About 4 months ago, we’ve switched from the clumping litter we thought was going to serve the slackers furrever. From clumping litter to pine to wheat and then clumping litter, it’s been a journey of learning for us. Silica gel is another learning too – cats could develop allergic reactions to it.
As described in Cat Litter – Is Pine A Good Alternative? , our main problem with pine was sensitive noses and eyes, both human and Philly-cat. But cost is also a consideration; we also had nagging concerns about environmental impact, especially with clumping litter.
It’s a mishmash of dilemmas difficult to live with. But we do as best as we can.
So now, the titular concern: Silicon (or silica) gel.
What is it? (links mine)
The silica gel used to make these crystals is chemically similar to that used in desiccants. The silica gel crystals in such litters are dotted with tiny pores, allowing the crystals to absorb cat urine, then slowly allow the water to evaporate off.
Doesn’t sound like much, but it is definitely
- as near dust-free as you can get
- Odour control trumps clumping clay, pine, and swheat-scoop
- It is not as track-happy too. (Tracking is that phenomenon of litter outside the litter-box, caused by litter sticking to kitty pawpads as they move in and out of the box or displaced by kitty actions. They may be cute paw-shaped or abstractly random)
The drawbacks are
- it hurts when you step on the grains. It’s definitely less amendable for cat pawpads too.
- The sound shifting grains make spooks some cats.
- it doesn’t clump, so it’s difficult to remove the pee-soiled bites
- it is (a lot) more expensive than clumping litter and pine
EDIT 20070816: The worst suspicions we’ve had may be coming true – it just dawned on us that Bam Bam may be allergic to silica gel. He’s been licking himself too often on the underside, thighs and tail, going almost bald in those places. Food and stress have been ruled out. We’ve been baffled but now it seems clear as the problem seemed to have started with the silica gel when we think back on his history. Back to the drawing board for us.
Is silica gel worth your time trying? Well, if you’re ok with pine, or are using a more environmental option, then why fix it if it ain’t broken? Do share your experiences, especially on environmentally friendly options.
EDIT 20070823: We’ll begin our trial with Celect, with recycled paper-based, this weekend.
(Created: 15 Aug 07. Updated: 23 Aug 07)