It is a little ironic. The same local aquscape forum for southern california residents that I am a member of and read of instances using Kitty Litter with such great success, I posted I was using Kitty Litter in my new setup.
Almost immediately after posting, there were more responses on my one that kitty litter was a bad idea and that after 1 or two years it fails as a substrate (most responses insist that it will turn to muck), than there were in any of the existing praises that lead me to believe that I was making a good decision in choosing it.
So far my kitty litter tank is wonderful. Fish responding great, and an awesome anchor platform to shape the playsand above it without it settling forward against the hill I gave it. Exactly what I wanted out of it.
It is going to be about 2 more weeks before I can gauge any results against my rooted plants in the kitty litter than those I have left in the artificial gravel tank, but I am satisfied with the setup.
If it turns to muck in a year, or two years, I won't consider it a failure. I'll just have to start from scratch. It might be messy, but big deal. I take anything like that in stride and learn from it, and rebuild.
I do highly recommend the playsand for anyone interested in pursuing that sort of natural look.
It is extremely low budget, and very natural looking. Rinsing is the only very necessary thing to keep in mind.
A good power filter will clean up anything else that looks bad from dusty water rather quickly. So it is just important to keep an eye on the power filter if you don't rinse it enough and your water becomes cloudy; just maker sure to occaisonally (at least once a week) dismantle the filter, rinse it in changed aquarium water, give it a good scrubbing with a dedicated aquarium brush, and it will be fine. It might cut the light of the mechanical filter by a bit, but with proper maintenance it might even improve the over all capacities of the filter, similar to DE in a pool filter.