Check out our advice on reducing your carbon pawprint when purchasing for your pet.
Biodegradable or more environmentally-friendly cat litter is readily available nowadays, which should be made from newspaper or wood chips rather than clay or silica. Always check what your litter contains, though, as many formulations contain sodium bentonite clay; a clay sourced using a destructive strip-mining method. You can even make your own! Ideally, you should be using materials that you would compost in your own garden such as sawdust, shredded paper, or even leaves. Similarly, cat litter trays made of wood, metal or bamboo are a great choice over anything plastic - and are just as easy to clean. Sewage treatment systems are not equipped to treat the parasites found in cat waste, so flushing it down the toilet is out of the question. Always bear this in mind!
Having new toys to play with is an enriching experience for your cat. Next time you’re thinking of introducing a new toy for your cat to play with, skip the usual pet shop go-to's and consider alternatives:
Avoid plastic toys. Instead, look for those made from more sustainable or recycled materials, that are preferably recyclable or biodegradable at the end of their lives - such as hemp, bamboo or rubber.
Consider making your own toys from discarded or unwanted household items - get creative with your junk! just remember that safety is the number one priority here, so be mindful of what you use. A ball of foil can entertain a cat for hours; and cats love cardboard scratch toys, which can be recycled when they’re not wanted anymore.
Contact your local animal shelters if you have any lightly used or unwanted toys – they’ll likely be glad of the support. Pass on your unloved toys to your cat, too - they're likely to love a good plush toy.
Don’t forget to dispose of used toys properly, avoiding landfill waste if possible.
As animal lovers, we should all be advocates of preventive medicine (such as vaccination, worming and neutering or spaying) due to the health and welfare benefits it provides our cats, but encouraging pet-owners to engage in preventive health care will also help reduce the carbon impact of said pets. By preventing vaccinable disease and hormonally-mediated diseases, we are avoiding the high carbon cost of treating these conditions, and therefore benefiting the environment in the long term. Perhaps promoting preventive health care from the angle of sustainable pet-owning will encourage some pet owners who may otherwise have been reluctant to engage for the health benefits alone.
Shopping sustainably for your pet extends to all areas of ownership - bedding, grooming products and tools, collars, tags and accessories, supplements and medications. Eco-friendly brands, businesses and companies exist for every product you could think of - so it's always worth taking the time to look around. Above all else, though, it's all about materials - both within the product and its packaging. What is it made of, what is it packaged in, and what is that packaging made of?
Always try to be mindful of wildlife - don't just make your garden feline-friendly. Attaching a bell to your cat’s collar to give potential prey a heads-up can make a world of difference over the years. Make sure to safely cover over any ponds or open water - both for the sake of your cat getting wet and any fish, frogs or other wildlife your cat might like to stalk. Make sure an birdfeeders are installed safely, securely and high up - away from any pesky paws.
Last of all: adopt, don't shop! Animal shelters are full of gorgeous kitties who just need a loving home, and many animal charities are struggling to stay afloat under the sheer number of mouths there are to feed! Pets are not products, they are animals; brilliant, amazing creatures. They aren't bought; they're rescued, saved, adopted , fostered, looked after and cared for.