Bedding and Litter

Joan
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Bedding and Litter

Postby Joan » Thu Sep 02, 2004 8:59 pm

The Problem with Cedar & Pine Shavings as Bedding and Litter
                              ~ Lianne McLeod

  Cedar and pine shavings are commonly available pet bedding products -- but are they harmful to the very animals for which they are intended?

  Cedar and pine became popular for pet bedding material because they are good at controlling odor and have some natural insecticidal properties (they kill or repel bugs, especially cedar).  These softwood shavings smell nice due to the volatile compounds (e.g. aromatic hydrocarbons, phenols) that are given off.  Unfortunately these compounds have been implicated as a potential health risk, especially with regards to respiratory problems (asthma, inflammation, allergic responses) and changes in the liver.

  Many of the studies on wood toxicity have actually been conducted on humans, who are exposed to these woods and their by products in the wood product industry (such as those who work in lumber mills who are exposed to lots of wood dust), and these studies often compare the incidence of disease in workers in the wood product industry compared to other workers or the average population.

  Studies of laboratory animals have shown fairly dramatic changes in liver enzymes on animals housed on cedar bedding.  This in turn can effect the metabolism of drugs including anesthetics, but a direct link between these changes and disease or clinical symptoms hasn't been as clear.

  However, based on the studies that implicate the compounds in allergic and respiratory diseases as well as the impact on liver enzymes, it seems prudent to avoid cedar shavings as bedding or litter, especially since alternatives are available. 

  With pine shavings, the problem isn't quite as clear cut.  Pine shavings emit similar volatile compounds but the risks aren't as clear. Many say that drying the shavings releases most of the volatile compounds, so that products such as kiln dried pine are safe. You may still wish to use an alternative bedding or litter completely free of these compounds to be on the safe side.

Better Options
  If you are used to using wood shavings, aspen is a good option that is widely available.    There is an increasing number of other litter or pellet type products on the market, which are appropriate for use as bedding or in litter boxes.  The most difficult part is getting used to the idea of using a pellet to line a cage rather than shavings.  The best option depends on the type of animal and what the litter is used for. 

  For rodents and ferrets, alfalfa pellets (rabbit food) can be used - it is cheap and controls odors relatively well.  Other products include paper pellets (several brands) which are fairly hard, but are absorbent and hold together so the wet parts can easily be scooped out.  Pelleted litter can also be found made from a variety of organic matter, such as cherry/maple wood, aspen wood or bark, and grain by products.  Other products include wood pulp fibers, small hardwood chips, and paper strips, which are a bit more hospitable as bedding (although less absorbent). 

Top 10 Alternatives to Cedar & Pine Shavings
  Among the most readily available materials for small pet bedding and litter are cedar and pine wood shavings. However, concerns over potential adverse health effects of the volatile compounds released from these wood shavings has sent small animal owners searching for alternatives. Here are some of the choices.

1.  Aspen Shavings
  Compared to some of the other bedding here, aspen is not quite as absorbent or effective at odor control. However, it is widely available, usually inexpensive, and a good alternative to other wood shavings. Available from a variety of manufacturers.
 
2. CareFRESH  CareFRESH, manufactured from 100% wood pulp fiber, is a light weight, fluffy bedding, although it is not very attractive in appearance. It is dust free and really absorbent, and has no inks or dyes. It also doesn't disintegrate when wet.

3. Aspen Fresh
  Aspen fresh is a pelleted aspen product that has garnered favorable reviews for its absorbency and odor control.
 
4. Cell-Sorb Plus
  A pelleted paper based product that is very absorbent and some say that it is somewhat softer than other paper based pelleted litters. It may also need changing less often. However, it can be harder to find.
 
5. Critter Country
  A pelleted product made from winter wheat and other plant fibers, heat treated to kill fungus, molds and insects. Absorbent, dust free, and odor controlling.
 
6. Aspen Supreme Pelleted Pet Bedding
  Another pelleted aspen product similar to the others, touted for its absorbency and odor control.
 
7. Yesterday's News
  Litter made from recycled newspaper, now available in a softer, looser pellet designed as bedding, as well as the original larger pellet. Very absorbent (the pellets degrade as they absorb moisture) and no dust. Usually easy to find.
 
8. Gentle Touch  An aspen bark based pellet. Also said to be extremely absorbent (will absorb up to 3 times its weight in water) and good at odor control.
 
9. Woody Pet
  This is a white softwood based product, but the manufacturer states that the processing removes 100% of the dangerous aromatic hydrocarbons (along with resins, oils, tars, acids and water). It comes in a granular form, which expands as it absorbs moisture and is said to be very absorbent.
 
10. Pet's Preference Critter Litter and Bedding
  A paper based pelleted product -- similar to Yesterday's News. Comes in a pelleted form ("Original Texture" -- good for litterboxes) and a looser fiber form ("Soft Texture" -- perhaps better as bedding). Depending where you are it can be harder to find.
Last edited by Joan on Wed Oct 05, 2005 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby FLYNSQRL » Fri Feb 11, 2005 10:50 am

I don't see raw cotton listed here. Is there a problem with using raw cotton as bedding material? I have used only raw cotton as bedding material for Sabrina. Am I doing something wrong?

Also, in my nesting box studies (I have over 400 nesting boxes that are monitored bi-annually) there is one glaringly obvioius common denominator - ALL the nests built by wild flyers in the study area (over an area of more than 8000 square miles) are made from eastern white cedar bark. EVERY one. Never an exception in the 4 years I have been doing this study. Not to say that cedar bark VOC's would not have a deleterious effect over ten or more years on a captive flyer, but I would think that no problems would present in your typical wild flyer over its normal life span of, on average, 4 years or so.
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Postby Joan » Fri Feb 11, 2005 11:01 am

[quote="FLYNSQRL"]I don't see raw cotton listed here. Is there a problem with using raw cotton as bedding material? I have used only raw cotton as bedding material for Sabrina. Am I doing something wrong?

I don't see anything wrong with raw cotton. Having seen and picked some from southern fields, it looks perfectly OK to me. Another thing they are crazy about is toilet paper and kleenex (plain white and unsented).

Also, in my nesting box studies (I have over 400 nesting boxes that are monitored bi-annually) there is one glaringly obvioius common denominator - ALL the nests built by wild flyers in the study area (over an area of more than 8000 square miles) are made from eastern white cedar bark.

I'll bet the problem is commercial cedar.
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Postby FLYNSQRL » Fri Feb 11, 2005 11:34 am

Yes, that is a good observation Joan!

I checked and found that bedding cedar is made from aromatic red cedar, not eastern white cedar. Big difference in VOC (volatile organic compound) outputs!

BTW, I buy my cotton in bulk from a futon manufacturer. I have been doing this for years as I use it for supplying my live-traps with insulation/bedding material and now also use it for Sabrina's myriad nests. Here in Canada, three ounces of cotton bedding material for rodents goes for $4.99. I get a garbage bag PACKED TIGHT with raw cotton for $15! Somebody is printing money...makes me want to get into the cotton bedding material wholesaling business!
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Postby FLYNSQRL » Fri Feb 11, 2005 11:42 am

One more thought:

The ONE reservation I do have is that this cotton is not organically grown...

Cotton is also the single largest market for insecticides with sales of well over 3 billion dollars annually worldwide, and approximately 35% of all crop insecticide sales in the USA.

Most acutely toxic pesticide registered by the E.P.A.: aldicarb (used frequently on cotton)
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Postby bjsides » Wed Feb 16, 2005 7:08 pm

I agree Darra...my hubby's family owns farms and spray all kinds of stuff on cotton. I would be scared to use it.
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Postby gwsgrand » Wed Feb 16, 2005 9:49 pm

The farmers in Al. are not allowed to use chemicials on their cotton . I have a friend who works for the cotton growers and checks out the fields and she gets me cotton that has nothing put on it. My little ones have a great time playing with it and I feel safe using it. I would not get any cotton that I knew had any thing on it. My father grew many acres of cotton in his life time and I can remember the crop dusters coming over in the planes. So glad those days and oders are gone.
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Postby LaurenLovesFlyers » Thu Jan 03, 2008 5:30 pm

Which of the 10 do you think would be the best bet for bedding?
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Postby Joan » Thu Jan 03, 2008 6:55 pm

I use Arm & Hammer Multi cat litter I get at the grocery store.
"A lot of people spend time talking to the Animals, but not that many people listen. That's the real problem! ... Winnie the Pooh

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Postby gloryaf88 » Thu Jan 03, 2008 10:02 pm

Drago has cotton balls in his nest, which Deb had placed in there when she brought me the nest box.

Martie and Pistol have a material called fluff from Petsmart in two of their beds, and in their other nest they have flannel pillow cases or either the jersey pillow cages cut up in strips.I really like the pillow cases because I can take them out, place them in a net washing bag and wash them.
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Postby krups1110 » Fri Jan 04, 2008 8:45 pm

i use 100% cotton balls, which she rips apart and makes a nest with.
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Re: Bedding and Litter

Postby CzNik2 » Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:41 pm

Hi Joan,

Just currious on how you use your Arm and Hammer Litter...Do you have a grate over it? Or are they able to get to it?

Thanks,
Brian

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Re: Bedding and Litter

Postby Joan » Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:17 pm

I have a solid floor and they can get on it.
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Re: Bedding and Litter

Postby flyer_1 » Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:41 pm

I realize this post is kind of dead but if someone is looking through this I can tell you that care-fresh is very good stuff and it's safe to you and your flyer.
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Re: Bedding and Litter

Postby Lace » Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:09 pm

How about dryer lint? Is it ok to use?

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Re: Bedding and Litter

Postby Joan » Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:33 pm

Never tried it. It should be soft, but you might be picking it off pups. LOL :twisted:
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Re: Bedding and Litter

Postby Lace » Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:33 pm

LOL Thats true!

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Re: Bedding and Litter

Postby Laurak » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:13 pm

Hey Lace!

Maybe I'm paranoid, but I wouldn't use the dryer lint. Dryer sheets can have all sorts of weird chemicals on them, and I'm not sure what exposure to them would do to animals that small. I am a bit of a hippie, but I just try to keep chemical exposure down as much as possible.

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Re: Bedding and Litter

Postby Lace » Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:34 am

I don't use drier sheets, so I dont think that would be an issue. I figured I would try using the dryer fuzz left when I was fleece, and those fuzzy blankets my kids seem to each have a dozen of.

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Re: Bedding and Litter

Postby Joan » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:51 pm

Can't wait for pictures of those lint covered pups with you picking it off. LOL :twisted:
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Re: Bedding and Litter

Postby vanier34 » Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:29 pm

I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF YOU CAN USE BEDDING FLUFF FROM THE SEED POD OF THE KAPOK TREE? IT IS SOFT LIKE COTTON. :?: THE SELL IT IN A PET STORE.

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Re: Bedding and Litter

Postby Joan » Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:47 pm

vanier34 wrote:I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF YOU CAN USE BEDDING FLUFF FROM THE SEED POD OF THE KAPOK TREE? IT IS SOFT LIKE COTTON. :?: THE SELL IT IN A PET STORE.

I'm not at all familar with it, but it's likely OK. 100% collon balls from your drug or grocery store is likely MUCH less expensive. They like to shread paper towels and toilet paper too. :wink:
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Re: Bedding and Litter

Postby Binsky734 » Thu Jul 04, 2013 5:47 pm

Since flying squirrels like to bury things, I was wondering if using good old soil would be an option for bedding material. On the site of the breeder that I will be getting my FS from, they have a corner litter pan, and claim that small animals can be trained to use it.

If it's possible to train a FS this way, then wouldn't soil be a better option, especially since I could plant some ivy or such in there to provide a more natural habitat?

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Re: Bedding and Litter

Postby Joan » Fri Jul 05, 2013 11:02 am

Binsky734 wrote: I was wondering if using good old soil would be an option for bedding material.?

Soil would not be good bedding material since flyers do not nest on the ground. Most of us use 100% cotton balls for bedding in nest boxes.

Binsky734 wrote:... they have a corner litter pan, and claim that small animals can be trained to use it.?

Flyers cannot be "trained" ... they train you. LOL They tend to pick a spot for elimination and go there. If you put the litter pan there, they may use it. Mine just buried nuts in it. :twisted:

Binsky734 wrote: I could plant some ivy or such in there to provide a more natural habitat?

Be prepared for any plantings to be dug up. :wink:
"A lot of people spend time talking to the Animals, but not that many people listen. That's the real problem! ... Winnie the Pooh


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