cage environment and making sure it’s clean for them to move around in. Pets that spend most of their time in cage habitats usually require some kind of bedding in the cage, and an absorbent material to put into their litter area so it will absorb their urine and feces without getting all over the cage or even leaking into the surrounding area of your home.
If you also have a cat it might seem like an easy solution to use the cat litter you already have in the cage of your rabbit or guinea pig, but it can be dangerous for your other pets to just use the litter without understand what it’s made of and which animals it’s ok for.
Similar to other animals that spend a lot of time in a cage environment, rabbits take to using a litter box pretty naturally as they don’t want to mess all over their living area. Rabbits like to stay clean, which is obvious by how they will groom themselves all day, so they will definitely use a consistent bathroom location.
So how does this help you?
Well, you can use one material for the litter box and then something closer to a traditional bedding for the rest if you want.
You might also like to read about: Best Litter Box for Rabbits
Are there any kinds of cat litter that are safe for rabbits?
There may be some overlap between cat litters and ones that are safe for your bunny, but it’s important to also know what not to use and what may be dangerous for your bunny.
Bunnies really enjoy nibbling and chewing on things in their environment, so a clay-based litter is really not safe for your rabbit. Clay litters will absorb all the moisture in the surrounding area and then it will harden – also known as clumping cat litter – so this can create a blockage in your rabbit’s stomach or intestines.
Corn, wheat or oat-based litters
These naturally occurring materials are becoming much more common in cat litters, but they are still not safe for all pets. It’s strongly recommended that you don’t use any of these litters for your rabbit as they are likely to ingest them and that isn’t healthy for a bunny.
This kind of litter is not going to be as absorbent as the traditional clay litters but they are safe for a rabbit. Newspaper is one of the most budget-friendly options for a pet owner so you can also give your rabbit a much bigger enclosure with more newspaper bedding if you wanted to.
The only downside to newspaper pellets is that, since they aren’t as absorbent as some other kinds of litter, you will need to make sure you are changing it out quite frequently. If you don’t change it out frequently you could find mold and rot growing underneath, which can cause bacteria to grow and the enclosure to smell.
These kinds of wood shavings – as long as they aren’t pine or cedar – are perfectly healthy to be used for your rabbit. It’s very important to make sure the wood shavings are not pine or cedar and that you change them frequently. Wood shavings, like newspaper pellets, are quite as absorbent so they will be susceptible to rot and mold growing in the enclosure.
Additionally, cat litter can cause massive blockages in your bunny’s intestines if they eat it. A safer option would be to purchase litter than is specifically designed for rabbits, which you can find at your local pet store.
You can also use hay for the bedding in your rabbits enclosure if you wanted as it’s completely safe for then to nibble on, it is soft for them to jump around in and is a little absorbent if they choose to use some of it for a litter box.
Overall, most cat litters would be deemed unsafe for your rabbit for a couple really important reasons. One of the biggest issue with using cat little for a bunny is that, since bunnies like to chew and nibble, cat litters are toxic if inhaled or ingested for your bunny.
Now that it’s known that you can’t use cat litters in your rabbit’s habitat, what about using it for a guinea pig?
Your adorable little guinea pigs have unique needs, and while you can sometimes use other pet products in caring for them you want to make sure that you’re using products that won’t hurt them or be toxic for them.
Do you know what kinds of bedding or litter are safe to use for your guinea pig’s environment? Is it safe to use cat litter? Here’s what you need to know.
No tree-scented litter
There are a few options for cat litter that use pine or cedar shavings. This litter will definitely cover the scent of your guinea pig’s urine because it naturally masks odour, but it shouldn’t be used for your guinea pigs.
Cedar and pine are incredibly irritating to a guinea pig’s respiratory system and it can cause an allergic reaction manifesting as a skin condition. Make sure you don’t use this kind of litter for your guinea pig.
Don’t use corn, either
There are cat litter options made of corn, which is a natural alternative to other kinds of litter. However, this is not something that should ever be used for a guinea pig. Since corn litters are prone to growing mold quickly after they get wet, the mold can be dangerous for your guinea pig to inhale.
Additionally, the small pellets that are typical with corn litter can get lodged in the anal or genital regions of your guinea pig, and this can lead to infections and impaction.
The small shape and size of this kind of litter make it easy for your guinea pig to eat, but the pellets will swell when mixed with water so they can cause an internal blockage.
Skip any clumping litter
In the same way corn pellets can cause a blockage when introduced to moisture, clumping cat litter does the same. This also has some chemicals in it that are designed to mask scent but these chemicals are dangerous for your guinea pig. Further, the clumps can get tangled in your guinea pig’s hair, and they can be painful to remove.
It was mentioned that cedar and pine should not be used when it comes to bedding or litter options for your guinea pig, but aspen shavings are a suitable option. These shavings are not naturally aromatic, like other wood options, but they are safe to have around your guinea pig.
Unlike other bedding and litter options that may be ok to stay in the environment for longer, the aspen shavings need to be changed out frequently so that the moisture doesn’t just hang around and rot the wood shavings.
If you want to be completely safe and make sure your guinea pigs don’t have any access to toxic litters or might accidentally ingest small pellets, you can use old fleece or cotton towels as bedding. The towels can provide very comfortable bedding for your guinea pigs, and they are absorbent.
The bonus to using old towels is that they are reusable so they are definitely environmentally friendly when compared to other kinds of litter and bedding. On that same note, the towels will have to be washed frequently because they don’t mask the smell and you don’t want your guinea pig rolling around in towels covered in urine.
While rabbits and guinea pigs need safe bedding and litter box materials just like cats do, but that doesn’t mean the products designed for cats are safe to use for other pets too.
Rabbits and guinea pigs have different needs, and they react to materials in a different way. Most cat litters are designed to clump together when moisture is introduced so it makes it easier to scoop out of a litter box, but they can be toxic for your other pets if ingested.
For guinea pigs and rabbits, you can use wood shavings in the bedding of the cage and then a product that is more similar to traditional litter – like corn or newspaper pellets – in a litter box area and this will help keep the smells masked and their cage much cleaner.
With a little information on which products are safe for your rabbits and guinea pig you can make sure you pick the best options for litter and bedding for their cages. If you ever have any questions, employees at pet stores can help make sure you purchase the right choice for your pet’s needs.