Monthly Archives: January 2009

Day 30: Retrospective on the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

Wow, it’s Day 30 of the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge.  Thank you for reading along for 30 days!  It seems fitting to look back at the past month to see whether I succeeded in my original goal of making my eco-friendly cat just a little bit greener as well as inspiring others to do the same.  Here’s a summary of my journey and what I discovered over the past month.

Organic and Natural Cat Food

I contacted the manufacturer of Furball’s cat food to ask them where their food was made and whether they would be making an organic version.  They got the thumbs up on Day 11 when I read their email response.   On the other end of the spectrum, I was shocked to learn that his prescription food was made by P&G and that a big conglomerate had purchased the makers of his dental treats.  I’m now substituting his dental treats with Petzlife Oral Care Gel and hoping they don’t get bought out.  I also learned more about Furball’s crystal condition and am going to take him to see a holistic vet to talk about his diet.

I also reviewed organic cat food, thinking it would be a greener pet food choice.  However, I learned that many companies use Menu Foods to make their wet food and that quite a number of the organic brands were owned by large conglomerates.  On Day 23, I learned about vegan diets for cats and confirmed that it’s not something I agree with.

Natural Pet Health

I called Furball’s vet to find out how to safely dispose of expired pet medication.  The answer was to take it back to them.  On Day 25, I found online resources to look for a holistic vet and a pet acupuncturist and found a couple of vets that I might take Furball to see for a check-up and also to discuss whether its feasible to take him off the prescription food.

Eco-friendly Cat Products

I found some great eco-friendly cat beds, eco-friendly cat carriers made from recycled plastic, and a recycled plastic litter box.  Also, learned about natural pet odor and stain removers on Day 7.

Eco-friendly Shopping

I spent hours looking for stores dedicated to selling eco-friendly products for cats and came up with so few that I spent the next day, assembling my own eco-friendly cat product store on Amazon.  This one’s a work in progress as I’d like to create a store that features products from local businesses.

Do-It-Yourself Eco-cat Projects and Eco-friendly Homemade Cat Toys

I embarked on a project to re-carpet Furball’s scratching post and published a few toys from my eco-friendly cat toy book, Make Your Own Cat Toys on Day 8, Day 15 and Day 22.  I haven’t gotten any carpet scraps from freecycle.org yet, but I’m going to persevere.

Email Campaigns

I wrote three sample email letters for readers to send:

  1. The first letter was targeted to your pet food manufacturer telling them the importance of sourcing locally and moving to organic ingredients.
  2. The second letter went to Drs. Foster and Smith asking them why they didn’t have a green policy.  I was surprised when they posted a comment on my blog within 48 hours about what they were doing to be green and I wrote about this on Day 18.
  3. I sent the third letter to PetSmart asking them why they didn’t have a green policy.  That was a week ago and I haven’t heard back from them.  I also called them 3 weeks earlier and the customer service representative couldn’t give me a straight answer and said she’d talk to people and email me back.  Still haven’t heard a thing, so I think they need to get a stronger message that this is important.  If you have a minute, could you please help out by sending them the same email?  Just follow the directions listed at the bottom of the post for Day 24.

Eco-friendly Cat Shelters

On Day 27, I wrote about Angel’s Wish, an animal welfare organization in Wisconsin.  They have some great green tips for animal shelters on how to be eco-friendly and also save money.  On Day 28, I was inspired by the green creativity of the Animal House Jamaica and Paraiso Felino in Mexico.

Last, but not least…

I realized the importance about spreading the word to encourage others to look at how they can green their cat.  So, I made an invitation that people can share with their friends and also created a Facebook Fan Page for Green Little Cat.

Thanks again for reading along.  Go green, little cat!

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Day 29: Encourage More Cats to Go Green — The 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

It’s the second last day of the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge, and it’s time to reach out as far as I possibly can.  However, I can’t do it without you, so I’m asking for your help to spread the word to encourage as many people as possible to be more eco-conscious about their pets and their lifestyles.  As a reader of Green Little Cat, I know you’re as passionate as I am about the environment.  I thank you for your passion and commitment.

I started Green Little Cat with the goal of giving back and making my small contribution to saving the planet.  I’d love to see this modest effort have a far-reaching ripple effect and influence the pet industry to be more eco-friendly.  Please help me make this happen by taking action today to share the Green Cat Challenge with others.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

Related Articles

  • Email Campaigns sponsored by Green Little Cat to help green the pet industry
Published: • More Like This: Going Green

You’re Invited to Take the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

Give your cat a green makeover in a month by taking the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge.  As a New Year’s resolution, I decided to examine one aspect of my cat’s life each day for 30 days to see how I could make his eco-friendly lifestyle even more green.  I also wanted to offer ideas and actions that readers could take to give their cats a green makeover too.

Trio

I invite you to start from Day 1 or to pick and choose topics of interest for a daily green inspiration.  Considering that there are over 80 million cats in American households, if everyone took just one small action, it would make a huge difference.

Day 28: Shelters Outside U.S. Inspire Green Ingenuity — The 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

Continuing the theme of Day 25 and Day 26 of the Green Cat Challenge, today I’m looking even further afield for green inspiration.  And I found it with The Animal House Jamaica and Paraíso Felino located in Mexico.

sas4The Animal House Jamaica

The Animal House Jamaica is the only animal shelter located on the north coast of Jamaica and one of only two shelters in the entire country.  The Animal House provides assistance to the island’s many abused, abandoned and injured animals.  They provide food, shelter, medical care and adoptive services to approximately 500 animals each year.  And, they even help owners in need who might otherwise have to abandon their pets.

In spite of the overwhelming need for their services and a limited budget, the Animal House has found creative ways to be eco-friendly since being founded in the 1990s.  Some of their green activities include:

  • Reusing old towels donated by local hotels instead of paper towels.
  • To supplement the dogs’ diets, they planted a two-acre organic vegetable garden.
  • They store of all of their records electronically (backed-up of course) and thus avoid the need for  paper copies.
  • While it might not be as convenient for clean-up, the Animal House chooses not to use any plastic garbage bags.
  • They are also investigating wind-power and solar systems to replace electricity.  While it’s beyond their budget right now, they’re determined to make it happen in the future.

The Animal House Jamaica runs a very efficient operation with 98% of all donations going directly to the animals.  Donations are used to for food, medical care and supplies, carriers, kennels, and facility maintenance.  Unfortunately they don’t get a break from local veterinarians and have to pay from $100 to $150 USD to neuter or spay each animal.  The Animal House Jamaica has been formally registered as a charity for five years in Jamaica and they recently obtained 501(c)(3) status from the IRS.

Paraíso Felino

A little closer to home is Paraíso Felino, a cat sanctuary located in the small town of San Juan De Abajo, about 25 miles northeast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  They house an average of 100 cats at any given time, most of whom have been victims of terrible circumstances including abuse and starvation.   Their goal is to provide a temporary place to stay for homeless felines.  Paraíso Felino actively works to find adoptive homes for their cats and is able to place between 20 to 30 cats each year with responsible families.

Because they strongly believe that spaying and neutering is the answer to unwanted homeless animals, they also sponsor Spay Day campaigns in the area and work with other non-profits to provide this service free of charge to the locals.  Their educational efforts have helped to shift local attitudes as more and more people are opting to sterilize and vaccinate their pets.

eco-friendly animal shelterParaíso Felino has come up with a creative way to be green.  They raise money by handcrafting items for sale using recycled materials.  They transform old magazines, cereal boxes, cardboard and fabric scraps into greeting cards, potpourri boxes and little handy pouches.  Check out these beautiful handmade pot pourri satchels and pouches.  You’d never guess that they were made from discarded items.

For this cat sanctuary, every dollar makes a difference. It costs $20 USD to spay or neuter a cat, $25 USD a year for vaccinations and $8 USD a week to feed each cat. This might not seem like that much in American dollars, however it’s a much greater expense when you consider that their local economy is based on the peso and that most of their supplies are imported form the U.S.  Not only are donations used to feed and care for the cats, Paraíso Felino is also paying for construction costs to build a new shelter.

While they are a registered non-profit in Mexico, they do not have 501(c)(3) status.  However, if you’d like to make a donation, they have an agreement with P.E.A.C.E., Inc. in the U.S. to process donations on their behalf, which makes them tax-deductible.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION TODAY

  1. Please consider making a small donation to one of these very deserving organizations.  The economy is in bad shape, but there’s a worldwide recession going on.  To quote President Obama from his eloquent inaugural speech, “And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders”.
  2. If you are part of an animal welfare organization, open a discussion within your group about how you can implement greener practices.  Also, check out Day 26 where I featured an organization that saves the money by saving the environment.  As well, if you’re interested in a fun and easy way to raise money that also supports the environment, please check out the Charity Partner Program that I’m creating as part of my eco-friendly cat toy book.
  3. Last, but not least, share this post with any other animal welfare groups you know of who are looking for ways to be more eco-friendly.  Click the “Share This” link to email this article to a friend or post it to your favourite social networking site.

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Day 27: Easy Eco-friendly Tips for Animal Shelters — The 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

Following in the spirit of Day 26 of the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge, I’m going to finish the week by looking outwards for inspiration to green my cat.  I’ve spent the past few weeks examining Furball’s life to give him an eco-cat makeover.  However, I really believe it’s important to reach out.  Perhaps this will help to encourage an eco-friendly cat movement and help green the pet industry.

Today, I’m delighted to write about Angel’s Wish, a non-profit animal welfare organization that runs a Pet Adoption and Resource Center in Verona, WI. This is one very dedicated group that is committed to reducing animal overpopulation, finding new homes for pets, and raising awareness of animal welfare issues. Did I mention that they’re an all-volunteer organization with over 100 volunteers?

Angel’s Wish is a no-kill shelter and has been operating since 2000. Last year, they cared for nearly 600 animals and cats make up over 90% of the animals they help each year. In addition to the amazing work they do to help the most forgotten and downtrodden of our furry friends, Angel’s Wish is also committed to being as eco-friendly as possible.

This organization may not have the resources that larger nonprofits do, but they prove that anybody can be green, even while running a very tight ship. They do this by making small changes in their day-to-day activities that add up to big savings that save the environment and save money too.

Here’s what Angel’s Wish is doing to be an eco-friendly animal shelter:

  • Animal welfare groups can easily use large quantities of paper towels for the regular cleaning necessary for pet health and cleanliness. Angel’s Wish uses rags and cloth towels whenever possible. Not only are they reducing their consumption of paper towels, they’re also reusing rags and towels that have been donated to them.
  • When they built a new Pet Adoption and Resource Center, they chose to build in a business condo development rather than a standalone building.  This resulted in lower costs and also a smaller carbon footprint.  The Resource Center has three separate heating/cooling zones, each with their own programmable thermostats for maximum efficiency.  Of course, they also selected fluorescent lighting fixtures, and their three main rooms can be set for either half lighting or full-lighting.
  • Because there’s a lot of laundry to be done when looking after animals, Angel’s Wish made sure to choose an energy efficient washer and dryer to save electricity and also reduce costs.
  • With 90% of the animals being cats, Angel’s Wish also uses the minimum amount of litter possible to reduce waste.
  • And the green savings don’t just stop with the care of animals.  In the office, they make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of paper used.  They scan donations in electronically for storage as opposed to creating mounds of photocopied papers.  When they do have to make copies, they always make them double-sided.  And, they send email newsletters to minimize print publications.
  • For additional fundraising, they collect old cell phones and inkjet cartridges to be recycled.
  • Finally, they reuse things until they fall apart and also take in in-kind donations of gently used items.

That’s a pretty impressive list of easy eco-friendly ideas that any animal welfare organization can implement.  It doesn’t take much to be green and on top of that, being green helps reduce costs so that donations are used responsibly.

A Purrfect Cat Book in Support of Angel’s Wish

“Make Your Own Cat Toys” features over 50 eco-friendly cat toys that are fast, fun and easy to make. As the author of this book, I am delighted to offer supporters of Angel’s Wish a special savings off the regular price — AND $2 from each book sold will be donated to Angel’s Wish. Please check it out at: Make Your Own Cat Toys.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

  1. Make a donation to Angel’s Wish or your favourite local animal or environmental charity.  Angel’s Wish is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit so your donation is tax-deductible.  While these are definitely unique economic times for everyone, it’s even tougher now more than ever for charities and the animals they help.  Remember how President Obama built his campaign though $5 donations?  It made a big difference, so even the smallest amount is deeply appreciated. You can make a donation online to Angel’s Wish by visiting their website at: http://www.angelswish.org/donations.html#online.
  2. If you are part of an animal welfare organization, open a discussion within your group about how you can implement greener practices.  Also, visit again tomorrow as I’ll be posting some creative eco-friendly ideas from an animal rescue organization in Jamaica and a cat sanctuary in Mexico.  As well, if you’re interested in a fun and easy way to raise money that also supports the environment, please check out the Charity Partner Program that I’m creating as part of my eco-friendly cat toy book.
  3. Last, but not least, share this post with any other animal welfare groups you know of who are looking for ways to be more eco-friendly.  Click the “Share This” link to email this article to a friend or post it to your favourite social networking site.

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Day 26: Articles on Eco-friendly Cats and How to Green Your Cat — The 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

As I enter the last few days of the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge, it’s time to turn my gaze outwards for eco-friendly cat ideas.  For the first 25 days of the Challenge, I looked at Furball and our lifestyle to see how to green my cat’s lifestyle.  Now it’s time to see what ideas other people have for reducing your cat’s carbon paw print.

Here’s a list of interesting eco-friendly cat ideas I found while researching the web (in no particular order):

  1. A collection of green pet articles on Green Living Ideas
  2. 8 simple ideas for “How to Go Green Your Pet” on eHow — I copied the grammar word for word from their site
  3. 15 Top Green Pet Tips on Planet Green
  4. Great Green Pet — a green shopping blog for eco-friendly pet products
  5. The pet section of Care2
  6. The Daily Green features a large collection of articles on green news as related to pets
  7. Slate has an article that’s pretty basic for “dirty dogs and carbon cats“, but at least it’s entertaining to read.
  8. Five Products to Green Your Cat on the Huffington Post.  Never mind that I don’t agree that the Cat Genie deserves to be on this list.  It is however, noteworthy that this topic is on the Huffington Post.
  9. Make Your Own Newspaper Cat Litter on TreeHugger.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

  • Today is an armchair action day, so click on a link and enjoy the read.
  • If you haven’t done so already, send an email to PetSmart asking them why they aren’t doing more to be eco-friendly.  See Day 24 of the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge and scroll down to the bottom of the post for a sample email and the link to send it to.

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Day 25: Holistic Vets and Acupuncture for Cats — The 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

Reiki for cats, quantum energy for cats, herbs for cats, cat massage, cat acupuncture… These days, cats have many of the same alternative healing therapies available to them as their human companions.  However, many people are suspicious and skeptical of non-traditional healing methods even for humans, let alone for cats.  This is unfortunate because people often endure much suffering for chronic conditions that fail to respond to allopathic medicine.  It is only when they are pushed to desperation, that they then seek an alternative practitioner.  At this point, their condition has worsened and has become much more difficult to treat.

As a student of acupuncture, I’ve seen this pattern repeated many times in the teaching clinic at school.  I’ve seen people with chronic shoulder pain for years who respond immediately to their first acupuncture treatment.  I’m not saying that there isn’t a purpose for western medicine, just that people should be more open-minded to alternative treatments.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to present a couple of alternative healing modalities for cats.  Before anyone writes this off as quackery, please note that the people who practice these healing arts must also be licensed veterinarians.

Acupuncture for Cats

Acu-CatMy first introduction to the concept of acupuncture for cats was an ad I saw in Acupuncture Today for  Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure by Nancy Zidonis. Of course, I couldn’t resist buying the book and I found it was a great introduction to the basics of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  It explained concepts better than some of my textbooks. However, in terms of practical usage, Furball was way too hyper to hold still for some cat acupressure.  This was clearly demonstrated when I tried to massage “Yin Tang” to “calm spirit” and he promptly tried to nip me.

However, according to the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (AAVA), acupuncture is known to have therapeutic effects in a wide variety of animal diseases and it may also be used for pain modification, gastrointestinal diseases, respiratory problems, urinary disorder, musculoskeletal disorders and dermatological problems.  I personally have a hard time envisioning my cat holding still for an acupuncture needle, but I could see older, calmer animals getting relief for joint motility and pain issues.  Hey, I’ve seen so many humans recover from knee, shoulder, back, ankle, wrist pain, etc.  It’s not a stretch to imagine acupuncture helping cats.

If you’d like to find a cat acupuncturist, check out the AAVA site where you can search by location to find an acupuncturist for your cat nearby.  In the United States, AAVA members must also be licensed graduates of a college or school of veterinary medicine.

Holistic Veterinary Medicine

This is actually a broader term that encompasses acupuncture for cats.  According to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA), “Holistic (or Integrative or Complementary) Veterinary Medicine is the examination and diagnosis of an animal, considering all aspects of the animal’s life and employing all of the practitioner’s senses, as well as the combination of conventional and alternative (or complementary) modalities of treatment.”

It can include a variety of treatments such as modern drug therapy, surgery, nutrition, supplements, behaviour modification, homeopathy, herbs, and veterinary chiropractic.  The holistic practitioner looks at your cat as a whole being, not just a presentation of symptoms.  They’ll consider genetics, nutrition, family relationships, hygiene, and stress factors with a goal of finding the true root of what is ailing your cat.

It was a holistic vet who recommended that I increase the amount of water in Furball’s diet.  This has been immensely helpful at preventing a recurrent incident of blocked bladder as I discussed in Day 21 on natural methods for dealing with struvite crystals.

To find a holistic vet, please visit the AHVMA website.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

Learn more about alternative treatments for your cat and for yourself.  Here’s a good start:

Acupuncture:

Holistic Veterinary Medicine:

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Day 24: Recycled Plastic Litter BoxesThe 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

PetmateLitterBoxGiven the low-tech purpose that litter boxes serve, it’s surprising that they aren’t all made from 100% recycled plastic.  In fact, I could only find one litter box that used recycled materials.  This just seems wrong to me.  I also found a lot of companies greenwashing their litter boxes to claim that they offer eco-friendly litter boxes.

So, here’s where to look for eco-friendly litter boxes.

Petmate

  • I really have to give kudos to Petmate for taking a proactive approach to incorporating a minimum of 25% recycled materials in many of their products.  It’s a great start and as I learn more about the pet industry, I can appreciate how forward-thinking this is in an industry that seems to be lagging in following the green trend.  Petmate offers a dozen different litter boxes in various shapes and sizes to suit your cat — and all of them are made with 25% recycled content.
  • http://petmate.com/Departments/Product-Categories/Cat-Products.aspx

Here’s where NOT to look for eco-friendly litter boxes:

The Litter-Robot

  • You have got to be kidding me that they’re trying to promote this self-cleaning litter box as eco-friendly.  Well, the grey one is made from recycled plastic and they also tout that it’s made in the U.S.A.  However, first, it’s gigantic so it uses a lot more plastic then most boxes.  Second, it has electronics and mechanics that use even more resources than a basic box.  Third, you have to plug this one in.  Just because someone is too lazy to scoop their cat litter, does not justify this as an eco-friendly litter box.  Use a scoop.  That’s eco-friendly.

Kitty’s WonderBox

  • This is another jump on the green bandwagon product.  This litter box is made from recycled paper fibres, but the major problem with it is that it’s disposable.  Promoting it as “biodegradable” is simply  greenwashing.  The company even admits that the inspiration for their disposable boxes was convenience.  “You see, having a very full schedule and not always being present when Spice decided to deposit her gifts in the box, it was not humanly possible at all!

Exquisicat Litter Boxes

  • I called the 1-800 number on their box to ask whether they had a recycled plastic version of their litter boxes.  I was surprised to find that PetSmart customer service answered the call.  It turns out that Exquisicat is PetSmart’s house brand.  The service rep was unable to answer whether there were any plans to make a litter box from recycled plastic and also had no information on what PetSmart was doing to help the environment.  She said she would talk to some people in the company and get back to me.  That was over three weeks ago and I haven’t heard a thing.  I guess there is no green policy.

Van Ness Litter Boxes

  • Van Ness appears to be one of the other major brands making cat litter boxes.  However, I could not find one made from recycled plastic and can’t seem to find any info on the company online.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

  • PetSmart operates over 1000 stores in North America.  That’s a lot of stores that don’t have an eco-friendly policy or green initiative.  Imagine if they did. Send an email to PetSmart asking about their Exquisicat litter boxes as well as their position on green business practices.  Please copy and edit the email below and send it to PetSmart via their contact form: http://www.petsmart.com/helpdesk/index.jsp?display=store&subdisplay=contact&stillHaveQuestion=yes.  Or, alternately, you can call them 24 hours a day at 1-888-839-9638.

THE SAMPLE EMAIL LETTER

I have been a PetSmart customer for many years.  However, like many consumers, I am increasingly concerned about the environment and was wondering what PetSmart is doing to offer more eco-friendly products and introduce more sustainable business practices.  Quite frankly, I don’t see any changes at my local store and this concerns me greatly.  Given the growing demand by consumers for environmentally-friendly products and services, I would expect that PetSmart, as the leading pet retailer in the U.S., would be actively developing sustainable business practices.

I would like to know if a green product policy is currently in the works and what other initiatives and products your company is undertaking to support the environment.  Specifically, I would also like to know if Exquisicat will be making its litter boxes from recycled plastic.  Exquisicat’s competitor, Petmate, is already taking a lead by offering eco-friendly litter boxes made from 25% recycled content.  Until Exquisicat follows suit, I see no reason to purchase this brand.

With many eco-friendly alternatives entering the marketplace, it is becoming increasingly easy for me to change my shopping habits.  Because I prefer to support green businesses, I hope to hear about significant and meaningful changes in PetSmart’s business practices.  However, if your company lacks a cohesive sustainable business strategy, I will continue to shift my spending to companies that actively support green business practices.

Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

Day 23: Vegan Cat Diets?The 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

This post will probably be one of the most controversial ones that I write and also the one where I share the most personal details about myself.  I will state upfront that in my opinion, it is completely unsuitable to feed your cat a vegan diet.  Cats are carnivores and eat meat.  Vegan diets for cats are lacking in essential nutrients.

However, this is an issue that is bound to strike a chord with readers.  Every environmentalist knows that the typical North American diet high is excessively high in animal protein and that the environmental impact of eating meat is much greater than eating a vegetarian diet.  Add to this, the way most animals are raised and slaughtered, and it becomes not only an issue of earth-friendliness, but also one of animal cruelty.  Concerns over these issues inspire people to become vegan or vegetarian themselves and then consider how they can also introduce this lifestyle to their cat.

So, following traditional journalistic ideals of looking at both sides of the argument, I’ve decided to learn more about vegan cat diets.

In this post, it’s relevant to mention my own background.  From my late teens to mid-30s, I ate very little meat, perhaps about one serving every two to three weeks.  During my late 20s, my diet was mostly vegan.  I felt great and I thought I was really healthy because I didn’t eat an overly-processed diet.  Everything I heard and read indicated that North Americans got way too much protein in their diet, so I assumed I was getting enough.

I was really active, I did endurance sports and could ride 70 miles on a bike at the drop of a hat.  I never got sick and I would heal almost instantly if I injured myself.  I thought my body was getting all of the nutrients it needed.  When I hit a wall of exhaustion and dropped 5 pounds in the fall of each year, I assumed that this was just the “wall” that athletes normally hit in their training season and that I had simply peaked in the summer.

It wasn’t until I was 32 when my body seemed to give out on me.  I was faced with a year of unbelievable stress in my professional and personal life and my good health fell apart like a house of cards.  I blamed it on the stress, but in retrospect I realize that the stress was the catalyst.  The underlying factor was that my body was not robust and lacked a reserve of vitality.  Can I quantify that in western medical terms?  No.  So how do I know this?  After the stress was removed, my health improved, but I never felt like I ever bounced back to how I used to feel.  Some people might just chalk it up to aging, but I just knew that there was something else going on.

I’d always been interested in alternative healing so after leaving a high tech job, I decided to start doing a Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  What I learned was an eye-opener and it provided a framework for understanding what was going on in my body.  In general, TCM supports a balanced diet consisting of a little bit of most everything including animal protein.  There are specific imbalance patterns with very clear symptoms that are related to a diet insufficient in protein.  I was a dead ringer for “spleen qi vacuity” with other complications as a result.  My digestion was a wreck, my hormones were out of balance, and I had insomnia for a year.  However, from a western medical perspective, I was very healthy.  To most people, I was in relatively good health, yet I knew I had felt better before.  In an attempt to improve my health, I gradually reintroduced more meat into my diet, and ate animal protein about twice a week. I tried to eat organic meat only, buy free range and local wherever possible.

I noticed some slight improvements, but I still didn’t quite feel like I was fully recovering.  Then, I got pregnant.  Everyone told me to eat more protein, so I thought 3 times a week of actively eating protein was good enough.  Around the second month, I started reading a book on the protein needs of pregnant women and it recommended 100g per day.  Internet searches came up with numbers ranging from 50 to 70g.  That seemed like a LOT to me.  So, I started adding up the protein I was consuming in a day and realized that on average, I was eating about 15 to 20g on a good day.  That made me realize that for the past 15 years, I’ve been getting by on 10 to 15 grams a day which is well below the recommended amount for non-pregnant women.

On top of that, I read an article about how the average consumption of meat had gone up in the Chinese population as the country became more prosperous.  The article said people were now eating twice as much, about 100 pounds a year as opposed to 50 pounds.  That floored me.  In the highly touted Asian diet with modest amounts of meat, people were still eating 50 POUNDS a year.  I was probably getting a pound a month.

I didn’t realize to hit the daily protein requirement called for conscious effort with every meal.  My staple of rice, even brown rice, had virtually no protein in it whatsoever.  In order to meet the recommended daily allowance for non-pregnant women, I had to actively eat protein (animal or plant-based) with EVERY meal and then eat some more.  Waffles for breakfast wouldn’t cut it.  One egg wasn’t enough, it only had 8 grams of protein.

When I modified my diet to meet the daily requirement, I found it was a lot of work to actually get enough.  Even animal protein in the amounts I eat, doesn’t contain that much protein.  On vegetarian days, I had to work twice as hard to get enough protein.  However, on the first day I hit my goal, I felt amazing.  I hadn’t felt such a sense of energy, strength and rebuilding in my body in years.  I’ve been actively eating protein now for about two weeks and I truly feel for the first time, that my body is now repairing and recovering from the damage it went through over five years ago.  I feel like I am bouncing back and that I’m giving my baby all the nutrients it needs.

This made me realize that even an extremely health-conscious person who is studying health and nutrition from a western and eastern perspective could easily fail in meeting basic nutrition needs.  How many vegans simply cut out the animal products?  How many can name the essential amino acids and which foods contain which amino acids and how to combine them?  How many actively eat protein with every breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack?  Why did every vegan I know look really pale?  Was this a diet that could only be sustained for a decade or two in one’s youth?

If it’s possible to not even meet our own needs, how can we be sure that we can meet the nutritional needs of our pets?

So, with this as my framework, here’s what I’ve learned about vegan cat diets:

Arguments in support of vegan cat diets:

  • Cats are classified as carnivores, but so is the panda which eats a mostly vegan diet.  Therefore, it is extrapolated that cats also can eat mostly vegan diets.
  • Cats need taurine which is supplied naturally only in meat products.  However, vegan cat foods now contain synthetic taurine.
  • People who argue that a vegan diet for cats is not natural, can be rebutted by the fact that feeding cats canned food and dry kibble is also not natural.  Most cat food does not reflect what a cat might eat in the “wild”.  Ever see a cat attack a cow?
  • Homemade vegan meals prepared from natural ingredients are better than most of the commercial crap people feed their pets.

Arguments against vegan cat diets:

  • Pandas are the only species classified as carnivores to eat a mostly vegan diet.  The only reason they are classified as carnivores is because of the shape of their teeth, which indicate that pandas evolved from meat-eaters.  Therefore just because pandas are healthy eating only bamboo, this doesn’t mean that cats can thrive without animal protein in their diets.
  • Not only do cats need taurine, they also need arachidonic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin B12.  All of these nutrients can not be obtained in sufficient amounts from plant-based diets.
  • Getting nutrients from natural sources is likely healthier than consuming synthetically-produced nutrients.  Think about it.  Are you better off taking vitamin C capsules your whole life, or might some oranges be good for you?

I will agree with the last two points that are pro-vegan.  Most commercial cat food does contain crap that your cats would not normally eat.  So, it is conceivable to me that a homemade diet made from natural foods with added supplements would be better than giving your cat a 59 cent can of garbage made from ingredients considered unfit for human consumption.

And, I’d agree that beef, chicken, turkey, tuna, etc. would not be animals that a cat would normally hunt in nature.  More “authentic” cat foods should probably contain mice, small birds and bugs.  However, I found too much overwhelming evidence in support of a non-vegan diet for cats and not enough substance to advocate a vegan cat diet.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

  • Take a good look at what you are feeding your cat.  Be objective about it and try to leave your own human bias out of deciding what is best for your cat.
  • Take a good look at what you are feeding yourself.
  • Educate yourself, talk to experts, seek dissenting opinions.  Don’t just read this post.  Do your own research and find out more.

Day 22: Homemade Cat Toy FridayThe 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

DreamCatcherFriday is homemade cat toy day, so today, I’m going to share with you the Dream Cat-cher from Furball’s eco-friendly cat toy book.  This one is sooooo easy, but Furball’s been loving this game for the past two weeks.  He actually breaks his nap to come out at the same time each morning to play.

Basically, you’ll need some sunshine, which has been a little hard to come by lately in the winter.  However, we’re fortunate to live in California.  We’re originally from the Northeast, so we know what winter’s like for everyone else.  So, just hang in there until the next sunny day :).

Next, you’ll need a CD or DVD.  Preferably, it’s one that you don’t need or want.  This game shouldn’t cause any damage to the disc, but it’s better to play it safe.  Personally, I’ll use the DVD that I rented from Blockbuster, but I justify that by reasoning that I return the DVD in better condition than I received it.  I’m going to take a little green segue now and you’re welcome to skip by going to the next next paragraph.

Little Green Segue: Here’s why the DVDs are returned in better condition than how I received them.  There are actually some green tips here, so thanks for reading.  Plus you’ll get an insight into a slice of life for Furball’s Mommy.  My DVD player is so old that it has a VHS tape player integrated with it.  The DVD technology from back then isn’t as good as it is now.  If there’s even the tiniest smudge on the disc, my DVD player will freeze up and stop playing the disc.  This usually occurs at the most inopportune climatic moments of the movie.  Anyway, to prevent the freeze, I tear off one quarter of a sheet of recycled paper towel.  Then, I spray a tiny squirt of Seventh Generation all purpose cleaner on the disc and give it a good wipe.  Those discs are sparkling when I put them back in the case.

OK, back to the Dream Cat-cher and a quick and fun way to play with your cat.  Flip the disc so that the underside is in the sunlight.  Move the disc around so that the light reflects onto the wall and floor.  The lightbeam will quiver like a moth and it’s simply irresistible.  Sit back on the sofa and with a few flicks of your wrist, your cat will be chasing that beam all over the room.  Be sure not to shine the beam in your cat’s eyes!

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

Today’s green actions are for you and your lifestyle.  After all, this blog is about green living for YOU and your cat.

  1. Before buying the latest gadget, consider whether you really need it.  When you do purchase an item, buy a quality product and use it until it completely stops working and can no longer be repaired.  Then, find some geek on recycle.org to take it and recycle it into a cat feeder like this one on Make Magazine.
  2. Be conscious of how you use paper towels and whether you can use a reusable cloth instead.  If you do need to use a paper towel, do you really need a whole sheet?  I can’t tell you how many times I see people in a public restroom wash their hands, then grab three paper towels, graze them lightly for a  second, and then toss the whole pile out without any thought.
Dozens of Eco-Friendly Cat Toy Ideas Furball, my cat, loves to play and he was so hyperactive as a kitten that I invented dozens of toys and games for him and even wrote a book about them.

Make Your Own Cat Toys features instructions for over 50 cat toys that can be made in minutes, if not seconds, from stuff you have around the home. If you’d like to learn more about the book, please visit www.MakeYourOwnCatToys.com.


Green Little Cat is the only blog that's all about eco-friendly ideas for cats and cat lovers. This blog is a labor of love, created by Holly Tse, author of Make Your Own Cat Toys.
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