Finding suitable pet products for your hedgehog isn’t always easy. Sometimes you need to substitute a certain food or toy because there aren’t any available for hedgies. For example, many owners resort to handing out certain types of cat food to their prickly buddies. You may wonder whether you can use cat litter for your hedgehog. No need to browse further. Read the answers related to cat litter suitability and general hedgehog litter topics below.
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Short answer: can I use cat litter for my hedgehog?
Don’t use cat litter for your hedgehog. The pieces of cat litter tend to get stuck in their private regions. Some brands have bigger pieces, but they may contain chemicals that act as irritants to hedgehogs.
Why isn’t cat litter suitable for hedgehogs?
The answer is clear: tiny pieces of regular cat litter can get stuck in their genital areas. Also, these products might contain chemicals that are unsuitable for their health. Some owners experimented with cat litter and they wrote about their experience online. According to them, the sharp litter pieces got stuck in their hedgie’s privates. That’s no fun.
But I read somewhere that cat litter is okay!
It’s true that quite many sites quote non-clumping cat litter as a real option. We prefer to err on the side of caution. There’s always a risk that some of the suggestions you read haven’t been written by people with hedgehog experience. As a result, some of the tips don’t work out that well in real life.
Another possibility is that people used a specific type of cat litter that turns out to be healthy for hedgehogs. Still, that won’t help a lot. There are a lot of cat litter products out there. Even if we found out the particular name, there’s always a chance that they modify their product. In turn, it might become unsuitable for hedgehogs again.
How do I find a suitable litter for my hedgehog?
There are many factors you should consider when picking the option. In the following list, we’ll go over the main points you should consider. While you may not find a perfect product that meets all the criteria, it’s nice when you are able to tick most of the boxes. Especially the ones that truly are a matter of optimal health.
- Opt for non-toxic materials, such as natural minerals or unbleached, biodegradable paper
- Pick a product that controls your hedgie’s waste odor
- Try to find a litter that is close to being dust-free (100% might not be realistic)
- Choose a product that absorbs humidity on contact
- See if the litter is easy to pour from the package
- Find a re-sealable bag for ultimate comfort
- Check if it mentions hedgehogs or specifically any other small animals on the package
- Avoid suspicious chemicals that let off odors potentially toxic to your hedgie
- Browse for products that are naturally resistant to mold growth
- Hand out bonus points to litter products that absorb ammonia
What type of litter to NEVER use?
Please refrain from using the following types of litter. These could easily pose significant health risks to your hedgehog.
- Litter containing pieces with sharp edges
- Clumping litter
- Clay litter
- Pellets containing processed pine wood
Where to put the litter?
Use a litter box. Make sure the box is comfortable for your hedgehog in terms of shape and size. Nowadays, there are plenty of options available on the market. Some of the litter boxes are made of recyclable materials. Others contain no harmful chemicals nor toxic substances that get added to plastics. It’s best to conduct some thorough research before settling for one brand.
But not all owners opt for a separate litter box. Some use a white paper towel. These are cheap and you’ll always have an understanding of your pet’s bowel habits. The latter might sound strange at first. Actually, it’s a useful thing. Many diseases and health issues reflect in a hedgehog’s poo. For example, you could quickly take them to the vet after discovering that there’s blood in their stools.
Is it even possible to litter train your hedgehog?
It depends on the hedgehog! Unfortunately, not all hedgehogs are cut out for litter pan use. When you start to litter train your hedgie, don’t be too disappointed if it won’t work out. Most owners experience that they aren’t able to litter train their prickly family members. However, there are quite a few tricks that increase the chance of successful results.
How do you conduct litter training?
There are many approaches out there. Hedgehog owners try many different ways and we suggest you get creative as well. It’s just important not to turn abusive towards your hedgie. That means you should never punish them in any imaginable way when the litter training isn’t working out.
You could see where your hedgehog typically makes its poo. Just put the litter pan in the same spot. The only thing you need to keep in mind is making sure that the litter pan isn’t next to where they eat.
Or you could just put the litter pan under their exercise wheel. Running hedgehogs poo a lot. Some of the droppings may find their way outside the litter pan. Then just put these inside the pan. Slowly your hedgehog might start to get an idea where all the waste should exactly go.
When should you start the training?
As early as possible! When you bring your hedgie home, the time is ripe for starting ‘potty training’. Of course, nobody has conducted any research into this. Although, anecdotal evidence does show that young hoglets may respond better to the training.
One approach is to put the exercise wheel into your hedgie’s cage 1-3 days after introducing them to the new dwelling. In this way, your hedgehog won’t automatically start using the wheel as the main catalyst for poop time. Just make sure not to wait too long on putting the exercise wheel in the cage. They need this to stay healthy.
How long before I see any litter training results?
Actually, the question should be: when should I finish the training? It’s more likely that you won’t see any results. Pardon the pessimism here, but when you look at the averages, most hedgehog owners won’t succeed in litter training. And we really don’t want anyone to get the idea that when they keep pushing, then it magically becomes possible. Also, some owners criticize themselves or their pets for not making it. Actually, it’s okay. They are more like wild animals compared to dogs or cats, anyway.
You should try the litter training mission for 2-3 weeks. Some owners have seen the first result 3-4 weeks after starting this routine. However, hedgehogs beginning to achieve the results a month later is quite uncommon.
Always try to mix things up a little. You could change the type of litter you use. Or maybe a differently sized litter pan could work wonders. Experimenting is always okay. Just use products and materials that are safe for your hedgie.
The bottom line: can I use cat litter for my hedgehog?
We suggest not to use cat litter for your hedgehog. The small, yet sharp particles in many cat litters stick to their private regions. Also, some cat litter products may contain chemicals that hedgehogs are sensitive about.
There are plenty of alternative products available for small animals, including hedgehogs. Use natural litter products that are free of any suspect chemicals.