While standing in the check out line at the grocery store I noticed that the women in line behind me was purchasing cat litter crystals rather than the traditional clay based or clumping litter. As an owner of a “smelly cat” I’d considered trying the crystals, but hesitated because this type of litter is significantly more expensive, and I wasn’t sure if it worked effectively. I asked the women in line what she thought about the crystal litter and she said that she really liked it. She mentioned that it helped control the odor better, and that her cat had some respiratory problems that the dust from regular litter made worse. She highly recommended trying the crystal litter and mentioned that she felt it was well worth the expense because it lasted so much longer.
How It’s Different
Her strong support of crystal cat litter led me to do a little research on the topic. Crystal litter is different because it is silicon based. This makes it more absorbent than traditional litters, and because of this, it does a better job of locking in odor. The litter manufacturers’ state that one 5-6 lb. bag of crystal litter will last about one month for one average cat (with regular scooping). This is good news for people like me who don’t particularly like cleaning out the litter box. In addition to its absorbency, the crystal litter is significantly lighter than traditional litter, making it more convenient to carry and manage.
Crystal litter can also offer an important health benefit to you and your pet; some research suggests that the dust from clumping litter may cause respiratory problems (similar to the ones described by the woman at the grocery store). Additionally, an allergic reaction to dust from traditional kitty litter is a common the cause of inhalant allergies in cats. Often, symptoms of an allergic reaction to dust from kitty litter look like any other type of allergy. Some cats may sneeze, wheeze, or have watery eyes, but a more common symptom is itchiness. Crystal litter does not have dust and therefore does not affect cats that have inhalant allergies. If your cat has been diagnosed with this type of allergy, it may be worth trying out the crystals to see if it helps to ease their symptoms.
Pros And Cons
While crystal kitty litter has some clear advantages over traditional or clumping litter, a quick scan of user opinions suggests that not all people are satisfied with this new form of litter. Many people report that their cats simply refuse to use it, because they do not seem to like walking on it. Others state that they are not happy with the limited warning crystal litter provides before it needs to be changed. Once this type of litter has reached its limited, it simply stops absorbing, causing odors and pools of waste that must be scrubbed. Litter liners can help with some of this, but you may need to monitor the litter, especially if it is getting close to the 30-day time limit. While all the above advantages and disadvantages were interesting, my biggest concern is the cost. A quick price search shows that an 8lb bag of crystals will run you about $11 (about the price of 30lbs of traditional litter), while a 27lb bag is about $22. While some of this can be mitigated by the long use of crystal kitty litter, the initial cost is substantially more, especially if your cat ends up refusing to use the new litter.
Overall, while there appear to be a few issues with the crystal kitty litter, it looks like it does have some clear benefits over traditional and clumping litters. It may cost a little more, but if you compare the cost of one 8 lb bag (that will last you a month) to a month’s worth of traditional or clumping litter, the costs pretty much even out. If you can get more odor absorbency, for about the same cost, it may be worth trying. Not to mention avoiding some of the potential health risks other types of litter may pose to you or your cat.
We’re Trying It
With strong endorsements like the one from the women in the grocery store line, I decided to go ahead and give the crystal kitty litter a try. Right now we are about two weeks into the first round of litter and I have to say…I think I like it. At first I was worried that my cat wouldn’t like the litter (this concern increased when I ‘introduced’ him to the new litter and he immediately ran away to his favorite chair). But, I decided to give him some time and try to not make a big deal of it. Sure enough about ten minutes later, I heard him in his litter box (I guess the lure of a fresh, clean, new box was too much for him)! Since then he has used the new litter with no problems.
As for me, I still have to scoop his solid waste and ‘rake’ the crystal litter while doing it to mix it up (per the instructions), but the task isn’t as unpleasant as it was with the traditional litter…his box is far less smelly. It has only been about half of the 20-30 day lifespan of the litter, but so far I think both my cat and I happy with it.