Monthly Archives: June 2009

Searching for Green

Hey, just a quick note that I finally have the site search working for Green Little Cat. Now, it’ll be even easier to look up green info by simply clicking the “Search” link in the navigation bar at the top of the page.

After your search, if you don’t see what womans health you’re looking for, please send an email to furball [AT] I welcome your ideas as I’m always looking for interesting topics to cover.

Why not you give it a try right now?


Organic Cat Toy by Purrfect Play is Cat Toy Crack

Image: From Purrfect Play website
Image: From Purrfect Play website

I apologize if the crude colloquialism offends you, but there is no other way to describe how much Furball enjoys the Chubby Snake from Purrfect Play.  He was dozing when I introduced it to him, but all it took was one whiff of the robust catnip scent before he was wide-eyed and alert and ready to play.

I tossed him the Chubby Snake and he proceeded to go berserk, wrestling and tussling and biting the hell out of the toy. He even let out a few snorts – he was that excited.  After several minutes of active wrestling, he settled down to contentedly lick and drool all over the Chubby Snake.  The floor was covered in cat drool, which is when we gave the Snake a new moniker, “The Crack Toy.”

Furball was so enamored with the Chubby Snake that my husband had to distract him while I surreptitiously grabbed it and hid it in the garage.  Good thing Purrfect Play makes a replaceable cover for the cat nip core as I have a feeling that this will be one of Furball’s favourite toys.  After I took away the Chubby Snake, I gave him a Wooly Dust Bunny which looks a bit like a pom pom made from organic wool.  He chased that around the room and had a great time amusing himself.

Purrfect Play is a small company based out of the Midwest. They’re dedicated to producing pet products crafted exclusively from organic, chemical free, and fair-trade materials. To quote Head Honcho, Pat Wheelock, “When you buy one of our products you can be sure it was made with dedication and love.”

Ms. Wheelock was kind enough to send us a selection of toys for Furball to review and it’s clear from examining them that they were definitely crafted with love.  Before sending the toys to us, she took the time to ask how old Furball is, how much he weighed and whether he likes catnip.  As the author of Make Your Own Cat Toys, I’ve invented dozens of cat toys myself, and I appreciated the thought process behind her questions.  Ms. Wheelock’s questions were those that only a true cat lover would take the time to ask.

You may be wondering why the author of a cat toy book who advocates making your own cat toys to reduce your cat’s environmental impact would consider “outside” toys.  I did give this some thought when Ms. Wheelock made her offer.  However, when I read more about Purrfect Play (, I was really impressed with their business philosphy and the quality of their products.

The toys are very simple looking to the human eye, but from a cat perspective, they look like a world of fun.  As well, Purrfect Play only uses fair trade materials, dye-free organic fabrics and organic leaf catnip to make their toys.  The toys are locally made in Indiana and 5% of sales are donated to no-kill and rescue organizations.  The toys are great for the green advocate in me, but Furball’s the one who really gave them the greenlight.  He LOVED them.

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The Natural Cat Food Throwdown: Calling Natural Balance to the Competition

Natural Balance was one of the contenders that failed to answer my email inquiry for the Natural Cat Food Throwdown.  As part of the Throwdown, I emailed a number of natural cat food manufacturers to determine which food to switch Furball to.  I wanted to choose a green company that supported sustainable business practices. And, the food had to be high protein and low or no grain, based on the advice of his vet.  She recommended several brands to help Furball control his struvite crystals through his diet.

After about a month of no response to my tough green questions, I decided to call the company’s 1-800 number.  Of note, I found out that only three of their products were grain free.  To quote the customer service rep, they are as follows:

  • Potato and duck
  • Sweet potato and fish
  • Sweet potato and venison

Looking at their website, I was unable to find any product that matched these descriptions, but I’m suspecting that she was referring to their allergy formulas.  Also, I’m suspecting that Natural Balance is starting to realize that people who buy natural cat food are not just concerned about their cat’s health, but  also concerned about the environment.  When I asked the rep if Natural Balance had a green policy or had environmentally-friendly business practices, she answered with a wholehearted, “YES”.  Then, she said, “Our cans are recyclable”.  Uh…okay.


  • All ingredients are human-grade.
  • Most ingredients are from the U.S.  The duck is from the U.S. and the fish is wild caught Alaskan salmon.  The lamb and venison are from New Zealand.
  • Not associated with Menu Foods


  • Green factor is pretty lame.  “Our cans our recyclable”.  That says it all.


I wonder if they’re coaching their reps on how to answer questions about green business practices or if that’s what that particular person chose to say.  Regardless, the only way to green the pet industry is for everyone to write and call and tell them that this is something we value and that we’ll vote with our dollars.  For Natural Balance, I’m voting “No”.  They’re knocked out of Round 1 and won’t be going to the Taste Test Final of the Natural Cat Food Throwdown.

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Win a 10 lb Bag of Eco-Friendly Cat Litter

If you’ve been thinking of making the switch to a more eco-friendly cat litter or looking for a green litter that clumps, we’re giving away a 10 lb bag of Close to NatureNow.  This 100% all natural and organic cat litter is made from soybean meal and potato starch.  The potato starch enables the litter to clump, which is something that not all eco-friendly cat litters do.

Scott  DeWaide, President of The Organic Farmstore (makers of Close to NatureNow), generously offered to send me a bag of the litter.  However, I decided to politely decline because when I clicked the Where to Buy map on their website, there wasn’t a store near me that carried the product.  So, even if Furball liked the product, I wouldn’t have an environmentally-friendly way to get a regular supply.  I asked Mr. DeWaide if we could pass on this gift to Green Little Cat readers and he was most happy to do so.

So, here’s your chance to win a 10 lb bag of Close to NatureNow. Simply click the link below and you’ll be redirected to an entry form on my cat toy book website,  Sorry, it’s not on Green Little Cat, but with the new baby due in a couple of months, I’m having to work smarter as opposed to harder so I’m just reusing some code I wrote for a previous giveaway on the cat toy book site.

Hey, I guess it’s possible to apply the 3 Rs to your life.  Reduce work.  Reuse code.  Recycle ?  😉  Good luck and I hope this inspires at least one person to significantly reduce their cat’s environmental impact by making a simple change in their litter purchase habits.


P.S.  The last day to enter the giveaway is July 15, 2009.

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Introducing a New Baby to Your Cat

You may be wondering why I’m writing about this topic in a blog about greener living for you and your cat. There are a few reasons. First, one of the top reasons people give up their pets is because of incompatibility with a new baby. This contributes to the overpopulation of pets and also puts an additional burden on animal shelters. You can pretend to yourself that your pet will be adopted by a loving home, but the reality is that most people don’t want older cats, especially one that has been identified as “not good with kids”. Most likely, unless you take your cat to a no-kill shelter, he or she will be euthanized.

The second reason I’m writing about this topic is because being green shouldn’t just stop at the environment. I find most people who care about the planet also care deeply about their communities and contributing to the global good. If you can create harmony in your home and not have to give up your cat because of a new baby, then you’ve just added to the karmic good of the universe :).

Finally, I’m writing because I found most of the resources for introducing a baby to your pet cat to be quite brief. The information was good, but it seemed fairly superficial. For example:

  • Don’t bring the baby up to the cat, let the cat approach the baby.
  • If possible, let your cat sniff something with the baby’s scent on it before you bring the baby home.
  • Give your cat lots of attention and treats whenever the baby is in the room so that they associate the baby with good things.
  • Never leave the baby and cat alone together.

I did get some good advice from a presentation by the SPCA:

  • A couple of months before the baby is due, play the sound of crying babies to your cat so they can get used to the sound.  Start off playing it softly and gradually increase the sound level.
  • Before heading home from the hospital, take a towel or wipe that is scented with the baby and place it under your pet’s food bowl and give him extra special food.

I think that pretty much sums up most of the advice.  However, I have a VERY FEISTY cat.  I talked to friends with cats and babies and they had fairly smooth introductions.  One friend even sent pictures of their newborn CUDDLING WITH THEIR BABY.  Another friend said her cats were scared of the baby and ran away.

These scenarios would never apply to Furball.  He is a high energy, fiery little cat.  If he perceives something to be a threat, instead of running and hiding, he goes on the offensive.  I’ve seen him go ballistic when my brother brought his dog over and when a friend’s pant leg swished too closely to his head.  He even struck fear into the hearts of the maintenance men at my old apartment.  I came home one day to find a message on the answering machine that one of the maintenance guys had tried to pick up the cat and the cat bit him.  Another time, I found a note on the door that said, “Maintenance was here, but cat would not let us into the apartment.”  The one guy who was supposedly not afraid of the cat (I guess he was the one who didn’t get bitten) tiptoed around the cat when he came by.  This was a grown man, about 6 feet tall and 180 lbs.  He looked like those illustrations of the big elephant cowering in a corner when facing a little mouse.

Thus, since we’re expecting in a couple of months, I am very concerned that the introduction of Baby to the cat goes smoothly.  I’ve had Furball for almost 8 years and I feel it would be terrible if I had to give him up, but the baby’s safety comes first.  I need advice for how to introduce a high-strung, aggressive-when-threatened cat to a baby.  Since it doesn’t seem to exist, I’m doing some trial and error to come up with own.

Here’s what I’ve started to do:

1. Tell the cat about the baby.

This may be totally pointless in the minds of most people, but who knows?  The cat may understand absolutely nothing, but there is a chance that he’ll pick up on something.  At the very least, he may get a sense that a change is in the air and I’ll get comfortable with the idea of the cat and baby together by talking about it all the time.

I tell Furball that he’ll soon be a “big brother” to the new baby.  I tell him about what babies are like, that they’re noisy and small, that they’re delicate and not sturdy like kittens.  I tell him that I appreciate his understanding and am asking him to make room for the baby.  I also tell him that I’m going to be busy and tired and he may not get as much attention as he’s used to, but it doesn’t mean that I love him any less.

I also imagine an image of a baby in my mind while I’m telling Furball all of these things.  Some people believe pets can pick up on your thoughts, so I figure why not try it?

I tried this technique when we moved into our new home.  For months, I told Furball we were looking for a new place and told him about all of the space he would have in a house and let him know when the movers were coming.  To be honest, this was the smoothest transition we had.  Furball adjusted to the new home really quickly.  Did it have anything to do with me telling him about it?  Who knows?

I remember when my family moved when I was 4 years old and they never told me we were moving.  I think they thought a 4 year old wouldn’t comprehend what was going on, but it was a total shock to be in one house one day and suddenly in a new house that evening.  If my parents had said anything, even if I didn’t fully understand it, it would have helped me out.

2. Remember to keep giving the cat attention, but cut down on the duration of the interaction.

It’s easy when pregnant to inadvertantly start to neglect the cat.  I occasionally feel like crap, I’m tired, it’s hard to bend down and pet him.  I can only imagine what it will be like once Baby arrives.  However, I feel it’s really important to make some effort to acknowledge my pet even if things get hectic.  I know I’d rather have me cat feeling content and thus, less likely to demonstrate his displeasure.  Since I know I’ll be exhausted at first, I’m reducing my interaction time now so that he’ll get used to it when Baby arrives.  I figure I’ll still be able to give him the occasional pat on the head and chin rub.  To me, it seems like a necessity to keep the cat reasonably reassured once the baby arrives.

3.  If possible, let your cat see other kids if they’ve never seen little humans before :).

My friend brought her infant daughter over for my baby shower.  Furball was fascinated by her, but also freaked out, especially when she dropped her toys or let out a baby squeal.  I would not recommend that you invite people over to “use” their kids as a testing ground.  In this case, it just happened.  What was good about it, was that the baby was only over for a short duration of about 2 to 3 hours.  I watched the cat like a hawk and gave him tons of attention whenever he approached the baby and fed him numerous treats.  I also reassured him that everything was ok and that the baby was not a threat.  I stayed with him for the whole time that he seemed on edge or was near the baby.  After about an hour or two, he settled down and plopped himself on the floor.  It was business as usual and he completely ignored the baby.  I expect the next time he sees a baby (probably mine), he’ll be less freaked out by it.

4.  Find some easy, lazy ways to play with your cat

Furball gets hyperactive if he doesn’t get enough exercise.  Exercising him doesn’t happen naturally and easily since he’s an indoor cat.  As I mentioned in my book, Make Your Own Cat Toys, I’ve probably spent something like 83 full days of my life playing with cats and a good chunk of that went to Furball.  And, a large portion of that was due to necessity because he was too crazy if I didn’t.  With a new baby, I don’t want to litter my floor with cat toys that could be potential choking hazards.  Also, it’s not practical for me to keep bending down to pick them up and throw them.  So, I’m preparing a few “Lazy Wrestle Sausages” from my book which takes about 2 minutes to make as opposed to the “Wrestle Sausage” (link to instructions below).  The “Lazy Wrestle Sausages” will help him channel his biting, tussling, and wrestling urges.  Also, I bought a laser pointer so that he can get a good run while I sit on the rocker with the baby.  I figure if I give Furball a good run, he’ll be better behaved.

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The Natural Cat Food Throwdown: Wellness Steps Into the Ring

I had to track down this contender in the Natural Cat Food Throwdown.  As part of the Throwdown, I emailed a number of natural cat food manufacturers to determine which food to switch Furball to based on the advice of his Holistic Vet who said a high protein/low grain diet would be beneficial for controlling his struvite crystals.  Whew!  That was a run-on sentence.

Anyway, I contacted Wellness about their CORE canned cat food to ask them where it sources its ingredients and processes its cat food.  I also asked about their business’ green practices.  In response to my email, I was directed to call their customer service number, which I finally did this morning.  Very interesting…

I always had the impression that Wellness was a smaller company, but it felt like I was calling the call centre for the Home Shopping Network.  The person who answered the phone was polite and courteous, but she spoke at a very rapid and efficient clip and I could hear a lot of noise in the background like a telemarketing centre.  In retrospect, the signs that Wellness has been bought out by a larger company are pretty evident — package redesign and a slick website.


Wellness is very focused on food safety, but completely oblivious to sustainable business practices.  The customer service representative went into great length at fast-talker speed about where the ingredients were sourced, tested and manufactured.  However, when I asked her if Wellness had any green adhd business practices, she said, “Elaborate for me.  I don’t understand.”  I gave examples such as recycling and clarified that I was asking if Wellness does anything to minimize its environmental impact.  She said, “Not at all.  Not at Wellness.”

Well, that doesn’t sit that well with me.  Wellness is barred from entering the ring for the Natural Cat Food Throwdown!

In case you’re still interested, here are the pros and cons:


  • Processing is done in North America.  Plants are located in New Jersey, Kansas, Utah and Canada.
  • All ingredients are human-grade.
  • Vendors are required to test ingredients for “everything” such as melamine and cyanuric acid.  When Wellness receives the ingredients, they test them again.
  • Ingredients are pesticide and hormone free
  • All ingredients with the exception of taurine and vitamin C are from the U.S.  Lamb and venison are from New Zealand.


  • Menu Foods has facilities in New Jersey, Kansas and Canada.  This would lead me to conclude that CORE is processed by Menu Foods.
  • Uh, WTF on the green policy?  Most companies are at least cognizant enough to give it lip-service.  Wellness clearly does not care.

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Be an Angel for Animals and Save Some Green

Angel’s Wish is an animal welfare organization that I featured in a blog entry earlier this year about eco-friendly tips for animal shelters.  I’ve had the opportunity to see Gold LEED certified pet adoption centers, but Angel’s Wish demonstrates that you can also be small and be green.

They’re hosting an online auction from June 1-30 to raise money.  There are hundreds of items available and I’m donating an autographed copy of my book, Make Your Own Cat Toys to the cause. Please check out the Angel’s Wish online auction for the opportunity to get some great items at great prices and if you’d like a copy of the book, you can bid for it here:

Check out Furball's cat toy book
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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.