If you’re wanting to live a more sustainable life and have cats, you may have noticed that cats also require quite a lot of resources and produce a lot of waste. Whilst some of this is inevitable (they are living animals just like us, after all), you may be considering how you can get started with sustainable cat care. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be too difficult assuming your little friends are willing to work with you 🙂
Tip 1: Recycle recycle recycle
This tip is a good place to start because it doesn’t require much effort and doesn’t impact your cats at all. Their food often comes in metal tins or plastic pouches. When these containers are empty, we send them to landfill or to be burned. Depending on where you live, these can often be recycled rather well which will mean that materials such as the valuable metals in the tins can be used again. If your fluffy friend doesn’t finish their food, you can also compost the old food rather than throwing it out. Giving smaller portions more frequently can also reduce the amount of food waste.
Tip 2: Change to different food
I want to start with a disclaimer here. My personal view is that you should put the health of your pet above small differences in the environmental cost. Food with a low meat content (or even no meat) has a lower impact on the environment, but is also detrimental to the health of your cats. Your cats want and need meat, and you should provide that as best you can.
Despite this, I think there are improvements you can make to your cats’ diet to become more sustainable. You can try organic cat food which brings huge improvements in animal welfare, something which I feel is very important and should be mentioned as part of sustainability. You can also make sure you buy sustainably-caught fish food or try to buy more chicken instead of beef (due to the big differences to the environmental cost between chicken and beef, see our previous article on that here). Of course, you should run all of these changes by your four-legged friends, because sometimes they won’t change their diet so easily 🙂
Tip 3: More sustainable litter
A sometimes overlooked aspect of sustainable cat care, the contents of the litter box is one of the biggest costs to the environment of your cats. The litter that you use matters significantly in this regard. There are many different types of litter, ranging from wood to paper to clay and to silica. What you want is natural wood-based compounds (wood or paper is fine). These can be made from recycled materials and can sometimes be recycled again afterwards. Materials such as clay and silica are often mined from the Earth, taking significant energy and are normally transported long distances. You also need to take into account your cats’ preferences though: We’ve been unsuccessful so far in moving our cats away from their precious clay litter! If your cats are more flexible than ours, you can try this one by ökocat which we’ve heard good things about.
Tip 4: Look at the fun stuff – Toys and beds
If you’re the kind of person that likes to buy cat toys and beds (like us), then we need to talk. Seeing your cat’s sweet face as you show them a new toy is magnificent and I would not dare to suggest that you stop doing that. What you can do is try to buy longer lasting toys which are made out of stronger materials. I used to buy cheap plastic toys from China that would break after a few days, requiring me to keep buying new ones. As you can imagine, that isn’t great for sustainability. There are a range of higher quality toys and balls that are made to last and can be made out of stronger plastics or wood. They may cost more in the short-term but you might find that you save money over time. The reduction in waste is ideal too.
The same concept applies to beds and other cat furniture too. We’ve given up on providing cat beds since they seem to want to lay on everything except the cat beds anyway, but I’m told that there are cats who enjoy them. If that includes your cats, then this is a tip for you. You can try to find beds and furniture which are made out of natural, strong materials such as organic cotton. You could also look for furniture which uses recycled materials. Ideally the bed would be used for a long period of time, so try to find out that doesn’t look flimsy. It’s interesting to note that whilst people think that old, damaged cat furniture should be replaced, your cats are still very attached to it and will be happy to keep using it.
If you’ve made any changes to try to make your cat more sustainable, or if you just want to tell us about how awesome your cats are, feel free to leave a comment below 🙂