Cat lovers know their favorite pets can be kind of dumb. While they look like regal lions and lionesses while perched in wait, that effect is spoiled as soon as they fall in the toilet, or try to eat cardboard.
Yet there’s one thing all cats know: exactly how they like to do their business. A cat who doesn’t approve of how you’ve been keeping her litter box will let you know by choosing a new “litter box” — usually your carpet or furniture. Finding the right litter is a matter of life and death.
Nowadays, some cat owners are fans of crystal cat litter, which uses grains of silica gel to trap the odors of cats’ urine and feces. If you’re thinking about trying this space-age hygiene solution, you might be confused by the huge range of crystal cat litters on the market.
Our reviews are here to help. We tested 10 of the best crystal cat litter options and came away with a clear winner. Read on to find out about the best brands for your best pal.
A Quick Comparison of Our Winners (2021)
|Best Overall||Fresh Step Crystals Premium||
|Best Value||PetSafe ScoopFree||
|Premium Choice||Litter Pearls Micro||
|Frisco Summer Non-Clumping||
|Dr. Elsey's Long Hair Non-Clumping||
The 10 Best Crystal Cat Litters
1. Fresh Step Crystals Premium Cat Litter – Best Overall
When we test cat litter, we look for a few vitally important traits: it should eat odor, be comfortable for cats and owners, and not track all over the house. Fresh Step swept all those categories. It’s extremely light, lets almost no odor escape, and keeps that power even if not changed for over a month.
The crystals are also very big – definitely larger than the grains of traditional clumping litter. They won’t get stuck on your cat’s fur and wind up all over the house. The only drawback is that the crystals are still a bit sharp, so if your cat has sensitive feet, they might not approve of Fresh Step’s litter.
2. PetSafe ScoopFree Crystal Cat Litter – Best Value
We determined ScoopFree Premium to be the best crystal cat litter for the money. It comes in several disposable trays, each of which contains 4.5 pounds of litter, which is enough to keep the litterbox self-cleaning for over a month. When you’re ready to change it, you can throw away the whole tray without ever having to see or smell any gross cat poop.
The reason we didn’t put it at the top, though, is that we’ve noticed this product declining in quality over time. When we’ve tested it before, it’s self-cleaned for months, but now we wouldn’t use if for that much more than one.
3. Litter Pearls Micro Crystal Cat Litter – Premium Choice
Crystal cat litter always tends to be on the more expensive end, but Litter Pearls is more of a premium option than most. If you’re willing to pay more, however, you’ll get one of the best-performing long-term crystal cat litters out there, with odor control staying dry and reusable up to two months.
The small crystals are designed to feel like sand, leaving your cat much more comfortable than other silica litters. Unfortunately, that size has tradeoffs. Other than the price, the reason Litter Pearls sits at #3 is that its sand-like grains are much more likely to track, meaning you’ll have to put in more work to clean outside the box.
4. Frisco Summer Non-Clumping Crystal Cat Litter
Frisco’s “summer clean” scent is a nice aroma all on its own – those of us with cats might scent our homes with it even if there wasn’t any ammonia smell to cover up. It’s one of the best odor-eaters we’ve tested, and does a great job of keeping that “cat smell” from pervading your home. It’s also effectively self-cleaning, and can be left alone for a while.
On the other hand, cats themselves are sometimes reluctant to use this litter. The crystals are large enough to be uncomfortable, more so than our #1 pick. It can also be painfully dusty, and has been known to occasionally stain litter boxes.
5. Dr. Elsey’s Long Hair Non-Clumping Cat Litter Crystals
Have you got a long-haired cat that drives you mad with tracking fur out of the litterbox on their luxurious coat? Dr. Elsey’s aims to be the solution. It’s full of extra herbs and scents to attract cats, with a grain size that manages not to stick to their fur. With long-haired breeds, especially Norwegian Forest Cats, we’ve discovered it really does track less.
The trade-off is that it doesn’t trap odors nearly as well. If convincing your long-haired cat to use a litter box is your problem, Dr. Elsey’s will solve it, but if you’ve got an exceptionally stinky kitty, you need more power than this.
6. Ultra Pearls Micro Cat Litter Crystals
Ultra Pearls shines in two of the areas we test for: clumping power and durability. With their smaller size, these silica grains adhere more closely to the waste, leaving fewer gaps for odor to escape through. One bag holds up for over a month. Cats definitely like the smaller grains, too.
The big problem with Ultra Pearls cat litter crystals is the quantity. A single bag is expensive, yet in all but the smallest litterboxes, it won’t cover the bottom to the recommended depth of two inches. The pearls also have a nasty habit of sticking to the pan when they absorb too much urine.
7. So Phresh Odor-Lock Crystal Cat Litter
So Phresh’s crystal cat litter is a great-value silica litter that doesn’t skimp on quality. It performs well in the all-important areas of odor reduction and longevity, keeping unpleasant smells out of your litterbox room for a long time. For about the same price as an equally-sized bag of traditional clay litter, one bag of So Phresh crystals can last one cat over half a year.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that these cat litter crystals are extremely large — possibly so big your cat won’t consent to step on them. It’s also surprisingly dusty, and mixing it has a chance of releasing an unpleasant chemical cloud. Only buy So Phresh if you have a scoop-free tray and a cat you know is OK with larger silica pebbles.
8. Just the Crystals Premium Crystal Cat Litter
From the start, Just the Crystals makes it clear that they understand what cat parents are really looking for. You want the best litter that their cat will love, but also a litter that won’t make you have to work constantly to keep it from tracking or stinking.
It’s an admirable goal, but do they pull it off? Yes and no. We give their litter high marks for being low-maintenance, as it sits easily on its own without stinking, and responds well to regular spot-scooping without requiring you to replace the whole tray.
On the other hand, Just the Crystals litter doesn’t last. Some products on this list go a month or more without smelling; this hardly makes it two weeks. As for the tracking, it misses the mark entirely. This litter sticks to fur as much as any other, and sometimes more.
9. FreshMAGIC Crystal Cat Litter
FreshMAGIC cat litter makes some bold claims. This brand puts the emphasis on adsorption rather than absorption – i.e. neutralizing odor instead of just trapping it. It also states it’s dust-free, non-toxic, and never tracks.
Reality tells a different story. The crystals on this litter aren’t just large, they’re jagged, making it feel like loose gravel to step on. Barefoot kitties often won’t even go near it. There’s also a large proportion of dust in almost every bag.
To give FreshMAGIC some credit, it really is great at eliminating odors, and it does seem to get tracked less than other crystal litters. If you have one of those cats that will pee just about anywhere, we recommend it. If not, give it a miss, especially if you have a respiratory condition.
10. Amazing Cat Litter
With this litter, the best we can say is that it’s good at some of the things crystal cat litter is supposed to be good at. If you’re looking for a litter that neutralizes some odors and is more lightweight and manageable than conventional clay or clumping litters, Amazing Cat Litter might do the job.
Everything else about our #10 finisher is less than amazing. It hardly absorbs odors at all, and starts to smell in a very short time. It’s bad at holding onto urine. Its chunks are painfully large. And for all this, they’re asking a price higher than some far better brands. We’d probably recommend most conventional litters over Amazing.
Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Best Crystal Cat Litter
Is crystal cat litter just the latest trend, or is it really the healthiest option out there to keep your cat clean and happy? In this section, we’ll take a clear look at the advantages of crystal cat litter to help you decide if it meets your kitty’s unique needs.
Advantages of Crystal Cat Litter
Silica-based cat litter is an unconventional environment for many cats, so we recommend introducing it slowly. Try setting up a second litter box next to the usual one so you can see what product your kitty prefers!
Fresh Step Crystals came out on top of our reviews without any special gimmicks. All it does is perform better than the competition. Even with multiple cats using one box, it cuts down on odor so well that the waste might as well not be there at all — and it can keep that up for more than a month.
It does sometimes track out of the litter box, but when it does, it’s easy to clean up. The only problem is that the large crystals might be uncomfortable for cats or humans with sensitive feet. We recommend it for indoor/outdoor cats who are used to walking on gravel.
For cat parents on a budget, we give PetSafe ScoopFree our highest recommendation. It’s affordable, and it’s a great option for people who really hate scooping litter.
- Looking for an overall great litter? Try: 10 Best Cat Litters in 2020 & Reviews & Top Picks
- A Quick Comparison of Our Winners (2021)
- The 10 Best Crystal Cat Litters
- 1. Fresh Step Crystals Premium Cat Litter – Best Overall
- 2. PetSafe ScoopFree Crystal Cat Litter – Best Value
- 3. Litter Pearls Micro Crystal Cat Litter – Premium Choice
- 4. Frisco Summer Non-Clumping Crystal Cat Litter
- 5. Dr. Elsey’s Long Hair Non-Clumping Cat Litter Crystals
- 6. Ultra Pearls Micro Cat Litter Crystals
- 7. So Phresh Odor-Lock Crystal Cat Litter
- 8. Just the Crystals Premium Crystal Cat Litter
- 9. FreshMAGIC Crystal Cat Litter
- 10. Amazing Cat Litter
- Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Best Crystal Cat Litter