A new cat litter launched late last year in America caught my attention. Pretty Litter sounded such an exciting product, I had to get my hands on some!
As a doting owner to 3 indoor cats, the Pretty Litter advertising ticked a lot of boxes; it’s lightweight, dustfree, absorbs odours and its highly absorbent and eco friendly.
However, the one thing that makes this litter stand out is that it changes colour if there are abnormalities in the urine. Changes in the pH levels of the urine can indicate signs of ill health which may not be obvious in the early stages. To me, this sounded a great idea, so out came my credit card and I pre-ordered a bag for my cat family to try.
At $19, or £13.10 a 3lb bag of Pretty Litter would last 1 cat 1 month. I would have probably bought more for my 3 cats but the shipping was $30 (£20.68!!) I stuck with my 1 bag, and reckoned that this would probably last 10 days or thereabouts. As there are 2 litter boxes in our household, I was hoping I might stretch this to 2weeks.
The litter arrived just after Christmas so I put it to the test early January. There was just enough for one litter tray which made me doubt if it would even last a week. It was very lightweight and consisted of fine white granules that had reddish orange flecks.
To be fair, this is the first time I have used this type of litter before, which I suspect is a silicate type litter as it is so light. However, there is no mention on the packaging what it is made from. Having used wood based litter for years, where soiled waste is thrown out, I was very dubious when I read the instructions. The object is to throw only the poo out. Any wee patches were to be mixed in and distributed throughout the rest of the litter and the moisture will be absorbed. My immediate thoughts were focussed on potential smells. My secondary thoughts were, “What if I see some abnormal changes in the litter?” My cat family are very relaxed about sharing their trays and if one of them was producing a colourful patch in the litter, I would have to spy on their toileting activities to find out who would need a trip to the vet.
Just to clarify, normal urine shows up as a yellow to olive green patch in the litter. Anything blue, red or orange/brown needs monitoring for 24-48hrs and if no improvement, a trip to the vet is advised. Orange/brown means there’s bilrubin in the urine which could suggest liver problems. Red means there is blood in the urine, which may not be visible. Blue is alkaline, which may mean lower urinary tract issues, struvite crystal formations or kidney problems. Green indicates abnormal acidity which again could mean lower urinary tract disease, amongst other possibilities. Quite an ingenious product!
Ringo and Bart were the main users of the Pretty Litter box in the conservatory, which tends to be a bit cold in winter. Phoebe prefers the conservatory in summer when its baking hot! None of the cats objected to the change of litter and used it as normal, but fussier cats can be introduced to it more gradually by mixing their usual litter with the new for a short period. Despite it being quite fine, I didn’t think it tracked any more than other types of cat litter I have used. Reluctantly, I mixed in the yellow wee patches and was quite surprised how they ‘disappeared’ into the litter.
5 days later, the granules had become yellow in colour, which is normal. This became deeper in colour as time went on, and the granules became less dry and free flowing. My cats have short fur, so we have no problems with any sort of litter. Owners of long haired cats may find that this litter may get stuck in the fur – probably no more than other types of litter, but something to consider. I used Pretty Litter as long as I could get away with (2 weeks) and noticed that Bart’s poo left to sit in the now damp litter was turning the litter blue! To be sure, I put some droppings from the other litter tray and left it for a few hours (that’s wood based litter stuck to the poo by the way!) As you can see below, the litter surrounding the poo is blue!
I contacted Daniel Rotman from Pretty Litter, who stated that high alkalinity (blue indication) is an issue in urine but not necessarily from stools. As a precaution, Bart had a visit to the vet where he agreed that the pH of urine was something he would investigate, but not poo. I can only assume that the damp litter was past its use by date anyway at 2 weeks between 3 cats, but I was compelled to test it to see how far it would go!
The amazing thing from this trial was that the litter had great odour absorbing qualities. Despite never actually throwing away the wet patches, there were no smells – and my husband is usually first to complain! It would be interesting to use this litter again in summer as that is when litter trays seem to smell more. The granules were easy to work with so it really is a low maintenance product.
The downsides? Well, the price. At the moment it is not available in the UK although I am assured it will be, which will certainly save on the £20 shipping! However, my regular wood based litter is altogether better value, even if I have to buy 40 ltr bags! I also enquired about how safe the product is if ingested but unfortunately I didn’t get a reply. There is a FAQ section on the website which states that the product is safe if ingested, but it would be helpful to know what the litter is made from.
Personally, I would be inclined to use this product on an occasional basis, just to see if there are any changes in the urine, especially with my 2 older cats. I think it can be a really useful way of monitoring your cat’s health. However, it is not a diagnosis of any condition, and I would still consult my vet if I have any concerns about their health. Owners of cats with a confirmed diagnosis of eg diabetes, urinary disease, etc may be interested in using this product as a guide to monitor their cats’ health, again with veterinary advice. Not sure when this product will hit the UK but look out for it and check out the website https://prettylittercats.com/ You might want to conduct your own trial yourself and let me know what you think!