I consider myself to be a holistic eco-warrior, meaning that I work to focus on every part of my life that creates an impact and take actions to make that impact a positive one. Our cat, Dinah (a.k.a. Diney)*, is a big part of our life and, although she has a little body, she unknowingly leaves quite a big footprint.
If you have a cat, are thinking about adopting a cat, or have a pet similar to a cat and are conscious about your environmental, social and cultural impact, then this post could be really useful for you!
Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I’d like to make it clear that keeping your cat indoors is absolutely one of the best things you can do to help your local wildlife and ecosystem. So, our cat is always confined to our small garden, if not indoors!
Continue reading for some more of the actions we take to reduce Diney’s paw print and, in turn, our own.
So, this calls for a disclaimer: I am not a vet. This is not professional advice or a recommendation of how you should be caring for your pet. This is simply an account of the actions I take or will take at home based on my own research. I am sharing this for information purposes only. If you are planning on making changes in your pet care, please do your own research and/or consult your vet.
Eco Cat Food
Let’s dive in.
Look, the current way the general Australian population produces and consumes meat isn’t environmentally sustainable. The current way meat is used in our pet food ~generally~ isn’t either.
The reality is that most meat in pet food comes as a by-product of meat production for human consumption. While this reduces “food” waste, the rendering of animal carcasses and “leftover parts” isn’t a nice thought or practice, and something that would be brilliant to avoid.
The thing is, cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they must eat meat for nutritional necessity. As a vegan and a cat owner, this leaves me with a bit of a moral dilemma.
The simple fact is that meat provides cats with taurine as well as vitamins that can’t be found naturally in any animal-free option in the current market.
It is possible to find vegan cat food with synthetic taurine and nutritional additives but it’s always safe to do your research about whether synthetic additives are the best option for your cat and whether these options would provide them with enough nutrients to live happily and healthily.
Unlike my own rich and varied vegan diet, my cat lives on only two food options: dry biscuits and wet biscuits. So, the choice I’ve made thus far is to avoid the current vegan cat food market. Instead, I’ve chosen to lean towards more high quality, yet still “natural” options.
I’m still making these changes, so please don’t judge – she’s a fussy one.
At the moment she currently eats Leaps & Bounds biscuits in bulk bags to help me reduce my waste. I’m not entirely proud of her Royal Canin wet food as it’s not as natural and creates a lot of waste. We’ve tried other options, but this is the only one she’ll eat (so far!).
After researching for this blog post, I’d like to move towards certified organic cat food such as Organic Paws to at least make better meat choices, help the pesticide problem, and avoid any additional toxins she’s consuming.
Pet Poop for the Planet
It’s gotta be talked about.
There are so many ways we can help reduce our pets’ paw print by the way we deal with their poop!
At the moment, I choose clay cat litter that comes in a paper bag. Although this litter is apparently amazing to use in the garden at the end of its life, we’re renting. So, I have to dispose of this in the general waste. However, it still leaves me with the peace of mind that is will eventually return to the earth completely.
One thing I would like to get onto is EnsoPet waste composting (affiliate link). According to the makers of this pet composting kit, Bokashi, “Composting all pet waste… keeps your yard free of pet waste, preventing it from ending up in landfill and returning carbon to the soil, rebuilding the soil on a microbial level.”
But that’s something for when we’ve got our own place (sorry, landlords!).
Some additional things we do to reduce the poop print:
- Avoid kitty litter liners
- Use packaging-free, compostable waste bags
- Use a reusable scoop and clean it regularly
- Use our current plastic box (instead of switching to a more eco-friendly one when we don’t need to yet!)
- When the plastic litter box is at end-of-life, we’ll switch to a recycled bamboo litter tray
Sustainable Pet Bedding
My kitten’s bed on my desk is literally a second-hand wicker basket with an old blanket and she loves it. A few years ago we picked up a fair trade cat pod (affiliate link) from ethical homewares store, Aquamarine Home, and were given her felt toy mouse along with the purchase. She likes to sleep on top of this one, so long as we’re in the same room as her.
Natural Kitty Care
Above all the basic necessities, our pets need love and attention.
While cats can wash themselves, Ethique, The ANSC, Dindi Naturals, Urthly Organics, and Bondi Wash (all affiliate links) have all created natural pet washes to avoid nasty chemicals, in case of kitty emergencies.
Something I’ll be investing in soon, for when that winter coat starts to shed, is Eco Max’s zero waste/biodegradable pet brush (affiliate link), and when her old collar begins to fall to pieces, I’ll look at investing in a hemp/cork, cork, Piñatex, or organic cotton/hemp replacement.
That’s about it when it comes to care – so long as Dinah gets food, sleep, clean litter, time outside to sharpen her claws on the tree, and lots of scratches, she’s a happy kitten!
*Dinah was found in a school playground at 3 weeks old in 2012. After adopting her, myself and my mum got up every few hours to feed her until she was weaned. She’s a little unique, slurps when she cleans herself and eats (soft palette, apparently), has shaky eyes, and isn’t too great at jumping or landing but she is very, very loved. Pets have an amazing, grounding power and Diney got me through some tough times. I think I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: we rescued each other.