Picking out the right kind of litter for your cat is an essential part of cat ownership. Not only do you want something easier to deal with, but your cat should be completely comfortable using it as well. There are many factors to consider, such as how much it costs, ease of cleaning, and even more importantly, how well it controls odors.
If you’ve been trying to decide between using clumping and crystals for your cat’s litter box, we’ll go over the good, the bad, and the ugly of these two distinctly different kinds of litter.
Overview of Clumping Litter:
The most common clumping litter is clay, which has been proven for over 75 years to be very effective at absorbing liquid and odor. It is non-toxic and makes cleaning up the litter box an easy chore.
There are a number of other clumping litters that are not made with clay and are organic and environmentally friendly. There’s walnut, corn, recycled paper, and pine to name a few. They all have the capability to clump, but they don’t clump or offer as effective odor control as traditional clay.
How Clumping Litter Works
Clay is naturally porous and can absorb quite a bit of liquid – think of when bricks and pottery are made and how it becomes quite thick and pasty.
For clumping litter, bentonite clay is combined with standard clay, which clumps together in a relatively solid mass when wet. Additionally, it’s inorganic, so there are no bacteria, and it is one of the best materials for controlling odor.
You also have the option of using scented and unscented litter, but we recommend sticking with unscented since a strong fragrance might put a lot of cats off from using it.
Why You Should Use Clumping Litter
Depending on how meticulous your cat is, clumping litter is a great option if your cat prefers to use a clean litter box every time. Clumping litter is easy to scoop and helps you to remove waste quickly and easily, even directly after your cat has used the litter box. And you don’t need to dump the entire box out every time.
Clumping litter is also much easier to monitor if there are ever concerns about your cat’s urinary system. You can tell by the clumps that your cat is urinating as usual, which is handy if you need to keep an eye on their urine production.
Overview of Crystal Litter:
Crystal litter has fast become one of the more popular types of kitty litter. Have you ever seen those tiny little paper packets found in pill bottles and sometimes packed in with new shoes? They are filled with silica gel crystals, which act to preserve products from excess moisture.
The crystals in the cat litter are similar and act in the same way. They absorb liquid, but they also control odor very well and are virtually dust-free.
How Crystal Litter Works
Silica gel, or crystal cat litter, is mined from quartz sand, which is then produced into the litter by mixing the sand particles with oxygen and water. The crystals are covered in tiny pores that make them quite absorbent, soaking up any liquid that comes into contact with them.
This way, instead of clumping, each individual crystal soaks in the moisture which evaporates, but the odor is retained inside.
Why You Should Use Crystal Litter
If you have allergies that tend to be triggered by clay litter dust, crystal cat litter is a good option since it’s dust-free. This is also the case if your cat also experiences allergies to dust and other environmental allergens or has asthma.
This also helps reduce the litter and dust from sticking to your cat’s fur and paws and tracking around your home.
You just need to scoop the feces and stir the crystals once a day. You only replace the entire litter box with new crystals about once or twice a month or when the crystals become discolored.
Factors You Should Consider
Before settling on a litter, you need to consider several factors that can help you decide what kind of litter will work best for your cat:
Side By Side Comparison of Crystal and Clumping Litters
|Crystal Cat Litter
|Clumping Cat Litter
|Silica gel crystals
|Bentonite mixed with standard clay
|Some brands are dusty
|Some brands offer good odor control
|Absorbs liquid but doesn’t clump
|Absorbs liquid and offers solid clumps
|Texture might be off-putting to some cats
|Some clay litters offer a sand-like texture
|Harder to monitor urine and fecal output
|Easy to monitor urine and fecal output
|Easy to clean, scoop waste and stir
|Easy to clean, scoop clumps
|Expensive but lasts a long time
|Some are expensive and others not
|Good odor control
|Some brands offer good odor control
What you decide on ultimately depends on what your cat will take to best as well as your budget. Sometimes you need to try out a variety of litters before you find the one that both you and your cat can live with.
While most cats prefer litter that has a sandy texture, that doesn’t mean all cats prefer this. Some might even enjoy how the crystals feel under their feet.
Also, try to stay away from scented litter, as we mentioned. The scent can be overwhelming for your cat, and the ingredients are not always natural. Additionally, the fragrance just masks the odor rather than eliminating it, so you might end up with a home smelling like a garden of flowers with cat waste in the middle.
But through a little trial and error, we hope you’ll end up with a cat litter that you won’t mind changing, and your cat will dig to their heart’s content!