Flushable litter is safe for your pipes, but is it safe for marine wildlife? There is evidence that it can be lethal to sea otters and other ocean dwellers because it sometimes contains a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. This organism is not usually killed by sewer treatment and can cause a potentially life-threatening infection in marine mammals called toxoplasmosis. It’s for that reason that California discourages flushing any cat litter.
If you live near water with wildlife but have an enclosed septic system — meaning one without pipes that lead out to waterways — the litter won’t get to animals that live in aquatic habitats. But others who live near oceans and other waterways that contain wildlife should consider getting rid of their litter with the rest of the trash.
Granted, sending cat litter to a landfill has its own problems. It takes ages for litter and the plastic bags used to get rid of it to biodegrade, unless it’s truly biodegradable. But for those who live in homes near marine life, it’s a tradeoff worth making.