How To Use Silica Gel Crystal Litters To Save Money and Time
A lot of cat owners are considering making the switch from normal clay cat litters to using the newer crystal types of litter. They are quite different products to the normal cat litters, and they need to be used in a different way.
So if you plan on making this switch, then this article should really help you out. The important thing to understand is that to get the best use from these, is that you need to know how to use these crystal types properly, and in the most efficient way.
Before I do that, I just want to explain the difference in the clay litters, the natural biodegradable litters and the silica gel litters.
Once you realise the difference, then you can also discover the best way to use them.
Clay vs Natural vs Crystal Litters
Most cat owners use a clay clumping litter and there is also a non clumping clay litter. They are both made from clay which is good at absorbing urine and helping to cover up the odors of urine and poop.
Natural or Biodegradable Litters
The natural litters usually do a good job at odor control, but are not quite as good at absorbing. They are made from a variety of materials such as shredded paper, wood shavings, pine cones etc
Crystal litters are made from a silica gel. These crystals also absorb the urine, and they turn a different color when they are finished absorbing moisture, such as cat urine.
Each crystal has lots of tiny pores, and the moisture (urine) seeps into these pores. That helps a lot with locking away odors and also help reduce bacterial growth.
The manufacturers of these crystals have designed these so as you only need to remove the colored crystals, and then top the litter up with new ones. That means that you will use less cat litter, and that is one of the main benefits of using crystals.
Benefits of Crystal Litters
Odor Control – Most of these crystals can absorb nearly its own weight in liquid, and at the same time lock away all the nasty things like odor, germs and bacteria. This is probably the main reason so many cat owners are making the move from clay to crystals.
Dust Free – Clay litters usually have a lot of dust in them. Now they are not actually made using any form of dust. The dust gets created when the bags of litter are being moved around. The granules rub together and create dust.
Cat owners then get concerned about breathing in that dust, which can impact on the cat and of course the cat owner and the family. Crystals are dust free, and this is another key benefit of using those.
Compostable and eco-friendly – Many of these silica gel litters can be used in a compost. Please note not all of them are able to be composted, but the majority are. Just check which type you are buying, and it should tell you on the bag or packaging.
Helps reduce tracking – Cat owners will know that many cats leave tracking signs on carpets and floors. This is where the dust and granules from a normal litter type stick to the cat’s paws and then fall off when they leave the litter box.
With crystal type litters this is great reduced. You may get a little of this tracking, but most buyers say there is not a lot of it tracked.
Disadvantages of Silica Gel Litters
Like any product there are always pros and cons of using them. I outlined the advantages of above and there are clearly some great advantages. It is also very worthwhile understanding what the disadvantages are, and I have include these below.
This is of course based on feedback from actual buyers who have bought and used these.
Dust – Some cat owners who use crystals say they they still create dust. This does vary quite a bit from brand to brand though. The general consensus seems to be though, that the amount of dust these create is minimal, and nothing compared to clay litters.
Automatic Litter Boxes – This crystal type will struggle to work with some of the self cleaning or automatic cleaning litter boxes. If you are not that familiar with these types of boxes, then they automatically (or manually) use a sifting process to clean the litter.
Some of the gel crystals can be too large (or too small) to work effectively with the sifting tray used. It may however be a matter of experimenting with different crystal litters, and finding out if you can get one to work with your particular brand of automatic self cleaning box.
Kittens – A small number of cat owners said that their kitten was eating the crystals. Kittens do tend to eat almost anything so this is possible. Not a lot of kitten owners stated this was a problem, but it is certainly worth keeping an eye on.
The likelihood is that they will eat any type of litter, so this is something you need to watch out for when kittens are very young.
Messy – Some cat owners said that this was messy for two different reasons. A few said their cats liked to play in it more, and as such kicked it out of the litter box. Others said that the crystals when they did get out of the box were hard to clean up as they are spherical in shape and rolled about.
Best Way To Use Crystal Cat Litter
Now crystal cat litter is more expensive to buy initially. It does however last a great deal longer that a normal clay based or biodegradable litter. Below you will find a video on how to use this particular type of cat litter.
How Long Does Silica Gel Crystals Last?
It will of course depend on the number of cat litter boxes that you have, the number of cats that you have, and the amount of time that you spend cleaning out the used gels.
However I want to give you a general rule of thumb, and have shown this information below.
A typical 5 litre bag of crystal gels will last
- 1 cat approximately 30 days
- 2 cats approximately 18 days
- 3 cats approximately 10 days
Hopefully that gives you an indication of how long these will last your own individual circumstances. If there is a lot of moisture where you cat box is located, then that will reduce the lifetime of the litter.
It is also important to give your cat litter a general mix every day. So when you are removing the poop, and any discolored crystals, then go back to the cat litter, and give it a good mix. Simply run the scoop through the crystals and mix them together.
That helps a lot to keep the litter clean and tidy.
How Much Does Silica Gel Crystal Litters Cost?
This again will vary depending on the brand you pick and the size that you pick.
- A 4 lb bag costs on average around $8-10
- A 5 lb bag costs on average around $10-15
- An 8 lb bag costs on average around $15-25
- A 15 lb bag costs around $20-35
The reason for the variation is simply down to the individual brand.