We have been making many changes to our diet and lifestyle in order to be healthier and have a more positive impact on the environment. The other day, I realized that we could be making some similar changes with the products we purchase for our beloved cat. Where do I start?
Providing healthier and more eco-friendly options for the furry members of your family is sure to make Kitty or Fido happy, and the best thing about it? You will be rewarded in cuddles.
One of the most important things you will want to consider is diet. Unfortunately, pet food is a very poorly regulated industry and most dry or canned foods are full of corn or wheat-based fillers and meat by-products. Most of us know that the meat used in pet foods are not the highest quality, but many people don’t realize that all the additives, fillers and preservatives are a leading cause of diabetes, cancer and thyroid problems in cats and dogs.
Organic pet food is a great alternative. Not that I’ve sampled a product myself, but I would bet that being little more than basic meats and vegetables, it is tastier and much closer to the diet a carnivore would be eating naturally. Your pet will not be exposed to chemical preservatives, foods grown with toxic pesticides, or ingredients deemed not fit for human consumption. If we wouldn’t eat it, why would we feed it to our pets?
In the case of cats, litter can have a significant environmental impact. Aside from the obvious- in Canada alone roughly 200,000 tonnes of pet waste gets tossed every year- the litter itself is an issue. The most commonly purchased varieties are made with bentonite clay. The problem with clay is that it is strip-mined. Likely, if more people were aware that mountain tops were being removed to provide the material for their kitty’s litter box, they would choose an alternative.
Wheat or corn-based cat litters comprise some of these options, as do recycled newspaper pellets, or materials leftover from the lumber industry that would normally be waste. Many of these options have additional benefits. They are not as dusty as clay, do not get tracked around by your cat, and are biodegradable in a system that will allow them to break down (unfortunately, not the landfill, but check out pet waste digesters for next level pet greening tactics!).
If you have young kids and are thinking along the lines of being more eco-conscious, you probably avoid plastic toys as much as possible, and definitely keep them out of their mouths. The same idea can be applied with cat and dog toys. Many soft plastics contain phthalates, which are thought to be hormone disrupters. Homemade alternatives like yarn balls or rings of toilet paper rolls can provide hours of recyclable entertainment. If you are purchasing a toy, consider natural rubber, organic cotton or bamboo.
by Lauren Mangion, Concious Homes