It’s every cat owner’s nightmare to bring kitty in for a routine checkup and discover that they have a serious health condition. That can often happen even when the owner never noticed any signs that their cat was sick. That’s why one company created PrettyLitter, a color-changing kitty litter that keeps tabs on your cat’s health by changing color in response to telltale chemical cues.
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See the Signs
That exact nightmare happened to PrettyLitter’s CEO and co-founder, Daniel Rotman. His beloved cat, Gingi, contracted feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), but never let on that she was ill. “It was brewing in her, and I had no clue,” he told OregonLive. “She was acting fine.”
Unlike people, or even dogs, who are highly social and likely to show behavioral signs of illness, sick cats are more likely to withdraw and hide. That withdrawal isn’t anything against you; rather, it’s a survival instinct. Sick animals are easy prey in the wild, so cats put on a brave face and stay hidden to protect themselves while they (hopefully) get better. Combine that with the fact that most cats are independent creatures who spend time on their own anyway, and owners may not notice that anything is off when they haven’t seen their cat in a few hours.
The virus eventually killed Gingi, and Rotman was left wondering what he could have done differently. That led to the creation of PrettyLitter, a silica gel cat litter that changes color to keep tabs on a cat’s health.
How It Works
The litter is made of silica gel, a translucent, incredibly porous material that can absorb up to 150 percent of its weight in liquid. The silica gel crystals are formulated with a reagent that changes color in response to pH and the presence of blood. If your cat’s urine is alkaline — that is, higher on the pH scale — the litter will turn blue to alert you that urinary tract infections and bladder crystals could be on the horizon. If it’s acidic — lower on the pH scale — the litter turns green as a sign of potential kidney issues or diabetes. If there’s blood present, that’s a sign that your cat may currently have bladder inflammation, bladder stones, or a urinary tract infection, and the litter will turn red.
Of course, the litter shouldn’t be used as a diagnosis, just a head’s up to let owners know they should take their cat to the veterinarian for a checkup. But with visible warning signs, PrettyLitter goes a long way to keeping you informed about whether your cat is sick. After all, Fluffy certainly isn’t going to tell you.
What is PrettyLitter?
PrettyLitter cat litter takes the guesswork out of making the best life for your cat by alerting owners to any possible health concerns with litter that changes color after use—helping you to detect feline issues before your vet does.
Why would cat owners need color-coded kitty litter to alert them of potential illness?
Felines are great at hiding signs of not feeling well because animals who get sick in the wild get eaten. This means that cats rarely show any indication of illness until it’s progressed to a point that they can no longer hide what’s wrong.
Plus, not only will cats often disguise any symptoms, but a kitty who’s feeling under the weather will likely curl up in an out of sight area for several days, making signs of sickness more difficult owners to spot.
PrettyLitter CEO and co-founder Daniel Rotman invented the illness-detecting litter after the loss of his own beloved cat, Gingi from an illness that might have been treatable with earlier detection.
The complete PrettyLitter team also includes Product Advisor Carly Martinetti, who had previously created the popular animal blog Featured Creature, and Veterinarian in Chief Dr. Geoff DeWire, a graduate of U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (which is the top rated veterinary school in the country).
In short, the folks behind PrettyLitter appear to really know—and care—about animal health.
PrettyLitter 101: The Basics
PrettyLitter looks similar to the white, crystal-based litters that many cat owners are already familiar with. It’s made of silica gel, which means that it’s quite light when compared to clay litters. (A month’s supply only weighs four pounds!)
Silica gel, which you’re most familiar with seeing in those little packets that are tucked into shoe boxes to keep moisture out, is used because if offers superior odor protection. The water in your cat’s urine evaporates, while all that’s left is absorbed into the silica crystals—odor and all.
Note that silica gel litter is feline safe—meaning that if your cat were to ingest a crystal when grooming after using their box, it would simply pass through their system naturally.
Another perk to silica gel? Unlike clay litters, the substance is totally dust-free, which is great for those with allergies—plus, it’s healthier for cats, too. (It’s also eco-friendly.)
PrettyLitter is manufactured in China. Some consumers consider this to be an automatic strike due to economic or quality concerns. However, there are no US-based crystal cat litter manufacturers—and PrettyLitter states that, because they have the utmost concern for your pet’s safety and health, they perform extensive quality checks to ensure that their standards are met.
How Does PrettyLitter Work?
PrettyLitter is poured into your cat’s litter box like normal—ensure that the litter is at least two inches deep throughout the entire box.
Litter should be cleaned daily, with solid waste being removed with a scooper. As you’re cleaning the litter box, you’ll notice colored patches indicating where your cat has urinated. Here’s how to decode the colors of PrettyLitter:
- Dark yellow/ olive green: Normal urine
- Blue: High alkalinity which may indicate either FLUTD, Struvite Crystal formations or kidney issues.
- Green: Abnormal acidity which may indicate either FLUTD, calcium oxalate crystals, urinary blockage in males or kidney issues.
- Orange: Presence of bilirubin.
- Red: Presence of blood, which may indicate Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder (FLUTD), Crystals (Crystalluria) or Interstitial Cystitis. In rare cases, it can also mean bladder cancer, an internal injury, poison ingestion, and/or if it’s a female cat over four months old who hasn’t been spayed, she may be in heat.
Note that sometimes temporary color changes can occur as a result of a new diet, changes in environment or temporary stresses that may cause a cat’s pH levels to elevate or drop.
o, if you notice a color other than dark yellow or olive green, PrettyLitter instructs that you should closely monitor your cat’s behavior and urine for the next 24-48 hours. If the color change continues, you should consult your veterinarian.
If you have a multi-cat household and notice a change in color, PrettyLitter suggests isolating your cats into different rooms with their own litter box for a time until each urinates and you can determine which animal is possibly ill.
As explained in the Nat Geo Wild video above, PrettyLitter isn’t intended to be a diagnostic in and of itself. Instead, changes in color can offer early detection for health issues such as urinary tract infections, pancreatitis, liver failure, and diabetes. And, early detection can help you save on your vet bill—or possibly save your kitty’s life.
PrettyLitter does not clump to contain liquid waste like clay litters. Instead, you’ll need to thoroughly mix the litter every day to avoid your cat saturating the same area several days in a row—this keeps PrettyLitter’s health indicators and odor absorption operating at full capacity.
After using PrettyLitter for one month, it’s time to dump the whole bin into the trash and pour in a new bag. (Be sure to clean any residue that might be stuck to the bottom.)
How Much Does PrettyLitter Cost?
One four-pound bag of PrettyLitter is needed per cat, per month. To order PrettyLitter, first you select how many cats you have:
- One cat: $21
- Two cats: $39
- Three cats: $68 (For four bags—includes a fourth bag for free.)
PrettyLitter is ordered online and ships for free. Your order of PrettyLitter is delivered straight to your door.
All PrettyLitter purchases are backed by a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy with your order for any reason, let PrettyLitter know and they’ll refund your order immediately.
Note that purchasing PrettyLitter automatically signs you up for their litter club. This includes monthly auto-shipments of your litter—and monthly auto charges. We’re normally very cautious of auto-ship programs, as they can be difficult to cancel and are occasionally indicative of a questionable business.
However, PrettyLitter is very upfront about their auto-ship program and states that the litter club is intended for convenience. After all, who wants to think about litter each month?
PrettyLitter also states throughout their website that, if you’d like to opt-out of auto-renewals, you can do so anytime through the website or by calling (800) 838-3381. To test out how easy it is to cancel, we gave PrettyLitter a call and were connected to a service representative within one minute and once selection on the call menu.
What Customers Are Saying About PrettyLitter
Scrolling though PrettyLitter’s Facebook comments can give you a major case of the feels, as you read customer comments like the following:
“Pretty Litter is has helped my Oliver yet again. Without this litter I would never have known his UTI is back. Anyone who cares for a cat should have this litter.” Carrie Zrelak on December 17, 2016.
“I want to thank you for this fabulous product! Not only is it truly dustless and odorless, but it helped me detect one of my cats had a UTI long before he would have shown any symptoms. I’ve told everyone I know about this litter. It’s a great invention for cat lovers!” Dee Dee Emry on December 17, 2016.
We went back several weeks and were unable to locate a single customer complaint regarding PrettyLitter’s performance or customer service.
Additionally, several customers wrote to say that they had been previously skeptical, but were very pleased with the product’s lack of dust or odor, as well as its ability to help them track their pet’s health. Multiple other customer comments remark that PrettyLitter allowed them to identify illness early, particularly UT infections.
Finally, the company’s dedication to customer service is immediately visible in their responses to each and every comment and question.
What’s the Bottom Line On PrettyLitter?
It’s rare that we get to write a product review that’s so overwhelmingly positive, but there simply aren’t any criticisms we can find regarding PrettyLitter’s product. Their customer service is responsive, the product itself is helpful, easy to use, and delivers on all of its claims.
PrettyLitter is slightly more expensive than other cat litter brands—although, how much more depends on which alternate product you choose to compare it to.
For example, a month’s supply of Arm & Hammer clumping litter is $12.59, which is half the price of PrettyLitter. Pro-Sense Crystal Silica Litter (which uses the same material, but doesn’t feature color changing illness detection), can be purchased for $9.
However, World’s Best Litter is $23.99 for a month supply—and only boasts of superior odor control. So, again, it’s not the cheapest product on the market, but PrettyLitter does provide a value in line with its cost.
Though, any pet owner who has had to pay to treat a UT infection that’s been allowed to develop to later states, possibly resulting in the need for a transfusion and more drastic treatment, understands the potential for PrettyLitter to help save on vet costs.
With the difference in price in mind, we think PrettyLitter is a worthy investment for cat owners, particularly for those who have an adult cat that’s nearing senior years or is prone to illness, such as UT infections or kidney problems.
Colour Changing Cat Litter? Pretty Litter Review!
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!