In this article in our series of cat litter reviews, we want to take a closer look at advantages and disadvantages of silica cat litter—one of the newest types of cat litter on the market.
Please note that this is a review of silica gel cat litter in general, not a specific brand. Everything mentioned here may vary from make to make.
Silica cat litter consists of large, solid granules of sodium silicate. The porous structure of these granules allows them to absorb a lot of moisture (read: cat urine). Some say that the absorption power of this type of litter is strong enough to absorb moisture from the room. We did not experience that ourselves, as our home has very dry air, but this property sure can help folks who tuck litter boxes away in the basement.
Silica litter is probably the easiest cat litter to use.
One word that best describes silica cat litter is “easy.” It’s definitely the easiest cat litter we have ever used. All you have to do is remove solid waste and stir the litter twice daily (or however often your cat demands).
You only need to entirely replace the litter once in a while. Most manufacturers claim on their packaging that one fill-up of the litter box can absorb urine produced by one cat for a whole month. However, in our experience, we had to replace the litter more often (twice a month or so). How often you might need to replace the litter depends on your cat’s hydration level, the make of the litter, and your sensitivity.
Silica cat litter’s ease of use makes it an excellent choice for automatic litter boxes because combs can easily handle solid feces and leave lightweight silica granules in the box.
Another good thing about silica cat litter is the low or moderate amount of dust it creates. Many packages are marked “dust free,” but of the brands we tried, the litter was never completely dust free.
However, dust levels were nothing compared to dust levels generated by clumping litter. By the way, here are great suggestions if you are bothered by dusty cat litter.
Silica granules are very light. On one hand, this attribute makes it much easier to fill, scoop, and move the litter box. On the other hand, it is easier for cats to drop those granules out of the litter box. This problem can be solved by using an appropriate litter box—one with higher sides or maybe even a hood. Check here for additional tips on how to prevent cat litter tracking.
We hope you are not too concerned about hygiene when it comes to silica cat litter.
The biggest drawback of silica cat litter, in our opinion, is that it is unhygienic. That is, if you remove solid feces but leave granules that have absorbed urine in a box for quite a while (for example, a month), then it is definitely not the best example of hygiene. This creates a good environment for bacteria growth, which is not comfortable or healthy for you or your cat. And we won’t mention that the bacteria overgrowth produces a specific odor, too.
Price is another drawback of silica litter. Monthly costs when using silica cat litter climbed almost 50 percent compared to our costs during the time when we used clumping litter. Some may say it’s not that much of a cost increase, but it adds up if you have more than one cat and several boxes to fill.
You should also be aware that some cats may not like silica litter because of the crunchy sound the granules make when they rub against each other. But don’t give up if you want to switch cat litter but your cat does not. Try mixing a little silica litter with the previous litter, and increase the amount of silica litter in every litter change until you get rid of the previous litter entirely.
Why should you use a silica cat litter?
As we said before, silica cat litter is probably the easiest type of litter to use, and this is the main reason someone might use it.
Regarding the hygiene problems mentioned above, we think that you should try this litter type yourself and see whether these problems bother you or not. You may opt to replace the entire contents of the litter box more often to increase its freshness, but keep in mind that doing so will increase what you spend on cat litter. But, hey, there is a price for ease, isn’t there?