Best Crystal Cat Litter: 5 Super Absorbent Silica Gel Products
Crystal cat litter is made from silica gel. This porous form of silicon dioxide can adsorb up to 40% its weight in moisture and can decrease the relative humidity in a closed container by 40%. It’s the same form of silicon dioxide that creates the beads found in desiccant packets often accompanying moisture-sensitive items like medications, cameras, some prepared foods, and many other products.
Instead of clumping, this highly absorbent silica gel soaks up liquids and dehydrates solid waste. It captures moisture more effectively than any other type of litter currently on the market, allowing you to scoop less and change out the litter less frequently.
Using crystal cat litter introduces a new twist on the usual cat litter maintenance regimen: instead of scooping liquid and solid waste on a daily basis, you instead scoop out fecal matter and stir the remaining litter once or twice a day. The stirring action encourages balanced liquid absorption.
After about a week to a month, you’ll dump out the litter box and refill with fresh litter.
Crystal cat litter’s uniquely low maintenance nature makes it a favorite among people who hate scooping cat waste and want something that minimizes their time spent crouching over the box.
What is the Best Crystal Cat Litter?
What Makes Crystal Cat Litter Great
It’s clean and virtually dust-free.
Unlike the crystalline silica present in most clumping clay litters, the amorphous silica used in crystal cat litter is generally considered non-toxic and non-respirable.
This type of litter creates virtually zero dust. If you or your cat suffer from respiratory issues, crystal cat litter is superior to products made from dusty clay. Crystal litter is often recommended for cats and people with asthma who shouldn’t be exposed to large amounts of dust.
Silica gel crystals are an unfriendly growing place for bacteria and mold. This helps to minimize odors and keep the litter box clean and healthy.
Besides keeping the litter box clean, silica gel litter doesn’t track as easily as clay litter. It’s less inclined to stick to your cat’s paw pads and go traveling around the house. Because the litter typically remains where it belongs, it helps to cut back on time spent sweeping.
It’s often hypoallergenic.
Besides being good for cats with asthma who can’t tolerate the dust from most clay litter, crystal cat litter is usually hypoallergenic and made without potentially irritating plant proteins.
Those who want to avoid clay litter but whose cats are allergic to plant-based products like pine, corn, and wheat may find a healthy solution in crystal cat litter.
It’s lightweight and easy to handle.
If you’re accustomed to clay litter, you know how heavy cat litter can be. Crystal litter is different. Besides the lightness of the crystals themselves, the product is delivered in an easy-to-handle format. Because a small quantity of litter lasts for so long, crystal litter comes in small, lightweight bags.
It’s incredibly absorbent.
It’s highly absorbent, but it doesn’t clump in the same way that clumping clay litter does.
Because it is so absorbent, crystal cat litter is popular among people who leave their cat at home alone for extended periods of time. It’s also useful for cats left with a cat sitter who may be unwilling to keep up a regular scooping routine.
If you’re constantly frustrated by litter box odor, crystal cat litter helps by keeping unwanted smells in check without demanding constant cleaning.
It’s easy to maintain.
The longevity and absorbency of silica gel crystal is unequaled by any other cat litter type on the market. You may need to replace the litter in the box as infrequently as every 30 days.
You’ll scoop solids and stir up the litter every day, then replace the full contents of the litter box about once a month. This makes it an unusually low-maintenance product. If you dislike constant litter box maintenance, this type of litter can help to ease some of the burden.
Crystal Cat Litter Concerns
Cats often don’t like the sound and feel of the crystals.
Cat comfort is the number one problem with crystal cat litter.
Most crystal cat litter products have large granules that are sharp and uncomfortable – cats don’t like to walk on jagged, angular crystals. Cats always prefer a litter substrate that is soft and fine, and these qualities can be difficult to find in a crystal cat litter.
Fortunately, some manufacturers have created fine-grain crystal cat litter. The small granules are easier on your cat’s paws, but have sharper angles than clay products. Cats accustomed to the rounded edges of a fine-grain clay litter may even find small crystals uncomfortable.
The crystals also tend to make a loud crunching noise when your cat steps in the litter box. Cats have sensitive hearing and are often irritated by this sound.
It can be expensive.
At first glance, crystal cat litter appears to have an exorbitant price.
One pound of an average crystal litter might cost over $3. Considering, however, that crystal cat litter might last three or more times as long as the average clumping clay litter, it’s not as expensive as it may initially appear.
It’s usually not a good fit for multiple cat homes.
Litter boxes in multiple cat households get a lot of use, and silica gel crystal litter can’t always carry the burden. The crystals can only absorb a limited amount of urine Absorbency exhaustion happens quickly under heavy use. Once the crystals have reached their limit, the urine will have no other option but to to pool in the box.
In a multiple cat home, the urine could start pooling in less than a week.
Without exceptional longevity justifying the price of the crystal litter, it’s usually not a good value or a practical choice.
Does it contain cobalt chloride?
A common concern is that silica gel crystal litter contains cobalt chloride, which is used in some applications to give silica gel a blue color. This blue color changes to red or pink when wet.
As of July 1st, 2000, British Chemical Regulations have required “indicating” silica gel (the kind that’s infused with cobalt chloride) to be labeled and disposed of as a hazardous material. The US Department of Health and Human Services listed it as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” in 2016.
You may have read that blue cat litter is made with this dangerous compound, but this is seldom true. I’ve yet to find a blue crystal cat litter made with anything other than non-toxic dye.
Top 5 Best Crystal Cat Litters
Quick Look : Top 5 Best Crystal Cat Litters
Fresh Step Crystals Cat Litter Review
Fresh Step’s litter crystals are one of the most popular crystal litter products on the market, receiving thousands of positive reviews and garnering a reputation for odor control and ease-of-use.
Although the crystals are blue, they don’t contain cobalt chloride and are safe for your cat to use.
Like all crystal litter, Fresh Step’s crystal litter absorbs moisture on contact and locks in odor. According to the company, it controls odor five times better than regular clay litter. The litter is scented, which may irritate some sensitive cats and people.
Although Fresh Step says the crystals are small and smooth, some reviews tell a different story. One customer review on Chewy described the crystals as “way too big and sharp”, adding that stepping on them was like treading on broken glass.
The litter doesn’t stick to cats’ paws and won’t track around the house. – Buy It
- Excellent odor control
- Dust free
- One of the most popular crystal cat litter products
- Some cats find the crystals uncomfortable
- Scented litter may be irritating
Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Respiratory Relief Silica Gel Cat Litter Review
Because it naturally produces less harmful dust than clay litter, crystal litter is often recommended for cats with respiratory issues. This formula from Dr. Elsey’s aims to build on this relationship by offering a litter made specifically for cats who need respiratory relief.
Because stress can play a role in respiratory problems, the silica gel crystals are infused with natural stress-reducing herbs. It’s hypoallergenic and made without any plant proteins or potential irritants like added fragrances and deodorants. The litter is completely chemical-free.
The fine sand-like texture is gentle on your cat’s sensitive paws. Like other fine-grained crystal litter products, this litter receives complaints about messiness.
It performs well in the essential areas. The litter controls odors and absorbs moisture on contact. Like other silica litter products, it can stay dry and odorless for up to about a month. – Buy It
- Fine grains are friendly on cats’ paws
- Good odor control
- Highly absorbent
- Contains naturally calming herbs
- Hypoallergenic and unscented
- Fine grains can be messy
Litter Pearls Micro Crystal Cat Litter Review
This product aims to solve the comfort problem commonly associated with crystal cat litter. By reducing the crystal size to tiny micro granules, the litter mimics the fine texture of sand.
Based on customer reviews, it appears that the small crystal size does appeal to cats. Even finicky cats like the sandy consistency.
Like any other fine-grained litter, this litter is easy to toss over the edge of the litter box and messes are common. When it comes to dustiness, accounts vary. Like all crystal litters, the litter is considered a low-dust product, but at least one reviewer reported having to turn their head away to avoid inhaling dust while pouring the litter.
Without using added fragrances, this litter effectively controls odors and helps to keep the house smelling clean. – Buy It
- Fantastic odor control
- Fine granules feel comfortable under your cat’s paws
- Excellent absorbency
- Unscented litter
- Fine crystals can be messy
Ultra Pearls Micro Crystal Cat Litter Review
The extra-fine crystals make the litter more comfortable on your cat’s paws. Cats like the sand-like texture – it’s easy to dig in and doesn’t irritate their delicate feet.
While they’re softer on your cat’s sensitive paw pads, customers report that the micro crystals track easily and make a mess. Some people even say that it’s dusty and irritating.
The litter is not scented, making it a good choice for fragrance-sensitive people and cats.
It’s highly absorbent and does a good job of controlling odors.
One 3.5 lb bag of this litter is enough to serve one cat for a full month. – Buy It
- Sand-like texture is cat-friendly
- Highly absorbent
- Effectively neutralizes odors
- Unscented litter
- Micro crystals are messy
Nature’s Miracle Just For Cats Easy Care Crystal Cat Litter Review
This product from Nature’s Miracle is a scented litter, so it’s not ideal for cats or people with respiratory issues or sensitivity to added fragrances. The litter releases odor whenever it’s moistened. While added fragrances aren’t good for cats with respiratory issues or allergies, the product’s low dust production is ideal for these cats. The litter is 99% dust-free.
According to the company, this crystal litter is an “Easy Care” formula that allows you to go for longer periods of time without changing the litter. Like all silica gel crystal litter products, it’s made to quickly absorb liquids and trap odors on contact. Part of this litter’s branding is an emphasis on the ability to “actually see and hear it working”.
No dyes are used in the litter. The naturally white silica gel crystals have a faint blue hue that will deepen in color when it comes in contact with urine, helping you to determine when it’s time to change out the litter.
As is the case with most crystal cat litter, customer impressions of this product are notably varied. Some reviews suggest that this litter isn’t a great odor controller. A number of reviews on Chewy say that the product is good at controlling urine odors but doesn’t cover fecal smells. – Buy It
- A low dust product
- Absorbs moisture effectively
- Color changes slightly when used, helping you to gauge use
- Some reviews indicate that this litter doesn’t control odors well