One issue we haven't previously discussed regarding litter is ammonia. Urea is substance found in the urine of mammals. Once outside the body, certain bacteria feed on urea, creating ammonia as a byproduct. Airborne ammonia can potentially be harmful to guinea pigs by causing upper respiratory tract infections. Factors that contribute to high airborne ammonia levels include:
- High temperatures,
- Number of guinea pigs per square foot of cage space
- Poor air circulation.
According to a study on bedding in a scientific journal, "The mean ammonia concentrations in static cages housing mice on CareFRESH Ultra bedding were significantly higher than the means for all the other bedding treatments." You might then wonder what performed the best in terms of ammonia, then. The answer is litters made of corn cobs and hardwoods (maple, beech, poplar). So why not just switch to these beddings, you ask? Because these other litters have problems of their own. Corn cob has a tendency to mold, and guinea pigs have been known to eat it, causing health issues. When buying wood pellets, you have to make sure you're buying a safe type of wood (e.g. no cedar), make sure there are no accelerants added, watch out for sawdust breakdown when wet, and other issues.
In other words, there's no perfect litter, but we generally feel that Carefresh's advantages outweigh the disadvantages, as long as you keep the aforementioned issues in mind and have adequate cage space, ventilation, cleaning, etc. We should also point out that the study was from 2004, and Carefresh's website proclaims it has a "New natural odor control formula suppresses ammonia odors nearly 3x longer than original CareFRESH!" We don't know when this new formula was released, so it's possible that the study was done using the old formula. Also, this formula claims to have baking soda, which is supposed to help absorb ammonia odors.
|Look at that color! That looks fun to play on.|
|Okay, I made a few messes just to test it out. Still no smell!|