We all want our feline friends to be as comfortable as possible when they use their litter boxes. To this end, you need to keep the litter box clean and fresh-smelling at all times; otherwise, Fluffy will find another suitable spot in your house to do his business.
Thankfully, crystal cat litter is an available option that effectively deals with those unwanted smells. Compared with other types of litter, crystal cat litter is also easier to clean and maintain, making it a convenient option for busy fur-parents who do not enjoy dealing with smelly urine and feces.
The downside, however, is that crystal cat litter is non-biodegradable and can harm the environment. With that in mind, you might be wondering if there is a way to reuse crystal cat litter and reduce your household waste.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can recycle leftover cat litter. Let us dive in!
What is crystal cat litter?
You have probably come across crystalline silica sachets whenever you buy products like shoes, handbags, supplements, and even certain food items. The reason for this is that silica gels are excellent desiccants, used to absorb moisture and keep any items enclosed in a container dry.
Crystal cat litter is made from the same form of silicon but is manufactured specifically for use as cat litter. Cat litter brands like Fresh Step Crystals Premium Cat Litter are derived from amorphous silica which is mined from quartz sand and processed with oxygen and water. The result is highly-absorbent crystals with tiny pores, each piece capable of absorbing 40 times its weight in moisture.
The great thing about crystal cat litter is that the sponge-like pores absorb urine efficiently while also trapping the odor. The crystals can actually release the moisture back into the air without the odor, so their use can be extended to absorb more urine. However, solid waste should not be left too long in the litter box if you want to prevent unwanted odors. You might also need to remove some of the crystals if your cat has left a watery stool.
Depending on how many cats are using the litter box, the crystal litter can last up to a month. You will know it is time to change the litter when the crystals start turning yellow or tan. Some crystal cat litter brands also contain blue crystals that fade when the litter is saturated and can no longer absorb moisture.
How crystal cat litter controls odor
Crystal cat litter efficiently absorbs moisture from urine and feces, making it an excellent option for neutralizing waste odors. The silica gel beads dehydrate cat waste to prevent the litter box from releasing unwanted odors and keep wet feces off your cat’s fur and paws. Additionally, This litter is dust- and toxin-free, which means it is a safer option for pets and family members with dust allergies.
Crystal cat litter can be used both in automatic and non-automatic litter boxes, such as PetSafe® ScoopFree® Self-Cleaning and PetSafe® Deluxe Crystal Litter Box System. If you don’t like to touch or scoop your cat’s waste, you might want to consider the automatic version. The ScoopFree Self-Cleaning litter box works by detecting cat waste and automatically raking it into a waste bin.
How to reuse leftover crystal cat litter
Although crystal cat litter is great at keeping your cat’s litter box from stinking, it might not be the best option if you are trying to be environmentally friendly and reduce waste. Quartz, which is the main ingredient used for producing silica gel-based litter, is non-renewable and does not decompose. Hence, this type of litter can be very bad for the environment.
Fortunately, there are a few creative ways you can reuse crystal cat litter without hurting the environment. Here are some of them:
1. Use cat litter to even out your yard
Is your lawn or backyard uneven? Then why not fill the voids or uneven areas with leftover crystal cat litter? You can also use it to cover holes made by backyard pests. Put a generous amount of the kitty litter into mole tunnels and mouse holes to discourage pests from taking up permanent residence on your lawn.
However, never use leftover cat litter on your herb or vegetable garden – cats are carriers of parasites like Toxoplasma gondii. These parasites can be easily transmitted to humans and other pets through cat waste and can cause several health problems including birth defects.
2. Use cat litter to remove poison ivy
Poison ivy is a mildly toxic plant that can cause rashes, swelling, blisters, and itchiness when it comes into contact with human skin. The plant can also cause contact dermatitis and gastrointestinal problems if played with or swallowed by household pets.
Did you know that, if your yard is overtaken by these annoying weeds, you can use leftover crystal cat litter to kill them? Simply pour a generous amount of litter over the weeds and, eventually, they will disappear.
3. Use cat litter to absorb oil from the driveway
The silica content in crystal cat litter is not only great at absorbing moisture but also oil stains and spills on your driveway. Just cover the oil with a few scoops of leftover cat litter to remove the oil spots and prevent them from reaching the sidewalk. The next time you notice any oil spills from your car, just grab your leftover crystal cat litter and sprinkle it over the mess. However, any oil spots that have been neglected for too long might be challenging to remove with cat litter alone.
4. Use cat litter to anchor ornamental trees
Do you have ornamental trees or silk flowers that need to be anchored? Then crystal cat litter can be an inexpensive solution. Secure the stems of silk plants or trees with cat litter to prevent bending and return your plants to their original shape.
5. Recycle cat litter with baking soda and apple cider
Worried about throwing out all of the litter every time you clean the litter box? Thankfully, there is something you can do to reuse litter and save money on pet supplies.
Just scoop out the solid waste from the litter and pour the leftovers into a clean bucket. Then add a cup of apple cider vinegar and baking soda, and let the mixture foam up. Pour some hot water over the mixture and swirl it around. Let it sit for a couple of hours before draining the liquid, then add cold water and let it sit overnight.
Continue rinsing the litter with cold water up to two or three times, until all the waste and urine smell is gone. Then spread the litter on a baking sheet and let it dry under the sun. Once the crystal cat litter has dried and sterilized, place it back into your cat’s litter box. You will see that the litter is almost the same as new.
Is it safe to reuse crystal cat litter?
Crystal cat litter is made from non-biodegradable materials, so it should not be reused in your vegetable or fruit garden. Another danger of recycling crystal cat litter is the possibility of parasites. As mentioned before, cats carry Toxoplasma gondii which can be transmitted to humans and other animals through their waste. When used in an edible garden, the parasites could contaminate your fruit and vegetables and cause infections.
Pros and cons of recycling crystal cat litter
Reusing crystal cat litter has both pros and cons that you will need to consider before deciding whether to take the recycling route. In summary of the discussion above, here they are in point form.
Pros of reusing crystal cat litter:
- Helps minimize your household waste. If you are concerned about the amount of garbage you generate in your home, then recycling is a great idea.
- Reuse cat litter to remove poison ivy and other weeds.
- Use it to fill in the uneven areas in your lawn or yard, or fill in mouse holes or mole tunnels to discourage pests.
- Use it to clean oil spills on your driveway.
Cons of reusing crystal cat litter:
- It is made from non-biodegradable materials.
- Cat litter can contain parasites. If not properly treated, recycling leftover cat litter can cause parasitic infections in family members and other household pets.
FAQs about reusing crystal cat litter
1. Is crystal cat litter harmful to cats?
Crystal cat litter is dust- and toxin-free, which means it should be safe for your furry friends. However, ingesting the material might cause gastrointestinal problems. It is also believed that crystalline silica can lead to silicosis in cats – a disorder that affects the lungs and causes shortness of breath.
2. Does crystal cat litter dissolve in water?
No, crystal cat litter does not dissolve in water. The small pores in each crystal will only expand as it continues to absorb fluids. That is why you should never flush used cat litter down the toilet – it can cause serious blockages in your plumbing.
3. What are some of the eco-friendly alternatives to silica?
If you are looking for sustainable alternatives to crystal cat litter, you can choose cat litter made of paper, fruit peels, corn, or wood. However, these materials also come with their pros and cons, so make sure to weigh things up before making a purchase.
Wrapping it up
Reusing crystal cat litter not only helps you save money on pet supplies but also reduces the amount of garbage you generate at home. However, recycling crystal cat litter does come with both pros and cons, so make sure to consider those listed in this article before deciding on which route to take.
Image: istockphoto.com / Liudmila Chernetska