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Crystal Cat Litter: Overview, Pros, Cons & Alternatives

Cleaning the litter box is arguably the worst part of owning a cat. It’s stinky, messy, and just a dirty job that no one looks forward to, but this inevitable job can be made easier by using the right type of litter.

Crystal cat litter has become popular among cat owners thanks to its convenience and cleanliness. It doesn’t come without its downfalls, however. Read on to learn more about crystal cat litter, what it is, and its pros and cons to determine if it’s worth trying in your household.

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What Is Crystal Cat Litter?

Crystal cat litter is made using silica gel beads. It is important to differentiate between the little white packets of crystalline silica in your beef jerky packages and medication bottles labeled “Do not eat”. The silica gel in these packets keeps your products fresh and prevents them from getting soggy. The gel beads in crystal cat litter are different as they’re formulated specifically for litter and made of amorphous silica gel, not crystalline silica gel. Amorphous silica gel is safe if inhaled or ingested as it will not cause lung disease like crystalline silica can.

Silica gel litter is made from mined quartz sand and produced by mixing the sand particles with water and oxygen. This manufacturing process transforms it from the dangerous if ingested and inhaled crystalline silica into amorphous silica gel.


Pros of Crystal Cat Litter

1. It Is Highly Absorbent

The manufacturing process that makes crystal litter safe creates small pores in the crystals. These pores are highly absorbent and can hold up to 40% of their weight in liquid. Its absorption superpower also helps dry out feces, controlling odors.

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2. Lasts a Long Time

Thanks to its fantastic absorption, crystal cat litter can last up to a month in the litter box. This means you won’t need to buy litter every time you go to the store, and you’ll send less garbage to your local landfill.

crystal cat litter in owners hands
Image Credit: kholywood, Shutterstock
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3. Requires Less Frequent Cleaning

You won’t need to clean your litter box as often if you switch to crystal cat litter. Clay litter must be changed daily to keep odors at bay and prevent unsanitary conditions for your kitty. Since crystal litter doesn’t clump, you’ll only need to remove the feces when you see them and stir the remaining crystals. Because you’re not scooping out huge blocks of urine-soaked litter, you won’t need to constantly refill the box with fresh crystals.

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4. It Is Low-Dust

One of the best benefits of crystal cat litter is that it isn’t dusty like its clay counterpart. The crystals won’t turn to fine dust in the bottom of the bag like clay litter, and you won’t notice much powder when you pour it into your cat’s box. Additionally, you’ll be amazed at how little dust you produce when removing feces, especially if you’re used to scooping clay litter.

Cat tray with crystal litter and scoop on floor near light blue wall
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock
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5. It Is Lightweight

Traditional clay litter is extremely heavy, as you must use much of it in each litter box. It’s not unusual to find 40+ pound boxes, which can be a literal pain to tote around the store and in your home. You’ll use much less crystal litter, so it’s sold in smaller, much more manageable-to-carry bags.

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Cons of Crystal Cat Litter

1. Urine May Pool

Though the crystals do a good job of soaking up liquid waste, you may notice urine pooling if they become too saturated. Manufacturers recommend stirring the crystals when removing feces to prevent this from happening.

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2. It Is Pricey

Crystal litter is more expensive than traditional clay options. However, you may not pay more in the long run because you’ll change the litter less often.

cat looking at crystal cat litter
Image credit: Axel Bueckert, Shutterstock
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3. Not Eco-Friendly

Crystal litter is derived from quartz, typically procured from open-pit pits. These huge operations require large industrial sites, displacing pre-existing vegetation and habitat. As with other mining operations, these quarries may cause erosion and air and water contamination.

Additionally, crystal litter isn’t biodegradable. It’s not flushable or compostable, so it will inevitably wind up in your city’s landfill.

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4. It Tracks—a Lot

If you’ve ever gone to the beach, you know how far a grain of sand can travel. You’ll be vacuuming sand from your carpet for weeks after a beach visit, and the same applies to your crystal litter. You can reduce how much tracks throughout your home by using litter mats or investing in a high-sided litter box.

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Other Cat Litter Options

Crystal and clay-based litters aren’t your only options for handling your cat’s waste. Here are some other cat litter options worth considering:

  • Pine litter
  • Wheat litter
  • Grass seed litter
  • Corn cob litter
  • Walnut shell litter
  • Paper litter

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Crystal cat litter is worth trying if you’re tired of lugging around 40-pound boxes of clay-based litter and giving your bicep a workout daily by scooping heavy, urine-soaked clumps from your cat’s box. Like anything, crystal litter has drawbacks, but the pros may outweigh the cons.

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Featured Image Credit: Alexandra Morosanu, Shutterstock