The Easy Guide to an Eco-Friendly Cat
When I switched my cats to a more sustainable lifestyle, I was concerned about a couple things. It isn’t always easy to change the products your pets are used to. I wondered if there would be a large initial cost, if they would adjust poorly to different food or litter brands, and if organic cat products would be more difficult to attain. I finally sat down and did a bucket load of research to try and nail down the best options for my cats.
The best part about buying sustainable products is the fact that it almost always saves you money in the long run. And now thanks to a growing concern for the livelihood of our pets, organic and eco-friendly cat products are easier to come by than ever.
There are also plenty of options in this list that don’t require any investment at all.
I detailed some of the methods that were most efficient in transitioning my cats into a greener lifestyle. Hopefully this will help you and serve as your ultimate guide to a more eco-friendly cat!
Disclaimer: This article contains some affiliate links for which I would receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you decide to purchase a product through this post. I use this commission to feed my cats. So thanks 🙂
Eco-Friendly Cat Toys
Organic Cat Toys and Upcycling
Every cat, especially indoor cats, need to have plenty of reasons to run around. We all want to spoil our kitties, but cute little cat toys often mean a lot more to us than they mean to them. Any cheap colorful mice I buy from the pet store often get torn into shreds or have little bits of disemboweled fluff coming out of them by the end of the day. Then they ultimately get thrown in the garbage.
A lot of cheap cat toys can contain harmful toxins that could be hazardous to your cat’s health. Since cats spend a lot of time gnawing at their toys and licking their paws, it makes sense that we should ensure the toys they’re playing with are made of natural and organic materials that will keep them safe.
I started investing in a few toys of better quality that will last significantly longer than a bag of $2.00 mice. And when I say investing I mean maybe an extra few dollars. The Natural Pet Company creates some lovely variety boxes full of beautiful organic cat toys. They include mice made of natural wood, sisal, and feathers. These toys are pleasantly long lasting, the mice from the box I bought 10 months ago are still in use and looking great. They also come in easily recycled cardboard packaging.
My cats’ all-time favorites though are the Fair-Trade Friendsheep Eco Wool Balls. These are colorful little balls of 100% cruelty-free New Zealand wool handmade in Nepal. They are perfectly ethical, eco-friendly, and satisfy our need to buy our kitties something super duper cute.
But to be honest, I don’t think there are any toys my cats love more than things I’ve accidentally dropped on the floor. Little bundles of rolled up paper and colorful felt balls are their two favorites. Not to mention the balls of yarn that continuously go missing from my room.
So instead of throwing small objects like toilet paper rolls or hair clips away, I toss them to the cats to see how they react. Sometimes they disinterestedly pat it with their paw and walk away. But other times they take off with it, whooshing it through the apartment. So, before you throw away a broken hair tie, ask yourself if it looks like something your cat would enjoy. They might love it better than anything you could ever buy them.
The best toys always contain a little catnip kick to keep your kitties interested. Catnip is generally safe for your cat to ingest in low quantities. Like we discussed before, it’s usually the packaging that can be harmful to your cat’s health.
For an organic package free catnip treat you can look for the WoLover Catnip Sticks. They give your cat a wonderful natural high while improving their dental and gastrointestinal health. These are 100% organic with no additives or preservatives. I was shocked by how quickly my cats snatched them from me when I first introduced them. They also last us quite a while: months.
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Eco-Friendly Cat Food
We all know cats can be picky about pretty much everything. This is especially true for their food.
It is very important to ensure your food contains only organic ingredients. Certified organic foods are produced without synthetic pesticides or genetically modified agents, and the organic farming process helps to preserve the integrity of the land and water.
One of the easiest things you can do is change the flavors of your cat’s food. If you are buying beef flavored food, consider switching to chicken or seafood flavor. One pound of beef takes considerably more resources to produce than one pound of chicken. Look for seafood like sardines and mackerel – fish that are sustainably harvested – instead of tuna.
Just think, the lower something is on the food chain, the greener it is to produce.
Buying in Bulk
The best and probably the easiest option is purchasing organic cat food in bulk. Unfortunately pet food manufacturers are using an increasing amount of flexible plastic materials like polypropylene for pet-food bags because it’s lightweight, more resilient than paper, and it keeps food fresher. Most curbside recycling programs don’t accept this material because many Material Recovery Facilities can’t sort it.
Even paper food bags aren’t completely recyclable because they are usually coated in a protective plastic. Check to see if you can easily rip the packaging, if you can’t then it’s probably not recyclable.
Luckily there’s TerraCycle: an international waste collection program that specializes in recycling the “non-recyclable.” They partner with individuals and manufacturers to create better recyclable products and help divert waste from landfills.
They’ve worked with many brands to help make their packaging more eco-friendly and encourage consumers to send in their used pet food bags in exchange for reward points and charitable donations.
TerraCycle provides donation centers and mail shipments as a way to send in your used packaging. Unfortunately, the United States is limited in donation centers, they are a lot more prominent in Europe and the UK. But that doesn’t mean the US can’t still participate.
Two of the brands I can definitely recommend that have partnered with TerraCycle are Wellness Grain Free and Royal Canin. Both are focused on providing your eco-friendly cat with grain-free organic ingredients and a multitude of dental and digestive health benefits.
While I suggest getting the bulk bags, both brands also have wet pet food options that will give your cat a little more variety in their taste pallet.
Cooking for Your Cat
This option is zero-waste and wholly organic. My favorite way to give my cats a treat is by sharing a little bit of my meal with them. If I’m cooking a dish with chicken or fish, I’ll cut off a little piece before I add any seasoning and reserve it for them. It feels oddly wonderful to be cooking for your cat and yourself.
Some of you may prefer to cook whole meals for your cats on a daily basis rather than buy bulk packages of food. If you do this, consult some verified cat food recipes that will educate you on how to create a healthy balance in your cat’s diet.
If your cat has any dietary restrictions or chronic health problems I would highly recommend visiting a vet before starting them on a new food regimen.
Eco-Friendly Cat Litter
Natural Cat Litters
Many mass market cat litters contain silica dust which has been linked to upper respiratory issues in cats and even humans. Even worse, the chemical fragrances in many cat litters can be toxic to cats.
But thanks to the growing concern for our cats’ health, there are many more natural and organic cat litter options out there. Wood shavings, recycled newspapers, sand, and sawdust have all been used in organic litter. The best part about natural litters is they’re easily composted.
I used to use a Fresh Step litter with scented crystals because I kept the litter box near my bedroom and was worried about odor. Within a month I developed this wheezing cough that wouldn’t go away and only got worse at night.
I suddenly wondered if the litter had anything to do with it so I bought a bag of Yesterday’s News- a litter made of recycled newspapers that is 3X more absorbent than clay – just to try it out. My cough disappeared in two days and the apartment still smells great. Never looking back.
I always buy this 30lb bag of Yesterday’s News. This is the only litter I use for my cats. The main reason I love it is because the larger size pellets don’t stick to my cats feet and that prevents tracking of litter through the apartment. Even though it is unscented it has very efficient odor control. It usually takes my cats about two months to finish.
I’ve also heard great things about The World’s Best Cat Litter. Like Yesterday’s News, this is 99% dust free and comes in a few different formulas. They all have fantastic clumping abilities and effective odor control.
Ökocat is another reliable brand that utilizes soft natural timber and lumber. It’s biggest selling point is its super absorbent ability. It also comes in very easily recycled packaging that you don’t need TerraCycle for.
My cats are not particularly picky so converting their litter was not a hassle, but if you have a finicky one, check here to learn how to best transition your cats into a new litter.
While free two-day shipping is great, it forces Amazon to provide more vehicles (many of them being sent out half empty from inopportune locations) thus increasing fuel emissions.
If you work out a time frame with your cats, you can use the subscribe-and-save option with Amazon. This also allows Amazon to optimize their distribution and ensures that you receive your food/litter at the same time each month for a discounted price up to 15%.
Some people flush their litter as a way to be zero-waste but I wouldn’t recommend this. If your goal is a zero-waste cat then it is important you be aware of the dangers of a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma Gondii; otherwise known as the “mind control” parasite.
This parasite can only reproduce in cats but can infect virtually all warm-blooded animals including humans. Sewage treatments do not eliminate this parasite; therefore, I would not suggest flushing cat waste as it has the potential to contaminate our sea life and then continue on to other animals.
I still believe the safest option in disposing of cat waste is using poop bags. At home I use the Progreen 100% Compostable Trash Bags for my everyday garbage. I use a 13 gallon for my kitchen trash can and a 2.6 gallon for my bathroom. Since I buy the 2.6 gallon anyway, I also use these to dispose of cat litter. I know I can trust this brand as they are biodegradable ATSM 6400D and Vincotte Certified.
Another option are the Cat Poop Litter Waste Bags. These are also certified to be 100% compostable and biodegradable ATSM 6400D. Though I’ve never had a problem with the Progreen, the benefit of the cat waste bags are the easy tie off handles and the fact that they are made specifically for cat litter so they may be a little bit sturdier than the Progreen bags that are primarily made for food waste.
Though your cat probably won’t have a ton of litter boxes in its lifetime, we can still choose ones that will biodegrade better than plastic.
The BecoThings litter box is made from bamboo and rice husk fibers. It has a raised back design to efficiently keep your cat from kicking the litter out.
The Van Ness Eco Litter Pan is also a good option for basic litter needs. 92%-95% is made of plant fibers from bamboo grass and rice husks. The last 5%-8% consists of an organic binding agent.
Disposable litter boxes aren’t a great option for long term use, but they are great when you’re traveling. Kitty’s Wonderbox comes in a set of three disposable litter boxes made of 100% biodegradable recycled paper. Each box can last you up to four weeks.
Another alternative would be to get a litter box that is practically guaranteed to last your cat a lifetime. Litter boxes made of stainless steel are incredibly durable and easier to clean than ones made of recycled plastic or plant fibers. For this I would recommend the IPrimio Ultimate Stainless Steel Litter Box. This litter box doesn’t retain odors and comes with rubber feet on the bottom to prevent floor scratches in case you don’t have a rubber mat.
IPrimio also makes a stainless steel litter scooper. These, like the litter box, are designed to last a lifetime.
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Eco-Friendly Grooming Options
My cats get annual haircuts around May, so they don’t overheat in the summer but they can still shed A TON. Obviously, the best way to try and combat this is with daily brushing.
I had an old metal and plastic brush for the longest time, but it somehow got lost when I moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn. So I looked for a more eco-friendly cat brush. I did a little research and found this one: The AtEase Accents Natural Bamboo Brush. Like it says, this brush is 100% natural and eco-friendly bamboo. It’s also surprisingly sturdy with very soft bristles that my cats seem to really enjoy. It’s a good size for dogs as well as cats.
I have one shorthair cat and one longhair cat. No matter what I do or how much I brush them, cat hair is always everywhere. I swear my black longhair Tiffany breed loses little puffs of hair every time he moves. Then they roll around my apartment like little tumbleweeds.
Traditional lint rollers are notoriously bad for the environment. Not to mention you have to keep repurchasing them which is a pain and bad for your wallet. It’s better just to get a garment brush.
I like the OXO Good Grips FurLifter best. This brush is seriously great for defurring clothes and super easy to clean. It comes with a separated base so when the brush is full, just insert it into the base and pull it out. The base holds the fur inside until you open the bottom and empty it out like a piggy bank. Easy peasy.
Furniture can be a little tougher, so I like to use the Miscly Professional Lint Remover when cleaning things other than clothes. This brush is a two in one, one side for clothing and the other for furniture. It is also amazing at cleaning car seats which are usually the hardest things to remove fur from.
To help protect your furniture you really should provide your cat with a scratching post of some kind. I have two traditional scratching posts made of carpet and jute rope. One was passed down from the family cat I had as a child, the second is a cat tree with a bed on top that I place by the window.
I like these because they are always long lasting even if the top part of the jute rope becomes a little frayed. Like I said, the one scratch post I have has been in my family for about 15 years.
But besides these traditional scratch posts and cat trees, you can get your eco-friendly cat a scratcher round bed. These are cardboard structures that can double as a scratching post and a cat bed. The benefit of these are the ease with which you can clean them. They are also cheaper, often take up less room, and are better for travel.
For an eco-friendly round bed option, I would recommend the MightyDuty Cat Scratcher. This is a multi-functional round bed made of recycled cardboard. It can be turned into two different shapes so your cat can nap, scratch, and stretch all over it.
That’s it for Eco-Friendly Cat Tips and Tricks
Thanks for Reading!
I hope this was helpful to you, if there’s any information you would like to know that I didn’t include here or if you have any suggestions that you felt worked great for you and your cats please feel free to comment below!
* Eco-Friendly Mama featured this article in her post: Sustainable Living Tips from Eco-Friendly Friends, if you’re looking for some advice from other sustainable bloggers then check her out. She compiled a great list of easy swaps that everyone can use to be more eco-friendly.