I had a pretty bad experience cleaning my cat’s litter box a couple of years ago. I was scooping out my cat’s soiled litter and a gust of wind blew some of the cat litter dust into my eyes. That caught me off guard and I used my dirty hands to rub my eyes.
I’m not sure if it was the cat litter dust from the wind or on my hands but my right eye started to ache and swell up. 10 minutes later, I could barely open my right eye and it was tearing non-stop.
What should you do if cat litter gets in your eye?
If you have cat litter in your eyes, the first thing that you should do is to flush out as much dust and debris out of your eye with clean water. Do not scratch your eyes and make it worse. Although the litter itself isn’t dangerous if removed quickly, soiled kitty litter can lead to an eye infection.
We will take a closer look at the possible contamination risks if cat litter gets in your eye.
Can Cat Litter Affect Eyes?
Continuing from my sob story earlier, I had no choice but to visit my family doctor to ascertain what is wrong with my eye.
After some careful examination, the doc said that I was just having bad eye irritation. He gave my affected eye a good flushing and some antibiotic eyedrops.
Even though it wasn’t anything serious, it still took a good one week for the swelling to subside.
Thankfully, I managed to walk away from this incident unscathed but it did get me thinking of the possible contamination risks from cat litter.
Toxoplasmosis is a disease that is caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite is very commonly found in both animals and humans.
Cats are the ideal host for this parasite which will live in the cat’s digestive system and will shed Toxoplasma in its feces. Based on this reason alone, you should stop cats from pooping in your garden or plants.
Other cats can get infected by it when after ingesting infected prey or eating food, water or soil that has been contaminated by cat feces that contains the parasite.
Humans can get infected by this parasite via accidental ingestion of cat feces or breathing in contaminated cat litter dust.
It is possible to get infected with toxoplasmosis via the eye if contaminated litter dust enters the eye. This is why many medical professionals put on protective eyewear when dealing with infectious diseases.
This form of toxoplasmosis is known as ocular toxoplasmosis and it attacks the retina of those infected. If left untreated over the long term, it can cause eye pain, blurred vision in mild cases but and permanent blindness can happen in severe cases.
Litter Dust Allergy
There are times when I sneeze a lot after cleaning out my cat’s litter box. I am using a type of litter that is made of biodegradable wood fibers and it does a very good job of clumping and getting rid of odors.
The downside of litter that clumps is that they tend to leave a lot of minute dust particles in the litter box and all around the house.
If you are someone that has an allergic reaction to environmental triggers, these dust particles can enter your body via your eyes and set off an allergic reaction.
Litter types that tend to leave a lot of dust are usually made from:
- Saw Dust
Furthermore, clay litter has silicates in it which is known to irritate our eyes. If you live in a small apartment and are sensitive to such allergens, it would be best to use cat litter that doesn’t leave a lot of dust like paper and silica gel.
Have you ever stepped into a public toilet that reeked so badly that it made your eyes water?
I know I have and I get the same problem with my cat’s litter box at times. To understand this stinky problem with our cats, we need to understand a little about the origin of cats.
Our domesticated cats evolved from cats that used to live in the desert. Being desert dwellers, water is a scarce resource. These desert cats are able to live in such a harsh environment by having a low thirst drive and by concentrating their urine.
Urine that is very concentrated like a cat’s, tends to smell pretty bad if left exposed. This is due to the undiluted urea and ammonia that gives off a really pungent smell. The concentrated cat pee can also get very sticky when the pee dries up. However, there are times when sticky cat pee can also be due to an underlying medical condition.
Why Does Cat Urine Burn My Eyes?
Constantly exposing your eyes to ammonia isn’t good as it can lead to eye irritation and even eye damage. It is this chemical compound that can give your eyes a burning sensation when exposed to it.
The best way to prevent your cat’s pee from smelling so bad is to clear its litter box as often as possible or at least once a day. Letting your cat’s urine sit in the litter box for days will stink up your entire home.
Should I See A Doctor If Cat Litter Gets Into My Eye?
The first thing that you should do if cat litter ever gets in your eye is to wash your eye with running water. Make sure to do it properly until you can’t feel any sediment in your eye.
In the unfortunate event that your eye starts to swell or feel painful, you need to see your own doctor immediately for medical treatment. This is to ensure that your eye discomfort isn’t caused by something from your cat.
How Do You Get Cat Litter Out Of A Cat’s Eye?
There might be times when the cat litter dust has entered your cat’s eyes and is causing some irritation.
You can try wiping the outside and the corner of your cat’s eye with some tepid water to see if that helps. But if your cat has started to develop an eye infection, I would suggest you take your cat to the vet immediately.
Your cat’s eyes are a very sensitive area and needs to be cleaned by a vet.
Don’t start poking and rubbing your cat’s eye with anything else which can make the problem worse.
How To Stay Safe When Cleaning My Cat’s Litter Box?
If you wish to remain extra careful when cleaning out or washing your cat’s litter box, you can choose to put on a pair of gloves, protective glasses and a mask.
Truth be told, the only time that I use a mask when clearing my cat’s litter is when he is having diarrhea because it really stinks and makes me wanna puke.
Other than that, I always make sure to not touch my face or anything else until I thoroughly wash my hands.
Who Should Avoid Cleaning Out Cat Litter Boxes?
Although the risk of infection from coming into contact with cat litter is very very slim. There are some individuals that should not clean out or come into contact with a cat’s litter box.
Pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems should not go near a cat litter box.
These groups of people are more susceptible to catching diseases like toxoplasmosis. A pregnant mother can even pass it onto her unborn child which can lead to birth defects.