Monthly Archives: September 2009

How to Reuse an Old Cat Toy Wand – An Eco-Friendly Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a little black kitten named Furball.  He was a spoiled prince of a cat and he had quite the assortment of wand toys. Over time, this little black cat would tear the dangling toys to shreds or rip all of the feathers out of the end of the wand.  Eventually, all that was left, were some nubby gnawed ends and pathetic remnants of string on a stick.

Furball’s owner was eco-conscious so instead of throwing out the old wand toys, she kept them.  Eventually she had quite the compendium sitting in a box in the closet.  One day, she had a bright idea.  She took a wand and removed the chewed up toy from the end.  Then, she took a thick elastic band and wrapped it around the end.  Next, she tied a rope around another elastic band and wrapped that around the same end.

Ta da!  And the wands lived happily ever after as reused toys.

The moral of this story:

1) If your cat eats elastic bands or tries to eat them, don’t do this!

2) If not, you don’t need to throw out the cat toy wand.  Instead, you can reuse it. Take a couple of thick elastic bands like the ones wrapped around broccoli.  Wrap one around the end of the stick.  Tie a toy to some twine or rope.  Then tie the other end around the other elastic band.  Finally, wrap it around the end of the stick as well.

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Winners of the Really Really Big Natural Cat Food Giveaway

Congrats to the winners of our Really Really Big Natural Cat Food Giveaway.  The prize was a variety pack of cat food from Natura Pet Products featuring their EVO, Innova and California Natural brands.

Congratulations to our winners:

1. Kitty and Piggles, AL

Kitty is a two year old, female, and enjoys playing with toilet paper tubes!  She’s a cat after my own heart as this is a great way to be green.  I’ve invented a couple of toilet paper roll toys for my book Make Your Own Cat Toys.  Piggles, as her name suggests, is a little pig and she LOVES to eat.  Sounds just like Furball!

2. Smoochie and Meeper, MO

Smoochie is an 8 year-old who will only drink water if it’s warm.  He sleeps on his Mommy’s cholesterol lowering pillow every night.  Meeper is 2 years old and got his name from the funny meeping-like noise he made as a kitten.

3. Blixa, CA

Blixa is a 5 year-old, black and white, long-haired, forest kind of cat. He makes his owners laugh because he meows A LOT and isn’t terribly graceful.  He was adopted, just like Furball!

I’ve got a few other giveaways in the works, so if you’d like to keep in the loop, please join my mailing list (big green box in the right column).  I promise not to spam you — you’ll get an email once a month or less.  That I can guarantee as I don’t have time to send one more often!  You can also unsubscribe easily any time you like.

The Reality of Expert Advice on Introducing Your Cat to a New Baby

IMG_7027Before I brought my new baby home to meet Furball, I had a lot of concerns because Furball is fairly highstrung and becomes agressive when he feels threatened.  I researched the advice from animal experts and came up with a few of my own ideas before the baby was born.  It’s been a few weeks since the baby arrived and I can now report on the reality of implementing the expert advice.

1) Advice: Play audio of babies crying before the baby is born so the cat gets used to it.

Reality: Furball never got used to the audio of the babies crying and would always be freaked out by it.  However, I didn’t play it as consistently as was advised or start as early as recommended.  I’d still recommend doing this.  We discovered by accident the best and safest way to get the cat accustomed to the crying.  Here’s what happened.  We kept the crib in our room and spent most of the time in the bedroom with the baby.  When he started crying at night, the bedroom door was shut, so Furball was freaked out, but he was freaking out outside of the room.  After a couple of nights, he started to ignore the crying.  Then, when he was in the same room with the crying baby, he didn’t pay too much attention.

2) Advice: Bring something scented with the baby’s smell home before you bring home the baby (eg. wipe, towel).  Place it down under the cat’s food bowl and give your cat a special treat.

Reality: If you’re doing this, bring something that you’re going to throw away right afterwards because once it’s been on the floor and slobbered on by the cat and crusted with cat hair, you won’t want to put it back near your newborn even if you wash it a dozen times.  Furball sniffed the wipe once, then completely ignored it and went straight to the food.  Also, since we were in the hospital for a couple of days, the cat was just happy to have company and was fairly oblivious to the wipe.  I think this advice might work better for dogs.

3) Advice: Give your pet lots of attention when the baby is in the room with them.

Reality:  This is pretty good advice, but the reality of a newborn is that you won’t even have time to wash your face in the first week or two, let alone spend lots of time with your pet.  We tried the best we could, but Furball is used to being the center of attention.  I’d advise you taper off attention starting 3 to 6 months before the baby is due.  Whatever you consider to be minimal, give even less than that because when the baby arrives, that’s what the reality will be.

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How to Make Recycled Newspaper Cat Litter

Recently, I came across a recipe for making your own recycled newspaper cat litter.  Naturally, since I’m a big DIY proponent, I couldn’t resist trying out the instructions for making kitty litter out of recycled newspaper.  The litter recipe was the invention of Allie Larkin and is posted on her blog, Allie’s Answers.

My first concern about making litter from newsprint was the ink on the paper.  Was it safe for my cat and me and was it safe to rinse it down the drain?  Good old Wikipedia had the answers under an article about Soy Ink.  It cited a 2004 article from Graphics Arts Online that states, “Currently, about a third of the nation’s daily and weekly newspapers print with soy inks, including about 95% of the 1,500-plus high-circulation dailies. Soy inks have become the prime source for newspaper color printing, with publishers citing their performance on press, vibrant colors, and environmental friendliness (no volatile organic compounds). Though black soy news inks cost slightly more than their conventional counterparts, publishers still find them competitive because of the extra coverage they afford.”  To be extra sure, you could always contact your local newspaper and ask them.

This was actually a moot point for my experiment in making my own cat litter because I have newsprint packing paper that I can use.  I have literally been reusing the same packing paper for over 4 years through 3 moves and I’m planning to keep reusing it for the next time I move, maybe in a few years.  However, some pieces have become so tattered that they’re really not that good for packing stuff anymore.  I used these sheets of newsprint to try out the cat litter recipe.

Since there’s no ink on my packing paper, I skipped the first two steps that entail washing off the ink.  For my test batch, I used the equivalent of 1.5 full sheets of a newspaper.  Allie’s instructions call for a paper shredder, but I don’t have one, so I tried tearing the paper into strips.  I found that by stacking 4 sheets together and following the grain of the newspaper, it was relatively simple to tear it into strips about 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide.


Next I added some warm water and my big pile of shredded paper shrank down into a wet mass.  I dumped it into a collander, squeezed out the water and using my hands, mixed in about 1/4 cup of baking soda.  The newsprint shrank down to a small ball.

Allie suggests crumbling the newspaper mixture onto a screen and leaving it to dry for a few days.  I also don’t happen to have a screen, so I tried improvising by using a really old towel that was beyond donating except to an animal shelter.  It’s about 90 degrees outside, so I spread out the towel in the sun.  Then, I put a layer of mesh fabric on top of it.  The mesh is leftover from a DIY Hallowe’en costume where my husband went as a beekeeper.  We knew if we kept the mesh, we’d find a use for it one day.

I crumbled the newsprint, which took a bit longer than I expected.  I think I was crumbling too small based on Allie’s photo on her blog, so you should try making bigger “crumbs” if you’re going to make your own recycled newspaper cat litter.

Next, I waited for about a day for the do-it-yourself cat litter to dry.  In the end, the recipe yielded about 3 to 4 cups of recycled newspaper cat litter.  The final texture came out a bit like wood shavings.  Allie’s looked more like little balls, so I’m wondering if I didn’t add enough baking soda or conversely, added too much.

I tossed it into Furball’s box, mixed it up with his organic wheatgrass litter, and waited to see how he would react.  Because it was such a small amount and he had used recycled newspaper litter before, I wasn’t too concerned about the homemade litter upsetting his normal routine.  He did his business as usual.

I can’t really comment on how the homemade litter made from newsprint was for controlling odors because I made such a small amount.  It also won’t fit neatly through the standard litter scoop.  However, if you’ve got the time, want to save some money and are hardcore green, making your own litter may be a great option — especially if you know people who have a newspaper subscription (try friends/neighbours/the library).  Why not give it a try?

Read more articles on eco-friendly cat liter options

What Do 100 Monkeys Have to Do With Cats? And, How Can This Change the World?

According to a definition on Wikipedia, Critical Mass is a sociodynamic term to describe the existence of sufficient momentum in a social system such that the momentum becomes self-sustaining and fuels further growth.  A similar effect is the Hundredth-Monkey Effect. This is defined as a phenomenon in which a learned behaviour spreads instantaneously from one group of monkeys to all related monkeys once a critical number is reached.

For example, I can make a positive impact by adopting a green lifestyle for my family and for my cat, Furball.  However, the benefits are magnified if I can reach people through Green Little Cat and inspire many more people to make greener choices.  If each of these people then influences someone else and this pattern continues, the positive impact increases exponentially.  At some point, the sphere of influence reaches a critical mass and the hundredth-monkey effect kicks in and EVERYONE adopts greener practices.  This is when world-changing shifts happen and we will all benefit from a healthier and greener planet.

Green is definitely in the mainstream consciousness now, but it’s new to a lot of people.  There’s also a lot of greenwashing out there and if someone is new to the green movement, it can be overwhelming to figure out what’s the most eco-friendly option.  Education and information is the solution.  Share your knowledge and experiences to inspire friends, family and acquaintences to go green.  Open a dialogue, even with strangers.  Look for opportunities to encourage people to go green through simple changes.  It’s really easy to do.

For example, I put together a green gift pack to give to the attending nurses at the hospital where I gave birth.  The gift pack consisted of:

  • The Sheryl Crow-designed reusable tote bag made from 80% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles from Whole Foods – I figure nurses will find them handy for taking stuff to work or running errands.
  • A reusable and recyclable lunch bag, also from Whole Foods – Hospital staff can use the bag to pack their lunch of lunch for their kids.
  • A reusable spray bottle and concentrate package of eco-friendly wowgreen Fabric Pre-Wash – I’m guessing that nurses (or parents in general) encounter more opportunities than the average person to  remove food, blood, bodily fluids, etc. from their clothes.
  • A handwritten note expressing my appreciation and asking them to help leave a greener planet for our children.  Plus a tasty truffle to sweeten the message!

I wanted to make a nice gesture and also encourage people to consider green options that they may not have known about. I also knew that a dialogue would be opened because the nurses would most likely talk to each other about the gift bag they had received.

With the power of the Internet, it’s unbelievably easy to reach others with ideas and information.  If you care, please tell at least one friend with a cat about this blog.  Let’s help green the planet one cat lover at a time :).

I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible.  You can:

  • Click the “Share” link at the end of every post to post it on your favourite social networking site.
  • Email the post to a friend by clicking the “Share This” link.
  • Join my Facebook fan page
  • Join the Green Little Cat mailing list and forward the newsletter to a friend (the big green box in the right hand column)
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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.