Yes, selenite lamps are safe for cats.
The lamps that cat lovers need to worry about are salt lamps, because cats (and other animals) are prone to licking them.
In licking them, the animal consumes too much salt, which can cause vomiting, lethargy, organ injury, or even death.
In this article that follows, we’ll explain why it is that selenite is not as much of a concern as salt to cats.
Why Are Selenite Lamps Safe For Cats?
As an initial matter, it is important to take note of an important fact: salt and selenite are not the same substances.
Salt is sodium chloride, while the selenite in your crystal lamp is actually gypsum. Gypsum is a common mineral composed of calcium sulfate.
Selenite should not be confused with moonstone, which is another mineral entirely.
Salt is an essential mineral in your cat’s diet, and is needed for his body to function. If the amount of salt in your pet’s body is too little or too much, he can experience health problems.
Humans and animals seek out salt, because we need it for our bodies to function.
We like the taste of salt on our tongues, which is probably an evolutionary response leftover from a time when salt was not plentiful.
Humans and cats are prone to consuming too much salt if it is available.
If a salt lamp is available to an animal, he may lick it and discover that licking it makes him feel good, either in taste or in his brain’s response to the salt.
It encourages him to come back and lick more, thereby consuming more salt.
And very quickly, the animal’s balance of salt in his body is thrown off.
On the other hand, humans and cats also need some of the components of gypsum, like calcium.
While gypsum is used in non-food products like plaster of paris and fertilizer, it is also used as a supplement in foods to help us humans get enough calcium in our diets.
If someone was to overconsume gypsum (like salt), they could experience toxicity symptoms like nausea, pain, fatigue, and other serious health conditions.
The difference though is our bodies interest and desire to consume salt vs gypsum.
Salt tastes good on the tongue, and craving it is a survival mechanism.
Calcium (in the form of gypsum) is not as difficult to find and consume, and we are not required to maintain the delicate balance of calcium as is required of salt/sodium.
Licking it does not produce the same response.
Unless you (or the cat) was in a state of severe calcium deficiency, there would be little inclination to continue licking it after the first taste test.
Is Selenite Toxic?
In general, gypsum is not a substance that people worry overmuch about.
You can handle it with your bare hands, you can put it in water without concerns of toxic fumes, and it is safe to have in your house.
People sleep wear selenite in jewelry and sleep with selenite without issues.
However, this does not mean that selenite is completely safe.
Your body is all about balance. Selenite is a mineral that contains calcium in addition to some other bonded elements.
If you consume too much of any substance (even water, for example), you can cause your body to have more of an element or substance that it needs or can handle.
As a result, you can make yourself sick or cause permanent harm.
But in general, unless you are consuming great amounts of selenite, or grinding it up and breathing the dust, it is hard to make yourself ill with selenite.
Selenite (Gypsum) vs Sodium Selenite
Now, we do want to point out that when we are talking about selenite, we are talking about the type of selenite that is calcium sulfate, not sodium selenite.
“Selenite” is really a misnomer, as the selenite we know of in selenite lamps does not actually contain selenium of any kind.
Sodium selenite, sometimes confused as “selenite,” is a very hazardous substance used primarily in industrial applications.
You will not find selenite lamps made of sodium selenite, though the name “selenite” seems to indicate that the lamp has selenium in it.
Your selenite lamp is actually just plain old pretty calcium sulfate.
Is Selenite Safe For Cats?
Yes, selenite is safe for cats. Your cat should not be interested in licking the lamp or otherwise consume the selenite.
However, you should know that selenite is very water soluble. Like salt, if you were to put it in a water bath, it will begin to dissolve into the water.
If you notice that a portion of your selenite lamp looks to be dissolved away (or licked away), you might want to move the lamp out of the cat’s reach simple to preserve the shape of the lamp.
If you do notice that your cat is obsessively licking the selenite lamp, you might have one of a few problems:
- Your lamp might not actually be selenite; or
- Your animal might have some other out of balance nutritional needs and you should take him to see his vet.
Either way, moving the lamp out of reach is a good first step.
Then, remember to take the lamp with you when you go to the vet so you can show her the lamp and what the animal has done to it with his licking.
Is Selenite Safe For Cats To Rub On/Play With?
Yes, selenite is safe for human and animals to touch.
That being said, selenite is a pretty soft material.
It can easily be scratched, and if it is knocked off a table onto a hard surface, it is likely that the selenite will crack or even break.
Your cat will be fine if he plays with your selenite lamp, but your selenite lamp might not survive playing with your cat.
Interested in learning more about selenite, or the other rocks/minerals that make up our world? Check out our blog for our latest articles.