Ginger cat next to flower

How to be sustainable when owning a cat?

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5 easy steps to becoming a sustainable cat owner

By Justine Seraphin Country Manager

Updated on the

As much as we wish it weren’t true, owning a pet isn’t exactly eco-friendly. That’s right, pets pollute! But, there are some good habits you can get into as a responsible pet owner to make sure that your carbon footprint is reduced.

According to a New Zealand study from 2017, a cat’s carbon footprint could be the equivalent of a small car’s! While this is still less than a dog’s (whose carbon footprint is more equivalent to that of an SUV), it’s quite significant!

So what can we do to make sure we are as sustainable as possible while owning a cat?

Step 1: Use biodegradable cat litter

If you notice that when your cats bury their waste, little white clouds of dust appear, then that’s a sign your litter is made of unnatural and non-recyclable products. Unfortunately, this type of litter represents around 2% of the UK’s non-recycled waste. What’s more, the minerals used in the litter can come from environmentally destructive strip mining. Not only is this kind of litter bad for the environment, but the silica dust contained in it has also been known to cause respiratory issues in both cats and humans.

Instead, you should opt for eco-friendly litter made from vegetable (and therefore biodegradable) resources like wood, recycled paper, or corn grains for instance. If you want to clean up your garden after your kitty has used it as a toilet, you can also purchase biodegradable poop bags.

A great eco-friendly cat litter option for cat owners living in London is Natusan. The company delivers to your door, once a month, a full litter kit containing a recyclable litter tray, litter bags and cleaning accessories. This clumper litter is made out of 100% natural wood-fibres. Not only is it biodegradable, but it is also dust-free, odour-free, and highly absorbent. One month after their delivery, Natusan returns to your home to collect the used kit and replace it by a new one. The litter tray is recycled, and the soiled cat litter is then composted and turned into a fertiliser. Natusan then partners with UK charity Trees for Cities to plant trees around the city of London. By choosing Natusan, your ecological impact is twofold: you are recycling and helping to plant trees while taking care of your beloved cat!

Natusan cat litter product ©Natusan

Step 2: Opt for sustainable toys

As loving pet owners, we love nothing more than to spoil our pets. However, to be eco-friendly, it’s important to think about what we’re purchasing. Many cat products sold in pet stores are made out of plastic. These are usually low-quality, and can easily break, meaning they’ll end up in dumpsters, de-composing for hundreds of years after their initial purchase.

Instead, go for sustainable products. Online stores such as Ethical Pets, offer a variety of eco-friendly products such as: hemp-collars, organic catnip, wood wand toys and cat trees, wool bedding, and even non-toxic and recyclable plastic toys. Make sure the product you choose is durable so that you don’t have to buy a new one every year - this cancels out the sustainability!

Step 3: Choose an eco-friendly diet

Now we’re not talking about making your cat vegan. Cats are obligate carnivores and need meat in their diet. However, there are ways you can reduce your cat’s impact on the environment through its diet. For example, rather than choosing beef-based foods, opt instead for chicken or rabbit, which leaves less of a carbon footprint. If you’re feeding fish-based foods to your cat, ensure this comes from sustainable fisheries. You can purchase your pet’s food from ‘all-natural’ companies, like Lily’s Kitchen, which provides organic foods in eco packaging. Alternatively, you could choose to cook your cat’s food yourself so you know exactly what’s going into their bowl. In this case, choosing local and organic foods is the best choice!

Of course, when it comes to diet, it’s very important to make the healthiest choice for your pet. So always consult a vet before making a big nutritional change. If it’s best for you and your pet to stay on packaged food brands, you can still reduce your environmental impact by making sure the food is bought in bulk and that the packaging is recyclable.

Your cat's diet can be eco-friendly ©Shutterstock

Step 4: Green grooming

While most cats are not huge fans of bath-time, some cats (such as hairless ones with sensitive skin), will need it nonetheless. But many pet shampoos are filled with non-biodegradable, toxic chemicals that are not only more harmful to your pet’s skin, but also pollute our planet once they go down the drain.
Instead, choose to bathe your cat with organic or natural shampoos, free of dyes and parabens. When it comes to brushing, again opt for wood products rather than plastic ones.

Step 5: Neuter your pet

This may seem like a strange recommendation, but it is so important! Female cats are sexually mature quite early on in their lives and can have up to 3 litters in a year. Considering each litter is on average 3 to 8 kittens in size, you’re looking at up to 100 kittens in a lifetime! And that’s not counting how many babies your cat’s offspring could produce too! A cat’s entire generation could include 420,000 kittens in seven years. All of those cats will in turn be using the earth’s precious resources and having a significant impact on the environment.

To reduce your cat’s carbon footprint, make sure to have him/her neutered! Additionally, this practice is better for your cat’s health. It avoids males from getting into dangerous fights, but it also reduces the risk of breast tumours, testicular cancer, prostate issues, etc.

With the growing human and pet population, it’s very important to keep the planet in mind! By implementing small changes to our everyday routines, we can help make our impact smaller!

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