The Benefits and Drawbacks of Litter Crystals

Litter crystals are made from silica dioxide sand, oxygen and water. It's more familiar use is in those tiny packets you find packaged with vitamins, cameras and other products that might be damaged by moisture. Recently, it's been used to fill cat boxes. Here are some of the pros and cons of silica gel litter crystals.

What Litter Crystals Are and How They Work

Litter crystals are made from silica gel. The granules are full of tiny pores and each granule can absorb up to forty times its own weight in moisture. It comes in pearl, half-pearl and crystal shapes. Some manufacturers add dyes and fragrances.

Benefits of Litter Crystals

Manufacturers maintain that silica gel litter crystals are safe and resistant to bacteria. It is initially more expensive, but in the end can be more cost-effective, because you'll use less of it. Litter crystals are flushable and don't track.

Silica gel litter crystals don't throw up dust the way that traditional clay litters do, so they may be more suitable for cats and owners with respiratory problems (as the dust isn't limited to the box, but also get on your cat's feet and then tracked onto the furniture). Litter crystals discourage the growth of molds and bacteria, which is beneficial to both your and your cat's health; it can also help those with allergies. Litter crystals leave your cat's litter box dry, so you won't need to use cat liners. Litter crystals absorb odors, and biodegrade in landfills.

Drawbacks of Silica Gel Litter Crystals

Young kittens are prone to tasting cat litter out of curiosity, and so litter crystals shouldn't be used with them, as they can be dangerous if ingested.

Older cats may also sometimes eat things that aren't edible, a behavioral condition known as pica. If your cat ingests silica gel litter crystals, life-threatening medical complications could ensue.

While the crystals have a high saturation point, urine can pool in the bottom of the box if the crystals become saturated. Also, biodegradable cat litters made from vegetable substances such as wood, paper, or grains are more environmentally friendly, because they make use of waste products that, otherwise, would take up space in landfills.

Some cats may dislike silica gel litter crystals, especially cats who are uncomfortable with new things. Litter crystals are also more expensive than conventional clumping clay litters. Some brands require that the litter be turned daily to ensure even absorption of urine, and this can get to be a hassle.