Can You Flush Cat Poop Down The Toilet?

Is it safe to flush cat poop down the toilet? While this may seem like a convenient option, flushing cat poop is not advisable. We explain the health risks and other reasons why you should never flush cat poop down the toilet.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: December 20, 2023 | 7 min read

A cat sitting on toilet bowl with rolls of paper.

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We’ve all seen those funny videos and social media posts that claim to show a cat using the toilet and flushing their business down, just like us humans. While many of these claims are likely exaggerated or made up, many owners wonder, can you flush cat poop down the toilet? As desirable as it might seem for our furry family members to use the porcelain throne and eliminate the unpleasant chore of cleaning the litter box, there’s much more to flushing cat feces than one might realize.

One question is whether cats can be trained to use and flush the toilet. The other question is whether or not flushing kitty poop is a safe practice. Cats can flush a toilet, and some may even be trained to do their business in it, but cat poop should never be flushed as it contains harmful parasites that pose a health risk to humans and our water supply.

Along with that, cat poop and litter can clog up your plumbing and cause complete disaster. There are a few different reasons why flushing your kitty’s poop down the toilet is a bad idea. Let’s jump in and get down to the dirty details about flushing that kitty poo down the loo.

Can I Flush Cat Poop?

You should never flush cat poop down the toilet. Technically speaking, feline poop can be physically flushed down the pipes. You just should not do it. Just like human waste, it is pushed down into the sewers, works its way to your water pipes, then through the sewers, and eventually into water treatment facilities.

While cat feces can move through the pipes like human waste, it contains harmful parasites that cause toxoplasmosis. These parasites are not treated in our water supply and can have long-term impacts on both humans and animals. The most harmful parasite found in kitty feces is Toxoplasma gondii, which can pass to humans and cause them to become ill.

Why You Shouldn’t Flush Cat Poop

Why you should never flush cat poop down toilet graphic.

Once T. gondii gets into the sewage system, it can enter the environment and other untreated waterways. It can also get into groundwater and drinking water, making it quite dangerous. Even if it does not get into the drinking water, it can contaminate soil and spread to humans who did not wash their hands after gardening or those who eat unwashed produce harvested fresh from their gardens.

The parasite can then infect humans and other animals. It’s most dangerous for individuals who are immunocompromised or pregnant women. A toxoplasmosis infection during pregnancy can lead to congenital abnormalities as well as stillbirth and miscarriage.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than 30 million people in the United States may be infected with the toxoplasma parasite at any time. Many people who are infected never know because they show no symptoms.

Along with the risk of toxoplasmosis infection, feline feces can contain other parasites and bacteria that we don’t want to get into our water supply. Kitty feces can also cause damage to marine life by spreading the T. gondii parasite. The parasite can live in the environment for months after being shed, continuing to contaminate and spread infection.

What Is Toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is the term for an infection caused by the T. gondii parasite. Cats pick it up from eating an intermediate host, such as infected rodents, birds, and other animals. Eating infected raw meat or coming into contact with an infected feline’s feces are also ways it can spread between felines.

Cats must swallow the parasite to become infected, which can easily happen, as cats self-groom daily. Contaminated fecal matter may be on their coats and paws and can be swallowed. Toxoplasma is shed in the feces for up to two weeks after a kitty is infected. Even after treatment, tissue cysts containing T. gondii can stay dormant in a cat’s body for the rest of their life.

Once ingested, a feline may have no symptoms. Being asymptomatic is often the case if kitties are healthy. Some cats will get sick and can experience fatigue, diarrhea, fever, respiratory trouble, loss of appetite, jaundice, twitching, seizures, behavior changes, and balance issues. Cats who need treatment are often given antibiotics like clindamycin.

Toxoplasmosis infection is more common in outdoor cats than indoor pets. However, that does not mean an indoor kitty cannot pick it up. If an infected intermediate host, like a rodent, gets in the house and your cat catches it, there is a risk they can ingest the parasite. Cats who escape outside and eat infected feces, anything contaminated with infected feces, or infected animals are also at risk. It’s best to treat all kitty feces as if they may be infected and refrain from flushing it down.

Another key to helping prevent the spread of toxoplasmosis is to clean the kitty box daily. It takes at least 24 hours for the parasite to become infective once it is shed, so this can greatly reduce the risk.

Toxoplasmosis Infection In Humans

Toxoplasmosis can infect humans through contact with infected cat feces. Contact can happen when changing the litter, drinking contaminated water, eating contaminated food, or touching and ingesting contaminated soil. Other non-cat related causes include eating undercooked or raw meat from infected animals. Pregnant women can pass it to their babies if they are infected during or slightly before pregnancy.

In humans, toxoplasmosis causes a range of symptoms. Some infected people may have no symptoms, while others can develop severe infections. An infection in the eye called ocular toxoplasmosis can sometimes develop. Ocular toxoplasmosis impacts the vision, causes pain, and can even reduce vision in affected individuals.

Human Toxoplasmosis Infections Symptoms

  • Flu-like symptoms include muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, body aches, and pains lasting for several weeks or more.
  • Headache and confusion
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Fever
  • Swollen glands
  • Coughing, sometimes coughing up blood.
  • Severe infection can cause damage to the eyes, brain, and other organs. It can also develop from reactivated parasites left over from an earlier infection.

Healthy people often recover fully from toxoplasmosis infection without needing any treatment. Others who are more ill may require medication. Pyrimethamine, sulfadiazine, and folinic acid are medications used to treat toxoplasmosis infection in humans.

Can You Flush Cat Litter?

scoop of Tofu cat litter
Kitty litter is terrible for the sewage system, so it’s best not to flush it.

It’s best not to flush traditional cat litter, whether it contains feces or not. It can expand up to 15 times in size, causing clogs and blockages. Clay litter is designed to clump up and become hard, impenetrable masses in your plumbing. Almost all traditional clay clumping litter is made from bentonite clay. When this mixes with water, it creates a cement-like substance that can clog pipes and cause extreme damage to septic systems.

Flushable Cat Litter

Many pet owners use other options than traditional litters. These include pine, shredded paper, corn, tofu, wheat, walnut shells, and pressed wood. Some of these varieties are marketed as flushable. It is essential to read the labels of any flushable product before flushing it down your toilet.

Kitty feces are a big no-no to flush away, even when using flushable litter. Remember that many alternative options aren’t flushable. Some wooden varieties can cause a backup in your pipes. Flushing any litter in large quantities also poses a risk of a clogged toilet.

How To Properly Dispose Of Cat Poop

The key to preventing and spreading infectious parasites and germs that can be present in feline feces is to dispose of it properly. Cleaning the litter box is a daily chore. If you have more than one cat, you’ll need to clean your litter box at least two to three times daily. However, most kitty experts advise that you should have the same number of litter boxes for the cats you have.

Below we go through the safest, most health-conscious way to dispose of your kitty’s poop.

  1. Ideally, you should wear gloves whenever you handle used kitty litter.
  2. Use a scoop to remove the clumps of waste. Please place them in a plastic bag, tie it shut, and then put it in the trash can.
  3. The same process goes for entirely changing the litter out: wear gloves, dump it all in a plastic bag, seal it, and throw it away in the trash.
  4. Thoroughly wash out and disinfect the box, ideally whenever you fully change it. If you have multiple cats, this may be once a week. For others, it may be once every two weeks. Regular washing will help remove lingering germs and bacteria. Cats like to use a clean box, so frequent washing will help encourage healthy pet potty habits.
  5. Never throw unbagged cat feces in the trash. Doing so is messy, unsanitary, and simply spreads the possibility of parasite infection even further.
  6. Biodegradable poop bags are available to help minimize the use of plastic.

Frequently Asked Questions

As a longtime cat owner, I know there are plenty of questions new and experienced owners have. Below, I answer a few of the most commonly asked questions about flushing kitty litter. If I missed yours please share it in the comments.

Can you flush cat poop without litter?

No, you should never flush cat poop with or without litter. It can cause severe damage to the sewage and septic system. Additionally, the risks of infection from parasites in feline feces are high. Even flushing it once is too much.

Is flushable cat litter really flushable?

Some are flushable, but that does not mean the entire potty pan can go down the pot. Always read the instructions on flushable litter before using it and before dumping it in your latrine. Even then, kitty poop should never be flushed down a toilet.

Can I compost kitty litter?

It’s not something that is advised, especially in urban areas. Composting comes with a few risks, including the spread of T. gondii into the soil. To do this successfully is a very delicate process, and owners should only compost kitty litter made from plant material that does not contain any feces.

Can I toilet-train my cat?

In theory, one could toilet-train a kitty. However, this is not something that’s recommended. As already discussed, having cat poop in the water supply systems can cause potential health impacts on humans and other animals. In addition, it is not natural for a feline to use the toilet, and it can cause high levels of stress and anxiety. Toilet training does not allow cats to bury their waste, which is a natural instinct. Denying them this outlet can cause behavioral and other issues. Along with that, cats can fall into the bowl and get injured. Sharing the toilet with your pet is not the most sanitary situation, so it’s best to avoid it.

Wondering What’s The Best Kind Of Kitty Litter?

Finding the best kind of kitty litter for your fur baby will depend on their specific needs and your potty setup. Be careful with switching kitty litter types too often or trying out multiple new kinds close together. Too much change can deter your pet and confuse them. In some cases, cats that don’t like change may start spraying or peeing outside the box, which can become problematic. Cats who get too stressed around urination or defecation can develop urinary tract infections and other medical concerns.

One important thing to remember is that what goes in your cat must come out. The healthier the food you feed your purr baby, the healthier urination and defecation they will have. For really stinky situations, food made from human-grade ingredients, whether fresh or freeze-dried, can significantly improve the smell and quality of bowel movements your furry friend has.

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