Monthly Archives: November 2009

Wee Cleaner — Is It Really Non-Toxic?

In January, I wrote an entry about eco-friendly natural cleaners for eliminating pet odours and stains. One of the products I came across was Wee Cleaner. Their website made it sound fantastic for getting rid of the smell of cat pee: “WEE CLEANER is non-toxic, fragrance-free, dye-free, phosphate-free, and enzyme-free. It is biodegradable and produces no fumes.” As a result, I included it in my review.

Over the past few months, I’ve been learning a lot about cleaning products, largely spurred by becoming a Wowgreen Independent Distributor.  The more I learned, the more surprised I was about what is actually in common household cleaners.  I knew they weren’t that great, but I didn’t realize how scary some of them are.

As a result of my newfound knowledge, I kept wondering, how can Wee Cleaner possibly clean without enzymes?  It HAS to use chemicals. I contacted Wee Cleaner and requested an MSDS, that’s a Material Safety Data Sheet. This is a document that manufacturers have to provide for their cleaning products when they’re used in a workplace setting.  The MSDS identifies the hazardous chemicals in the product’s formula as well as the risks associated with product exposure. Interestingly, manufacturers do not have to disclose this information for HOUSEHOLD cleaning products.

Wee Cleaner did not have an MSDS for their product, but they did provide me with an ingredient list.  Here it is:

Distilled water, hydrogen peroxide (35% grade), sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidoproply betaine, cocamide MEA, sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, citric acid

Nothing in the list is considered a hazardous chemical, but I started looking up the ingredients in the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database.  They give ingredients a rating based on how hazardous it is.  Keep in mind that ingredients are rated in the context of using them as cosmetics as opposed to carpet cleaners.

Hydrogen peroxide got a really scary rating of 3 to 8 (depending on product usage) out of 10 on their hazard scale.  A 3 is considered a moderate hazard and anything over 7 is considered a high hazard.  It was flagged for cancer, neurotoxicity, persistence and bioaccumulation, organ system toxicity, endocrine disruption, biochemical or cellular level changes, and more…

Sodium laureth sulfate, which you might think is worse since we’ve heard so much about sodium lauryl sulfate, is actually rated less hazardous.  It was rated between 3 to 6 depending on product usage, making it a moderate hazard.  It was flagged for cancer, persistence and bioaccumulation and organ system toxicity.

Definitely makes you go, “Hmmm”.  I think I have to look up all of the ingredients in my toiletries now…

Natural Green Pest Control

Green pesticides might seem like an oxymoron at first.  I never even thought to look for an eco-friendly insect killer because I simply assumed they didn’t exist.  However, a recent invasion of ants in the kitchen prompted me to look for natural ways to get rid of ants.

I tried my time-tested green method of keeping ants outside by sprinkling a line of cinnamon along the windowsill where they were coming in.  However, these ants were persistent and burrowed their way through this natural barrier.  I next considered using diatamaceous earth, but didn’t have a clue where to buy it around here.  Diatomaceous earth is composed of fossilized sea creatures that are ground up into a fine powder.  The powder is sharp and cuts into the waxy coating of insects when they come into contact with it.  This kills the bugs because they dehydrate from the cuts in their shells.

Serendipitously, I was contacted by a representative for EcoSMART about their green insecticides.  They asked to do a giveaway through my blog, but I wanted to ensure their products really were green before considering it.  I asked them to send me a MSDS for their product, which would list the ingredients and indicate if there were any toxic chemicals.

I learned that their Garden Insect Killer contains the following:

Active Ingredients:
Rosemary Oil ……………………………………….. 0.25%
Peppermint Oil ………………………………………0.25%
Thyme Oil …………………………………………….. 0.25%
Clove Oil ………………………………………………. 0.25%
Other Ingredients*………………………………. 99.00%
Total …………………………………………………. 100.00%
*Water, Mineral Oil (USP), Octadecenoic Acid Potassium Salt, Lecithin

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the product really is quite harmless for humans. However, I recently learned that many essential oils are actually very toxic for cats. That said, the article I read was referencing oils in flea products that are applied directly to a cat and would be ingested when they lick it off of their fur.

I guess you need to balance the toxicity of chemicals vs. essential oils and the likelihood of your cat ingesting the product, while also factoring in the environmental impact.  Being green is never black and white, is it?

The EcoSMART website said you can “spray and harvest” on the same day.  But does it work?

EcoSMART was kind enough to send me a bottle of the Garden Insect Killer as there are unknown bugs munching up the leaves of the miniature orange tree out back.  We started spraying the tree and I’ll let you know if it works.

About that giveaway…

Stay tuned.  I just have to set up the code for the contest, which I hope to do in the next couple of weeks.  Then, you’ll have a chance to win an EcoSMART Safe Picnic Value Bundle.  It’s still picnic weather where I live!

Understanding Why Your Vet Has Prescribed Hill’s C/D

Here’s a guest post by Adrienne DeArmas.  She shares her incredibly detailed research into struvite crystals and a cat’s diet.  Thanks for sharing your findings Adrienne!

Struvite vs. Calcium Oxalate Crystals

Struvite crystals are usually formed in response to urine that is saturated with magnesium, ammonium and phosphorus combined with an alkaline urinary pH (not acidic enough). So, the goal of pet food manufacturers is to lower magnesium and phosphorus, thereby increasing the acid level in the urine. BUT, increasing the level too much can cause the calcium oxalate crystals so you don’t want to go too far in the other direction.

How do struvite crystals form in the first place? #1 cause is grain-based food #2 not enough moisture (dry food diet). If you are not going to feed a raw diet, get a water fountain ASAP. Or, you can always make your own out of a fish tank pump and a bowl full of rocks. The latter is harder to keep clean for some reason, never figured that out. Also, make sure you filter the chlorine from the tap water your cats drink with a Brita or similar type product. Another option: get a rain barrel and use that water (as long as the water is not coming off an asbestos roof etc). #3 and, believe it or not, STRESS.

Water

Cat’s don’t need it if you feed a raw diet, they do if you don’t. Canned food has water, dry food does not. It is a marketing myth that dry food is good for cleaning cat’s teeth. Dry food has one purpose: a cat owner’s convenience. Cats prefer dry food to canned food like people prefer potato chips to carrots. Salt (sodium, sodium chloride) is often added to make cats thirsty, thereby encouraging water consumption.

pH: Alkaline vs. Acidic

The recommended urinary pH for cats is 6.0-6.5. Want to test your cat’s urine ph? Go to Petsmart and get a pond water test strip. I use Jungle Lab’s simply because that’s what my PetSmart carries but there are others out there. Simply dunk the strip in the urine after he pees I would imagine. Never done it but it should work.

Ignorance and Greed

Veterinarians are usually not nutritionists. They recommend prescription diets like Hill’s and Royal Canin because the manufacturers’ reps come to them and sell them on the products. Plus, veterinarians get “kickbacks” on the sale of the food.

What To Look For in a Cat Food

  1. Grain-free is best (especially avoiding any corn products)
  2. No by-products
  3. Not processed at a plant like Menu Foods or Diamond so that you can rest easy about recalls due to contamination
  4. A 4th factor, depending on your politics, is animal testing. Yep, that’s right, there are actually pet food manufacturers that keep laboratory animals for testing food and the testing they do is unbelievable. You don’t want to know how they determine how much zinc makes it into puppy’s teeth and nails after 5 weeks of a special diet… IAMS (also makes Eukanuba) is a vile company. I’ll send you references if you want, but I can’t look at the pics.  Hill’s and Purina are also on the list but I will be honest – I cannot do much research on this topic – it upsets me too much. If PETA and ASPCA say they do it, that’s good enough for me.

NOTE: If your veterinarian insists on a “prescription” diet, you can tell him or her about Wysong Struvatrol or find a new vet.   Struvatrol™ is designed to provide nutritional support to the urinary tract and production of acidic urine through archetypal nutritional balances, biochemically rich ingredients and non-thermal processing.

What you feed your cat is your decision. What your cat eats is ultimately his or her decision. If your child only wanted to eat candy bars, would you let them? WARNING: cats are stubborn and will not eat if they don’t like their food!! This can be life-threatening, so be prepared to try different varieties and mix them in with their current food, changing the ratio over time until they are eating good food. Switching cats from dry food to canned is often seemingly impossible. You may waste good (expensive) food to start, but just think of the vet bills you’ll save later!!

Food Comparison Chart

References

Probiotics for Your Cat’s Digestive System

felinedoph

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a type of bacteria that grows naturally in the digestive tract.  It’s known as a “beneficial bacteria” (I should probably be saying “bacterium”) because it helps us to digest food.  Acidophilus is a common dietary supplement for people, usually taken in the form of a capsule, powder or liquid.  People take probiotic supplements to aid digestion, but did you know there are also probiotics for cats?

Natren, a company based out of Westlake Village, California, makes probiotics for humans and for pets.  FelineDophilus is their gel-based product, which includes two strains of beneficial probiotics: lactobacillus acidophilus and enterococcus faecium. Big long words, but the short of it is that a variety of probiotics is better than just one.

Natren states that FelineDophilus helps to promote thicker shinier coats, enhances energy levels and supports overall wellness by promoting healthy digestion and weight management. To top it off, it also helps cats with hairballs.

The company was generous enough to send me a sample of FelineDophilus, which I kept in the fridge for a number of weeks (probiotics usually need to be kept refrigerated to maintain their potency). I didn’t want to give Furball a supplement unless he needed it. That day arrived when he started puking up hairballs becaues he was stressed about the arrival of a new baby in our household. When Furball vomited up his dinner one night, I decided to try the FelineDophilus.

FelineDophilus comes in a plastic syringe that is unbelievable easy to use. I squirted some onto my finger tip and he licked it up. At his next meal, I squirted a full serving into his bowl and he ate it with no issues. The barfing stopped. I was impressed. I caution here that if you want to try this with your cat, I would highly recommend that you clear it with your vet first. Vomiting can be a sign of serious illness, so you shouldn’t delay treatment. Furball was under the care of his vet and diagnosed with “anxiety” as the cause for his hairball puking so I knew there was not another underlying medical issue.

The only other caveat I have about the product is that since it needs to be kept refrigerated, it was delivered in a highly over-packaged box with styrofoam and cooler packs. We kept the box and the cooler packs to reuse for something else, but in the future, I’m going to hunt out a local distributor to minimize the packaging.

I’ve found that you can’t easily find FelineDophilus at the pet store, so I order online. I was reading the company literature and while it’s supposed to be refrigerated, it’s designed for a certain amount of the healthy bacteria to degrade via transit. I wouldn’t order it in the summer without an ice pack, but it seems just fine in the spring, fall and winter. To order online, visit Amazon for some of the lowest prices on Natren FelineDophilus Probiotic Gel.

Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Clumping Cat Litter – Eco-Friendly Litter Made With Corn Cobs and Baking Soda

Arm & Hammer is best known for their baking soda, but they also make an environmentally-friendly cat litter too.  Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Clumping Cat Litter is made from corn fibres, which makes it 50% lighter than other litters.  Unlike some other corn-based cat litters that take corn out of the food stream, Arm & Hammer’s litter uses corn cobs that would otherwise be left to rot in the fields.  Of course, baking soda is also a quintessential component of this litter.  It’s great for absorbing odours and I routinely sprinkle some into Furball’s cat box.

I also learned a cool green fact about Arm & Hammer.  Did you know they were the only corporate sponsor for the very first Earth Day in 1970?

I haven’t used this cat litter myself, but did do some quick web searches for cat litter reviews. The reviews were all over the map with some users claiming it was the best thing since catnip and others saying it was the worst litter they had ever used.  I think the reviews depend on your expectations. Check these out for yourself:

As a user of eco-friendly cat litter (Furball uses Cat Country), I find green cat litters do an adequate job of odour control so long as the cat box is cleaned daily and a few scoops of litter are added every few days to refresh the box.  I’ve never used the traditional clumping clay litter, although my parents did about a decade ago for another cat.  From what I recall, that litter was really easy to use and did indeed help cover the stink factor if you were a lazy scooper. 

When you compare eco-friendly litters to that standard, then no, it really doesn’t work as well.  However, when you factor in the impact that clumping litter has on the environment, daily scooping isn’t really that big a deal.  I’m still doing it AND I have a newborn baby to look after, so if I can do it, anyone can.

Read more about Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Clumping Litter

Related Articles

The Purrfect Holiday Gift for Cat Lovers

It’s early to be shopping for the holidays, but if you’re looking for the purrfect gift for the cat lover in your life, may I suggest Furball’s fun and eco-friendly book, Make Your Own Cat Toys: Saving the Planet One Cat Toy at a Time. The book features over 50 eco-friendly cat toys that you can make in minutes (or even seconds) from stuff you have around your home.

I will personally autograph copies of the book made out to your cat or your friend or your friend’s cat or your friend and their cat…  You get the idea!  I’m only doing this for Green Little Cat readers and I’m only doing it for the month of November so that you’ll have your copy in time for the holidays.

Pricing and Shipping:

  • $11.95 USD plus tax if you live in California.
  • Shipping is $2.99 for one copy (add $1 for each additional copy) for continental USA.
  • Other locations, please contact me to get a quote.  Canada is usually not too much, but if you live overseas, shipping can be as much as the book or more.

How to Order

Email me at furball @ greenlittlecat.com with the subject line: “Purrfect Gift”.  Include the following:

  1. Your name
  2. Your mailing address
  3. The personalized message you would like the autograph to say.  I reserve the right to refuse to write things that I’m not comfortable with.  Please keep it friendly and light.

I will send you an invoice via PayPal.  Once payment is received, I’ll place your book in the mail.  USPS is usually pretty fast, about a week or two.  Please note that I do have a limited number of books on hand to sell, so once they’re gone, that’s it for this year in terms of getting an autographed copy.  The book (unautographed) is available on Amazon.com too.

More Info on the Book:

Visit www.MakeYourOwnCatToys.com and watch the video reviews below.

Published: • More Like This: Going Green

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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