I Tried PrettyLitter, and It Gave Me a Head Start on My Cat's Urinary Health
Let's face it, urinary tract infections (UTIs) suck. So, when I noticed that my cat has an active bladder, I lurked behind her every pee, watching for tell-tale signs of urinary issues. If only there were a super-smart litter that could instantly tell me if my cat is at risk for a UTI, has a urinary pH prone to kidney stones, or has traces of blood in her urine.
Enter PrettyLitter, the trendy new cat litter that changes color depending on pH levels and traces of blood in the urine, allowing cat parents to monitor their kitty's health. There is a range of colors the litter could turn after kitty urination: yellow to orange for a low pH (acidic), yellow to green for a healthy urinary system, green to blue for a high pH (alkaline), and red if traces of blood are present.
"The pH of a cat's urine can give an overall picture of your cat's urinary tract health," explains Gina Ushi, DVM at Pet Urgent Care of Wesley Chapel in Wesley Chapel, Fla. A healthy pH is about 6.3 to 6.6 and can be influenced by your cat's diet and water intake. Lower than 6.3 and your cat could be at risk of forming calcium oxalate stones. Higher than 6.6 and your cat could be at risk of forming struvite crystals or developing a UTI.
"Generally, a food that is high in moisture and low on magnesium content is beneficial for urinary health," Ushi explains. If your cat has a recurring low urine pH, your vet can recommend a non-acidifying diet. For persistent high urine pH levels, Ushi says to ask your vet if a supplement with cranberry extract is right for her. Either way, a consistently high pH, low pH, or traces of blood in the urine warrant a trip to the vet.
I decided to put PrettyLitter's pH-monitoring capabilities to the test and added a one-month supply for multiple cats to my cart—$34 with a promo code. (PrettyLitter is also sold by the bag at Target.) Like most new litters, my cats decided that it would be more fun to roll around in the non-clumping, ultra-absorbent silica gel crystals than use it as a bathroom. But finally, nature called and I eagerly awaited the results.
I was relieved to see that the color left behind appeared to be within the normal range—although color-coding felt somewhat subjective. My cats continued to use the litter box regularly and, oddly, designated this box to pee only. Pro tip: this litter tracks, so it's best to use a litter mat.
"I don't want to say, 'yes check your cat's urine pH' and then people are running out buying strips and obsessing about their cat's urine when there is no need to," Ushi says. "If a cat does have a history of UTIs or crystals like struvite or calcium oxalate, and you've noticed urinary symptoms like frequent or inappropriate urination, then this would be a good time to either check their urine pH or have their cat seen by a veterinarian."
Hi, it's me; I ran out and bought pH strips and became obsessive. A couple weeks in and PrettyLitter notified me of an elevated pH—I had to investigate. Per my newly purchased pH strips, my cat's urine ranged from normal to slightly elevated during a typical week—consistent with the colors I've seen in the litter box.
Speaking with Ushi, I learned that a cat's urine pH can vary from day to day based on her food and water consumption. It turns out that my cat's variation is pretty normal, but I'll ask my vet if an occasional urinary health treat or supplement could keep her in the normal range.
So, would I recommend PrettyLitter? I say yes, if you don't go bonkers over normal day-to-day variations. "PrettyLitter can help signal a urinary health issue before an owner notices any symptoms in their cat. This can be very useful to owners of cats with a history of problems with their urinary tract," Ushi says.