On being a more sustainable cat person

As someone who loves my cats as much as I respect the Earth, I often find it difficult to reconcile the fact that my cats produce so much waste. Between the bags of poop and litter, to empty food cans and chewed up toys, it seems like I’m always throwing something of theirs away. But with a bit of effort, I have made some changes that have helped reduce their waste and thereby reducing their eco footprint. Here are a few of those things. 

Reduce. When my cats were kittens, I went crazy buying all the beds, toys and random cat things I could find. But several cat years and many broken products later, I realized that cheap things are not designed to last long. So, I started to become a more educated consumer, paying attention to materials and seeking out quality products designed to last, essentially eco-friendly pet products. By doing so, I reduced the amount of cheap, broken and worn out items that would have ended up in the landfill. As a bonus, the cats and I end up having really nice things.

Recycled cardboard scratching mat in a handmade wooden frame

Recycled cardboard scratching mat in a handmade wooden frame

Reuse. No matter how hard I try to minimize packaging by buying in bulk and ordering online less often, there are two things that I always end up with an abundance of: plastic bags and cardboard. So instead of immediately tossing them (or recycling the cardboard), I reuse them both. You know those bags you get from the produce section? They happen to be the perfect size for collecting cat poop and clumping litter, so I stuff all those bags into a handmade dispenser near the litter boxes. And used cardboard boxes make the perfect DIY scratching mat. Once it is worn out, I stick it in the recycling bin and build the cats a new one.

Recycle. After both of my cats developed their own special digestive disorders that require their own special diets, I started going through lots of canned food. And even as a San Franciscan who recycles or composts everything by default, it honestly took me a while to realize that all those cat food cans I had been throwing away were actually recyclable. Turns out, I’m not the only one. Since most cat food cans are aluminum or steel, they are both entirely recyclable. Now I just give the empty cans a quick rinse and throw them in the recycling bin. While I wish I didn’t have the cans to get rid of in the first place, I feel much better that it is not ending up in the landfill.

DIY plastic poop bag dispenser

DIY plastic poop bag dispenser

Still searching for sustainably sourced Bonito flakes (Bollini's favorite)

Still searching for sustainably sourced Bonito flakes (Bollini's favorite)

Choose sustainable food. Cats are carnivores so they need to eat meat. A LOT of meat. Because of this, it only makes sense to find sustainable sourced meat and food. I do a good deal of research on the food that I consume myself (not quite like this Portlandia episode, but close), so why not look for equally sustainable food for my cats? Fortunately, there are plenty of other eco conscious pet owners who are looking for the same quality food and there is a growing number of sustainably sourced pet food brands to meet their demands. After all, the only decisions my cats make is where and when to sleep—it is ultimately up to me to make choices that benefit both my cats and our environment.

What are some things you are already doing to be a sustainable cat person?