Green Little Cat

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Why Antibacterial is Anti-Cat and Anti-Human

I was recently reading the latest newsletter from the David Suzuki Foundation.  If you’re Canadian, you know who he is.  If you’re not, David Suzuki is like the Al Gore of Canada, only he’s been in the public eye supporting the environment since the 70’s and no one questions the science he presents because it’s always sound.  Anyway, the newsletter had a great article which sums up why most antibacterial soaps and cleaners are harmful.

With the H1N1 scare going around, I’ve noticed people are going overboard with the hand sanitizer.  Also, with a new baby, I keep seeing ads advising people to wipe all sorts of surfaces that your baby comes into contact with (eg., toys) with a certain brand of antibacterial wipe.

Personally, I never use the stuff because I feel that they’re worse than the bugs going around.  And, if you’ve got a cat, antibacterial cleaners really make no sense to me.  Your cats rub up against you, you pat them with your “sanitized” hands and they lick the stuff off of your hands. I could never give an adequate, scientific explanation to people why they should stop using antibacterial cleaners, other than the increased resistance of bacteria to these products and a general feeling that any sort of chemical you rub into your hands is not a good idea.

However, thanks to the David Suzuki Foundation, I now have a better explanation other than my gut tells me it’s wrong.  Here it is:

“Triclosan is one of the most common antibacterial agents in household cleaners and personal-care products. It creates a known carcinogen, dioxin, as a by-product. Dioxin causes skin disorders and liver problems, and impairs reproductive functions and the immune system (to name a few effects).”

Notice the reference to impairing the immune system.  This is important to note because I read a friend of a friend’s Facebook post saying that they used antibacterial cleaners because they had a compromised immune system and didn’t want to catch anyone’s cold.  The David Suzuki Foundation article also mentioned that studies show that hand sanitizers aren’t any more effective than washing your hands with soap and water.

Here’s where to read more and get recipes on making your own hand sanitizer:

http://beta.davidsuzuki.org/library/finding-solutions/web/get-off-the-antibacterial-crazy-train/

All Natural Pest Control – Safe Picnic Bundle Giveaway

Picnic season may be over where you live, but if you would like to be prepared for next spring and want to win a selection of green pest control products for your home and the great outdoors, enter our Safe Picnic Bundle Giveaway.

The prize consists of an EcoSMART Safe Picnic Value Bundle, featuring the following green home and outdoor products:

  • Home Pest Control (24 oz spray bottle)
  • Flying Insect Killer (14 oz can)
  • Insect Repellent (Two 6 oz bottles)

Visit EcoSMART’s website to read more about their all natural pest control. Or, click this link to go directly to their product page for home pest control.

HOW TO ENTER
To enter the Safe Pincic Budle Giveaway, simply click the link at the bottom of this article and you’ll be redirected to an entry form on my cat toy book website, MakeYourOwnCatToys.com.  Sorry, it’s not on Green Little Cat, but with the new baby in the house, it will be quite some time before I port the code over to Green Little Cat.

TRIPLE YOUR CHANCES TO WIN!

Because I’m really passionate about encouraging other cat lovers to go green for the health of their pets, families and the planet, I’ll triple your entries if you would be so kind as to help spread the word about greener living.  Please do one or more of the following:

  • Join our Facebook fan page
  • Click the “Share” button on the bottom of any Green Little Cat blog article to post it to your favourite social networking site.
  • Click the “ShareThis” link to email an article to a friend.
  • Send a tweet out on twitter and include our website: www.GreenLittleCat.com.
  • Tell a friend about Green Little Cat the old-fashioned way.

There will be a checkbox on the entry form asking whether you helped spread the word.  Check it to triple your entries.  Obviously, I can’t verify whether or not you did any of these activities.  It’s based on the honour system and I thank everyone for respecting the spirit of my request.  Some free cat food is definitely not worth compromising your integrity.  Thank you.

ENTER NOW
The giveaway is limited to U.S. residents in the continental U.S. (excludes Alaska and Hawaii).  Please enter a maximum of once per day and the deadline to enter the giveaway is December 31st.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  Thank you.

Wee Cleaner — Is It Really Non-Toxic?

In January, I wrote an entry about eco-friendly natural cleaners for eliminating pet odours and stains. One of the products I came across was Wee Cleaner. Their website made it sound fantastic for getting rid of the smell of cat pee: “WEE CLEANER is non-toxic, fragrance-free, dye-free, phosphate-free, and enzyme-free. It is biodegradable and produces no fumes.” As a result, I included it in my review.

Over the past few months, I’ve been learning a lot about cleaning products, largely spurred by becoming a Wowgreen Independent Distributor.  The more I learned, the more surprised I was about what is actually in common household cleaners.  I knew they weren’t that great, but I didn’t realize how scary some of them are.

As a result of my newfound knowledge, I kept wondering, how can Wee Cleaner possibly clean without enzymes?  It HAS to use chemicals. I contacted Wee Cleaner and requested an MSDS, that’s a Material Safety Data Sheet. This is a document that manufacturers have to provide for their cleaning products when they’re used in a workplace setting.  The MSDS identifies the hazardous chemicals in the product’s formula as well as the risks associated with product exposure. Interestingly, manufacturers do not have to disclose this information for HOUSEHOLD cleaning products.

Wee Cleaner did not have an MSDS for their gastrointestinal product, but they did provide me with an ingredient list.  Here it is:

Distilled water, hydrogen peroxide (35{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} grade), sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidoproply betaine, cocamide MEA, sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, citric acid

Nothing in the list is considered a hazardous chemical, but I started looking up the ingredients in the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database.  They give ingredients a rating based on how hazardous it is.  Keep in mind that ingredients are rated in the context of using them as cosmetics as opposed to carpet cleaners.

Hydrogen peroxide got a really scary rating of 3 to 8 (depending on product usage) out of 10 on their hazard scale.  A 3 is considered a moderate hazard and anything over 7 is considered a high hazard.  It was flagged for cancer, neurotoxicity, persistence and bioaccumulation, organ system toxicity, endocrine disruption, biochemical or cellular level changes, and more…

Sodium laureth sulfate, which you might think is worse since we’ve heard so much about sodium lauryl sulfate, is actually rated less hazardous.  It was rated between 3 to 6 depending on product usage, making it a moderate hazard.  It was flagged for cancer, persistence and bioaccumulation and organ system toxicity.

Definitely makes you go, “Hmmm”.  I think I have to look up all of the ingredients in my toiletries now…

Natural Green Pest Control

Green pesticides might seem like an oxymoron at first.  I never even thought to look for an eco-friendly insect killer because I simply assumed they didn’t exist.  However, a recent invasion of ants in the kitchen prompted me to look for natural ways to get rid of ants.

I tried my time-tested green method of keeping ants outside by sprinkling a line of cinnamon along the windowsill where they were coming in.  However, these ants were persistent and burrowed their way through this natural barrier.  I next considered using diatamaceous earth, but didn’t have a clue where to buy it around here.  Diatomaceous earth is composed of fossilized sea creatures that are ground up into a fine powder.  The powder is sharp and cuts into the waxy coating of insects when they come into contact with it.  This kills the bugs because they dehydrate from the cuts in their shells.

Serendipitously, I was contacted by a representative for EcoSMART about their green insecticides.  They asked to do a giveaway through my blog, but I wanted to ensure their products really were green before considering it.  I asked them to send me a MSDS for their product, which would list the ingredients and indicate if there were any toxic chemicals.

I learned that their Garden Insect Killer contains the following:

Active Ingredients:
Rosemary Oil ……………………………………….. 0.25{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8}
Peppermint Oil ………………………………………0.25{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8}
Thyme Oil …………………………………………….. 0.25{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8}
Clove Oil ………………………………………………. 0.25{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8}
Other Ingredients*………………………………. 99.00{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8}
Total …………………………………………………. 100.00{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8}
*Water, Mineral Oil (USP), Octadecenoic Acid Potassium Salt, Lecithin

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the product really is quite harmless for humans. However, I recently learned that many essential oils are actually very toxic for cats. That said, the article I read was referencing oils in flea products that are applied directly to a cat and would be ingested when they lick it off of their fur.

I guess you need to balance the toxicity of chemicals vs. essential oils and the likelihood of your cat ingesting the product, while also factoring in the environmental impact.  Being green is never black and white, is it?

The EcoSMART website said you can “spray and harvest” on the same day.  But does it work?

EcoSMART was kind enough to send me a bottle of the Garden Insect Killer as there are unknown bugs munching up the leaves of the miniature orange tree out back.  We started spraying the tree and I’ll let you know if it works.

About that giveaway…

Stay tuned.  I just have to set up the code for the contest, which I hope to do in the next couple of weeks.  Then, you’ll have a chance to win an EcoSMART Safe Picnic Value Bundle.  It’s still picnic weather where I live!

How to Re-carpet a Cat Scratching Post

recarpet scratching postCat scratching posts are a necessity, but they’re not very eco-friendly. I try to extend the life of Furball’s cat tree by trimming the excess threads of carpet and vacuuming it regularly. However, there comes a time when the carpet is threadbare and the cat starts using the floor or the couch instead. Throwing out the scratching post and getting a new one is double whammy to the environment, so what’s a cat lover and tree hugger to do? The answer is to re-carpet that scratching post!

I’ll admit it does take some time and requires a few tools, but fortunately, you’ll only need to do it once every few years. Here are instructions with pictures on how to re-carpet a cat scratching post.

What You’ll Need:

  • Sharp knife for cutting carpet
  • Pliers
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Replacement carpet
  • Nails
  • Hammer or nail gun (nail gun is easier)

3 Steps and Your Done!

  1. Recycle your scratching postUse the sharp knife (be careful!) to cut the worn out carpet off of the scratching post. In this case, we took it off of Furball’s cat condo post. Remove the carpet from the scratching post in one piece. You may need to use the flat head screwdriver and pliers to work out any old nails holding the carpet in place.
  2. Use the removed carpet piece as a template. Place it over the replacement carpet and cut out a piece of carpet in the same size.
  3. Re-carpet that scratching post!Take the nail gun (be careful!) and nail the new piece of carpet onto the scratching post. Depending on the size of the carpet, a nail every 2″ should be adequate. Use more nails if the carpet piece is large and heavy. Use fewer if it is small and light.

That’s it! Of course, that take at least an hour of your life, but it’s well worth it to re-carpet your cat’s scratching post. You’ve recycled your old scratching post, prevented it from ending up in the landfill, you’ve saved on the resources needed to create a new scratching post AND you’ve saved some money too.

To the advantages of this drug, I would attribute its good calming effect and a healthy sound sleep. Disadvantages are side effects. Read more information about the drug on https://www.doondoc.com/doc/ativan-2mg/.

Where To Find Replacement Carpet for Your Cat Scratching Post

  • Ask friends and family if they have any carpet remnants. Surprisingly, one of our best friends had a roll of carpet sitting in her garage for years. I would never have known if I didn’t ask.
  • Try posting on freecycle.org to request some carpet scraps.
  • Visit a carpet store to buy a remnant for a few dollars.

Tips for Making Your Own Cat Furniture Such as a Scratching Post or a Cat Tree

The typical carpeted cat scratching post is bulky, heavy and usually thrown out after Kitty has worn out the carpet.  Rather than buy another scratching post or cat condo, why not make your own?  Ideally, it would be better to re-carpet your scratching post or cat tree and I’ll talk about this in a future blog article.

Since many scratching posts can be made with odds and ends, you can reuse scraps of wood and carpet that would have ended up in the landfill instead.  Great sources of cat furniture material are friends, family and freecycle.org. Freecycle is like an online classifieds site where people in your community post items to be given away and request items they need.  I often see wood pieces up for grabs.

To get you started, I’ve searched the web for some decent instructions on how to make a scratching post from sisal rope, a cat condo and a basic cat scratching post made with carpet.

Here’s a video on how to make a basic cat scratching post:

If you want to try your own design, Rebecca Mountain of Mountain Cat Trees designs and builds eco-friendly cat trees.  She offers 4 tips for building a cat scratching post that your cat will love:

  1. First consider the scratching style your cat prefers. Some cats scratch vertically while others horizontally.
  2. Ensure the structure is designed not to wobble or tip as this is a sure way to scare your cat away from using it.
  3. Cat trees are best if they at least give access to the height of a window, for cats to see out.
  4. Scratching posts should have a surface that cats are attracted to such as sisal rope or a soft wood like cedar.

Eco-Friendly Cat Scratching Posts Branch Out in a Different Direction

eco-friendly cat scratching postMountain Cat Trees takes a different and novel approach to creating eco-friendly cat scratchers.  Based out of the North Quabbin region of Central Massachusetts, this company eschews the typical carpet and wood composite inputs, and instead uses real trees to create natural looking cat trees that are simple and eco-friendly.

Scratchers from Mountain Cat Trees are made using only natural untreated wood and sisal rope. The vertical posts are real trees with the bark removed. I find it rather ironic that a scratcher made from a real tree is the exception as opposed to the norm ;).  The scratching posts are eco-friendly because:

  • They’re made without carpet or synthetic materials using all wood construction
  • The trees are harvested locally using sustainable practices
  • The scratchers are 95{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} biodegradable

I asked Rebecca Mountain (yes, that’s really her name!) of Mountain Cat Trees what her inspiration was to start her business.  Here’s what she had to say:

“While living in the Chicago area years ago, I became involved with a not-for-profit group that was committed to helping curb the overpopulation of feral (wild) cats living in neighborhoods in the area. As part of our efforts we would catch the young kittens in these colonies, socialize them, have them vet checked, and adopted them out to caring, responsible homes.

It was during this time while fostering kittens in my home that I found the need for the kittens to have a scratching post and place to lay by the window. I was not pleased with the carpeted ‘kitty condos’ at the pet store. My experience with them was one of shedding carpet fibers, and an endless battle of trying to vacuum off cat hair. They soon became unsightly behemoths that eventually ended up in a landfill. I decided to make my own cat tree and was determined to create one that was fun and appealing to the cats, attractive in my living room and easy on the environment. A few years later Mountain Cat Trees was born.”

Rebecca has four cats that test each new product design.  A new design must pass their scrutinizing evaluation before going into production, so you can be assured that Mountain Cat Trees’ cat trees get the kitty stamp of approval!

To learn more or to find out where you can purchase Mountain Cat Trees products, please visit their website at www.mountaincattrees.com.

Is Your Cat Sleeping in a Chemical Cesspool?

Now that I’ve got your attention, a friend emailed me an interesting website that lists the toxic chemicals found in pet products.  Did you know there are no government standards for hazardous chemicals in pet products?

logo-stuff
HealthyStuff.org tested over 400 products for toxic chemicals and lists the results on their site.  Most of the tested products were for dogs, but there were some cat beds and toys tested as well.  You can probably assume if there are toxic chemicals in dog products, the same is likely for cat products.

Here are some facts listed on HealthyStuff.org:

  • 45{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} of pet products tested had detectable levels of one or more hazardous chemical, including:
  • One-quarter of all pet products had detectable levels of lead.
  • 7{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} of all pet products have lead levels greater than 300 ppm — the current CPSC lead standard for lead in children’s products.

The Reality of Expert Advice on Introducing Your Cat to a New Baby

IMG_7027Before I brought my new baby home to meet Furball, I had a lot of concerns because Furball is fairly highstrung and becomes agressive when he feels threatened.  I researched the advice from animal experts and came up with a few of my own ideas before the baby was born.  It’s been a few weeks since the baby arrived and I can now report on the reality of implementing the expert advice.

1) Advice: Play audio of babies crying before the baby is born so the cat gets used to it.

Reality: Furball never got used to the audio of the babies crying and would always be freaked out by it.  However, I didn’t play it as consistently as was advised or start as early as recommended.  I’d still recommend doing this.  We discovered by accident the best and safest way to get the cat accustomed to the crying.  Here’s what happened.  We kept the crib in our room and spent most of the time in the bedroom with the baby.  When he started crying at night, the bedroom door was shut, so Furball was freaked out, but he was freaking out outside of the room.  After a couple of nights, he started to ignore the crying.  Then, when he was in the same room with the crying baby, he didn’t pay too much attention.

2) Advice: Bring something scented with the baby’s smell home before you bring home the baby (eg. wipe, towel).  Place it down under the cat’s food bowl and give your cat a special treat.

Reality: If you’re doing this, bring something that you’re going to throw away right afterwards because once it’s been on the floor and slobbered on by the cat and crusted with cat hair, you won’t want to put it back near your newborn even if you wash it a dozen times.  Furball sniffed the wipe once, then completely ignored it and went straight to the food.  Also, since we were in the hospital for a couple of days, the cat was just happy to have company and was fairly oblivious to the wipe.  I think this advice might work better for dogs.

3) Advice: Give your pet lots of attention when the baby is in the room with them.

Reality:  This is pretty good advice, but the reality of a newborn is that you won’t even have time to wash your face in the first week or two, let alone spend lots of time with your pet.  We tried the best we could, but Furball is used to being the center of attention.  I’d advise you taper off attention starting 3 to 6 months before the baby is due.  Whatever you consider to be minimal, give even less than that because when the baby arrives, that’s what the reality will be.

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There’s Joy in Green Cleaning Your Floors :)

Having just written about the best natural and eco-friendly hardwood flooring for cat households, it seems only fitting to follow up with a post on how to green clean your green floors.  Although I’ve been green cleaning since the late 80s, I sheepishly have to admit that I’m lazy when it comes to floors, so I never really got into finding the best eco-friendly cleaning option for floors.  I would just use whatever green brand happened to be available and didn’t care too much about the results.  With the new baby arriving soon, I’m going to have to get on this as not only is my cat lying around on the floor, my baby will be crawling on it too.

For green clean floors, I thought it best to consult with Leslie Reichert, the “green” cleaning coach.  Leslie’s  mission is to teach and encourage others in the “art” of homekeeping and green cleaning.  She is the author of The Joy of Green Cleaning, which is the first cookbook for green cleaning. It contains a collection of simple, yet proven green recipes to help you green your cleaning. Leslie was kind enough to send us a copy of her book and I’m eager to try out a few new recipes. I talked to Leslie about green cleaning and here’s what she had to say.

ME: What inspired you to begin green cleaning?

LESLIE: I had a huge cleaning service years ago and we all saw the effects of using really harsh cleaners in our health. I’m now very susceptible to different viruses and when I get sick – I get very sick. I personally think the chemicals affected my immune system. So after years of using “traditional” cleaners, I started looking for alternatives. I found that the green cleaners actually worked better than the commercial cleaners and they were cheaper!!

ME: Why is it so important that people with pets use green cleaning solutions for their floors?

LESLIE: We need to remember that since our pets are smaller than us, so are their processing functions for removing different chemicals from their blood stream. Their kidneys have to work overtime to remove the chemicals that enter their blood.

We also need to remember that their paws pick up chemicals off the floor and then enter their blood stream. This is why we need to make sure the cleaners on our floors are very green.

ME: That’s definitely a concern, especially with cats since they are constantly licking and grooming themselves.  What do you recommend for cleaning hardwood floors such as bamboo?

LESLIE: I have found that the best way to know what is in your cleaning products is to make them yourself. The hardwood floor cleaner in my book, The Joy of Green Cleaning, uses white distilled vinegar and just a touch of dish soap to clean the floors. Also if you don’t want the smell of vinegar in your home, you can put a few drops of essential oils into the vinegar before adding it to the other ingredients. This will make cleaning more like aromatherapy and you may actually enjoy cleaning! Two other tools that work really well for bamboo floors are a microfiber mop with washable covers and an Eco sponge that will remove the black scuff marks without using any chemicals. Both of these are available at www.shopgreencleaning.com.

ME: Please tell me more about The Joy of Green Cleaning. Why did you write it? What are the benefits of green cleaning?

LESLIE: I wrote the book to answer the questions people constantly are asking. After speaking, I am always swamped with people wanting the recipes to different cleaning products they can make themselves. The book is a collection of over 70 pages of green cleaners, set up by rooms and items you may want to clean.

There are 3 real reasons to green your cleaning:

  1. The most important reason is for yourself.  Since you are the one using the chemicals, you want to make sure that they are safe and won’t hurt you. The fumes from different chemicals can lead to asthma and allergies along with all sorts of funky reactions.
  2. The second reason is for your family and pets. We want to make our homes a safe haven for the ones we love, not a chemical cocktail.
  3. The third reason is for the environment. We have to be careful about what we pour down the drain. You never know if you may be drinking it someday. And we want to use renewable resources instead of petroleum based products. These are all great green reasons to try green cleaning.

ME: How can people get a copy of the The Joy of Green Cleaning?

LESLIE: You can buy the book on amazon.com and my book site which is www.thejoyofgreencleaning.com.  It is also available as a downloadable e-book for $10 on the book site – how green is that!

ME: Thanks Leslie!

Here’s Leslie’s recipe for hardwood floors:

HARDWOOD FLOOR CLEANER

  • 1 tsp dish soap
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 16 oz hot water

Mix all ingredients and place in a spray bottle.  use a dry microfiber mop after vacuuming the hardwood floor.  Spray the floor with cleaner and wipe with the dry microfiber mop.  This mixture will leave the floor clean without a waxy buildup.

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