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Cat owner issues warning after accidentally creating toxic fumes while cleaning litter box: 'My sinuses are still burning'

"I'm glad you caught it."

"I'm glad you caught it."

Photo Credit: TikTok

A cat owner is passing along some wisdom that will ensure both you and your furry friends continue to breathe comfortably.

The scoop

TikToker Rachy (@rachywrites), who has more than 16 years of experience taking care of cats, explained that she made a rookie mistake when cleaning her pet's litter box. 

@rachywrites Usually I have to kick myself for having boomer moments with tech but the is was a Gen Z mistake. I'm feeling… real dumb. #protip #catsoftiktok #cats #cleaningday #fyp #stupidpeople ♬ original sound - Rachy

"Pro tip, but when you're emptying out the litter box and cleaning it out, don't use bleach to clean it out because cat [urine] has ammonia in it. My sinuses are still burning." 

After the unfortunate accident, Rachy opened all of the windows to let fresh air in, and she was able to let her cat sit outside to get away from the fumes. 

How it's helping

Avoiding bleach when cleaning your litter box will make your cats a lot happier — and potentially prevent them from making messes in other parts of your home. 

According to PetSmart, cats are particularly sensitive to smells, so the powerful odor of bleach could cause them to steer clear of the box altogether.   

Bleach is also an expensive chemical cleaner that contains toxins, so you'll be doing yourself, your pets, and the environment a favor by skipping it — and you won't have to worry about accidentally creating a dangerous gas by mixing it with something else. 

The combination of bleach and ammonia, for example, produces chloramine, which can lead to respiratory and eye irritation, nausea, and even death.  

Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda are among the healthier, cheaper, natural cleaning alternatives to bleach, but in the case of litter boxes, hot water and unscented dish soap should do the trick. PetSmart recommends washing the box and changing the litter once per week.  

What everyone's saying

Other TikTokers were sympathetic to Rachy's situation and pointed out how easy it is for such mistakes to occur.

"I worked with a woman who did this to herself and she was over 40 and had been cleaning for years," one person shared. "Please get checked if you keep feeling bad."

"Yeah, this is something I had to be warned about when I was old enough to clean the bathroom. … I hope you're OK," someone else wrote.  

"I'm glad you caught it," a third person said. 

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