Can cats’ faeces be flushed down the toilet?

Molnár Enikő

2024. May 5 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Some people might not even think about it, but others might do it on a daily basis. But the question arises: can pet faeces be flushed down the toilet?


r A few years ago, the internet watched videos of owners showing their cats manoeuvring around the toilet with a mixture of reservations and admiration. Since then, training videos and aids have become available to teach your whiskered- friend to do their job straight in the toilet. What’s more, there are also flushable litters, which allow you to get rid of left-over poop without bags and odour-tight bins. Practical as it is, there are those who oppose it, including Anglian Water, a water utility company in the East of England. This information was revealed in a video made by a vet for TikTok, detailing the dangers of Toxocariasis.


According to Anglian water, you shouldnt flush your pet’s poo down the toilet! Have you ever done this?? #LearnOnTikTok #toilet #vegetarian #dogsoftiktok


Increasing the risk of parasites

Also quoted in the video Anglian Water website briefly explains why pet faeces should not be flushed down the toilet:

The sewer network is not suitable for this kind of waste because of the presence of Toxocara (also known as roundworm) in animal faeces…

So the reason to be cautious is Toxocara, which is a relatively common parasite. Toxocara cati is a species of nematode found in cats. It is mainly dangerous to young cats, they may show clinical signs such as soft bowel movements, severe intestinal abnormalities, cachexia (muscle loss, emaciation caused by the disease) or bloated abdomen, but may also show respiratory signs due to larval migration. It may be more dangerous for kittens, but that doesn’t mean that adult cats won’t be colonised by these parasites. The illustration made by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) shows the life cycle of toxocara really well.

The 5-15 cm long worms live in the small intestine of the animal. Their eggs are shed from here and released into the outside world, from where they are then transported to another animal (or human). How they get into an animal, such as a cat, is easy to imagine, especially if they are an outdoor or indoor-outdoor animal. After all, we know how excellent hunters house cats are, so they could easily catch an infected rodent, for example. The situation for people is a bit trickier.

What is toxocariasis?

Toxocariasis is a disease caused by the eggs of the Toxocara worm. It is a worldwide disease, affecting 10-30% of the population in Hungary. Parasites cannot develop in the human body, so they cannot reproduce, but they can still cause great damage. The larvae that escape from ingested eggs can reach different parts of the body through the circulatory system and attack internal organs or even the eyes.

The main method of transmission is soil contaminated with animal faeces containing Toxocara eggs. Toxocara eggs are passed through the dog’s and cat’s faeces onto the ground and from there into the mouth through dirty hands or the ingestion of unwashed fruit and vegetables picked from contaminated soil.

– they write in the National Centre for Epidemiology website.

So proper hygiene, proper washing vegetables and fruit. Also, if one is gardening, the use of gloves, all help to prevent infection.

Prevent the problem

If it is “only” because of the risk of toxocariasis that it is not recommended to flush your companion animal’s faeces down the toilet (and Anglian Water has highlighted this as the only reason), then the solution is relatively simple. Take your cat’s deworming seriously and make sure they are given deworming treatment at the correct intervals. A minimum of 4 times a year is recommended. But the frequency will depend on the medication used (most are scheduled for once a month). If someone does not follow the prescribed regularity or thinks that an indoor cat should not be dewormed, then the following procedure is recommended by ESCCAP:

As an alternative to routine deworming, faecal examinations should be carried out at least 4 times a year, followed by antihelminthic treatment if positive.

As with many things, prevention is the key. Once a cat is infected, it takes them a relatively long time to become completely parasite-free. This is because the intestinal worm eggs are resistant and can remain in the animal’s body for a long time.

Pay attention to what your pet eats

It is a very important part of prevention to pay attention to what your cat is putting in their body. If you have an outdoor or indoor/outdoor cat, unfortunately, you can’t fully monitor this. Therefore regular parasite control is highly recommended. For those who live in a house with a garden, we advise to collect the droppings of your cat and other cats in the garden.

If you have an outdoor or outdoor/indoor cat, you don’t know what they will eat

If you are a fan of BARF and similar diets, so you put raw meat on your cat’s plate it may be worth freezing it beforehand. It is recommended that meat intended for raw feeding should be kept at -18 degrees Celsius for at least 7 days.

To prevent internal parasites, it’s a good idea to give your pet a deworming pill at least every three months. For some owners external parasites, such as fleas are a bigger problem. In this article we tackle this common problem.

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