I love my two cats. And they love each other.

If that's not love, I don't know what is.
If that's not love, I don't know what is.

It’s easy to forget but my cute and cuddly critters also leave a carbon footprint (or pawprint), however inadvertent. Fortunately, there are so many ways to help reduce the impact of having cats if you are aware of the options and keep your eyes peeled at the pet store. Here are my top three.

1. Litter.

One of the most popular options is clay litter. Clay litter is terrible for pets and even worse for the planet. This is due to the process through which it’s obtained: strip mining. Strip mining is really, really bad, and what’s worse is that we’ve know this for a very long time.

*seriously resisting the urge to go off on a tangent about how STUPID we all are for continuing to support practices that we KNOW ARE DESTROYING THE EARTH*

*deep breath*

Fear not, dear readers, there are SO MANY better options. Biodegradable litter decomposes faster than clay litter and doesn’t contain all those extra, unnecessary fragrances and chemicals.

Two brands that I can personally vouch for are Swheat Scoop Natural Wheat Litter and World’s Best Cat Litter. Trust me. They’re unscented, minimally dusty, and easily scooped.

2. Food.

If your cats eat wet food, recycle the cans or pouches (when possible). If you purchase dry food, getting the larger bags will save you some money and also means less packaging and fewer trips to the store.

I won’t get into the debate on what types of food to feed your kitty, but I recommend sticking to sustainably sourced ingredients whenever possible, please and thank you.

These catnip mice were knitted by a crafty friend and my kittes love to lick and bat them around!
These catnip mice were knitted by a crafty friend and my kittes love to lick and bat them around!

3. Toys.

There is so much junk you can get from the pet store, dollar store, etc. that I’m sure your pet will love….for about five minutes. Cat attention spans are short. Don’t waste your money on cheap, plastic, Made in China products when you can make or up-cycle something that will be just as enjoyed by your furry friends.

One time I put a bell and some catnip in the toes of an old sock, tied up the end, and voila! The little jerks loved the crap outta that thing.

This is why I'm allowed to call them jerks.
This is why I'm allowed to call them jerks.

On the social side, I can’t end this post without advocating for pet adoption. If you’re in the market, please consider adopting from the SPCA, the Humane Society, or even a private rescue. You’ll be happy you did.

15 thoughts on “Purrfection

  1. For years I’ve been told that clay litter was better because you can compost it – Just shows that sometimes organizations with environmental bents (solid waste commissions) don’t look at the whole picture either. Informative!

  2. Good point Gill, and you are the recycling/composting guru, after all!

    I’ve heard mixed responses about composting cat litter. I think it depends on the city policies, if it’s going through a composting program, and on where you’re using it, if composting yourself. I also know you’re not supposed to compost kitty droppings on any edible plants…something about toxoplasmosis? This HRM site suggests not composting pet droppings in a backyard compost at all http://www.halifax.ca/wrms/backyardcompost.html and this one says it’s not to go in the green bin either http://www.halifax.ca/wrms/greencart.html.

    I know some people flush the eco-friendly brands, but have heard debates about toxoplasmosis and marine life as well. I guess we can sum this up to say that pets are bad for the planet no matter what….

  3. The two places I’ve worked with this stuff encourage composting natural clay litter, but I’m not so familiar with Halifax’s rules. This is a question borne of total ignorance, but is toxoplasmosis in their systems because it is a natural cat thing, or is it created/introduced because of all that ashy food most of them eat?

  4. From what I’ve read (and I’m by no means an expert), most indoor cats are free of parasites. Toxoplasmosis is transferred to cats through their outdoor prey – birds, mice, etc. It’s easily transferable though, humans are at risk, and I believe that pregnant women are particularly susceptible. I’m not sure about the purchased food, if it carries it…but to be honest, even when the products that boast high quality, I wouldn’t be surprised.

  5. I will have to try these alternative litter brands of which you speak. I tried one before that smelled SO TERRIBLE I vowed never to switch from the brand I normally use ever again. Really, I’m just looking for an alternative that is better for the environment, but not leaps and bounds worse in quality. I can take lesser quality to a degree, but not too much, for the sake of my nose and back (scooping littler can be an arduous and smelly process).

    Wouldn’t the “best” environmental practice be to let your cats poop and pee outside? Not that I’m an advocate of that in the city, as poor kitties get killed so easily when they live near busy streets. Maybe if I live in a more rural area again (or at least one with an enclosed yard) I’ll let my poor little mongrel out into the wild. I’m just not sure my kitty could survive. Ultimately, kitty survival ranks a bit above environmental impact for me – but I want to do better. Show me how, Krista!

  6. Janny, Worlds Best Cat Litter is, by far, the best litter I’ve tried. Swheat Scoop is what I use now because I was able to get larger bags for a slightly better price and the quality is mostly comparable. Keep in mind though, my main concern isn’t smell, but cleanliness. Jones, particularly when he was little, used to emerge from the litter box covered in litter, all over his fur, in between his toes…I’m not sure what he was doing in there – rolling around? So of course he tracked it everywhere. I’ll warn against one biodegradable brand – Feline Pine. It was the gummiest, in-between-his-toes litter that I’ve tried yet.

  7. Janice the stuff we use is pretty good at controlling the scent, but as Krista mentioned it is more about cleanliness. I’ve found to helps to add some pet odour control product. There are a variety out there that work really well and seem to not bother the cats. However, I can’t claim to have found one that contains only natural products/has minimal environmental impact, though I’m sure if we looked around at some of the more local/boutique pet shops we could find something appropriate.

  8. Thanks for the recommendation, Karen! Know what would be even better than flushable litter? Toilet trained cats. I’ve heard it being done… I should really get on that.

  9. Great post, Krista. Another interesting topic that you may have some insight on how to prevent pet cats from taking out the neighbourhood bird population. I guess this isn’t an issue in urban places where cats stay inside. In my rural hometown and I can’t bring myself to put ‘the bell’ around a cats neck… nor can I snap on the cat when it looks up at me with big eyes and a mouthful… hmmmmm. Also – follow this new project, the range of coverage is similar to the content of this blog – http://katerva.org/ – keep it up.

    • Jesse – I hit a bird today on my drive home from work :C It was unbelievable! I thought they were masters at avoiding cars. Cats, cars, windows – poor birds can’t catch a break.

  10. I never thought twice about the litter I use! I have always used this one kind and have put it into the compost bin and never thought of it again. I worry now that if I change their litter, my 6-yr old kitties may be resistant to the change. Hanging around the vet clinic has got me ultra-sensitive to the issues that cats can have with their litterboxes. We sell the Feline Fresh brand at work though, so I suppose I could try it and see if they notice…

    Also, hanging around the clinic has given me opinions on outdoor cats. One vet I work with recently went to an event in Halifax and helped to raise some awareness. Article here –> http://www.halifaxnewsnet.ca/News/2011-06-09/article-2571106/For-the-birds–/1

  11. I know very little of kitties, but a fair amount about dogs! You can make a dog poop compost by getting a big garbage can. Cut the bottom out of it, and a few holes in the sides. Dig a hole big enough to put the garbage can in. Throw some rocks in the bottom with septic starter. Toss in said poop. Cover with lid. The septic starter will help break down the poop! Put the composter far away from any veg gardens you may have.

    For my dogs, I try to be careful what I buy. Their food is high quality, and although it comes from Sask, all the ingredients are produced within 100 km of the factory. We use biodegrable bags for their poop (our landlord doesn’t want a poop compost in his yard). I get old towels and blankets from the re-use centre for their beds. Also, both of our dogs are rescues. It’s the same way I feel about humans, why make more of the energy-consumers when there are so many already in existence and needing a home?

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