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One of the most stressful things about having a cat — or any pet, for that matter — is how difficult it is to tell when something is wrong with their health. Chances are that you’d notice obvious signs, such as a limp or dramatic behavioral change. But some subtle symptoms are easy to miss because our pets can’t tell us when they’re feeling crummy. 

And cats, well, they’re notorious for hiding their pain and discomfort. A sick cat might start sleeping more, playing less, or turning up their noses at certain foods when they feel unwell. But, let’s be honest…such signs could point to illness in one cat, or be just a normal Tuesday for another. One of my cats spent six months peeing outside the litter box— not because she was sick, but because she was upset we had moved to a new apartment!  

But what if there were a way for our cats to tell us they were sick? What if all you had to do was take a peek into their litter box to figure out what’s what? 

According to the makers of PrettyLitter, their revolutionary health-monitoring cat litter could provide all the answers cat parents are looking for!

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Sound too good to be true? I took PrettyLitter for a test drive to find out how well it worked, both as a standard kitty litter and as a way to monitor my cat’s health. Here’s what I learned.

What is PrettyLitter?

Pretty Litter cat litter

After losing a seemingly healthy cat to a fatal illness, PrettyLitter founder Daniel Rotman says he wanted to spare other pet parents the same heartache. So he partnered with a team of veterinarians and scientists to develop PrettyLitter as an innovative alternative to traditional cat litter.

PrettyLitter is what’s known as a “smart” cat litter because — in addition to managing cat waste and odor — it changes color based on the pH of your cat’s urine to help detect potential health issues. While this is no substitute for regular veterinary care, it could help pet parents recognize potential problems early on, before cats show any other signs of illness.   

PrettyLitter is made from super-lightweight, super-absorbent silica gel crystals, so it solves a lot of the hassles associated with traditional cat litter. Crystal litter is non-clumping, so you don’t have to do a lot of litter box maintenance to enjoy a fresh, clean-smelling home. And it’s lighter than clay litter, which means you don’t have to struggle with heavy, bulky bags of litter. 

How Does PrettyLitter Work?

Pretty Litter cat litter changing colors

PrettyLitter is made of silica gel — a 100% natural, mineral-based material that’s safe for cats. In fact, it’s better for cats with asthma or other lung health issues because it’s virtually dust-free, unlike clay or other lightweight litters.

These highly-porous minerals absorb a lot of moisture and trap cat urine odors inside the crystals as the water evaporates. That’s why you’ll do less scooping and maintenance with non-clumping cat litter. Because the liquids evaporate, all you have to scoop is the poop. That also means your cat won’t have to deal with wet or clumpy litter when they walk or dig in it, which is a plus. 

To help you monitor your cat’s health, PrettyLitter is infused with a proprietary formula that changes color based on the pH (aka acidity or alkalinity) of your cat’s urine. Here’s a quick breakdown of what changing colors could mean for your cat:

  • Dark yellow or green is normal.
  • Blue indicates your cat’s urine is more alkaline, which could be a possible sign of urinary tract infections or kidney stones.
  • Orange means your cat’s urine is more acidic, which could be signs of health issues like metabolic acidosis, or kidney tubular acidosis.
  • Red indicates the presence of blood, which could be signs of bladder crystals, urinary tract disorder, or certain types of kidney disease. 

It’s worth noting that some PrettyLitter customers have reported false positives or false negatives in reviews. So, again, this litter is not intended to replace a thorough veterinary evaluation or diagnosis. 

PrettyLitter FAQs: What Pet Parents Should Know

Cat sniffing pretty litter review box

Intrigued? To help you understand what PrettyLitter is all about, here are some helpful answers to common questions pet parents ask about the brand. 

What is PrettyLitter made of?

PrettyLitter is made of safe, absorbent silica gel, which is a highly porous form of a naturally occurring mineral. It’s infused with a proprietary formula so that the crystals change color when they come into contact with urine. 

Where can you buy PrettyLitter?

PrettyLitter is available via subscription through the PrettyLitter website. Simply register on the site and indicate how many cats live in your home. Then you can sign up for PrettyLitter shipments, which will arrive at your door monthly or every three months, depending on your preference. You can also purchase bags of PrettyLitter at Walmart without a subscription. 

How often does PrettyLitter need to be changed?

With PrettyLitter, you don’t have to scoop or change your litter as often as you would with traditional clumping cat litter. Assuming you use the correct amount of PrettyLitter for your cats, the company says you only need to change your litter once a month and scoop out the poop as needed. 

How much does PrettyLitter cost?

The price for cat litter depends on how many bags you’re buying at once and how many cats you’re purchasing the litter for. 

On the PrettyLitter site, a subscription for one cat begins at $22 per month, while a subscription for three cats costs about $60 per month. You can save on your first order if you purchase enough bags for three months up-front. 

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Putting PrettyLitter to the Test

Cat testing out Pretty Litter smart cat litter for review

I decided to let my cat Ally be the litter tester because she’s the more easy-going and curious of my two cats. She also tends to use our upstairs litter box the most, which gave me a good testing spot. And she adapts to change much better than my other cat — who, as I mentioned, often lets me know how she feels about change by peeing outside the litter box. 

My cats are accustomed to traditional clumping litters. In the past, I’ve used both corn- and clay-based cat litter. Both types of litter had their benefits — easy to scoop, affordably priced, and the clay litter worked well with my Litter Robot automatic litter box. However, I hate the dust they tend to leave behind, and the clay type definitely had that clay litter box smell (especially if you forget to scoop for a day). So I was eager to try PrettyLitter.

I decided to start testing PrettyLitter using Ally’s favorite standard litter box, instead of the automatic one. That way, I could more easily observe her behavior and keep an eye out for color changes in the crystals. It would also allow me to monitor how often I had to scoop.

On the first day I set up the litter box, Ally sniffed around and explored it. But she was way more interested in the two cute toys PrettyLitter sent with the shipment. So no go, literally. The next day, I started wondering whether I should try mixing Ally’s old litter with the new to encourage her to use the PrettyLitter. I also briefly considered removing the other litter box options altogether so I could write this review. 

Luckily, it didn’t come to that (phew!) because she decided to try the PrettyLitter box on her own, and it quickly became her favorite litter box. She’d even use it multiple times overnight, which is unheard of for Ally…who will sometimes refuse to use her litter box if there’s anything in it that needs to be scooped.

How PrettyLitter Measured Up 

Cat testing pretty litter toys

In addition to being surprised by how quickly Ally took to PrettyLitter, there were a few other pleasant surprises throughout the testing experience. Here’s what really stood out:

Non-clumping: Not an issue – If you’re used to clumping cat litter, non-clumping litter may seem a little strange at first. With PrettyLitter, there are no clumps after your cat pees, just spots of colored crystals. You can’t remove the colored urine spots, though you can break them up and spread them around the litter if needed. 

At first, I worried my cat wouldn’t like the fact that I couldn’t remove these urine spots for her. But it didn’t seem to bug her, especially after I stirred things up. 

Controlled odors instead of just covering them – Even though you’re not removing clumps of cat pee from your litter box, that doesn’t mean you have to deal with more stink when you use PrettyLitter. The silica gel crystals do a great job trapping odors and moisture. 

Also, unlike traditional cat litter, which often has a distinctive or artificial smell, PrettyLitter is unscented and odorless right out of the bag…no artificial scents, baking soda or Febreze needed to cover up the smell of cat pee.  

It’s worth noting that while the litter is really good at cutting odors, it doesn’t eliminate the smell of cat poop. On the plus side, the smell will tell you when it’s time to scoop, which is helpful. But it also means if you go out and come back, the poop smell might linger — especially if your cat doesn’t bury their poop deeply.

Super lightweight, both good and bad – PrettyLitter was definitely lighter than I expected — it’s up to 80% lighter than most litters, according to the company — which I loved because it meant I didn’t have to ask my husband to haul a heavy bag of cat litter up the stairs. However, that also means your cat can fling the lightweight crystals pretty far when they dig in their litter box or even jump in or out. 

I found some crystals up to three feet outside the litter box, And while this doesn’t look as messy as traditional litter would because PrettyLitter crystals are small and translucent, that also makes them harder to vacuum or sweep up. 

I got an extra litter mat and took to vacuuming the area after each scooping session to minimize the spread. Several online reviewers also recommended switching to a deeper litter box. Since I wanted to test PrettyLitter in my Litter Robot anyway, I tried it out and it worked — though some brands of crystal litter might not, since the crystals have to be the right size to pass through the screen. And because the Litter Robot is deeper, I noticed the litter didn’t track or spread as much.  

No health news is good news – Full disclosure, Ally’s urine spots in the PrettyLitter were a normal color — dark yellowish to green —so I can’t attest to whether the litter picks up a medical issue before they happen. However, just being able to monitor the box for changes provided plenty of peace of mind. Ally is getting on in years (she’ll be 13 this summer) so knowing that PrettyLitter could flag possible health issues made me feel a lot better. 

Things We Like

  • The monthly subscription is a convenient way to make sure you won’t run out of litter
  • Suitable for multi-cat homes
  • Effectively controls odors 
  • No dust, unlike other lightweight or clay litter 
  • Works in an automatic litter box
  • Only have to change the litter completely once a month
  • You don’t need to scoop as often since you’re only scooping your cat’s poop, rather than urine clumps too
  • Picky cats might like this litter better than clay (my picky cat did)
  • No need for scented litter or baking powder to reduce that litter box odor
  • Gives you information about your cat’s urine pH, which might help you know if they’re having a health issue sooner
  • Litter is lightweight, which means you don’t have to haul heavy boxes up the stairs or around the house anymore
  • The subscription comes with free toys at signup

Things to Consider

  • The subscription can get expensive, especially if you live in a multi-cat household
  • You will likely still be able to smell your cat’s poop until you scoop
  • Not available in many pet retailer stores (aside from Target), which might be a hassle, especially if there are mail disruptions
  • Doesn’t clump so you can’t remove the colored urine spots from the litter box until you dump all the litter
  • Since it’s lightweight litter, it’s easy for your cats to fling it out of the litter box when they dig or jump out
  • The clear color of the litter means it’s difficult to see as well when it’s flung outside the litter box, making cleaning a pain
  • Your cat may take some time to get used to the new litter
  • False positives may occur, causing you to spend money on veterinarian tests only to discover nothing is wrong with your cat’s health
  • False negatives may also occur. The company admits this product is not a medical diagnostic tool designed to replace the need for regular veterinarian check-ups and it may miss some health conditions
  • If you have multi-cats in your household or use an automatic litter box, you may need to observe who uses the litter box to figure out which cat is causing color changes in the litter

PrettyLitter: Our Verdict

Cat using pretty litter smart cat litter box

Overall, I was pretty impressed with PrettyLitter — and I am considering switching to it permanently because my cats are such big fans. (Yes, even my change-resistant kitty started using the PrettyLitter!) It’s lightweight, great at reducing odors, and easy to use. The litter is easy to scoop and I like that you only need to fully change the box once a month. I was also impressed with how quickly my cat adapted to the litter without me having to try a trick to get her to use it. 

The color-changing health monitoring feature is also a nice perk that brings peace of mind, especially if you have an older cat or a cat with a history of urinary tract infections

However, it’s more difficult to use the health-monitoring features if you have a multi-cat household unless you watch to see who uses the box. It’s also more difficult to benefit from these features if you have an automatic litter box. I found that my Litter Robot often scooped and stirred the box up before I had a chance to check the color of the crystals. 

You might also want to invest in some extra litter mats around the box to catch any litter your cat might toss outside the box when they dig around because the litter grains are more difficult to spot once they’re outside the box — and they can end up pretty far away.

The biggest drawback of the litter, in my opinion, is that it is expensive, especially if you’re buying for multiple cats or buying individual bags at Target. Though a monthly subscription is a commitment, it is easier on your budget. Plus, PrettyLitter will send you a free toy when you sign up — and my cats are still obsessed with their complimentary PrettyLitter toys, long after our testing period concluded! 

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