When Cat Fancy magazine asked me about making a cat “green,” my first thought was, “How can these fluffy balls of fun contribute to our carbon footprint?” Cats don’t operate motor vehicles and they don’t contribute to landfill much, except for the occasional sofa shredded beyond recognition. And, those disgusting hairballs we end up stepping on in the middle of the night are totally organic and biodegradable.
What I didn’t know was that traditional clay cat litter is not biodegradable. It is made from clay which is strip mined making it tough on the ecosystem both coming and going. The dust from clay litter contains substances which contribute to the development of feline lung diseases. Furthermore, cat feces, which end up in our costal waterways, may be harming wildlife such as sea otters (delightful creatures almost as cute as cats). It seems that there is an epidemic of Toxoplasmosis in sea otters traced back to cat feces flushed down human toilets.
Below are some suggestions to make your cat “green.” They range from simple to creative and I think there is something for everyone. They are divided into 4 major areas:
Food and Treats
Purchase cat food in recyclable containers – bags or cans are most commonly recyclable. Then recycle the containers.
Grow your own cat grass and cat nip – your cat will love you and you can erase a little of your carbon footprint.
Cat Litter and Litter Boxes
Litter box issues are tough and nothing causes more friction between a cat and its owner, so if you plan a switch do it slowly and be prepared to revert to your previous litter and litter box on a moment’s notice.
Toilet train your cat. This is a no-no if you live in a coastal region.
Use litter from recycled materials, such as recycled newspaper
Use a biodegradable litter:
• Pine based flushable litter – This litter is specially processed to make it safe for cats. Do not use pine chips for your garden as they may not be safe. http://www.naturesearth.com/
• Corn based flushable litter
• Wheat based flushable cat litter http://www.swheatscoop.com/
Make your own litter from old newspapers
Disposable litterbox – Great for travel, but may not be great for the environment so be sure it is biodegradable; no plastics
This self washing litter box has reusable pellets instead of litter. It looks like a very cool device, but it really needs a carbon audit
Protect the delicate natural environment
Keep cats inside to protect native wild birds
Put cat feces in the garbage or compost it if you live in coastal areas to protect native water species. In Australia, keep cats inside to protect native small marsupials.
Environmentally friendly products
Environmentally friendly toys
Environmentally friendly grooming products
Sustainable bamboo scratching posts/cat trees