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Hi everyone, I bought this to put into my rat cage and so far, little Theodore loves it! I have learned that pine is bad for rats and he does nibble on this. The description says "natural wood" which isn't super helpful. Has anyone used these before? Or know if it is pine or not? I hope it is safe, he seems to really love playing and jumping around all over it!

All Living Things Reptile Refuge:
http://www.petsmart.com/reptile/hab...-catid-500027?var_id=36-14750&_t=pfm=category
 

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I think the problem with pine is breathing it, not eating it. Even if there is some theoretical risk, you're far better off with that than a cage full of pine shavings.
 

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From my experience, these are safe. However, keep in mind that it will eventually get saturated with pee and there's really no way to clean wood like that. When it starts getting stinky, replace it.
 

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The problem with pine is 2 fold, dust and phenols and these affect the respiratory tract. Different forms of pine have very different levels of these. Generally the smaller the peices the worse they are, so sawdust is the worst, wood shavings can be bad (unless you get a good dust extracted heat treated type) and solid pine is pretty safe. This is all to do with surface area. The bigger the surface are relatively the more phenols will come out and the more dust will be trapped. A solid large object has a relatively small surface area whereas sawdust has many tiny bits and so a reltively massive surface area.

Basically your fine with that but as kksrats mentioned it will get whiffy over time. I find hot soapy water and a good scrub helps for a time.
 

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The problem with pine is 2 fold, dust and phenols and these affect the respiratory tract. Different forms of pine have very different levels of these. Generally the smaller the peices the worse they are, so sawdust is the worst, wood shavings can be bad (unless you get a good dust extracted heat treated type) and solid pine is pretty safe. This is all to do with surface area. The bigger the surface are relatively the more phenols will come out and the more dust will be trapped. A solid large object has a relatively small surface area whereas sawdust has many tiny bits and so a reltively massive surface area.
So would a chinchilla hut made of pine be o.k.? I opt for willow twigloo instead because I thought the pine fumes would harm them, though the huts looked much better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks all for your responses! I've got all fleece bedding and a large ferret nation cage with ventilation so I'm not too worried about fumes since this is the only (potential) pine part. Thanks for the feedback - I'm feeling a lot better about leaving it in there. :)
 

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For those of us that have been keeping rodents on pine for 30 plus years, the real danger is that pine molds if stored damp. That can really make your rats sick. And perhaps moisture causes more phenols to be released too. Larger shavings, low dust and ventilation combined with properly stored pine hasn't ever bothered any of the animals I've used it with. Maybe over decades it would make a difference, but rats don't live that long.

It was actually rather strange how the whole phenol scare coincided with the introduction of paper bedding... Now if you've ever seen paper being made or recycled, you might get scared too and certain inks actually need to be disposed of as toxic waste.

Years ago my mom's friend was dying of cancer and I was ten years old and clearly recall her saying she never even bought milk in those paper containers, she still had it delivered in glass bottles... She passed away soon thereafter as did the toxic milk container scare... Take a soda bottle and wash it out well, then store it for a few months sealed, open it and sniff it, it will smell like something nasty, so sure it's leaching something, just not in the amounts that are likely to harm you. Most of us actually live in a pretty toxic environment when you think about it.
 

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For those of us that have been keeping rodents on pine for 30 plus years, the real danger is that pine molds if stored damp. That can really make your rats sick. And perhaps moisture causes more phenols to be released too. Larger shavings, low dust and ventilation combined with properly stored pine hasn't ever bothered any of the animals I've used it with. Maybe over decades it would make a difference, but rats don't live that long.

It was actually rather strange how the whole phenol scare coincided with the introduction of paper bedding... Now if you've ever seen paper being made or recycled, you might get scared too and certain inks actually need to be disposed of as toxic waste.

Years ago my mom's friend was dying of cancer and I was ten years old and clearly recall her saying she never even bought milk in those paper containers, she still had it delivered in glass bottles... She passed away soon thereafter as did the toxic milk container scare... Take a soda bottle and wash it out well, then store it for a few months sealed, open it and sniff it, it will smell like something nasty, so sure it's leaching something, just not in the amounts that are likely to harm you. Most of us actually live in a pretty toxic environment when you think about it.
Wow, so you've personally had rats for 30 years or more?

Or did you mean you've kept other rodents that long?

Or just a general statement?

Because I'm very interested in all this, scientifically.

The thing is, you have to deal with the danger you know.

We absolutely KNOW phenols are dangerous. Look up OSHA regulations on working with soft woods like pine and cedar.

Look up the MSDS on them.

We know they cause liver damage and even failure. We know they are a respiratory irritant. I don't think the really solid science here can be dismissed as "the whole phenol scare."

I guess I'm confused by dismissing these known effects by saying "Rats don't live as long."

To me, that is counter-intuitive.

For animals that have such relatively shorter lifespans, wouldn't one presume that toxic effects would impact them in a relatively shorter, quicker manner?

In the same way we generalize that a year of a dog's life is like seven years of a human's (it's actually more complex than that, but for the purposes of illustration), then wouldn't a year of a rat's life be like twenty or thirty years of ours?

So, two to three years of exposure to toxic phenols would be like twenty to thirty years exposure, for a human, reasonably, right?

And gosh, I would hope folks who care enough about their rats to post here are doing a better job of cage maintenance and bedding storage than to let bedding sit until it actually gets moldy, so mycotoxins hopefully wouldn't even come into the equation.

I'm always amazed--in general, not picking on any one person, Rat Daddy--with folks who say they've "never had any problems" with something, when they aren't doing necropsies, and really have zero idea if their rat (or whatever mammal) passed of liver failure, or lung inflammation, or any discernible cause.

With a species so very prone to tumors and respiratory ailments, I sure don't see any reason (other than cheap price and that's surely not justifiable) for risking keeping pets on pine and other phenol sources.
 

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I've kept rats for 28 years now so similar length. My early rats were kept on sawdust in aquariums (as was standard then) then we moved onto wood shavings and when i was around 15 and discovered a rat book we moved then into a cage. At this point is had several groups of rats kept in those conditions from feeder pet shop stock and I'd had no respiratory problems. Now i use card and hemp bedding mainly because i like it and is low dust but u do also really like and often use a bedding called bedmax which is pine shavings but not your really cheap dusty pet shop stuff. It's proper woody low dust heat treated stuff and so much better. i actualythink dustis oftenmore ofan issuetthan phenols, though i wouldn't use phenol containing bedding woth a rat who had resp problems. i have a simple test for of a bedding is rat suitable for both dust and phenol content. i sick some in a plastic tub swirl it around a bit, stick my head in and inhale. If it smells strongly piney or makes me sneeze or similar then it's no good. If it doesn't then i give it a try. If the rats do well on it then i add it to my rotation cycle (i change beddings a fair bit and often use 2 mixed together). It's worth noting though that i do tend to have breeder rats and our lines don't see many resp problems so they are low risk but my early rats were much higher risk and had no problems. Saying that back then resp issues were less common in rats, instead ear infections were the most common issue.

It's probably woth saying that as a breeder i also routinely have my rats pm'd and so have a very good idea of what's going on with there liver and lungs. i didn't as a kid but i know a lot of breeders over here that do keep rats on decent quality wood shavings more of the time than i do (it probably makes it in rotation for 3 months every year) and also pm. It's fair to say that liver issues are very uncommon in rats (I've seen none in mine).

That's not saying that they won't cause issues, or that every bedding is equal, some ive seen are awful (you can get cheap compressed pine shavings woth added lavender over here, it smells really strongly), cedar is also worse than pine generaly (and thankfully not used for pet bedding here).

i think it's well worth saying with all this that thete are far far worse things people do with thete rats which have a much bigger impact. feeding low quality prostrate will encourage tumour growth noticeably. letting your rats get even a bit overweight increases the chances of a while host of illnesses. feeding to much protien into old age will finish off the kidneys early. feeding salty or sugary food can cause health problems such as heat failure, diabetes, facial ulcers and tooth decay. Rats are also often encouraged to become cuddly lasso rats reducing thete drive to exercise which is one of the best methods of keeping then fit and healthy not to mention slowing the ageing process. Yet pretty much all of these things are more acceptable than bedding choices which i find interesting.

I'm not saying everyone should use pine bedding but that they should look into it and understand the risks and how this differs, and whilst they are at it look at some of the other bigger risks.
 

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I've kept rats for 28 years now so similar length. My early rats were kept on sawdust in aquariums (as was standard then) then we moved onto wood shavings and when i was around 15 and discovered a rat book we moved then into a cage. At this point is had several groups of rats kept in those conditions from feeder pet shop stock and I'd had no respiratory problems. Now i use card and hemp bedding mainly because i like it and is low dust but u do also really like and often use a bedding called bedmax which is pine shavings but not your really cheap dusty pet shop stuff. It's proper woody low dust heat treated stuff and so much better. i actualythink dustis oftenmore ofan issuetthan phenols, though i wouldn't use phenol containing bedding woth a rat who had resp problems. i have a simple test for of a bedding is rat suitable for both dust and phenol content. i sick some in a plastic tub swirl it around a bit, stick my head in and inhale. If it smells strongly piney or makes me sneeze or similar then it's no good. If it doesn't then i give it a try. If the rats do well on it then i add it to my rotation cycle (i change beddings a fair bit and often use 2 mixed together). It's worth noting though that i do tend to have breeder rats and our lines don't see many resp problems so they are low risk but my early rats were much higher risk and had no problems. Saying that back then resp issues were less common in rats, instead ear infections were the most common issue.

It's probably woth saying that as a breeder i also routinely have my rats pm'd and so have a very good idea of what's going on with there liver and lungs. i didn't as a kid but i know a lot of breeders over here that do keep rats on decent quality wood shavings more of the time than i do (it probably makes it in rotation for 3 months every year) and also pm. It's fair to say that liver issues are very uncommon in rats (I've seen none in mine).

That's not saying that they won't cause issues, or that every bedding is equal, some ive seen are awful (you can get cheap compressed pine shavings woth added lavender over here, it smells really strongly), cedar is also worse than pine generaly (and thankfully not used for pet bedding here).

i think it's well worth saying with all this that thete are far far worse things people do with thete rats which have a much bigger impact. feeding low quality prostrate will encourage tumour growth noticeably. letting your rats get even a bit overweight increases the chances of a while host of illnesses. feeding to much protien into old age will finish off the kidneys early. feeding salty or sugary food can cause health problems such as heat failure, diabetes, facial ulcers and tooth decay. Rats are also often encouraged to become cuddly lasso rats reducing thete drive to exercise which is one of the best methods of keeping then fit and healthy not to mention slowing the ageing process. Yet pretty much all of these things are more acceptable than bedding choices which i find interesting.

I'm not saying everyone should use pine bedding but that they should look into it and understand the risks and how this differs, and whilst they are at it look at some of the other bigger risks.
This, to me, is a much more reasonable approach, though.

You ARE doing necropsies, and you do have a thorough understanding of the propensities in your lines and so forth.

Plus, if you are using a high-quality kiln-dried pine, then you are exposing them to very reduced levels of phenols, and with adequate ventilation, the harmful effects are likely negligible.

I don't know if there is a quality of pine bedding even available this side of the pond, such as you describe.

The usual set-up here is with cheap, stinky pine shavings. And cedar is absolutely still sold and marketed as pet bedding.

We really need a pet version of Consumer Reports, badly.

I agree there are other more egregious ways to not do right by one's rats, but this particular thread was discussing the possible harmful effects of wood, so...well, that is what was being discussed. ;D

Don't get me started on obese pets--it's an epidemic, here in America.
 

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I'm a little older than some folks here, and I can pretty much assure you before the advent of "modern science" people weren't all stupid... Maybe some of us were, but lets be honest that hasn't changed and most likely never will.

When I was a kid back around 1965, I had a mouse live nearly 3 years on ceder shavings in an aquarium... And why did we use ceder back then? Because ceder killed mites, and mites killed rodents and there was no Revolution or vets that saw pet mice that anyone's mom would take their kids pet mouse to back then. Without ceder shavings, there might not have been many pet rodents.

And by the way from more recent experience mice don't seem to live any longer without the ceder shavings... So really people weren't ignorant, there was a reason for what they did... With Revolution and ivermectin, I suppose no one needs to "risk" using ceder bedding, but there were pet shops that used it long after most people switched away from ceder because they didn't want to treat their rodents with more expensive medications and the old time store owners knew exactly what they were doing and why... The risks were generally low and the rewards high.

I've seen long lived reptiles that are well over 20 years old still living on pine bedding. And I've had other furry critters living on pine before paper bedding that lived long perfectly normal life spans. No, I'm not the type that changes bedding overly often, but I don't let it get too tragically bad either and I always let the dust settle before I put animals back into their enclosures... I also store my pine bedding open to the air in a spare room, not a basement or attic where it can get moldy. I buy it in bulk and most likely the pine has been exposed to dry air for several months on average before I use it. So it doesn't smell like pine anymore...

At the advise of our vet, due to our rat having a tumor, I use paper bedding mostly now... the paper was less likely to irritate the tumors, but the switch wasn't made for fear of phenols. I just bought the stuff on sale in bulk and have some left...

Am I suggesting that phenols are good for rodents.... absolutely not! But also basing my comments on years of experience suggesting that the risks are overstated by an industry that would rather sell the vastly more expensive paper products. I might add that many years ago I worked in a facility that made tobacco and paper products and I saw the kinds of chemicals used to turn pulp into paper and I can assure you the process involved both caustic and toxic chemicals. I sure wouldn't want my kid eating paper or breathing paper dust. Maybe there's a better way of making paper now, it's been a few decades, but I doubt wood dissolves into a slurry and turns white by itself even today.

As to the idea that poisons work faster because animals have a shorter life span, I certainly can't say my experience suggests that at all. One would think as rats live only a tiny fraction of a human lifespan they should die much faster from substances like alcohol poisoning... when in fact rats metabolize alcohol much faster than humans. And yes, I've watched a rat drink a whole room of young adults under the table... to the point she was the last one standing grooming people that had passed out. By about 1:00 PM the next day she was fully recovered from her hangover and on the go again. I'm also not advocating drinking with your rats... Oddly, neither of our current rats drink... but Fuzzy Rat loved tequila, anything over 80 proof and beer, she wasn't much on wine (of course in tiny amounts relative to her size) But if someone put down a shot glass, she, for sure, would make sure to get the drop left on the bottom and follow the glass around the table, if need be and would be the first to soak up any spilled beer and at a party with young people she did better at getting booze than I would have liked.

So no, just because an animal lives a shorter time than humans, it would be very wrong to assume that they would be poisoned more quickly than humans.... Body weight would definitely be a factor as related to the concentration of the toxin, depending on the toxin and the particular animal's ability to metabolize it, but lifespan doesn't strike me as particularly relevant... If a low level of phenols would take 10 years to adversely affect an animal that normally only lives two years, I'd say it becomes irrelevant... An oncologist once told me that cancer will eventually kill everyone if they live long enough... a slightly disturbing thought, but there might be some truth to it.

Sure, it's wrong to discount modern science. I'm not suggesting that folks go back to ceder (unless they have no other treatment for mites available). Nor should folks switch back to pine if they are concerned. I'm just saying that all of us older folks weren't stupid and before and since the "phenol scare" we used/use pine for many years without any noticeable ill effects.

Seriously, go ask your parents and grandparents who had small animals before paper bedding... and you aren't likely to hear many tragic bedding stories from way back then... mice, gerbils, rats, hamsters and herps lived just as long and were just as healthy when I was a kid as they are now... it might be just a minor glitch of memory, but I actually recall them being healthier and living longer.

Always, keep in mind that science is good at generating valid data, but that data then becomes interpreted. Sometimes relevant study methods aren't real world and even when they are the data can be misinterpreted to sell product or advance an agenda or just scaled out of proportion into a panic. Dozens if not hundreds of generations of rats lived on ceder and pine bedding for decades. We can debate whether it was optimal and perhaps it wasn't, but you can't revise history because of modern science either... Rats lived normal healthy lives back then as they do now... you can't just discount a lifetime of experience or longer because of some study that flies in the face of real world experience.

A very wise friend of my once said that most good debates are between two people that are both right. This is one of those debates. I can't honestly say that I know how pine bedding might affect a rat with respiratory issues, because despite using ceder and pine bedding since the mid 1960's I've still never had an animal with respiratory issues... except once when I let the bedding get moldy in the basement... so from experience, I can say that isn't a good idea.
 

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Isamurat,

Here in the US, there are certain bread for meat rat strains that get fat, I realize they wouldn't win any shows, but it's in their genetics and not the owner's fault. Fuzzy Rat and Amelia lived together and ate the same foods. Fuzzy Rat was always portly with wide shoulders and had a knockwurst body shape while Amelia got huge but always looked sleek and trim. Both rats were females at over 600 g full grown, but only one was overweight. Our part wild rat was the only rat I'd call slim, she was about the same length as Fuzzy Rat but stayed under 300 g and never porked up, she actually lost weight as she got older.

Not to advocate overfeeding, but sometimes it's a genetic thing as are the health issues rats suffer when they get older. Meat rats are bred to grow fast, get big and square and most likely with complete disregard for longevity which I doubt diet can correct. Short of starving a meat rat it's going to look chubby, even when it's body is tone and firm. Fuzzy Rat looked chunky even when she would walk or run over a mile a day. Again a square rat is not going to get points for it's body shape but it might be unfair to blame the owners too much.
 

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i wouldn't count actual weight as a sign of obesity, more body shape. In my current group i have tam whose a good weight for him at 560g and Toad his son who is a good weight for him at 750g. a massive difference but right for them. I've had rats who are really tough to keep slim and it is genetic very much. I've also met Zuker rats who have no limit to stop them over eating and so are often huge and because of this live much shorter lives. i do think for the vast majority of rats you can control thete weight within healthy guidelines. What annoys me isn't so much the fat rat bit when owners don't try
 

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I'm a little older than some folks here, and I can pretty much assure you before the advent of "modern science" people weren't all stupid... Maybe some of us were, but lets be honest that hasn't changed and most likely never will.

When I was a kid back around 1965, I had a mouse live nearly 3 years on ceder shavings in an aquarium... And why did we use ceder back then? Because ceder killed mites, and mites killed rodents and there was no Revolution or vets that saw pet mice that anyone's mom would take their kids pet mouse to back then. Without ceder shavings, there might not have been many pet rodents.

And by the way from more recent experience mice don't seem to live any longer without the ceder shavings... So really people weren't ignorant, there was a reason for what they did... With Revolution and ivermectin, I suppose no one needs to "risk" using ceder bedding, but there were pet shops that used it long after most people switched away from ceder because they didn't want to treat their rodents with more expensive medications and the old time store owners knew exactly what they were doing and why... The risks were generally low and the rewards high.

I've seen long lived reptiles that are well over 20 years old still living on pine bedding. And I've had other furry critters living on pine before paper bedding that lived long perfectly normal life spans. No, I'm not the type that changes bedding overly often, but I don't let it get too tragically bad either and I always let the dust settle before I put animals back into their enclosures... I also store my pine bedding open to the air in a spare room, not a basement or attic where it can get moldy. I buy it in bulk and most likely the pine has been exposed to dry air for several months on average before I use it. So it doesn't smell like pine anymore...

At the advise of our vet, due to our rat having a tumor, I use paper bedding mostly now... the paper was less likely to irritate the tumors, but the switch wasn't made for fear of phenols. I just bought the stuff on sale in bulk and have some left...

Am I suggesting that phenols are good for rodents.... absolutely not! But also basing my comments on years of experience suggesting that the risks are overstated by an industry that would rather sell the vastly more expensive paper products. I might add that many years ago I worked in a facility that made tobacco and paper products and I saw the kinds of chemicals used to turn pulp into paper and I can assure you the process involved both caustic and toxic chemicals. I sure wouldn't want my kid eating paper or breathing paper dust. Maybe there's a better way of making paper now, it's been a few decades, but I doubt wood dissolves into a slurry and turns white by itself even today.

As to the idea that poisons work faster because animals have a shorter life span, I certainly can't say my experience suggests that at all. One would think as rats live only a tiny fraction of a human lifespan they should die much faster from substances like alcohol poisoning... when in fact rats metabolize alcohol much faster than humans. And yes, I've watched a rat drink a whole room of young adults under the table... to the point she was the last one standing grooming people that had passed out. By about 1:00 PM the next day she was fully recovered from her hangover and on the go again. I'm also not advocating drinking with your rats... Oddly, neither of our current rats drink... but Fuzzy Rat loved tequila, anything over 80 proof and beer, she wasn't much on wine (of course in tiny amounts relative to her size) But if someone put down a shot glass, she, for sure, would make sure to get the drop left on the bottom and follow the glass around the table, if need be and would be the first to soak up any spilled beer and at a party with young people she did better at getting booze than I would have liked.

So no, just because an animal lives a shorter time than humans, it would be very wrong to assume that they would be poisoned more quickly than humans.... Body weight would definitely be a factor as related to the concentration of the toxin, depending on the toxin and the particular animal's ability to metabolize it, but lifespan doesn't strike me as particularly relevant... If a low level of phenols would take 10 years to adversely affect an animal that normally only lives two years, I'd say it becomes irrelevant... An oncologist once told me that cancer will eventually kill everyone if they live long enough... a slightly disturbing thought, but there might be some truth to it.

Sure, it's wrong to discount modern science. I'm not suggesting that folks go back to ceder (unless they have no other treatment for mites available). Nor should folks switch back to pine if they are concerned. I'm just saying that all of us older folks weren't stupid and before and since the "phenol scare" we used/use pine for many years without any noticeable ill effects.

Seriously, go ask your parents and grandparents who had small animals before paper bedding... and you aren't likely to hear many tragic bedding stories from way back then... mice, gerbils, rats, hamsters and herps lived just as long and were just as healthy when I was a kid as they are now... it might be just a minor glitch of memory, but I actually recall them being healthier and living longer.

Always, keep in mind that science is good at generating valid data, but that data then becomes interpreted. Sometimes relevant study methods aren't real world and even when they are the data can be misinterpreted to sell product or advance an agenda or just scaled out of proportion into a panic. Dozens if not hundreds of generations of rats lived on ceder and pine bedding for decades. We can debate whether it was optimal and perhaps it wasn't, but you can't revise history because of modern science either... Rats lived normal healthy lives back then as they do now... you can't just discount a lifetime of experience or longer because of some study that flies in the face of real world experience.

A very wise friend of my once said that most good debates are between two people that are both right. This is one of those debates. I can't honestly say that I know how pine bedding might affect a rat with respiratory issues, because despite using ceder and pine bedding since the mid 1960's I've still never had an animal with respiratory issues... except once when I let the bedding get moldy in the basement... so from experience, I can say that isn't a good idea.
I think this boils down to "To each his own," but I would personally never allow an animal to consume alcohol, especially to the point of "drinking young adults under the table."

And, the old saw about "This is how it was always done" just does not fly.

Folks used to pour turpentine down into deep wounds on horses, too, but that's not exactly a good practice.

When you know better, you do better.
 

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Interesting points all around--I switched from aspen to paper a while ago, and the paper has seemed surprisingly dusty. I may be doing more harm than good. I like th image of the head in bucket test!
 

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Interesting points all around--I switched from aspen to paper a while ago, and the paper has seemed surprisingly dusty. I may be doing more harm than good. I like th image of the head in bucket test!
There is actual science on the phenol issue, not just someone-on-the-internet's opinion.

And, I think we can all agree our pets have a far superior sense of smell and ability to detect odors than we do.

Some humans, in fact, amaze me, with how little they can smell, when something is overpowering me, to the point of a headache. Particularly, smokers seem to have some impairment in that function.

I'm sure there are paper litters that are better than others.

That should inspire folks to find a better paper litter or use fleece and a litter pan, as I personally prefer, so the exposure to bedding dust is very limited.

It shouldn't inspire folks to go "Oh, ****, might as well risk health hazards with phenols since some dude on the 'webs said paper might be toxic, too."

I've said it before, and will say it again--pets need a Consumer Protection Agency.
 

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Agreed, on the aspen.

And, way back in the days of the dinosaurs, when I was a teen and worked at Petland, even they didn't keep small animals on cedar, and they limited their use of pine. Don't get me wrong, they are a terrible, terrible chain of pet stores, but they quickly realized that the animals did not do well on the soft woods, and that cut into their profit margin.

I wish there wasn't such a stigma, about hemp products, here in the US. There are a ton of great uses that have nothing to do with drug use--not even the same ballpark.
 
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