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In my not-so-scientific survey of multiple cat owners, lump clay seems to be one of the most popular types of litter. It is made of highly absorbent natural bentonite clay granules that clump together when liquid is absorbed. It’s easy to scoop because everything is … clumped together. Shovel it daily and change it out about once a month (or more often if you have multiple cats). It is also available at various prices.
Crystal litter consists of tiny spheres of silica gel that absorb strongly but do not clump together. They scoop out feces and mix in the urine so that the pearls absorb the odor. Pretty Litter recommends scooping and mixing daily and changing the box about once a month for each cat. Since you’re not scooping up that much, you should be able to use less over time, which means less rubbish ends up in landfills. But it can stink if you are not diligent.
You may think, like me, that silica gel is not toxic? This is a common misconception. The packs of silica gel found in packs are labeled “Do not eat”. However, the founder of Pretty Litter says this is a choking hazard, and not because it’s toxic. If a cat licks its paws after using Pretty Litter, the silica should get through its body safely. It’s only a problem when ingested in large quantities, but so is clay litter.
Marci L. Koski, a cat behaviorist and training consultant, tells me that she recommends Pretty Litter to clients who have had cats with urinary problems in the past. In general, however, she prefers fine-grain, unperfumed lump clay.
“My experience, and the problem I’ve run into with people, is that they think it’s a very low-maintenance situation and they tend to forget about it,” says Koski. “Solids build up in the litter box. At a certain point, the crystals stop absorbing and really smell.”
Change your cat’s litter
If you want to change the type of litter you are using, it is a good idea to introduce it to your cat slowly. Veterinarians recommend mixing old and new trash first.
Some cats just don’t like the way it feels to walk on crystal litter. If you find that your cat’s bathroom habits are compromised, don’t force them. Go back to the litter they used before. If your cat doesn’t like Pretty Litter or you don’t want to get a subscription (which starts at $ 22 a month), you can still be mindful of your cat’s health at home.
“When cats show signs, it’s usually long since taking them to the vet,” says Koski. “You want to use a crate that you can scoop once or twice a day. Notice if the volume of urine has changed or if the frequency has changed. The only way to tell is by scooping your cat’s crate every day . “
Some other signs to look out for, according to experts I’ve spoken to include:
- Increased frequency of urination
- Getting in and out of the litter box frequently but producing little or no urine
- Effort to urinate
- Urinating outside the litter box
- Blood in the urine
- Wailing when urinating
- Increased thirst
I stopped using Pretty Litter due to the dust, but I still think it’s worth trying, especially if your cat has had urinary tract infections in the past. (If you have a male cat, these are more prone to urethral blockages.) I recommend mixing them with other wastes as recommended by a customer to try to reduce dust.
At the end of the day there is no miracle loyalty. Pretty litter might help, but nothing will replace regular veterinary checkups and your own careful parenting.