Yuca (Cassava) in Cat Litter - Cat Info Detective

Yuca (Cassava) in Cat Litter

Skye Blake looking left through magnifying glass

Hey there, cat litter crazies! Skye Blake here again, checking out yuca root (a.k.a. “cassava”) in cat litter… mixed with things like corn and sugar cane!

What will they think of next???

paw prints coming in from a distance

What is Yuca?

Cassava (yuca) root
Cassava (Yuca) Root

Yuca (YOO-ka) (Manihot esculenta) is the root of the cassava plant… not to be confused with the yucca (YUHK-a) ornamental plant.

Cassava is a woody shrub from South America.

People use yuca root (cassava) worldwide as a staple carbohydrate food similar to potatoes.

It’s similar in size and shape to yams.

tapioca dessert

Yuca is used in many dishes… tapioca, cassava cake, savory cassava pie, bread, fries, just to name a few.

It’s especially popular in Latin American and Asian cuisines.

“Cassava is predominantly consumed in boiled form, but substantial quantities are used to extract cassava starch, called tapioca, which is used for food, animal feed, and industrial purposes.”1“Cassava”, Wikipedia

Dealing with Toxins in Yuca (Cassava)

Cassava (yuca) chips
Cassava (Yuca) Chips

There are sweet and bitter varieties of cassava, with an important distinction between them… sweet are safer to eat than bitter.

Neither variety can be eaten raw, but sweet varieties are eaten after peeling and boiling.

Bitter takes much more preparation to be eaten safely due to high concentration of toxins.

yawning cat in wicker carrier

This is true for both people and animals.

“… improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication,[7][8] goiters, and even ataxia, partial paralysis, or death. In its prepared forms, in which its toxic or unpleasant components have been reduced to acceptable levels, it contains an extremely high proportion of starch.”2“Cassava”, Wikipedia

kitties looking out the window

Bitter cassava roots are peeled and grated, then soaked for a long time in water.

This “allows leaching and fermentation to take place, followed by thorough cooking to release the volatile hydrogen cyanide gas. Cutting the roots into small pieces, followed by soaking and boiling in water is particularly effective in reducing the cyanide content in cassava.”3“Cyanide Poisoning and Cassava”, by Ms. Joey Kwok,  Scientific Officer, Risk Communication Section, Centre for Food Safety, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Food Safety Focus (19th Issue, February 2008)

uncooked & cooked yuca/tapioca

Companies who make cassava-based products like flour and tapioca, process the cassava until there is a very low, safe cyanide content.

Farmers use yuca (cassava) tubers and hay for animal feed, a good source of roughage.

Various parts of the plant are also used for biofuels and other products.

Cat litter is a newer product made from it and it’s typically mixed with other ingredients as a starch for absorbency and clumping.

Will Yuca Cat Litter Poison My Cat?

cat licking paws

Some people have concerns about yuca (cassava) in litter since cats can eat it or lick it off their paws and fur.

This article explains more about the issue: “Cyanide Poisoning and Cassava”.

It says processed products made from cassava (yuca) are accepted as having such low amounts of cyanide that they’re no longer dangerous.

cat watching other cat in litter box

I have not yet uncovered any scientific data about yuca affecting cats.

The cat litter manufacturers claim it’s safe to use.

As with anything else, you can decide based on your comfort levels and knowing your cat’s behavior.

Cassava (yuca) leaves
Cassava (Yuca) Leaves

If your buddy tends to eat food-based litters or digs excessively, creating clouds of dust, you may want to err on the side of caution and use clay or silica litter.

It’s best not to use yuca litter for young kittens since it’s a clumping type.

Kittens will eat litter and can get intestinal blockages and/or be dehydrated from it.

Both are life-threatening situations!

Yuca is Not Yucca

Yucca plant
Yucca Plant

Yucca (YUHK-a) is “a genus of perennial shrubs and trees in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae44“Yucca”, Wikipedia.

It has long, stiff, spiky leaves and is commonly found in desert and semi-desert landscapes.

yucca flower

The yucca flower is the state flower of New Mexico.

Yucca has edible flowers and stem tips, but the root cannot be eaten.

Its main use is in landscaping as an ornamental plant and is not related to the yuca (cassava) plant.

I make a small commission on some of the links below… and I get to share profits with qualified cat rescues!

Check descriptions and reviews carefully for any products you wish to buy… quality, sizes, colors, etc., can’t be guaranteed by anyone but the manufacturer.

Yuca & Corn Litter

rows of corn plants

“Corn, (Zea mays), [is] also called Indian corn or maize, [a] cereal plant of the grass family (Poaceae) and its edible grain.”5Corn – History, Cultivation, Uses & Description“, Encyclopedia Britannica

See “Corn Cat Litter” for more about corn and yuca (cassava), and two litters currently available, Garfield Clumping Cat Litter and Sustainably Yours Natural Cat Litter.

Yuca (Cassava) & Coffee Cat Litter

A newer combination of ingredients for cat litter is cassava and “upcycled” coffee.

Alfred Cassava Black

Yuca & Sugar Cane Litter

Sugar cane
Sugar Cane

Sugar cane (Saccharum Andropogoneae) refers to “… several species and hybrids of tall perennial grasses… that are used for sugar production. Sugarcanes belong to the grass family Poaceae, an economically important flowering plant family that includes maize, wheat, rice, and sorghum, and many forage crops.”6“Sugarcane”, Wikipedia

Earth’s Finest™ Four Paws Cat Litter

Tabby cat stretching

Earth’s FINEST™ Cat Litter is currently the only litter made with yuca and cane that’s available in the U.S.A.

As of March 2022, only the 3.6 lb. bag is available and is expensive.

It’s unknown if and when larger amounts will be available.

This litter uses the starch in yuca that bonds very well and creates good clumps that don’t fall apart, making the litter last longer.

One 3.6 lbs. bag = 9.5 lbs. of clay or 7 lbs. of corn litter.

sugar cane

Cane is fibrous and used for its excellent ability to absorb liquid.

The combination of yuca and cane makes the litter extra-absorbent.

It soaks up to 5 times more liquid than clay and 2.5 times more than corn litters.

cat peeking out of top covered litter box

Earth’s FINEST™ litter ingredients are farm-grown, renewable and biodegradable.

It has very good odor control even in multiple cat households.

More Litter Options

Follow these trails below if you’re curious about other litters…

BambooBiodegradable
ClayCoconut
CoffeeCorn
GrassHemp
PaperPine/Wood
SilicaTofu
WalnutWheat

Why Is My Cat Peeing Outside the Litter Box?The Cat Box…Location, Location, Location
Deciphering Cat Pee PatternsCleaning Cat Urine
The Territorial CatWhat’s the Best Cat Litter Box?
Symptoms of Illness in Your CatWhy Is My Cat Pooping Outside the Box?
What Are the Best Types of Cat Litter?

Sources

Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary.

Primary sources are always preferable and have the most reliable information because they’re original and directly referenced.

Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.

Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own.

However, sometimes they refer to primary sources.

When I use secondary sources, most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.

List of Sources

“Cassava”, Wikipedia

Corn – History, Cultivation, Uses, & Description“, Encyclopedia Britannica

“Cyanide Poisoning and Cassava”, by Ms. Joey Kwok, Scientific Officer, Risk Communication Section, Centre for Food Safety, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Food Safety Focus (19th Issue, February 2008)

“Earth’s Finest Litter”

“What Is It? Yuca (Cassava) Root”, Lakewinds Food Coop, March 29, 2016

MicFood

“Yucca”, Wikipedia

Product Information and User Review Sources

Chewy, JacksonGalaxy, Petco, Sustainably Yours

Updated June 8, 2022

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