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Litter Tips

Wood Litter Vs. Crystal Litter

Over the past few years, there has been a major push from consumers for alternatives to clay litter. We know you’ve got your cat’s best interests at heart in every decision you make. If you’ve been wondering whether your chosen litter is the best one for your pet or your household or the environment, we’ve done the legwork to compare wood cat litter to silica-based litters (aka crystal litters). 

First, let’s do a quick rundown of what each litter is all about and what they each offer. 

Crystal cat litter is made of silica gel granules, which absorb liquid – up to 40 times their own weight – and odors through microscopic pores. Users appreciate it because it’s non-toxic, light but absorbent, low maintenance, and long-lasting with good odor control. It’s low dust compared to clay, and it doesn't spoil. Some even boast other features. Pretty Litter, for example, changes color based on the pH of a cat’s urine and helps pet parents spot potential health problems before they become too serious. 

Wood litter is made of – you guessed it – wood!  It’s known for being environmentally friendly, low tracking, lightweight, low dust, nontoxic, and with good odor control. It comes in many forms from pellets to upcycled soft wood, like Catalyst Pet. 

While there are a lot of similar positive features when comparing wood and crystal litters, there are some important differences, too. Let's take a closer look. 

  1. Environmental Impacts

Silica-based litters that contain crystals are simply not a friend to the environment. Crystal litters are created by mining silica, and the mining process emits greenhouse gas and pollutes surrounding water and air in the process. This is bad for the environment, and the litter itself is not biodegradable. Such litters must be landfilled after use, and they can take hundreds of years to break down, also emitting greenhouse gasses as they slowly decompose. What a bummer!

Alternatively, wood cat litter is made of wood residuals. These source materials can be reclaimed, so instead of being wasted, they’re repurposed as cat litter. Wood litters clump for easy removal from the litter box and are biodegradable, which is good for the planet.

Winner: Wood litter

      2. Clumping Power

When using crystal litter, crystals soaked with urine are mixed back in with the other litter in the box, absorbing up to 40 times their own weight in liquid and odors. Solid waste is scooped out of the box and disposed of. Clumping effectiveness of crystal litters varies from brand to brand. Some brands, like Pretty Litter, are highly rated for absorption, though many crystal litters on the market struggle with this feature. 

Wood litter is known to have excellent absorption, and this is seen time and again in reviews of various wood litters, including Catalyst Pet. Good absorption also lends to superior odor control and longer periods of use between litter changes, which cat parents love.

Winner: Wood litter

      3. Cat Health

Some crystal litters, such as Pretty Litter, change color when wet, and these colors can indicate changes in your cat’s health, which can be helpful for pet parents. A specific color change can nudge pet owners to visit the vet before any other indicators of health issues are evident. 

While wood litter options are great for human and cat respiratory health (especially when compared to clay), they do not have a way to indicate if your kitty may be suffering from an illness or ailment. 

Winner: Crystal litter

      4. Odor Control

The tiny granules that make up crystal litter absorb litter box odors and trap them inside while allowing water to evaporate. Wood litters have natural absorbent properties, which also do an excellent job of odor control. Both crystal and wood litters are consistently touted for excellent odor control. 

Winner: It’s a tie

       5. Cost

Crystal litters can be more expensive, both pound per pound and based on operational lifespan of each litter type. This cost can add up, especially if you have a multi-cat household, as reviewers and testers have noticed. Though most crystal litters are advertised as lasting at least a month – and some do – there are reported issues with longevity, dustiness over time, and odor control as crystals become saturated. 

Wood-based litters can also last at least one month, and sometimes longer. Less wood litter is needed pound for pound compared to other litter types, and can require less overall product to do the same amount of hard work. 

In a recent survey of nearly 1,000 cat parents, the monthly cost of Pretty Litter was $27.62 per cat, compared to Catalyst Pet, which was less than half the cost at $12.35. 

Winner: Wood Litter

       6. Cleanliness

You may be fanatical about keeping your kitty’s litter box clean. But is your litter working as hard as you to keep the rest of your home tidy? Silica crystals are tiny and easily tracked outside the litter box. Cats can get these crystals stuck between their paw beans, which can cause irritation and also scatter these little beads throughout your home. One user compared the crystals to sand when explaining how much litter was scattered across her floors after just one use by her cat! 

Dustiness is another consideration, and there is a continuum of dustiness for different litter types. Crystal litter performs much better than clay litter with regard to dust. Wood litter outdoes clay and crystal in this category. 

Let’s be honest –  all litter has some dust and tracks to an extent, and both wood and crystal litters are low-dust options.

Winner: It’s a tie

       7. Comfort 

Ever stepped on a small toy or sharp shell? It hurts, right? 

Crystal litters have a rough texture and tiny beads, which can irritate your cat’s toe beans at best, and at worst, make them avoid the litter box altogether. That can open up a whole new bag of issues we know you don’t want to deal with!

Wood  litter is soft, easy on your feline’s paws, and has an inviting texture that won’t have your cat thinking twice about using the litter box as needed. Catalyst Pet’s wood litter formulas include no bark or needles, ensuring an excellent experience every time your cat uses the litter box. 

Winner: Wood litter 


So what’s the verdict? 

Both litters have a “good” list that will serve cat owners and their feline friends well. Wood litter is a better choice when considering ecofriendliness, clumping power, cost, and comfort – all of which Catalyst Pet brings with its three natural litter formulas. If you’re worried about your cat’s health and want an assist to identify possible health issues, crystal litter like Pretty Litter might be more your speed. 

You don’t have to take our word for it though! Read on for some customer reviews of people who have tried both Pretty Litter and Catalyst Pet!

BEST kitty litter we’ve tried so far! Beats out Pretty Litter and 6 different clay litters we’ve tried. We have two large Maine Coons who poo and pee ALOT. This litter masks the odors 💯 percent🙌 -  Bella M.

Great litter

This is the best litter that I've ever used, and I've tried just about all of them. No more scraping nasty clay litter from the bottom of the litter box, no more clouds of dust from the silica gel litter (including Pretty Litter), and no more hunks of pine pellets tracked all over the place. This litter is very soft on Tootie's feet, and she took to it immediately.

Best purchase I've ever made!

This stuff is AMAZING!!! Hands down, best "litter" I've ever found. I was using pretty litter before I found this on FB. OMG so happy I saw the video and made the switch. Cost is far better and it lasts ten times longer, odor control is amazing, absorption is amazing, quality is outstanding! 

Happy with Catalyst!!!!

I’m very pleased with Catalyst cat litter. I started with clay clumping litter and hated the litter being tracked all over, dust and smell, transitioned to pretty litter and hated the having it tracked all over. Catalyst doesn’t have the dust, smell or tracking out of the box. The cat had no problems transitioning to catalyst litter

I switched from Pretty Litter

I switched from Pretty Litter to this and I'm so very happy I did. My cat had no issues with the different texture. The odor control is excellent, clumping and no dust. Thor does tend to drag a little out onto the floor because of his long hair. A welcome mat takes care of that issue. Very pleased with this and definitely recommend trying it if you haven't. 

Switched over from Pretty Litter

Switched over from Pretty Litter & Catalyst clumps better, smells significantly better, costs a lot less, and better for the environment. For the subscription service, love the commitment to sustainability with less shipments & bigger bags to reduce the environmental impact.

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