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April 22nd is World Earth Day.
But as the organisers point out, this is about more than just one day. This is about the fight for the future of our planet. From deforestation to our rising carbon footprint, how each of us go about the way we live our life places demands on the earth. As responsible cat guardians we aim to be the best pet parents we can be, but have you considered the bigger picture and the impact of cat-keeping on the earth?
It is possible to provide for your cat’s needs in a responsible way that has a minimal impact on the planet. To give you some food for thought about the changes you could make, let’s look at how to be an eco-friendly pet owner.
They say two things in life are certain: Death and taxes. But if you’re a cat guardian, there’s a third inevitability: Poop. Kitty needs a litter tray, but do you realise just how un-environmentally friendly traditional clay-based cat litters are?
The downsides of clumping clay cat litter include:
- The raw ingredients are often strip-mined, which involves laying waste to vast areas of land and causes further soil erosion.
- Clay cat litter is non-flushable and can swell to 18 times its original size, blocking drains and sewers.
- It’s bad for the planet and bad for your cat’s health. Clay litters can contain carcinogens such as sodium bentonite (an expanding agent used in grouting and cement) which when swallowed during grooming, can accumulate and cause ill health.
So what are the more environmentally (and kitty!) friendly options?
1. Biodegradable Cat Litter
Biodegradable cat litter is made from natural ingredients such as wheat or corn kernels, recycled newspapers, dried wood or grass, and kiln-dried pine. There are plenty of brands available, and whilst they are more expensive they don’t cost the earth. Better still, they are compostable which leads us onto point number two.
You scooped the poop: Now what? Do NOT use regular poop bags as these take 1,500 years to degrade in landfill sites. Instead use biodegradable bags which break down in around one month.
Better still, set up a home composter in the back yard. These turn pet waste into compost for your garden (although the compost produced should not be used to feed vegetables or plants for human consumption.) You can create a composter from scratch using an old garbage can and some sewage starter, or you can purchase a commercial pet poop composter.
Food for Thought
Have you ever stopped to consider what goes into your cat food and the environmental impact of producing it? Many commercial foods contain meat and meat-by-products from intensively farmed animals, plus they contain cereals grown using fertilisers and pesticides. The food may then be packaged in cans containing BPA (bisphenol A), a substance linked to health problems in humans.
The alternative is to buy natural or organic cat food that contains meat from animals raised using humane, sustainable methods without the use of drugs, hormones, fertilisers, or pesticides. To be certain a food meets these standards looked for a ‘certified organic’ mark on the packaging which is backed by your country’s government. Also, be sure to dispose of packaging responsibly. Some trail-blazing companies even undertake free recycling of their pet food containers.
Toys and Bedding
Cat toys may be little but they can make a big impact. Plastics and rubber often contain BPA and phthalates (both have potential health and environmental implications). Instead, look for toys made from recycled materials which are eco-friendly such as:
- Stuffing made from cycled plastic bottles
- Dye free fabrics
- Recycled cotton yarns (for fabrics and rope toys)
- Recycled or organic materials
The same goes for cat beds. You can buy gorgeously soft and comfy beds made from recycled PET bottles and stuffed with wadding made from recycled materials. And don’t forget to look for blankets made from organically produced cotton plants raised without the use of harsh chemical that are damaging to the environment. And just think, when your give the cat your old T-shirt to sleep on, this is a form of recycling and your cat will love it because it smells of you.
You’re probably spotting a theme by now, but when purchasing household cleaners and disinfectants to tidy up after your cat, buy ones that are marked as environmentally friendly or opt for natural cleaning products such as baking soda and vinegar.
This is because most domestic cleaning agents contain triclosan. When this gets into the groundwater, the action of ultraviolet light converts it into dioxins. These toxic substances accumulate in body tissue and can work their way up to the food chain. So what you pour down the sink could ironically work its way into the fish your cat (or you) eats and indirectly harm them.
If your cat is a fussy eater and you have a stash of cat litter you are determined to use up, consider off-setting the environmental damage by looking into personal carbon trading or a tradable personal pollution allowance, as appropriate for where you live in the world.
This Earth Day we invite you to consider the bigger picture, and ask yourself what changes you can make to become a more eco-friendly pet owner. Leave a comment below and share with our readers the changes you intend to make.
A great post just in time for Earth Day! Our pets cause the carbon footprint of many households to skyrocket, so going organic in as many ways as possible is super important!
Great post and super tips! I went organic for me and my dogs in the mid-90s and have used natural cleaners for years now. Thanks for bringing that up. There’s not as much disparity in prices between conventional and organic these days.
Talent Hounds says
Some great ideas and important things to think about. Even small changes can make a difference.
Carol Bryant says
What a great list and I love the composting idea. So many folks don’t consider this.
Great post – being kind to the world is the best – a total devoted Happy Earth Day!!
Beth | Daily Dog Tag says
Thanks for this very thoughtful post. I try to be considerate of the earth with the choices I make, but I definitely have room for improvement.
Sweet Purrfections says
That’s a lot to think about. I remember we called this day “Ecology Day” back in the 70s
It always makes me sad to see a forest of trees demolished due to the devastating impact it has on the animals who live(d) there. Great post.
christycaplan (@christycaplan) says
toys and bedding is such an easy way to be sustainable – and eco-friendly. I always look for simple things I can do to make sure I’m being green when it comes to dog products. Great post!
These tips are great! We can all take little steps to be responsible for our impact on the planet. It would be awesome if someone could come up with a better (and still inexpensive) way to get rid of cat litter and poop without just putting it in a trash bag and throwing it away. Composters aren’t really an option for people living in small apartments (like me) with cats. I love that they are available for homeowners though!
Sarcastic Dog says
I love these tips for cat owners. We only have one planet earth and there are so many little things we can do to help the effort to keep it healthy. Happy Earth Day!
Fur Everywhere says
These are great things to consider. I really wish our apartment building had some kind of recycling program.
Ava at Savvy Pet Care says
I switched to biodegradable litter some time ago and make homemade raw, so I’m doing pretty good there. There are still so many ways to improve though, like more organic, and more natural cleaners. Great post..
Tenacious Little Terrier says
We try to use natural cleaning products when possible. Happy Earth Day!
The Swiss Cats says
Those are great tips ! We love how you put together cat welfare and Earth Day. Purrs
Three Chatty Cats says
These are all great tips, thank you! Happy Earth Day!
Wow I never knew there were so many things that cat use and of course do that we can change to help the planet. Thanks for all the tips.
The Island Cats says
Excellent tips! We need to do more to protect our planet.
Wow, you’ve given us all a lot to think about. Happy Earth Day!