By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated April 5, 2010)
Consumer feedback on various pet product review websites indicates that silica gel crystal cat litter has a number of advantages, but a few disadvantages as well.
The Benefits of Silica Crystal Cat Litters
Consumer reviews indicate that silica-based cat litters have several positive attributes, including the following:
- The crystals are very absorbent.
- There is no need to scrape clumps from the sides and bottom of the litter box, making the box easier to clean.
- Less litter box maintenance is required overall.
- Many reviewers feel that silica litter provides the best odour control of all cat litters.
Problems Associated with Silica Gel Cat Litter
Problems that have been noted in relation to crystal litters include the following:
- They tend to be expensive.
- They often don’t last as long as manufacturers promise.
- The litter can be dusty.
- The litter gets stuck between cats’ toes and tracked around.
- Some cats dislike the texture and refuse to use it.
- It may be hard on paws (or human feet, when stepped on).
- Some crystal litters are perfumed, which is off-putting to cats.
- When the litter box eventually becomes saturated, urine pools in the bottom or forms a nasty sludge with the crystals.
Best Silica Cat Litter Brands Based on Consumer Reviews
Of the pure crystal litters, Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Long-Haired Cat Litter received particularly high scores from consumers, with an average rating of 5 stars out of 5 at PetSmart.com.
Just the Crystals, another top-rated product, has an average rating of 4.4 from a large number of reviewers at Amazon.com. These crystals, designed specifically for the Forever Litter Tray, are fragrance-free and come in recyclable packaging (the Forever Litter Tray, used with Scoop Free Automatic Litter Boxes, is a also a highly rated product made from 100% recycled materials).
Health Meter Early Detection System Cat Litter, in addition to providing excellent odour control, can alert owners to bladder infections, urinary tract stones or crystals, liver disease, and kidney problems because the crystals change colour in response to these medical conditions. Though not extensively reviewed, this product was rated highly at PetSmart, with an average of 4.2. Notably, one reviewer who praised the product is a veterinarian.
Pestell Clear Choice Low-Track Silica Crystals Cat Litter has received an average rating of 4 stars on Amazon. This product has been praised for superior odour control, and many reviewers say that it is less expensive than other pure silica kitty litters.
Two other silica products, Crystal Clear Litter Pearls and Ultra Pet Ultra Micro Crystals Cat Litter, though not as extensively reviewed as some of the other crystal kitty litter products, both received an average rating of 4 stars on Amazon as well.
Tidy Cats Crystals Cat Litter received an average rating of 3.5 from 71 reviewers on Epinions.com. A number of reviewers noted a lack of dust, which is an improvement on most other crystal litters, and many claimed that the product is longer-lasting than other brands. However, other reviewers were underwhelmed by this product, though most of their criticisms (such as high price) could apply to almost any crystal litter.
EsquisiCat Crystals Cat Litter has received an average rating of 3 stars at PetSmart. While some loved the product, complaints from less enthusiastic consumers included a noticeable perfume smell.
Reviews of PETCO Crystals Cat Litter were polarized, with some reviewers giving the product 5 stars and others providing very low ratings, generating an average of 3 stars on PETCO.com. A common complaint was that it was very difficult to open the larger litter containers.
Little information was available for Ever Clean Plus Multi Crystals Unscented Cat Litter, though one reviewer did give the brand high praise on Amazon. No reviews were found for Better Way Crystal Cat Litter and only a single review for Simplicity Plus Crystals Cat Litter (4.8 out of 5 at SharedReviews.com).
Only one objective review was found for Fresh Magic “Tracks Less” Chunk Style Crystals Litter, with the reviewer giving the product 4 stars and saying that it worked well. This litter’s differentiating factor is that it is less spherical, so the crystals are less likely to roll all over the house.
Best Silica Crystal and Clay Cat Litters
There are also a number of silica gel and clumping clay cat litter blends such as Tidy Cats Scoop Crystals Blend Cat Litter for Multiple Cats, Fresh Step Plus Dual Action Crystals, and Scoop Away Plus Crystals. Overall, silica and clay blends tend to be highly rated, though some consumers have concerns about the fact that clay is not environmentally friendly. Those who want a greener option may prefer to try biodegradable litters made from renewable resources, such as corn-based cat litter or pine-based cat litter.