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Abbott, an Angora rabbit, was brought to our practice recently, acutely ill with bloody diarrhea. He died soon after he arrived despite an heroic attempt at resuscitation. A necropsy revealed his stomach and cecum were filled with litter material. Histopathology (microscopic examination) showed that Abbott died of zinc toxicity. We determined that eating CatWorks litter was the source of the zinc poisoning. CatWorks is manufactured by Absorption Corporation of Bellingham, Washington. Absorption Corp. also makes CareFRESH bedding, which is used as a bedding for rodents and as a rabbit litter box filler.
"We help make owning a small animal safe, healthy and fun!"
Mr. Dooley explained that the product is marketed as a cat litter box filler and never intended to be used by animals that would find it edible. He also claimed that this was the first known case of an animal being poisoned by the product.
Absorption Corp. will investigate adding an adhesive label to the packaging of CatWorks warning that it should not be used as a litter or bedding for rabbits or rodents.
Types of litter. House Rabbit Society recommends organic litters, made from alfalfa, oat, citrus or paper. (Some brands to look for: CareFresh, Citra Fresh, Cat Works, Cat Country, Critter Country) Stay away from litters made from softwoods, like pine or cedar shavings or chips, as these products are thought to cause liver damage in rabbits who use them. Another approach is to place a handful of hay in each box, or to simply use hay as litter. Obviously, you need to change the hay fairly frequently (daily), since your rabbit will be eating it.