I am under-educated in terms of chemistry hence the question and assumptions.

Basically, for our cats, we are using what seems to be the latest scientific achievement in litter sand - the litter crystals. Might be about 2 years now, since we switched from clumping sand to crystals.

As of late, I have started to pick up a somewhat toxic, disturbing smell, that feels to me as if those could be dust particles or something. Now, since I read that the litter contains something of silica family:

Most cat litter crystals are composed of silica gel which is a combination of water, oxygen, and silica dioxide sand.

And also that the silica dust is somewhat toxic - this kind of matches, though, I may just be getting paranoid.

But yeah, when the cat rubs the litterbox after he has done his business, the smell picks up and it's heavily noticeable, really unpleasant for my and wifes nose.

Obviously, when the packages are being transported - the crystals rub/grind against each other, making them crumble and when I pour the crystals out - the crumbled parts get up in the air making the smell again.

Yeah, I'm starting to become a little concerned about the possible health hazards that the crystals could cause, therefore I'm looking for some clarification from you guys.

Are these things safe?

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    $\begingroup$ Not a complete answer to your question, but with respect to the silica gel, it's only toxic when its a fine powder of the type used for chromatography. The toxicity is not due to the compound itself, but in the size of the particles. In its bulk form, silica (aka. silica dioxide) is even taken as a homeopathic treatment (dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/fda/…), no idea what health benefit it supposedly gives but its certified as not being toxic in any event. $\endgroup$ – NotEvans. Dec 23 '15 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ (1) It is safe (2) Yes cat boxes stink so the litter generally has a perfume which the cat releases when it digs in the litter. (3) The litter needs to be a deep enough layer so that the cat urine doesn't reach the bottom of the box. (4) The whole litter box needs to be dumped occasionally rather than just replenishing it. $\endgroup$ – MaxW Dec 23 '15 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ If the smell of scented cat litter bothers you, I would recommend switching to an unscented cat litter product. It still controls the odor quite well since it dehydrates the urine and feces. Either way, you are better off not putting off cleaning the litter box too long. The scented product masks but does not eliminate the natural odor of used cat litter. Why introduce extra chemicals into the environment that we do not actually need? $\endgroup$ – iad22agp Dec 23 '15 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, no, it's not the scent of the urine, it's clearly the sent of the crystals themselves. The box can be freshly filled with litter, I can shuffle the grains around with shovel and the toxic smell comes up. Same as when the grains are poured into a freshly cleaned box. $\endgroup$ – tomsseisums Dec 23 '15 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ Not to nitpick , but a smell cannot be "toxic". Cyanide apparently smells like almonds, or to put it differently, almonds smell like cyanide. Trying to interpret toxicity using only smell is a fool's errand. $\endgroup$ – Curt F. Dec 23 '15 at 18:06

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