Below are my previous reviews of cat litter:
I have been field testing crystal cat litter for 6 months. “Crystal” cat litter is made from Silica, just like those little packets of crystal beads with the warning “do not eat!” you often find in packaging to keep things fresh.
I started with Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Long Haired Litter because I like their clay litter and it was available at my local pet store. It was a bit pricey though and isn’t sold in bulk quantities so I have tried a few others, notably PetSmart’s ExquisiCat Crystals and Petco Crystal Cat Litter.
They are simiar enough that I’m lumping them all together and will call out any important differences.
Crystal litter does not clump which is a big difference from most litters. The way it works is that you scoop out any “solids” and the “liquids” are absorbed by the crystals which are replace regularly. FYI, I love euphemisms for poop and pee! :–)
Silica is extremely absorbant and holds many times its own weight in urine. It starts out clear/white and each time you scoop, you stir up any yellow spots to spread it out and prevent their favorite corners from becoming saturated while other parts of the box go unused. After a 2-3 weeks, when the litter is a uniform light yellow, I dump the entire box, scrub it and start over.
Each of the brands include some extra ingredient to deal with urine odors. I don’t notice any fragrance or smell from the fresh litter, which is my preference. I want my house to smell like I don’t have cats, not like their litter, even if it is clean!
None of the brands covered up the smell of poop as well as traditional litters. I believe that’s because the crystals don’t completely coat and cover like clay. I find that after scooping, I have to immediately take out the trash and can’t get away with putting it in a temporary trash can like I could with clay. Not a huge issue for me since it’s 2 steps to the trash chute.
I was pleasantly surprised at how well the crystal litter dealt with the urine odor. As long as I stirred the box when I scooped, I never smelled the urine, even towards the end of the “litter cycle” when the litter was almost ready to be changed. Maybe that means I could go even longer between changes but once it looks yellow, I can’t help but change it.
This is the best part of this litter. It is very light. Normally I put 40lbs of litter in the box at a time (it’s a big box for my Maine Coon) and now I only need about 20 lbs.
One quick note is that many of the brands suggest only using 1.5 inches but I find that is just not enough. So I end up using more per box than what the manufacturer recommends. Maybe my cats are just prolific pee-ers but unless I use about 3 inches, I find that their urine soaks all the way to the bottom of the box which makes cleaning more difficult.
This is one area where the brands differed. Dr. Elsey’s by far has the least amount of dust, both when pouring and scooping. ExquisiCat came in second. Petco Crystal litter has the most dust, especially when I’m stiring up the pee spots. I would say of all the types of litter I have tried so far (clay, corn, wheat, walnut) that this has the least dust.
Another difference was in crystal size. Dr. Elsey’s has very small fine crystals which is best for fishing out the turds as I don’t have to sift or shake the scoop which helps prevent kicking up dust. ExquisiCat’s crystals were just too big, making it exteremely difficult to scoop. If you go with that brand I recommend finding a scoop with very large spaces between the tines. Petco Crystal litter is in-between. Sometimes I get crystals stuck in my scoop (a litter lifter) but for the most part, the crystals fall through with 1-2 shakes.
I have found that the crystals do track out of the box but don’t make it very far before working themselves loose. Traditional litter would find its way throughout my house but with the crystal I only need to sweep the first 10 feet from the box. I haven’t noticed any dust making its way out of the box or sticking to the cats feet.
With both the clay and walnut litter, I had to clean my cat’s feet to remove the dust which clings and clumps in-between their toes. I was briefly concerned that the cats would eat the crystals or have trouble from licking it from their feet but luckily that has not been an issue.
As always, these alternative litters are more expensive than clay… The most expensive litter is Dr. Elseys at $1.8/lb. Which explains why even though it is my favorite, I have settled on the Petco litter, which can be purchased in bulk at $1/lb.
I am quite happy with the crystal litter. Overall it seems healthier than the clay as I hear fewer kitty sneezes after they use the box and it doesn’t stick to their feet (and end up eaten when they clean their paws). I do wish that I could remove the urine as well each time I scooped the box but I think that’s a trade off as clumping litters all get stuck in my cats’ fur…
If you decide to give it a try, let me know how it goes or if you find a good brand. I do wish I could find Dr. Elsey’s in bulk as that is my favorite but I go through enough litter than I can’t justify paying almost 2x as much for it.