Cat litter is one of those must-have items when you decide to become a cat parent, but there are so many varieties to choose from, silica cat litter being one of them.

Silica cat litter has been around since the 1990s and is still a popular choice among cat owners today.

However, like any other type of feline hygiene product, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons to decide whether it’s right for your furry family member.

What Is Silica Cat Litter?

Silica cat litter is mineral-based and is made up of silica gel granules, which are lightweight and highly absorbent.

When these granules are exposed to moisture, it is absorbed by the microscopic pores, which trap any odors.

Eventually, this moisture evaporates, it breaks down the gel, which results in fine dust. Unfortunately, any solid waste will need to be scooped out as silica cat litter doesn’t clump. 

Also read: Corn Litter For Cats: An Eco-Friendly Feline Waste Solution

How Does Silica Cat Litter Work?

Just like the silica packets that you find in certain perishables, silica cat litter is designed to absorb moisture and bind with odors. 

However, unlike other types of litter, it doesn’t clump, which means it needs to be changed more often. The good news is that you can get about three to four weeks of use out of it before it starts giving off a smell. Your cat not wanting to use the litter box is another sign that the litter may need to be changed.

Silica Cat Litter – The Main Benefits

Let’s look at a few reasons why you may want to consider silica cat litter.


Highly Absorbent

Silica cat litter has a porous structure, which means it’s highly absorbent. In fact, it can absorb up to 40% of its weight in liquid. Not only does this help with the absorption of urine, but it also helps to dry out solid waste.



Another key benefit of silica cat litter is that it’s non-toxic, making it safe for both humans and animals. The reason why silica cat litter is deemed non-toxic is that it does not contain crystalline silica, which can be dangerous when inhaled. 


Good Odor Control

Because this type of cat litter is so absorbent, it has good odor control. Whenever the particles are exposed to moisture, it’s absorbed and trapped within the microscopic pores, leaving your home smelling fresher for longer.


Longer Lasting and Low Maintenance

Unlike some other types of cat litter, silica litter can last up to a month before you have to change it out. Not only are you saving money, but you’re throwing less cat litter away, which benefits the environment.

Silica cat litter also requires very little maintenance. Cat owners will only need to scoop out any solid waste, stir the remaining litter, and it’s good to use again. And thanks to the smaller granules and its non-clumping nature, it’s a great fit for automatic litter boxes. 


Lightweight and Low Dust

Silica cat litter is one of the most lightweight litter options, which means transporting and handling the cat litter bags is much easier. 

It also produces very little dust, which results in less tracking and the need for additional cleaning. Just keep in mind that the dust factor will depend on the brand you choose. 


No Mold Risk

One of the biggest downsides of natural cat litter is that there’s a high risk of mold and spoilage, which isn’t the case with silica litter. No need to worry about your litter going bad, creating a safer environment for you and your pet. 

Is Silica Cat Litter Safe?

Silica cat litter is non-toxic and absolutely safe for your feline. It’s also safe for the humans living in your home. This is because it doesn’t contain crystalline silica, which is dangerous when inhaled. 

However, it’s important to be aware that some brands do include synthetic scents and colors in their products, which can be harmful, so make a point of checking the ingredients. 

Overall, silica cat litter is an excellent choice, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t some cons to consider. 

Silica Cat Litter – The Main Concerns

Here are a few reasons why this type of cat litter may not be right for your pet.


Not Environmentally Friendly or Biodegradable

Silica is derived from quartz, which needs to be mined. These massive mining operations are known to destroy large areas of natural habitats and vegetation. Water pollution and air contamination are other concerns, all of which have adverse effects on the environment. 

Silica cat litter isn’t biodegradable either, which means you can’t turn it into compost or flush it down the toilet. Once you dispose of silica litter, it is sent to a landfill where it takes a month to decompose.


Rough Texture

Silica cat litter isn’t always ideal for felines with sensitive paws as the texture is more on the rough side. Using this type of litter may see your cat rejecting their litter box, which means you will need to switch to a different variety. 



In the end, silica cat litter is made up of quartz sand, which means there will be some tracking. This is because the gel breaks down every time your cat uses their litter box, creating dust over time. 

How much dust your litter produces will depend on the size of the gel particles. Smaller particles create a softer surface for your feline, but break down more quickly, resulting in tracking. Larger particles can be more coarse, but cause less tracking – it all depends on the brand you choose. 



Some of the more advanced silica cat litter brands are on the pricier side, costing around $4 per pound. On the plus side though, each bag will generally last longer than some other types of litter, which can save you money in the long run. 



The vast majority of silica cat litter is non-clumping, which means you will need to scoop out any solid waste and stir your litter daily. This can often be off-putting for some cat owners due to time constraints and general hassle. 

How Do You Clean Silica Cat Litter?

When filling your cat’s litter box, you will need around 2 inches of silica cat litter. This will ensure that urine doesn’t pool at the bottom of the box and that you’re trapping as much odor as possible. Just keep in mind that the more litter you use, the more dust your cat will be able to kick up – you will need to find a happy medium.

In terms of cleaning, you will need to remove any solid waste on a daily basis before stirring the gel particles. This will ensure optimal absorption of moisture and odors. In the event that your cat has diarrhea, you will need to change all the litter in the box. 

After around three to four weeks, you will notice that most of the crystals are now discolored, which is an indication that you need to replace all the litter. Dispose of the litter in a plastic bag and place it in a bin – you cannot flush silica cat litter.

The Best Silica Cat Litter On the Market

If you’ve decided that silica cat litter sounds like a good fit for your home, here are the brands that we highly recommend.

Fresh Step Crystals Premium Cat Litter

Fresh Step is one of the most lightweight silica cat litters, which means it’s easy to scoop and clean. It also has excellent moisture absorbency and a pleasant aroma, which further helps with odor control. 

The particles are on the larger side though, so it may not be ideal for all cats, especially those with sensitive paws. On the plus side, these particles are less likely to get stuck in your cat’s fur and travel around the house with them. 

Litter Pearls Micro Crystal Cat Litter

If you’re willing to pay a little extra, your cat can enjoy a clean litter box for up to two months with Little Pearls micro crystal cat litter. 

Thanks to the smaller particles, this cat litter feels softer and more like sand, which means most cats will want to use it. Just keep in mind that tracking might be more of a problem with this specific type of cat litter. On the plus side, you can look forward to excellent odor control.

Dr. Elsey’s Long Hair Non-Clumping Cat Litter Crystals

If you’re living with a long-haired cat, this might be the litter you’re looking for. The granules were specifically designed to not stick to long fur, which means minimal tracking. We also really love the extra herbs and scents that have been added and your cat will too. 

The only downside of this particular brand is that we’ve found it only does an average job of trapping odors, so you may need to clean, stir, and replace it more often than you would like to.

PetSafe ScoopFree Crystal Cat Litter

For cat parents who are looking for a more affordable option, the ScoopFree crystal cat litter from PetSafe is a great choice.

This litter is packaged as individual trays for your convenience. Once your cat is done with it, simply remove and dispose of the entire tray before adding a new one. Unfortunately, this brand also doesn’t make it to the top of our list in terms of odor control, but its low-maintenance nature and affordability are major plus points.

Alternatives to Silica Cat Litter

If you’re not convinced that silica litter is a good fit for your feline and your home, here are a few alternatives to consider.

Corn Cat Litter

Made with finely ground corn kernels, corn cat litter is eco-friendly and biodegradable, which means you can flush it in most states. It also does a great job of controlling unpleasant odors. 

If cleaning is one of your concerns, you’ll be happy to know that corn cat litter clumps, making it easy to scoop out liquid and solid waste. And, thanks to the size, it’s a pleasant option for most cats, including kittens. Just be wary of mold growth as this can be an issue with natural cat litter.

Wood Cat Litter

This is another popular eco-friendly alternative to silica cat litter. The fact that it’s affordable really helps too. Wood cat litter is generally made with shavings from fir and cedar trees, which means it’s super absorbent and great at controlling odors. 

Many cat owners also prefer wood litter because it doesn’t get stuck in your cat’s paws, which minimizes tracking. 

Sand Cat Litter

Sand litter is one of the simplest options and is a top choice among most cats and their owners. Not only does it clump really well, making cleaning a breeze, but cats naturally like sand. 

The downside with this natural litter alternative is that it creates a lot of dust, so expect a fair amount of tracking. It’s also not renowned for its odor control, so you may need to change it more often than you would like. 

Final Thoughts

Silica cat litter is the perfect choice for your feline companion if you’re looking for a litter that lasts longer, does a good job of odor control, and doesn’t pose a health risk to you or your cat.

However, if you don’t love the idea of having to scoop waste once or twice a day and would prefer a more eco-friendly or biodegradable option, you may want to consider a natural alternative such as wood or corn. 

Silica Cat Litter FAQs

1. Can I mix silica litter with other cat litter?

If you’re switching to silica cat litter and want to make sure your feline doesn’t reject it, you can gradually mix in the silica variant with your existing cat litter. As your cat becomes more accustomed to the silica gel, you can switch to it permanently.