Crystal (Silica Gel) Cat Litter: Pros, Cons

Cats can be picky when it comes to the type of litter they use. So can the humans who have to clear that litter away! 

There are several types of cat litter available, making it difficult to decide which one your cat will need. Some litters are designed to absorb urine and feces, while others are designed to prevent odors from escaping.

Crystal (silica gel) litter is a type of odor absorber that absorbs moisture from the air. It also helps to effectively reduce the smell of urine and feces. This makes it especially useful for keeping your home smelling fresh. 

If you would like to find out more about crystal cat litter, and whether it is right for your cat, carry on reading! 

What Is Crystal (Silica Gel) Cat Litter, And How Does It Work? 

Crystal litter is a moisture-absorbing form of cat litter that is actually created from quartz sand. To form it, the manufacturer has to mix numerous sand particles with water and oxygen.

The ‘crystals’ this process forms have a huge amount of pores inside. This helps the absorbent nature of crystal litter. 

It is estimated that one piece of silica get cat litter can hold up to 40 times its original weight in fluid!

Crystal litter traps odors in its crystals then releases them when needed. It doesn’t clump like other types of litter, and it lasts up to a month before needing to be emptied.

However, as it is clump-free, this does mean that when you change out the litter, you will need to empty out the whole litter pan rather than just the ‘spots’ that have your cat’s urine in.

Pros Of Crystal Cat Litter

More Hygienic

Crystal litters are great because they’re easy to clean up. They don’t smell as bad as clay or sand litters. Because they absorb odors, it also keeps your cats cleaner for a longer period of time. 

When the crystal litter absorbs the moisture, which includes fecal matter, it actually reduces the risk of any bacteria or mold growing in the litter tray, which is far safer for your cat, and you. 

With odor control also comes the introduction of scented crystals that can make the litter a more pleasant environment. We have included links to a couple of these further down! 


A huge bonus of using crystal cat litter (for you) is that it is much lighter. This will end up saving you on the price of your cat litter, as you should buy fewer crystals than you would clay or sand litters (because the crystals weigh less). 

On top of this, it helps you when you are trying to carry the litter or move it around! You won’t need to worry about straining your back under the weight of the cat litter anymore. 

Minimal Tracking

While there are trace amounts of dust in crystal cat litter, there is an incredibly low chance that you will find pieces of the litter around your house (tracking).

Its absorbent nature means that it is ‘held down’ more in the litter tray, so it is actually the type of litter with the least amount of tracking. 

Easy To Use

Interestingly, you can find some brands of crystal cat litter with built-in ‘color codes’!

This means that the color of the crystals will change when they are full and ready to be changed, which means that you aren’t left guessing when you should put the new litter in.

Considering that each set of crystals in the litter tray lasts around a month, it is by far the easiest litter to use. 

Soft Texture

Most, if not all, of the crystal cat litters are designed to be soft on your cat’s paws. Cats will always prefer a softer texture to walk on and use, rather than a hard or rough texture. This makes the crystal litter ideal for most cats. 


Crystal cat litter is made out of natural ingredients (sand, water, and oxygen), so you won’t have to worry about your cats licking the litter and falling ill.

It is also safe for cats’ paws and there is no risk of them developing any infections or issues by walking on it! 

Cons Of Crystal Cat Litter

Shouldn’t Be Eaten

Crystal litter should be used sparingly because kittens can easily get into trouble if they eat the litter.

However, this is the case with all cat litter – the consumption of any type of substance they aren’t supposed to be eating, like clay, sand, or crystals, won’t be good for any age/type of cat. 

Urine Build-up

Crystal litter should be stirred every day to prevent urine from collecting in the litter box. This is because there is a chance urine may build at the bottom.

This can be frustrating, as you don’t want to have to stir your cat’s litter tray when it contains their waste, but it does just ensure that the litter substances are working as well as they can. 


Crystal litter is more expensive than clay litter. Clay litters are cheaper but require changing them more frequently. Some people use crystal litter because they don’t need to be changed as often.

Changing out the whole pan each time you empty it can become expensive, but this does balance out with how infrequently you need to switch the litter out (because it holds a huge amount of moisture and odors). 

However, if you do own more than one cat, so you are filling up multiple trays at a time, it might be slightly impractical to spend a larger amount of money when you are going to be buying new bags more frequently. 

Can’t Use It With Declawed Cats

While the texture of crystal cat litter is soft enough for most cats to use, it wouldn’t be recommended for declawed cats to walk on.

This is because they have extremely sensitive paws, and the crystals might scratch away at their paw’s surface after prolonged use. In this case, you might be safer using a traditional form of cat litter, like clay or sand. 

What Kind Of Litter Should You Use For Your Cat?

The other type of litter that is often compared to silica litter is clay-based cat litter. It can be difficult to work out what your cat needs, but you can also decide which litter to invest in by deciding how certain properties and features suit you! 

For example, clay litters are designed to be dust-free, while silica crystal litters are made to minimize tracking. If someone in your home has an allergy that is triggered by dust, then clay litter might be better for you.

However, if you have carpets in your home or floors that are generally difficult to clean up, then silica litter is a great choice for the least amount of mess. 

Clay-based cat litter is made up of clay particles mixed into a base material such as sawdust or wood chips. This type of litter is designed to absorb moisture and odor-causing substances.

These types of litter may cause irritation if used too long.

Silica-based cat litter is made by mixing ground-up quartz sand with water. This type of litter absorbs liquids and odors better than clay-based litter. However, this type of litter does not absorb moisture well.

Clay and silica litters both have their pros and cons. Clay litters are better than silica litters because they absorb moisture more quickly and hold onto odors longer.

Silica litters are better than clay litters because they are easier to scoop out and clean up.

Some brands and products we would recommend that are silica gel-based are Fresh Step Crystals, and any of the crystal litter from the PetSafe range

One thing to bear in mind is that the Fresh Step Crystals litter does have a scent. If you know that your cat won’t like to use a litter box that has a strong scent, then this might not be the one for you. 

However, some PetSafe range, including the Sensitive Litter, has unscented which may make your cat feel more comfortable. 

Tips For Getting Your Cat Adjusted To Silica Cat Litter: 

  • As a general note: If you own more than one cat, they should have access to separate litter boxes. The main reason for this is that cats don’t like having to ‘step over’ other cats’ waste, because it is unclean and won’t smell right. This will make them feel like they are being forced out of their litter box, so they will release their waste somewhere that they feel more comfortable (often furniture or floors). 
  • Litter boxes should be cleaned regularly, or at least when it starts to produce an odor. Again, this will stop your cat from venturing to another location to release their waste because they don’t like the smell of the litter box. The more time they spend getting used to the silica gel litter, the better. It also makes it more pleasant for the owner too! 
  • Silica litter lasts longer than other types of litter, but it takes some time for your cat to get used to it. This is because it has a very different texture from other types of litter, and it can also have a different smell. Since you won’t be changing it as frequently, they may also notice the slight odor of the waste that is being absorbed in the crystal litter pieces. 
  • If you want to switch to a silica-based type of litter, mix it with clay litter first. Don’t go completely off silica litter right away. Your cat might be sensitive to the scent and the feel, so if you gradually integrate it into their routine, they may not notice the difference/be as opposed to the change. 

How Should You Dispose Of Crystal Cat Litter?

Because of the crystal cat litter’s absorbent nature, it will swell a lot if you try to flush the used crystal cat litter down the toilet.

This will cause huge blockages in your plumbing, which might require professional cleaning to remove. Instead, you should place the crystal cat litter in a biodegradable bag and place it in a garbage can.

If you don’t have any of these types of bags available, you can also place the litter in some newspaper and make sure it is securely fastened before throwing the whole thing away. 

How Long Does It Take To Litter Train A Cat?

When it comes to kittens, they will often get the hang of it pretty quickly.

While there is no solid answer, most cat owners say it takes around a month of you introducing the litter box to them before a kitten starts to religiously use it on their own.

However, every kitten is different! With a full-grown cat, it might take slightly longer. This is because they are not as accustomed to learning new skills in their mature state.

All it takes is plenty of patience and repetition, and soon your cat will learn how and when to use the litter box. 

To Sum Up

Crystal cat litter is a man-made form of cat litter that is made from natural ingredients. It is highly absorbent, which means that it removes any odors and moisture from your cat’s litter tray.

It doesn’t clump, which means that you will have to change the whole tray when you clean the litter out. However, its high absorbency means that this changeover will only need to occur every month or so. 

The pros of crystal cat litter include its lightweight nature, its odorless features, and the fact that it is incredibly easy to use. 

Some cons include the fairly high price of this type of litter and the fact that you will have to regularly stir the litter in the tray to make sure the crystals are working properly. 

Courtney Trent
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