The Complete Guide to Sustainable Cat Care

sustainable cat care

Cats may be adorable and entertaining and the single biggest source of joy in a depressing world, but here’s a sobering fact: they pollute! According to research, a cat’s carbon footprint is about the same as that of a small car. I was shocked. Aren’t cats animals and therefore nature-friendly? The thing is, domesticated cats live in our world and use products that we’ve made for them – whether that’s plastic-filled toys or preservative-laden cat food. So, yes, cats do leave behind a lot of pollution in their wake. That’s the bad news. The good news is that sustainable cat care is possible. 

Cats are very simple to take care of (I said simple, not easy;)). They basically eat, play, poop, sleep. Many cats do more things, like head outdoors for adventure. There are sustainable options for each of these activities, that can make your cat’s life more eco-friendly. Let’s go over them.

 

SUSTAINABLE CAT FOOD

Sustainable Cat Care

Opt for chicken or fish – that’s what your cat will prefer anyway – that’s organic and obtained from sustainable sources. Even better? If it’s locally sourced. If you can buy local and give your cat fresh chicken/fish or a meal that’s cooked at home, nothing like it. But I’m aware most of us are strapped for time and cooking skills (ahem), so the next best option is to go for cat food brands that are sustainable sourced and made. Here are a few options:

Ethical & Eco-Friendly Cat Foods Brands

This partial list is from a longer list at Fluffy Kitty. Head over there to see the criteria used to shortlist these brands.

  1. Open Farm
  2. Castor & Pollux
  3. Lily’s Kitchen
  4. Petcurean
  5. Halo
  6. Ziwi Peak
  7. Acana & Orijen

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Note: Fish can be controversial, due to depleting fisheries resources worldwide (and about 10% of all harvested fish are consumed by domestic pets). This is definitely a major problem, but I don’t think the solution is to switch your cat to eating grains and corn. Fish is their natural diet, and as far as possible, I would suggest sticking to their natural diet. Switching it up may seem like a good idea, but will cause them health issues down the road. And please don’t feed them vegan cat food.

Packaging 

Try to choose cat food with recyclable packages. Reduce the waste (recycle tins and cans, and boxes), and make sure you refrigerate any raw food your cat doesn’t eat immediately – so you can feed it to her later.

Food Bowl

What will you kitty eat from? I use a ceramic bowl for her food as well as her water. I also have stainless steel travel bowls. Getting a sustainably made food bowl – such as this one – won’t hurt.

SUSTAINABLE CAT LITTER

Sustainable Cat Care

This is the major pollutant and the most controversial part of a domestic cat’s life. Most commercial cat litter is made from bentonite clay – the benefit of which is that it clumps upon contact with moisture, making it easier for you to clean it up. However, bentonite is harvested by strip mining, which is a very environmentally destructive process. 

So what is one to do with regards to the poop department? There are some things you can do to detox the whole process for your kitty:

  1. Switch to a natural, non-clay, biodegradable litter that is commercially available. Like these:
    Cedarific Natural Cat Litter
    ökocat Natural Cat Litter
    Swheat Scoop Natural Wheat Litter
    World’s Best Cat Litter
    Feline Pine 

    OR

    Make your own litter at home from discarded resources: plain sawdust, pieces of wood, recycled paper, corn, wheat.

AND

For odor, get the Earth Friendly Kitty Litter Treatment.

2. Use a non-plastic litter box – like this metal one, or this bamboo and fibre one, or this self-cleaning one that claims to be eco-friendly.

3. Switch to a non-plastic scoop, as well: iPrimio Aluminum Shovel

4. Get compostable litter bags to responsibly dispose of the soiled litter as per your local neighborhood waste disposal rules. 

This is a challenge – we all know how fussy our cats can be when it comes to a comfortable place to poop. The best advice I can give you is to be patient and try all the eco-friendly litter options one by one, until you find something that your cat is okay with. Or try plain ol’ sand/soil brought in from a local garden. As natural as it can get!

NOTE: Never flush cat litter down the toilet, as the clay can wreak havoc to your plumbing. Plus, their poop itself can be pretty dangerous, with the Toxoplasma parasite affecting downstream marine life pretty badly (and maybe even vulnerable people in your home).

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SUSTAINABLE CAT TREATS 

For sustainably made cat treats, check out these brands:

Orijen Cat Treats

Colorado Kitty Pot catnip

West Paw Design Catnip

 

SUSTAINABLE CAT TOYS 

Sustainable Cat Care

Again, just like litter, you have two options: buy or make your own (DIY). 

You can make cat toys yourself with materials shiny paper, toilet paper tubes and cardboard boxes. 

Or you can buy toys made by others – Etsy is great for this!

Or you could try something like the Catit Eco Terra Natural Cat Toy.

Be warned, though: cats can and will ingest strings, so be very careful when using non-digestible strings or yarn. My cat had to have a major surgery after she ingested a shoelace (I don’t know why she did that, but I’ve diligently hidden all stringy items from her since, although she shows zero interest in them after having learned her lesson I suppose.) 

She now has only half of her intestine – the vet had to remove the rest because the plastic end of the shoelace had entered her intestines and punctured holes in them as digestion was unsuccessfully attempted, causing leakage. It was a very close situation, and the vet put her chances of surviving post-surgery at 50%. Luckily, the brat is still with us, and none the worse for it, but at the time I was frantic. It is not an experience I would wish on my worst enemy. So, please be careful with what you leave around your cat when she’s unsupervised.

SUSTAINABLE CAT BEAUTY

Sustainable Cat Care

Remember, cats are weird and have many allergens that we would never suspect (such as aloe). I mean, you would think the manufacturers would have done some research on their customers. Make sure you check the ingredients and always choose organic, eco-friendly products as far as possible!

I don’t give my indoor cat a bath (I doubt I would satisfy her standards), but if you bathe your cat, choose eco-friendly, organic products, such as the Earthbath Cat Shampoo. 

If you want to play it really safe, make your own cat shampoo using this recipe! And use diatomaceous earth for flea treatment. 

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SUSTAINABLE CAT FASHION & COMFORT

pet fashion in sustainable cat care

A lot of cat products are made from plastic, which is far from ideal. Especially for cat beds (if your cat even uses her own bed!) and cat accessories (leash, harness, collar), opt for items made from organic and natural materials such as cotton, wood, etc.

Remember, if you can, find out about the company that makes the product: if they follow sustainable practices and uses high-quality material, then it’s better for the environment since it will likely last much longer. The downside is that it will probably cost more, but in the final analysis, it’s better to spend more money on a high-quality product, than to spend it on the vet later on due to  health issues brought on by toxins…

Here are some eco-friendly pet fashion and comfort options:

Pettsie Cat Collar

Kitty Holster Cat Harness (my cat loves this)

Freedom Pet Pass Cat Door

Purr Pad Eco-Friendly Cat Bed

Kittypod Couchette Cat Perch

Get eco-friendly cat beds from Etsy!

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Recycle Your Used Cat Items

If your cat has played nice with their toys or beds/blankets, etc, and they’re still in good condition, you can donate them to a rescue org or shelter.

 

SUSTAINABLE CAT HEALTH

Sustainable Cat Care

Find a good, affordable vet and stick with them. Invest in good pet insurance. 

Make sure your cat is kept entertained as much as she requires. Cats need stimulation, and in the absence of that can develop depression and other health issues. Toys would work, as would access to see the outside world through windows, or – if you stay in a high rise looking out at the blue sky – maybe you can set up a bird feeder that she can watch from a safe distance:) Play with your kitty for a while every day. Not only does this make her (and you) very happy, but it also expends her energy, and she won’t end up trashing your sofa instead. And get her a scratching board like this one to keep her claws (and your couch) in top shape.

Sterilize your cat. Not only will this help the environment (cats are apex predators and can cause havoc to the local wildlife numbers), but also with your cat’s health (sterilization greatly reduces the risk of illnesses). 

Besides, a very large number of cats (and dogs) are abandoned at shelters every year. It makes very little sense to help bring more little cats into this world when there are so many still looking for homes. So, please adopt rather than shop for animals.

SUSTAINABLE CAT care

Spotify Cat Playlist

This is a cool feature. Just answer some questions about your fur ball with Spotify’s new pet playlist feature. And get a list of 30 tracks customized for you and your cat – curated by Spotify’s algorithm. Visit spotify.com/pets on your desktop or phone, choose your cat’s major characteristics (relaxed/energetic, shy/friendly, etc).

Disclaimer: My cat didn’t think much of it. Her music tastes are such that she cried when I played Beyonce in the car once, and stopped when I switched to Rihanna. Make of that what you will. Otherwise, she enjoys instrumental music – classical piano or jazz. Her Highness has some evolved tastes lol.

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So, there you go. A full guide to starting a more eco-friendly and sustainable life for your beloved cat(s).

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sustainable cat care

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