Why I decided to use crystals with the Litter-Robot
Since I got the Litter-Robot in 2015 I have always used clumping clay litter since it’s the type of cat litter the manufacturer recommends. I have been experimenting with numerous brands of clumping cat litters trying to achieve the best performance of this unit. However, I have received questions from my readers about how the crystal litter would work with this rotating system. The manufacturer states that as long as the crystal litter is fine enough to go through the screen it should work, so I decided to try it.
Why crystal litter?
Some cat owners have been using this type of litter with their traditional litter boxes since forever, and when they think about getting the Litter-Robot they don’t want to switch to clumping clay litter. Why? Well, crystal litter is very unique, it really keeps odors controlled, it’s lightweight and easy to scoop.
What are the crystals made of?
Crystal litter is made with super absorbent non-toxic silica gel microcrystals. Silica is a natural mineral found in stone, sand, and soil. Silica is the short name for Silicon Dioxide.
Crystal litter I used
There were various options but I knew I had to pick a crystal litter that is fine so it can go through the Litter Robot’s screen. So I chose the brand Soft On Paws Ultra Micro Crystals with a pink package. To my surprise, the crystal litter’s texture was not similar to sand (I was expecting something like that) but more like sea salt.
How the Litter-Robot works with crystals vs clumping clay litter
What I noticed using crystal litter and the difference regarding the typical clumping clay cat litter:
When I poured the crystal litter inside the Litter-Robot I noticed it created dust in the air, but not dust like the clumping litter that’s just annoying, I am talking dusty to the point I was coughing and I could breathe that dust expanded in the whole laundry room. It was bad. I don’t know if this is the case with this brand or all crystal litters are the same. I did my research and I found out that other crystal litter brands are not so different, they create quite a bit of dust in the air.
The crystal litter is much more lightweight in comparison to clumping litters. As a reference, a cup of clumping litter weighs an average of 280g. A cup of crystal litter weighs 122g. As the silica is so lightweight it’s much easier to scoop it and in the case of the Litter-Robot rotation, the litter slides much easier. If you pour crystal litter up to the full line there’s no problem with the activation, it works. This means the fact that the crystal litter is lighter than clay litter doesn’t affect the activation of the sensor underneath.
I noticed the clumping property of the crystal litter is as good as the clay-type litter. The urine forms round well-sealed clumps that slide with no problem during the cleaning cycle. It clumps pretty fast too. However, sometimes when the litter clump reaches the opening to be dumped into the waste drawer, sometimes it breaks up a little, but not too much. This fact is not a big deal because these tiny particles that may not go into the waste compartment don’t cause odors, the good thing about silica crystals is the capacity to absorb odor to the point of eliminating it.
Even though I have never had a smelling Litter Robot, I have to say that crystal litter is famous for its capacity to absorb odors and there is a difference when opening the waste drawer.
Cleanliness of the Litter Robot’s rubber bottom
Oh boy! This is the best point of using crystal litter instead of clumping clay litter. When the Robot starts the rotation you can see at the bottom there’s nothing stick to it, NOTHING! The bottom rubber is totally clean. This means you will have to clean the Globe less often if using crystal litter instead of clumping litter. This was pretty shocking to me. Even though I use good clumping litter that usually doesn’t create too much dirt at the bottom, the fact that the crystals leave almost zero print of the litter clump is amazing.
Video of crystal cat litter and how the Litter-Robot works
Pros of using Crystal litter with the Litter-Robot
These are the pros I found when using crystal litter, specifically the brand “Soft On Paws Micro Ultra Crystals”:
- Odor control is good
- As crystal litter is more lightweight, the sliding during rotation is much easier, the motor works less.
- Clumping properties are as good as a regular clumping clay litter.
- The litter clumps don’t stick to the rubber bottom of the Litter-Robot, after each cleaning cycle, the bottom looks clean (this is fantastic).
- The Litter Robot’s screen separates clean litter from clumps with no issues when using crystals.
- You don’t need to put more crystal litter inside the Litter-Robot to make the sensor work, up to the full line works well.
- The dust it creates could be unbearable for some people and for cats.
- Some cats may not use the Litter-Robot if they can’t get over the change of the type of litter.
Crystal litter absolutely can be used with the Litter-Robot and it works well. The odor control is really good and it seems like the motor stresses less during cleaning rotation due to how lightweight crystal litter is. The crystal litter clumps fast and with well-sealed litter clumps, they don’t break down when sliding into the waste compartment. Some tiny residues may go back into the litter bed but that happens also with clumping clay litter.
The main and only “con” is the dust it creates, I couldn’t handle it. My cat practically used the Litter-Robot about three or four times, but when I saw her digging the crystal litter the last time and I saw how much dust was in the air, that was it for me. For this reason, the rest of my experiment was recreating cat urine with the syringe and placing my cat’s feces in the crystal litter and doing manual cleaning cycles (my cat used the alternative litter box during this period).
Crystal litter works well with the Litter-Robot and I would recommend it only if you can find a brand that guarantees it doesn’t create too much dust. From what I researched, most silica crystal litters create dust but you never know. It’s worth trying to find a better option than I did. Do it for your cat’s health (and yours!).
I don’t know what kind of crystal litter you are using because Crystal litter doesn’t clump. It’s also not dusty.
Try fresh step and see if that works better for you.
Lorena Ávila says
Hi Donna, in my review I mentioned the brand and type I used. And yes, it was really dusty, I couldn’t stop coughing when I poured it into the Litter-Robot. That’s why I mentioned in my article that people may find a different brand, that particular brand didn’t work for me and my cat. I use Fresh Step and that’s what I mentioned in my article “Best Cat Litter for the Litter-Robot”, where I place that brand on the top one. Thanks for your comment.
I’d love to see a review using Fresh Step Crystals. It seems small enough to sift through the screen and it’s non-clumping. No dust, either.
Lorena Ávila says
Thanks for your suggestion, Holly. I will do it and post it once my review is finished. :)
Hi, I have never experienced dust from crystal litter. I quit using clay based litter of any kind because of dust. I use pretty litter and fresh step interchangeably. They don’t have any dust. All clay based litter smells like dust. I couldn’t have that in my new apartment because I didn’t have a dedicated cat area. Crystal litter is basically dust free and ultra absorbent.
Lorena Ávila says
Hi Aaron, crystals come in different types. I chose the Crystals that are pulverized into sand because I wanted to make it work with the Litter-Robot’s sifting screen, but it turned out the litter was super dusty, I could barely talk on the video after pouring this litter into the unit. I started coughing not stop after I made the video. I know there are coarse-type crystal litters that are meant to be used with traditional litter trays. This coarse-type crystal litter most likely doesn’t go through the Litter-Robot’s screen easily. Maybe there are other fine sandy-type crystal cat litter brands that don’t create so much dust, but this one wasn’t. I said that in my review. Thanks for your comment!
Thank you sooo much for this article! We were just given the litter robot 3 and I’m so excited we don’t have to switch to the clumping litter! I was about to sell this thing if that was the case!! Haha so I really appreciate you taking the time to review it the way you did. I have adhd and can’t ever stay focused! You kept me reading ! So thanks a million
Lorena Ávila says
I am happy I can help, Ashley, you will love the Litter Robot :)