Green Little Cat

going green

The 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

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One of my important ongoing goals is to give back to the planet, so I’ve made a new year’s resolution to start the “30-Day Green Cat Challenge”. My cat, Furball, already lives a very eco-friendly lifestyle, but I recognize that there’s always room to reduce his carbon paw print just a little more. For 30 days, I’m going to examine one aspect of a cat’s life and and offer ideas and actions that you can take to give your cat a green makeover in a month!

Obviously, a single little green cat is not going to save the planet. However, when you consider that there are over 60 million cats in American households, just imagine the impact of our collective choices for a greener pet lifestyle. Not only do I want to change the life of my cat to be more eco-friendly, I’d love to see a more eco-friendly pet industry too. So, throughout this challenge, I’m also going to look at how I can influence pet retailers and manufacturers to offer more green and enviro-friendly pet products and services. I’ve already got an idea about how to sway one of America’s largest pet retailers by starting with a litter box!

I would like to invite you to join the challenge to green your cat’s life. Please follow along and if a change makes sense for your cat, give it a try. If it doesn’t, please feel free to pass on it. I’d love to hear your comments and ideas along the way and at the end of the 30 days, I’m going to create an “End of Challenge Success Page” to hear what changes readers made in their cat’s life.

For the next 30 days, please visit Green Little Cat for a daily inspiration. Please also help spread the word by clicking the “Share This” link below. It’ll allow you to email a friend or post this to a social networking site. And, if you’re on Facebook and have the “Causes” app, please join the cause at: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/184067?m=a3c03490

Why Switch from Clay Litter to Eco-friendly Litter?

I’ve always heard that clay litter wasn’t good for the environment, but never really knew why, so today, I decided to investigate and learn more. The more I learned, the more I’m glad that Furball has never used clay litter. If you’ve been sitting on the fence about switching to an environmentally friendly cat litter, here are some good reasons to switch litters.

Health Concerns
Have you ever wondered what makes the cat litter clump together after your cat has urinated in it? I’ll be quite honest that this question had never crossed my mind before either. Well, today I learned that sodium bentonite is the key ingredient. It’s described benignly as a “natural clay” by many litter manufacturers.

A quick search on wikipedia reveals that sodium bentonite is a type of bentonite or clay that expands to several times its size when wet. It’s commonly used when drilling mud for oil and gas wells and for sealing things such as buried nuclear waste.

The health issues concern the ingestion and inhalation of sodium bentonite by your cat. When cats dig around in the litter, very fine particles may be inhaled. When they lick their paws, they may also ingest the clay.

There are claims that the litter causes asthma and lung issues and can block intestinal tracts. However, a visit to the Scoop Away® litter site reveals this: “Scoop Away® litter is not known to cause harm to animals, including kittens, when ingested in small quantities. However, if a pet eats a large amount of any litter (i.e. a bowlful), we recommend that you contact your vet.” I’m sure this statement is 100{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} true in that there is no known study that proves that this particular litter causes harm to animals when ingested in small quantities.

It’s up to you to decide whether this reassurance is good enough for you and your cat. Myself, I just think that sodium bentonite expands when wet. If the litter is dry outside of the cat, it will most certainly be wet once inside Kitty.

About.com has a very balanced article on the clumping clay controversy.

Environmental Concerns
Sodium bentonite is mined. The Wyoming Mining Association (not singling anyone out, they just came up first in the Yahoo search) mined 5.2 million tons and milled 4.6 million tons of bentonite in 2005. In their own words, “Currently, Bentonite deposits in Wyoming make up 70 percent of the world’s known supply. It is economical to mine Bentonite as deep as 50 feet.”

It would not be a stretch to say that mining 50 feet deep has an impact on the environment. The US Bureau of Mines estimated that in 1994, approximately 1.5 million metric tons of clay were mined to make absorbent cat litter.

As I browsed around mining sites (company websites, that is), there was a strange dearth of photos of what the mines look like. However, I did find this one on Flickr by David Arran Photography.

Worldwise
, a company that makes sustainable pet products writes that, “Each year over 2 million tons of cat litter, or approximately 100,000 truckloads, ends up in landfills in the U. S. alone.”

So based on what I learned about the health concerns of clay litter and the environmental impact of mining cat litter, it seems like the better choice for the planet to switch to an environmentally friendly cat litter. Go green, little cat!

Here’s Furball’s review of several eco-friendly alternatives for cat litter.

Related Articles

Taking Greenventory

To begin greening up my cat’s life, I decided to start by taking a “greenventory” to see where we’re at and where we can improve. At first glance, Furball’s life is already pretty green, but I think looking at things in more detail will reveal ample opportunities to reduce his carbon pawprint.

Here’s my initial list of proposed items to look at:

  • Food
  • Litter
  • Toys
  • Health
  • Bedding
  • Accessories

I then visited the PetSmart website and saw a few other categories to add:

  • Carriers and Door
  • Collars, Leads and Tags
  • Furniture and Scratchers
  • Grooming
  • Repellents
  • Stains and Odour
After another unsuccessful attempt to have sex, I decided to start taking Cialis. I was advised to start with Sildenafil 50 mg. Now I can have sex several times, the only thing that bothers me is a little headache. The action is quite long, usually one tablet is enough for more than one day.
I decided to ignore some other categories such as “Halloween Shop”, “New Kitten Center” and “Gifts”. While I must admit the Cat Lover’s Monopoly looks cute, I think we can all go without a Halloween Shop for our cats. WTF??? That’s a whole category they might as well label as “Halloween Landfill”. Note the “Whisker City Halloween Clown Wig” below. I feel sorry for that cat.
Your cat does not need this

Furball Goes Green

Cat goes green
I’ve been an environmentalist since I was seven. I wrote the government asking what they were doing to stop acid rain. They sent me some brochures I couldn’t understand and a button that said, “STOP ACID RAIN”. I think the button hooked me. Ever since then, I’ve been an advocate for the environment.

As a teenager, I re-used my brown paper lunch bag. Something felt so wrong about throwing away a crisp new bag each day. There was no recycling in schools back then, so I felt bad about the pop cans that I tossed. A friend and I went door to door to canvas for waste paper so that we could aggregate it and take it to one of the very few recycling facilities. In the late 80s, environmentalism was all the rage. I embraced the green wagon, but was sad when it faded away as just another trend, it’s only impression being some trees planted on Earth Day.

For awhile, I stopped caring as the apathy of others disheartened me. Rather ironic. One day, it dawned on me that if I didn’t care, no one else would care. So, I re-embraced my greenness. I carried reusable bags when it was completely unacceptable and actually was not allowed to leave a store without taking a bag for “security reasons”. In university, I volunteered for the school’s recycling program and hauled blue bins of smelly recyclables across the campus. I even washed my milk bags for reuse.

After I graduated, I set up an apartment premier-pharmacy.com worm composter, commuted by public transit, bicycle and walking for 12 years, shopped for organic food at dingy granola health food stores (no Whole Foods back then), gave up photography (too many nasty chemicals), worked at World Wildlife Fund for 1/2 my previous salary, ate mostly vegan meals, used hand-me-down furniture, washed dishes by hand (turning the tap on only to rinse) and donated to environmental charities.

In the past few years, I’ve softened my stance so as not to live like a pauper. However, most of my old habits are still in place. My previous landlady remarked that I lived “very modestly.” Now, it’s all about the organic rubber mattress, the Community Supported Agriculture (shopping locally and in season), setting the AC for 80 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping a watering can in the bathroom to capture the water when you turn on the tap to take a shower, etc.

My point is that when you think you’ve gone green, there is always more you can do. However, a sustainable life doesn’t mean you have to live like you’re destitute. Where’s the enjoyment in that? And, not too many people are going to want to join you. That’s where the true green power is–in numbers.

So it seems fitting that now is the time to look at my cat and see how his life can be greener. If you have a pet, I invite you to join me in discovering how you can reduce your pet’s carbon footprint.