Category Archives: Green Shopping

How to Save 20% Off Cat Supplies at PetSmart and 5% Off at Target

Would you like to save 20% on cat supplies at PetSmart and 5% off at Target FUR-ever? By following these simple tips, you’ll never have to pay full price at either of these two stores ever again. It takes about five minutes to read this article, but with the money you’ll save, you can spoil your kitty with a lifetime of eco-friendly toys and treats.

Save-At-Target

So how do you do it? The way to save money is by buying discounted gift cards on a gift card exchange site like Raise or Cardpool. However, there is an art to doing this to simplify the process, maximize your savings, minimize the risk of getting a bad gift card—and also be eco-freindly!

But first, you need to understand how gift card reselling works. These gift card marketplaces describe themselves as exchanges where buyers can pick up discounted gift cards, and sellers can earn extra cash by selling their unwanted gift cards.

Sellers with cards they don’t want sell them at a discount. Buyers looking for a deal buy the gift cards. The gift card site makes money by taking a percentage of the transaction, which is paid for by the seller.

This all sounds wonderful on the website, but if this was how it really worked, it wouldn’t explain why there are so many of the same types of cards in certain amounts for specific retailers such as The Gap, Starbucks, and Target. After all, who gives a $1,000 gift card for Home Depot that the recipient doesn’t want?

How Gift Card Sites Really Work

At first, I wondered if some of the gift cards were being sold as part of a scam. Were people selling stolen gift cards on these sites? Were they buying them with stolen credit cards? But then I dug a little deeper and discovered this was not the case at all. Instead, I learned about gift card arbitrage.

What’s that you ask? Gift card arbitrage is buying gift cards at a discount and then selling them for a small margin above what was paid. While the margins may only be a fraction of a percent, money is made by trading in a large volume. There’s a whole world of people out there who make money by buying and reselling gift cards. They invest their time to watch for deals that let them buy discounted gift cards, earn loyalty rewards, and rack up credit card cash back points and travel miles.

For example, they might get a Bank of America Visa deal that let’s them earn 15% cash back on purchases at The Gap. So they buy gift cards at The Gap, and earn the cash back. They then resell the gift cards at a discount that’s less than 15% and pocket the difference. While they won’t make a lot of money on $100, it adds up when they buy and sell in bulk.

Other people buy gift cards to meet spending quotas on credit cards that earn them travel bonuses. They might earn 1% on their Visa for their Sears purchase, get loyalty points at Sears, and meet a quota that results in them getting 50,000 travel miles. So then, selling a gift card at a 5% discount actually earns them money.

This all makes my head spin, but the bottom line is that gift card arbitragers do all the work so that you don’t have to. Businesses offer incentives and discounts to attract more customers because it’s profitable for them to do so. If Citibank was losing money on their credit card offers, they would most definitely stop offering them.

So no, it’s not a scam. In fact, it looks like a win-win-win for everyone involved. The only reservation I have is the unnecessary plastic involved with gift cards, but there’s a way around this too, and I’ll explain how you can save on the plastic and still save money.

One other thing to note is that some gift card sites are more proactive in protecting buyers than other sites. They require sellers to provide identification and they boot off troublemakers. Because of their strict policies, these sites guarantee the value of the gift card for a specific period after your purchase. The length of time varies depending on the site, but I’ll share my favorite two. They both have A+ ratings with the Better Business Bureau and I’ve purchased gift cards from each of them without any issues.

Raise

Raise is the biggest exchange out there in terms of volume so you can easily find a PetSmart or Target gift card for the exact amount you’re looking for, and for most major retailers, too. Raise also offers a 100-day guarantee on the gift card balance, and they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. I’ve purchased numerous cards from them and not had a single problem with any of them. In fact, I save about $100 a month using Raise!

They also offer a sweet sign-up deal where you can get $5 towards your first order with a referral code. It’s like money for free because they’ll give you a $5 credit when you sign up through a referral link like this one:

And no, it’s not a scam either. The $5 is considered a marketing cost for Raise–what’s referred to in marketing lingo as the cost to acquire a customer.

Cardpool

This gift card site is smaller and has less selection than Raise, but occasionally they offer better deals–most likely because they have to in order to attract buyers. Raise works like an auction where sellers set their own price, but Cardpool determines the discount rate and buys inventory from sellers.

As a result, the prices can vary dramatically on Raise–I’ve seen Target gift cards offered with discounts between 0% to 7.1% all at the same time. On Cardpol however, the Target discount has been 5.5% to 6% off during the past three months I’ve checked the site.

If a store is really popular like Target, the discounts tend to be smaller. For specialized retailers like PetSmart, the discounts tend to be higher. That’s why I’ve seen PetSmart discounts between 8% to over 20%. While you can usually snag a better deal on Raise, you have to be willing to keep checking their site regularly. Cardpool on the other hand, is more like the “buy it now” option on eBay.

Cardpool also offers a 100-day guarantee on gift card balances, but only for physical gift cards. They guarantee electronic gift card balances upon delivery, but after you receive the egiftcard, they no longer guarantee the amount, which is why I prefer to use the full amount of digital gift cards right away. Cardpool also has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Raise, at the time of writing this article, offers the 100-day guarantee on all of the cards they sell, both physical and electronic. I think they can do this because bulk sellers have to stay in good standing with Raise in order to continue selling on the site. I prefer Raise, but I do have a workaround to minimize my risk for buying egiftcards.

Cardpool also offers $5 off on your first purchase when you click this link:

How to Save 5% or More Off Cat Supplies and Green Cleaning Products at Target

Now I’ll explain how you can do save on cat supplies (and pretty much everything else you buy at the store) at Target, Petsmart, and many other major retailers. I’ll use Target as an example.

  1. Sign up at Raise.com and use the referral code tholly to get $5 off your first order. Or sign up and get $5 off at Cardpool.
  2. Visit the Target website and filter your search results by choosing the “buy online and pick it up today” option under the “availability” filter. This option will show you the items that are in stock at the store of your choice. Continue adding items to your cart. When you’re done, check the shopping cart for the total dollar amount of your purchase. Do not pay yet.
  3. Next, visit Raise or Cardpool to find an ELECTRONIC gift card as close to the amount you need, but make sure the balance is less than the total amount. I prefer a smaller amount so that I can use up the entire amount of the gift card right away, and then I don’t have to be concerned about the balance of the gift card or bother with the hassle of keeping track of small leftover amounts.
  4. For electronic gift cards, Raise usually delivers them instantly so when you get your gift card, you can enter the code to pay for your purchase at the Target website.
  5. After submitting your order, you’ll get an email from Target when it’s ready for pick up, usually in under two hours. The service is free and you also get four days to pick up your order. Simply go to customer service, show your driver’s license and you’re good to When you submit your order, a Target employee will gather the items at the store so that you don’t have to wander the aisles looking for them yourself. Your order should be ready for you to pick up at customer service in about an hour or two, and you’ll receive an email when it’s ready.

There’s no need to print anything out, no need to get excess packaging to ship the items to your home, and no plastic gift card is ever produced–making this method a very eco-friendly way to save money by purchasing discounted gift cards.

How to Save 20% Off at PetSmart

In the past, I’ve skewered this retailer for some of its questionable practices, but in the years since I began this blog, there have been a lot of changes in the pet industry in terms of green offerings and improvements in social responsibility.

Given that PetSmart is such a ubiquitous big box retailer, for many people, this may be their best and most convenient option for buying pet supplies. Times have changed and PetSmart now offers more natural and eco-friendly products than ever before, so if you are going to shop here, you might as well save some serious coin while you’re doing it.

Like Target, PetSmart also offers a shop in store option on their website. Simply shop online at Petsmart.com as you would for Target, and remember to choose the option to pick up your items in the store.

Remember to Get $5 Off Your First Order

Happy savings!

Save $3 on World’s Best Cat Litter

World’s Best Cat Litter is an eco-friendly lightweight cat litter that’s made from corn. They’re currently running a promotion where you can get a coupon to save $3 off any 6 to 8lb bag of World’s Best. On the manufacturer’s website, they state that a single bag can last a whole month!

worlds-best-cat-litter

World’s Best is available in both clumping and non-clumping formulas and there’s even a version designed especially for multi-cat households. And, if that’s not enough choice, it also comes in two scents, lavendar and “forest”. I guess no one told them that lavendar is used as a natural cat-repellant :).

Snarkiness aside, if you’re using clumping cat litter, maybe now it’s time to make the switch. Save some green by clicking here to get your coupon.

3 Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Treats

Looking for some sweet treats this Valentine’s Day for the cat lovers in your life—or something for yourself? :) Here are 3 eco-friendly ways to say, “I love you.”

1. Send Organic Flowers

Pick up a bouquet of eco-friendly flowers. If you don’t live near a Whole Foods, where you can grab a bouquet sustainably grown flowers, there’s an online option for you to send organic flowers. Organic Bouquet delivers sustainably grown, certified flowers that are affordable and eco-friendly too. Prices are similar to ordering from one of the big flower conglomerate sites.

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Eco-friendly flowers from Organic Bouquet

2. Chocolate Kitty Made With Organic Sugar

This sweet chocolate cat is made with organic sugar by Chocolates by Bernard. Since you can’t share it with your kitty, perhaps she’ll enjoy the heart-shaped toy below.

chocolate-shaped cat

3. Heart-Shaped Organic Cat Toy

Yeowww! makes heart-shaped cat toys filled with organic catnip. The Heart Attack Pack includes 3 bold red hearts to help you win over your kitty’s affections. Happy Valentine’s Day!

HeartCatnipToy

 

 

Win a Joe Jacket Reusable Coffee Cup and Beverage Sleeve

Joe Jacket ReviewIt seems fitting that I’m writing this post while sitting in a coffee shop. Of course, I’ve got my reusable travel mug beside me. And it’s the reason why I originally declined an offer from Joe Jacket to review their reusable beverage sleeve. However, when they asked again, I suggested I would give it to a friend to try out and they sent me one of their adorable Pet Couture sleeves with a darling kitty print.

The Joe Jacket is a reusable beverage sleeve that comes in a cat or paw-print design. It’s made out of neoprene, which helps to insulate hot cups, ceramic and steel tumblers, and cold drinks, including plastic tumblers and sports drinks. Using a reusable sleeve can help save our landfills from billions of pounds of trash from traditional throw away paper cup sleeves.

I have something to confess. I kept the sleeve and I’ll tell you why. Right after I said I didn’t need one, I found myself at the coffee shop twice in a month, needing a tea, but I had forgotten my travel mug. Let’s face it, that big steel tumbler is not the most convenient thing to tote around. Luckily, I had my Joe Jacket reusable sleeve handy. It’s small and stores flat, so it fits easily into a glove box, a purse or the pouch of a backpack.

When I used the sleeve for the first time, the barrista exclaimed, “Oh it has cats on it!” Yes, the sleeve is THAT cute — and now you have a chance to win one!

How to Enter the Giveaway

  1. Like our Facebook page
  2. Leave a comment under the Joe Jacket picture at the top. Tell us which design you prefer (the cat print or the paw print) and why.

When you leave a comment, Facebook lets me get in touch via the the thread and that’s how I’ll be able to get in touch with the winner. One person will be chosen by random as the winner by March 15, 2013. Please note that you do need to live in the U.S. or Canada to be eligible to win.



CLICK HERE TO LIKE OUR PAGE

Eco-Friendly Gifts for Cat Lovers: 15 Gift Ideas Under $15

If you’re looking for gifts for cat lovers who are also tree-huggers, check out our list of green gifts featuring everything from organic cat toys to natural cat treats and more. With 15 gift ideas under $15, you’re sure to find the perfect gift for cat lovers in your life.

Gifts for Cat Lovers: Cat Toys

1. Make Your Own Cat Toys

Gifts for Cat Loversgift for cat loversHere’s the purrfect gift for finicky cats.  If you’ve ever spent a lot of money on a fancy cat toy only to have your cat prefer the bag it came in, this book is for you. Make Your Own Cat Toys shows you how to create new toys from old stuff in minutes.

For less than the price of a premium cat toy, your kitty can enjoy over 50 toys that can be made in minutes from items that would have been thrown out or tossed in the recycling bin. As the author of this book, I’ve heard from so many friends who have delighted in how much their friends enjoyed receiving this book as a gift. Make Your Own Cat Toys >>

2. Cheery Deer Cat Toy

gift idea for catsHere’s a friendly little reindeer cat toy that is sure to delight and inspire cats to prance with joy. Made by West Paw Design, this adorable kitty toy is filled with USDA certified premium organic catnip.

And if that’s not enough to get your cat in a festive mood, there’s also a bell inside to ring in the holiday cheer. Note: West Paw creates limited runs of holiday products so they’re only available while supplies last. Cheery Deer Cat Toy >>

3. Ho Ho Hairball

gift for catIf your cat’s been good this year, maybe Santa will bring a Ho Ho Hair Ball. This cat toy is a purrfect stocking stuffer that will entertain the most finicky of felines for hours.

Filled with USDA certified premium organic catnip and a cheery bell, this merry holiday cat toy will prove to be the best gift ever. Ho Ho Hairball >>

4. Amazing Treat Machine Rollers

gifts for cat loversAmazing Treat Machine Rollers are interactive toys which stimulate your cat’s primal hunting instincts. It’s made from cardboard that contains 30% post-consumer recycled content and once your cat has completely destroyed the roller, you can simply toss it in the recycling bin.

The treat rollers are quite fun to assemble, making them an ideal present for cats and also a great gift for cat lovers. Once you put a small treat or catnip satchel inside, you’ll have even more fun watching your cat try to get it out. Amazing Treat Machine Rollers >>

5. YEOWWW! Catnip Banana Toy

gifts for catsThis bigger than life banana is a tropical haven for cats.  It’s filled with fragrant organic catnip that cats go simply bananas for.  At our home, I tied the banana to a sturdy rope to play tug-of-war with my cat.  Furball loves wrestling with this. YEOWWW! Catnip Banana Toy >>

 Organic Catnip Cigars

YEOWWW! also makes catnip cigar toys.  Each cigar is 7 inches long and it’s stuffed full of organic catnip. No fillers, no cotton fibers – just 100% YEOWWW! brand super-potent organic catnip.

Pick up a trio in blue, pink and brown. It won’t matter if it’s a boy, a girl or even a kitten because these cigars are smokin’ hot. Organic Catnip Cigars >>

6. Happy Baby Carrots

Purrfect Play’s organic cat toys will inspire cats everywhere to be asking for veggies. Each Happy Baby Carrot is just over 3 inches long, and stuffed full of a 1/4 cup of certified organic catnip.  How do they get so much catnip in there?!!!

Available in a bunch of three carrots, these cat toys are lovingly handcrafted in the USA from dye free organic fleece and topped with organic cotton “leaves.” Happy Baby Carrots >>

Gifts for Cat Lovers: Natural Cat Treats

7. TunaTreats Gourmet Dried Bonito Flakes

If you’re looking for a natural treat for fish-loving felines, here’s a savory treat that will be a favorite not just for the holidays, but all year long.  These premium grade bonito flakes contain no additives, preservative or by-products. They’re a high-protein cat treat made from 100% skipjack tuna. TunaTreats Gourmet Bonito Flakes>>

8. Zuke’s Natural Purrz Cat Treats

Even the most discerning cats won’t be able to resist the delectable taste of Natural Purrz cat treats. These moist and meaty morsels of premium salmon and chicken are free of artificial flavors and harsh preservatives and packed with essential vitamins and minerals to help cats stay healthy and happy.

Zukes is so sure that your cat will love their treats that each bag comes with a money-back guarantee. Zuke’s Natural Purrz Cat Treats >>

9. Whole Life Organics Chicken Breast

Here’s a delectable gift for cats who love chicken. Whole Life gently steams USDA certified organic chicken breasts, then slices them up and freeze-dries them to perfection.

This process removes moisture while concentrating flavor, aroma and nutrition to create a soft, but crisp treat that can be broken into bite size pieces or crumbled over your cat’s food bowl for an extra special holiday dinner. Whole Life Organics Chicken Breast >>

10. Sojos Organic Catnip

gifts for catsRather than simply handing over a bag of organic catnip, here’s a stylish way to give premium certified organic catnip as a gift to cat lovers.  Sojo’s beautiful tin makes a great gift and contains hand-harvested catnip grown in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State.  Think of it as the caviar of catnips. Sojos Organic Catnip >>

11. Pet Greens Garden Wheat Grass Self-Grow Kit

gifts for catsHere’s an all-in-one green gift that’s literally green. The Pet Greens Garden Wheat Grass Self-Grow Kit is a self-contained pouch of easy to grow wheat grass.  Just open up the package, add water and 100% certified organic wheat seed will be sprouting up tender green grass for your kitty to nibble on. Wheat Grass Kit >>

Gifts for Cat Lovers: Home

12. Catty Stacks

gift for catsHere’s a stylish alternative to stacking your living room with ugly cardboard boxes. Catty Stacks are modular building blocks that you can join together to create your own custom kitty climbing gym.

Made in America from industrial-strength cardboard, Catty Stacks are recycled, recyclable, and durable, able to support cats up to 20 pounds in weight. Start with one and add as many as you’d like. Catty Stacks >>

13. Cat Silhouette Bamboo Cutting Board

gifts for cat loversHere’s a fun and fanciful cutting board made out of eco-friendly bamboo.  Shaped like a cat silhouette, this thin and lightweight board is a perfect gift for cat lovers for holiday entertaining.  It’s one of eight pet-shaped cutting boards from APetProject, so if you’re shopping for gifts for cat lovers and dog lovers, this will make the cut too. Cat Silhouette Bamboo Cutting Board >>

14. Joe Jacket Pet Couture Coffee Cup Sleeve

Looking for a gift for cat lovers on the go?  Look no further than the Joe Jacket Pet Couture collection of beverage insulators.  Featuring cute and whimsical feline and
paw print designs, these neoprene insulators keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. Because Joe Jackets are reusable, they help save our landfills from billions of pounds of trash from traditional throwaway paper cup sleeves. Joe Jacket Coffee Cup Sleeve >>

15. Rechargeable Black Cat Flashlight

gifts for cat loversWatch someone’s eyes light up when you give them this adorable black cat rechargeable LED flashlight.  With this gift, you won’t have to run out and buy extra batteries because it all you need to do is squeeze the hand crank to generate light. The cat’s eyes consist of two LED lights, which are the perfect combination of energy efficiency and ultra bright light. Rechargeable Black Cat Flashlight >>

After checking out our top 15 green gifts for cat lovers, we hope you’ll find some pawsome inspiration to delight the cats and cat lovers in your life. Now, what’s on your wishlist?

Win $50 of Your Choice of Premium Cat Products at Mr. Chewy

We have a HOT giveaway for Green Little Cat readers! You could win $50 of premium cat products from our friends at Mr. Chewy, the online store for pet people.  Mr. Chewy delivers pet happiness by offering a huge selection of products for cats and dogs (and free shipping), while ensuring at-risk animals’ lives are improved across the planet.

MrChewy
Mr. Chewy carries stuff for CATS too!

MrChewy.com is driven by pet happiness and not the bottom line. You can see this in the quality products that they carry. They’ve got the who’s who of premium and organic cat food and eco-friendly cat litter.

And the best part about this contest is that YOU get to choose what you want from over 70+ brands of pet food and stuff!  Come peruse the online shelves at MrChewy.com to find a delectable treat for your kitty.

How to Enter the Giveaway

Join the cool cats at our Facebook page and simply “Like” the page and leave a comment with the following phrase, “I want to win $50 of premium cat products from MrChewy.com because”.  Be sure to finish the sentence!

  • Like Us on Facebook and tell us why you want to win $50 of premium cat products from MrChewy.com

At this time, Mr. Chewy only ships to the continental U.S.  The winner will be sent a $50 off promotional code to use at MrChewy.com.  Even if you don’t live in the U.S., you can participate and

 

Here’s how to get more contest entries:

  • On our Facebook page, there’s also a post about the contest.  Share the Mr. Chewy Contest post on your wall for 3 additional contest entries
  • Share our Facebook Mr. Chewy Contest post on your FRIENDS’ walls and receive FIVE additional entries for each wall you share it on
  • Tweeters: Include @GreenLittleCat and @MrChewy in a single Tweet and receive 2 additional contest entries

Winner Announcement

We’ll declare the winner on July 4th, 2012.  So, you’ve got until Midnight, July 3, 2012 to enter by “Liking “us on Facebook, sharing the post on Facebook or tweeting about us (@GreenLittleCat) on Twitter.

 

Green Little Cat T-Shirts from Cafe Press

GLC_Design1The kind folks over at Cafe Press were in touch a few months ago to offer me an organic t-shirt and baby T (not a baby doll T, a T for a baby!). In case you’re not familiar with Cafe Press, they’re an online site that enables you to create your own personalized gifts such as tees, mugs, bags and more. They also offer storefronts for you to sell your products.

There were thousands of designs to choose from, almost too many, so I decided rather than spend hours trying to choose just one, I’d take the opportunity to design a Green Little Cat t-shirt.

It was actually a very easy process. Well, you do need some sort of basic skills in Photoshop or Illustrator. Once your design is complete, all you need to do is upload your image. Using the Cafe Press WYSIWYG designer was a breeze.

When the shirts arrived, I was quite delighted to see my design come to life.  The ink isn’t as bright as a screen-printed shirt, but the plus side is that the shirt is nice and soft without that rubbery feel.

Here are a couple of pics of me and my son and Furball, in our Green Little Cat organic t-shirts from Cafe Press. Furball is the one who is not wearing a t-shirt.
CafePress1
CafePress2

10% Off Coupon Code for Only Natural Pet Store

only_natural_logoI just got a coupon code from the Only Natural Pet Store to save 10% off all eco-friendly products during March.  Thought I’d share this coupon code with you.  I signed up as an affiliate with the Only Natural Pet Store so if you would be so kind as to use the link below, I would truly appreciate it.  Every little bit helps to supplement the cost of hosting this blog.  Thank you.

This blog and my cat toy book are personal projects that I created to encourage people to be more eco-friendly.  Even with the addition of those annoying double-underlined ad links (yes, I know they’re annoying and I apologize for them, but I noticed there was a lot of traffic that just bounced in and out, so I thought I’d see if I could monetize it), the monthly advertising revenue is usually about five bucks.

To save 10% during the month of March, use the coupon code: ECOFRIEND

Visit their website at: Only Natural Pet Store

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 20: How to Tell if Ma/Pop Sold OutThe 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

Admittedly, I’m still rather unnerved about what I learned on Day 10 of the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge.  Here I was happily buying Greenies and feeding them to my cat thinking that I was supporting a smaller company, and with that, came a sense of implied trust.  I was SHOCKED to learn that this product I’d been using for years had been bought out by S&M Nu-Tec, owned by the Mars, Inc. conglomerate.  Yes, the same people who make M&Ms, Uncle Ben’s, Whiskas and Sheba, are behind what I thought were healthy, sustainable, locally-produced snacks to clean my cat’s teeth.

A university colleague of mine once worked for Kraft Foods and from what I heard, it was all about delivering the same product as perceived by the consumer at the lowest price possible.  The key was that they would use the lowest cost ingredients possible as long as the consumer didn’t really notice a difference.  She swore off packaged foods pretty much immediately after working there.

In retrospect, I realize that there were clues that my beloved Greenies had changed ownership.  I’ve been eating organic foods for over a decade, back when organic meant dirty, small and bug-infested.  Before there was Whole Foods, I shopped at the little neighbourhood co-ops run by hippies, dimly lit with about 6 items on the shelves.  I even ate at one co-op that was so “green” that I spied cockroaches running out of the salad bar.  I stopped eating there after that, but I digress.  The point I want to make is that I’ve been watching the changes in the industry as green and organic have gained traction with the mainstream.  I’ve seen some of my favorite products bought out by large multinationals looking to add an eco-friendly product line to their portfolio.

In most cases, there were signs of change and usually they were always the same.  So, I’m going to share with you the five signs of when ma/pop has sold out to a conglomerate.

  1. Brand Extension – These are holy words in product marketing.  When a brand manager wants to grow sales, inevitably, they look at brand extension.  How can they slap their brand’s name on more items?  Think Crest Whitestrips, or whatever they’re called.  In the case of natural pet products, watch out if  your pet’s favourite brand suddenly comes out with several different flavours or new products.  This happened with Greenies.  First, there was just some green biscuit that I had to shave down.  About a year or two ago, I noticed that it came in tuna, chicken, beef, etc.  Now, they’re offering “Pill Pockets”.  The same thing happened with Tom of Maine’s toothpaste.  I think they used to have mint, cinnamon and some other weird flavour.  Then one day, there was Tom’s with fluoride, peppermint, peppermint without fluoride, extra whitening, etc.  There must have been a dozen different kinds and that was when I learned that they were bought out by Colgate.
  2. Repackaging – You may notice that the ugly dowdy packaging has been replaced with sleek and colourful graphics.  The hand-drawn logo suddenly looks a little more stylized.  With millions on the line, a good marketer knows that their product has to stand out on the shelf.  Say good bye to the logo drawn by the founder’s “artistic” niece and hello to five star product design.
  3. Distribution – Remember when it was hard to find that little gem you discovered?  You had to go find one of those still-existing hippie co-ops and reach down to the bottom shelf to pull out the second last bag of Kitty treats.  Well, when the big conglomerate steps in, they leverage their distribution channels to get that product into mainstream stores.  Let’s just say if it starts appearing at Wal-mart, you can be pretty sure it’s not likely to be ma/pop.
  4. Website Overhaul – Most companies have websites, but it is hard for a small business to find a talented web designer who can code, design and deal with their business needs.  Actually, this is virtually impossible.  Professional corporate websites are created by teams with each member having a very specialized niche that they excel in.  Watch out when there’s a website redesign.  For unknown reasons, all of the pet product sites tend to look the same.  Colourful, cheerful graphics, a little Flash animation thrown in, and the top third of the page is a big photographic rectangle with a picture of an animal in it.  Sometimes a product image or logo may take up a significant portion of the web page’s real estate.
  5. Tiny Text – Conglomerates can’t seem to resist announcing to the world that this green product they snagged is part of their company.  I don’t know if it’s a legal requirement or if they think associating with a natural pet product will make people have warm fuzzy feelings for them.  However, just look for some little text on the package or the bottom of the website that identifies a different company such as “division of” or “part of the XYZ group of companies”.

Now, I’ve thought about this for quite some time.  Is it a good thing when a large conglomerate buys a natural product company?   On one hand, they achieve economies of scale and efficiency.  It’s probably more efficient for them to ship x thousand products using their distribution channels than for a thousand ma/pops sending products around in trucks that are 3/4 full.  I’ve also considered that they’re bringing natural products to a mass market that might otherwise continue buying the non-eco-friendly versions.

Then, I wonder, how much of the integrity of the original product is maintained and for how long?  At some point, can the parent company resist squeezing its subsidiary for more cash and ROI?  Is it better that millions more people buy a slightly watered down version of a product vs. an environmental elite buying the “pure” product?  I guess it really depends on whether it’s just another product in the portfolio or if the company is looking to overhaul their entire product line to be more green.

Well, obviously, you can read that I have a bias for supporting local businesses.  I have a lot more faith in them sticking true to values than a head office looking to increase shareholder value.  So, my action today is to look at the brands I buy, especially the green cleaning products reviewed in Day 17, and see if I can dig up who really owns them and runs them.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

  • Be aware and conscious of what you buy and where it comes from.
  • If you’re wondering about a product you currently use, do some digging and let us know what you find by clicking the “Comments” link below.

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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