Baking soda is one of those multi-purpose items that has a lot of uses around the house. Personally, I use it to keep my fridge and freezer smelling fresh. I’ve even used it with vinegar to clean a clogged drain in a pinch. But what about when it comes to pets?
Is baking soda safe for cats?
Your cat would have to ingest a LOT of baking soda for it to be harmful to them. The biggest risk is the high sodium content of baking soda, which causes a life-threatening electrolyte imbalance in a worst-case scenario. It is safe to use baking soda around the house, however, you should take some precautions.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at why baking soda is dangerous for cat and answer questions like if you can use baking soda in your cat’s litter box.
Is Baking Soda Toxic to Cats?
Baking soda isn’t necessarily toxic (especially compared to something like oil paints) but ingesting more than a small amount can be dangerous. As a general rule, your pet should not consume more than 2-4 teaspoons of baking soda per every 10 kilograms of body weight.
The average cat weighs between 6 and 12 pounds, or 2.7-5.4 kg. Therefore, any amount over 1-2 teaspoons can be dangerous to your cat.
In some cases, veterinarians even prescribe baking soda for cats when they are struggling with chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD causes your cat’s bloodstream to become more acidic. The alkaline properties of baking soda help bring down that acidity to balance the pH of the bloodstream and relieve some symptoms.
Of course, this is a type of treatment that should always be recommended and closely monitored by your veterinarian. It can even be toxic in cats that have CKD so it’s a careful balance.
Why is Baking Soda Dangerous for Cats?
Baking soda is only harmful to cats if they ingest large quantities. Because of their smaller size, cats are more susceptible to baking soda toxicity than dogs. They only need to consume 1-2 teaspoons for negative side effects.
Baking soda, also called sodium bicarbonate, is made from sodium, or salt, and bicarbonate. Because of the sodium, it has a high salt content. The risk of eating too much sodium is that it causes electrolyte imbalances in the bloodstream.
Your cat does need some sodium that they get from their food and treats. Sodium is responsible for a lot of things that the body does, including maintaining the proper balance of vitamins and minerals, controlling muscle contractions, and conducting nerve impulses.
Signs Your Cat Has Ingested Too Much Baking Soda
If enough sodium is ingested for it to harm your cat, the earliest symptoms are digestive. Baking soda is used as a leavener in the kitchen because it creates bubbles that cause baked goods to rise- these bubbles can also form in your feline’s stomach. If too much baking soda is eaten, it causes stomach upset, as well as symptoms like gas, vomiting, and diarrhea. Excessive thirst and drinking is another symptom, which happens from too much sodium intake.
In cases where enough baking soda is consumed for it to be toxic, your cat may experience dehydration, weakness or wobbliness, and lethargy. As it gets worse, muscle spasms or twitching can happen, most commonly in the face. Some other severe symptoms include rapid breathing, stiffness, convulsions, kidney damage, and even coma.
Can Cats Eat a Little Baking Soda?
Technically, the problem isn’t whether or not cats can eat baking soda, but how much they ingest. It won’t hurt your cat if they ingest a small amount of baking soda. Even though baking soda is not necessarily toxic, too much has the potential to cause several issues.
Baking soda can be dangerous to cats because cats are always grooming themselves. As they lick themselves, they’ll also ingest any baking soda that their fur might pick up. Cats also clean their paws and may chew at their claws, so they could ingest baking soda this way if they walk through it.
There’s a good chance that your cant won’t ingest baking soda on purpose, especially since it doesn’t have a pleasant taste. With our furry companions though, we always find it’s best to air on the side of caution and be aware of where Ms. Kitty is when we are cleaning the house.
Can I Use Baking Soda in My Cat’s Litter Box?
Adding baking soda to your cat’s litter box to help with the smell is one of those “hacks” that people use to help reduce pet odors. But is it safe to add baking soda to your cat’s litter box? Here are a few things to consider.
Baking Soda Does Make Litter More Dusty
Personally, I avoid using baking soda in my litter box because it makes the litter more dusty. My cat likes to dig and scratch the sides of the litter box but she’s also resistant to using one that has a lid over it.
Baking soda has a particle size of around 65-70 microns, so it’s small enough to easily be released into the air. It is also known to be a minor irritant when it is inhaled and baking soda also irritates the eyes. Most litter brands have a size greater than 75 microns, so they are less likely to be dusty without the baking soda.
If you are going to use a little baking soda, it’s best to sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons on the bottom of the litter instead of the top. The litter will weigh it down so there’s less chance of it becoming airborne if your cat kicks it up.
It May Not Be an Effective Deodorizer
Some sources also argue that baking soda isn’t good as a go-to for a litter box deodorizer because it’s ineffective. The reason that baking soda works to neutralize odors has everything to do with its pH levels.
A neutral level pH is 7 and baking soda has a pH that sits around 9, making it slightly alkaline. Since many odors are caused by something with an acidic level (or a pH level lower than 7), adding baking soda neutralizes those odor molecules. It also works for odors caused by a pH that is very alkaline, or higher than a pH of 9 because it brings it closer to a neutral pH balance.
The reason that cat urine in a litter box smells is not actually because of the cat pee- at least not entirely. As the cat urine breaks down, the urea in it releases ammonia gas. Ammonia gas, which as a pH balance of 11-13, won’t be brought back to a neutral pH level by baking soda. Some types of litters with a pH level below 9 may also rise when you mix in baking soda, which reduces some of their effectiveness, too.
Instead, other options like charcoal may do a better job of neutralizing litter box smells by absorbing the odors. But if you are going to go the baking soda route, it may make more sense to consider a litter with baking soda already in it rather than adding it in on your own.
Can I Use Baking Soda to Treat Fleas On My Cat?
One more natural method of killing fleas is using a combination of baking soda and table salt. It works by dehydrating fleas, as well as their eggs and larva.
Even though it’s effective, this is a method best used on carpets or furniture instead of your cat. It’s a slow-acting technique and often takes more than one application to be effective. Plus, cats love grooming themselves and they’re likely to ingest it while they’re grooming.
Can I Use Baking Soda to Brush My Cat’s Teeth?
One home remedy for brushing a dog’s teething without toothpaste is mixing baking soda with some chicken broth to make a paste, or dipping a wet toothbrush in baking soda and using it to brush teeth. Even though you can use this for a larger dog, it’s best not to use this home remedy for a cat, and using cat-specific toothpaste is a much better option.
Aside from smaller breeds, cats are smaller than dogs. The amount of baking soda needed to brush their teeth won’t be toxic, but it can cause stomach upset because the alkaline properties of baking soda throw off the pH balance in the digestive tract. There’s no way to guarantee your cat won’t swallow some of it. For this reason, it’s best to use cat-safe toothpaste.
Safe Ways to Use Baking Soda for Cats
Since it takes consuming a LOT of baking soda for it to be toxic for your cat, there are still several ways that you can use baking soda for your pet and for your home. Let’s take a look at how to safely use this multi-purpose produce around your home.
Cat First Aid
There are a few instances when baking soda is also useful for first aid. If your kitty breaks her toenail or you clip a little too far down and the quick starts bleeding, create a 50-50 combination of baking soda and cornstarch. Then, dip your cat’s toenail in it and the coating should help slow the bleeding.
Baking soda is also useful if your cat gets a bee sting, especially since it can be hard to pull a stinger out of a struggling cat with a pair of tweezers. Apply a paste made from baking soda and water to the bee sting. It will pull the stinger out over time and is a much better choice than something like Bactine.
De-Odorizing Your Carpet
Baking soda is my go-to for de-odorizing the carpet, especially since I try to avoid using products that have strong perfumes like traditional carpet de-odorizers. While your cat might pick up trace amounts if they walk across the carpet, it’s not enough to actually hurt them.
If your cat has a weird habit like licking the carpet, just be sure that you vacuum it well and keep kitty away from the area while you’re cleaning. You can also use this same method to help rid your car of pet odors after you’ve taken your pet on a ride.
Removing Cat Urine Smells from Carpet
The smell can be really hard to get out when your cat pees on the carpet. One hack that you can use is a combination of baking soda and vinegar. While the baking soda on it’s own can’t quite handle urine, when combined with vinegar it can do the trick.
Start by blotting as much liquid as you can from the area. If the urine has already dried, add water and then blot the area to remove what you can of the urine.
Then, prepare a solution of 50% water and 50% white vinegar and spray it on top of the baking soda. Use a rag to blot it clean, then rinse the area and blot it again. Alternatively, you can use baking soda and vinegar to create a mixture like the paste and apply it to the area.
You may want to treat the area more than once with baking soda after the first time. If there’s any residue, the urea will break down and release ammonia over time. To combat this, sprinkle baking soda on the area once every other day and vacuum it. Thoroughly removing the odor is important in preventing your cat (and other pets) from peeing in the area again.
Eliminating Pet Bed Odors
You can also use it to keep your cat’s bed smelling fresh. Sprinkle a dusting of baking soda and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Then, take the hose attachment of your vacuum cleaner and thoroughly vacuum the bed. You can also add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the laundry if your cat’s bed is machine washable to help eliminate odors.
Removing Skunk Odors
It is also safe to use baking soda to remove skunk odors from your cat. Even though tomato juice is the old wive’s tale, you can also use some items you might already have around the house.
Combine 1/8 cup of baking soda with 2 cups hydrogen peroxide (3%) and half a teaspoon of soap. Then, use this like a shampoo and thoroughly wash your cat.
Let the mixture sit for a few minutes and then rinse clean. You’ll want to follow with some cat shampoo, especially since the combination can leave their fur feeling a little dry.
Even though baking soda is a multi-use product that you can use for cooking, cleaning, and more, you should still use caution when using it around your pet. Baking soda is not toxic, but consuming more than a teaspoon or two can be very dangerous for your feline companion. This is especially true for smaller cats, since the amount needed for a toxic dose is smaller for them.
While you shouldn’t use baking soda to treat fleas on your cat, you can use it in a lot of ways around the house. It’s great for removing pet odors from carpets, pet beds, and more. You can even use it to help clean your cats teeth!
It can help with litter box smells and is better than dangerous options like adding essential oils, but it’s still probably not the best option for the box.
Any comments or concerns? Feel free to leave some feedback below!