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Are Health Indicator Cat Litters Worth It?

Are Health Indicator Cat Litters Worth It?

               There are a variety of cat litters on the market that claim to show blood or other changes in your cat’s urine.  But, do they really work and are they worth the cost? 

               Pros: Most of these litters such as the common brand PrettyLitter appear to be make of silica gel crystals, so, they tend to be light weight, dustless and odor free—good news for cats (and humans!) with respiratory issues. Liquid soaks in and forms firm, easy to remove clumps.  Indicator litters also contain substances to tell you the pH of the litter and/or the presence of blood in the urine. Current brands do not seem to be able to pick up glucose in the urine. They are all safe for cats to use.

               Cons: A typical bag contains 4lbs of litter and is supposed to last a month per cat.  Most brands appear to cost roughly $25 per bag so this type of litter may not be cost effective, especially in multi-cat households.  The blood and pH indicators may change, fade or spread and run together over time, so, if you don’t see the urine in the litter soon after your cat goes, the color change may be less accurate.  These types of litter are also probably not the best choice for automatic litter boxes. 

               So, do these types of litter really help tell you if your cat is sick?  The answer is, maybe.  Certainly, indicator litters may be a good tool in early detection of urinary tract issues in your cat.  However, they are NOT meant to be a substitute for good veterinary care or definitive diagnostic tests like urinalysis.  If a litter indicator shows that your cat has a high urine pH or blood in the urine, this certainly can indicate that your cat may have a health issue.  But litter indicator changes mean that you should take your cat to the vet to have the issue further investigated. For instance, if there is blood in your cat’s urine, this may indicate a number of health issues such as bladder infection, inflammation, bladder stones or a bladder tumor. Further testing to narrow the cause is needed.  A high (basic) urine pH could also indicate bladder infection, but other things could also affect acidity or alkalinity of the urine. The goal is for these cat litters to be a tool for early detection of disease, not a replacement for diagnostic tests and physical exam.

               In short, there are a lot of good reasons to consider using these types of litter—the litter quality is good with low dust and odor control—and they may help determine if your kitty is having a problem like a bladder infection.  But, remember, if the litter does show concern for a health issue, this means you need to make an appointment for your cat to further investigate the problem.  Health indicator litters may be worth the expense in some households.

               This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.