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5 Eco-Friendly Cat Beds That Your Cat Will Love

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly cat bed for your cat, here are five pawsome and attractive cat beds made from everything from recycled wine barrels to organic cotton cat beds.

Finicky felines often turn their noses up at fancy cat beds, but they sure do love sleeping in cardboard boxes. Have you ever considered that your cat may find the off-gassing smells of synthetic fabrics simply off-putting? It’s like the new car smell, only your cat is supposed to sleep in it. No wonder she prefers the box!

Years ago, I wrote a post on eco-friendly cat beds and was hard-pressed to find any specifically designed for cats. Thank goodness times have changed. Now, you can find a wide assortment of eco-friendly cat beds from country cozy to fancy stlyin’ in a mix of materials and sizes. Here are 5 eco-friendly cat beds that your feline friend will love.

1. Recycled Wine Barrel Cat Bed

recycled wine barrel cat bed
Handmade from a retired wine barrel, this cozy casket is a perfect place for your cat to curl up and nap. It’s a one-of-a-kind find as each barrel is unique in size and color. The wine barrel pet bed also comes with a comfy cushion sized to fit the barrel. Find it and other wine barrel creations at WineyGuys.

2. Rescue Wool Felt Cat Bed Area Rug

When it comes to green cred, this cat bed area rug isn’t pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes. This 100% wool cat mat is made from wool that has been sourced from from animal rescue sanctuaries or family farms in the United States.

organic wool cat bed

Because the wool comes from rescue sheep, it’s a unique melange of all types of wool including romney wool, merino wool, churro wool, wool locks, white wool, brown wool, black wool, grey wool, and organic wool. The great thing about wool is it helps keep pets cool in the summer and warm in the winter, plus it naturally has antibacterial properties.

While it doesn’t look like a typical cat mat, if you imagine you’re a cat, this is a dream bed. Find it at FeltBetter’s Etsy shop.

3. Organic Hemp Cat Bed

eco-friendly-cat-bed3
This natural and organic cat bed is made from 100% organic cotton and hemp. Not only is the removable cover eco-friendly, the padding is also natural. The bed is filled with natural fibres from kapok trees.

This organic hemp pet bed can be found on DebBedOrganics Etsy shop, where you can also find organic hemp and cotton pet duvets.

4. Organic Cotton Cat Mat

organic cat matThis organic cat mat is made from 100% organic cotton canvas, which provides a super soft surface for your cat to nap on. The bottom surface is made from eco-twill which is a blend of organic cotton and recycled polyester. You can choose this design or custom order a cat mat at Kentucky Bluebird’s Etsy store.

5. West Paw Design Eco Nap Cat Mat

eco-friendly-cat-bed5

The Eco Nap Cat mat is handcrafted in the USA by West Paw Design. It comes in a rainbow of colours and is made from IntelliLoft® both inside and out. This eco-friendly fiber is derived entirely from recycled plastic bottles. It’s comfy and easy to care for. Simply throw it in the wash. Visit Amazon to order your Eco Nap Cat mat
.

5 Eco-Friendly Tips for Playing With Cats

Playing With CatsHere are five simple tips for playing with cats that will make your kitty’s playtime eco-friendly and lots of fun.

1. Channel Your Inner Cat

Let’s face the truth.   When choosing cat toys, you tend to buy the ones that appeal to you.  The toys are bright, colorful and awfully darned cute.  Don’t think this applies to you?  Well, here’s the litmus test.  Ask yourself when was the last time you sniffed a catnip toy and pontificated on its herbaceous bouquet?

Instead of choosing toys that appeal to you as a human being, think like a cat.   Your cat already gives you lots of clues on what she enjoys playing with.  Cats let you know in an instant whether a toy is a hit or a miss.

Take an inventory of the toys that your cat loves to play with and notice what characteristics they have in common.  And, do this from a cat’s perspective.  Maybe your cat’s favorite toys all make a rattling sound or are stuffed with catnip. The next time you’re looking for new toys to play with your cat, choose ones that have similar characteristics.

You’ll help save the planet by choosing toys that your cat will actually play with instead of ones that she’ll never use.  Buying fewer toys is not only greener, it’s also great for your wallet.

2. Buy Locally Made Cat Toys

Transportation emissions are a significant source of greenhouse gases.  When a cat toy is made on the other side of the world, it needs to travel a very long distance in order to arrive at your local pet store. Reduce your carbon footprint by buying toys made closer to home.

Ask your favorite retailer to carry locally made pet products.  And if you need more inspiration for playing with cats, search online for cat toys made by local businesses and craftspeople. An added bonus will be that you’ll be helping to support the local economy.

3. Examine Cat Toys for Quality and Durability

Before buying a bag of cheap mice for a few dollars, stop and consider how long these cat toys will last.  Are they the kind of toy that your cat will chew up within seconds?  Will your cat tear through it in a matter of minutes?

While quality cat toys might cost a bit more initially, you’ll end up saving money in the long run because they’ll last longer.  Check fabrics for durability and tug at attachments to see if they’ll stay attached when playing with your cat.

4. Upcycle When Playing With Cats

Your recycling bin is a delightful source of inspiration.  When playing with your cat, you don’t need to be fancy. Something that you might consider to be garbage is probably the cat’s meow to your kitty.  Get creative and turn that trash into an eco-friendly cat toy.

Scrap paper crumples nicely into paw-sized balls to chase.  Toilet paper rolls can easily be morphed into a multitude of cat toys and plastic rings on a string are cat heaven. For even more homemade cat toys, check out the eco-friendly book, Make Your Own Cat Toys: Saving the Planet One Cat Toy at a Time.

5. Go Organic

A 2008 study by the Environmental Working Group found that pets had much higher concentrations of chemicals in their bodies than humans do.  Given that cats spend a lot of time licking and gnawing on their toys, it makes sense to reduce your cat’s exposure to potentially hazardous toxins.

Choose organic cat toys made from organic fibres and filled with organic catnip.  Organic products are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides. Your cat and the planet will both benefit.

Going green when playing with your cat is easy and fun to do.  Your cat and the planet will appreciate your efforts.

What are your favorite green ideas for playing with cats?  Share them below.

Calming Stressed Cats – Reviews of Three Natural Ways to Calm a Stressed Out Cat

It doesn’t take much for a calm cat to turn into a kitty suffering with anxiety. Even the most innocuous thing such as moving the cat bed can freak out cats. Furball’s a high-strung cat who gets sick when something stressful happens.

Moving houses led to pancreatitis. An earthquake combined with an accidentally dropped cutlery tray a week later led to urinary problems. Most recently, we discovered that his new feeding routine was stressing him out.

This resulted in vomiting and three days of refusing food. The holistic vet diagnosed Furball with stress-induced gastroenteritis causing vomiting. She said it was a catch 22 since the vomiting was stressing him out more. So what to do to calm a stressed out cat?

Calming Stressed Cats: Natural Method #1

Well, first we took Furball to a holistic vet who gave him acupuncture. There’s one point called Yin Tang that is really effective at calming not just cats, but also people. Furball has had a few calming cat acupuncture sessions before and they really worked. If you’re interested in learning more about holistic vets, check out these posts:

Calming Stressed Cats: Natural Method #2

In addition to giving Furball a cat calming acupuncture treatment, the vet prescribed calming herbal supplements. The supplements are made by a company called Resources and it’s got a really long name: Resources Feline Anxiety & Stress, Calming Support Formula. If you’re interested in learning more, the supplements are available at the Only Natural Pet Store.

Ingredients include magnesium asparatate, passionflower, oyster shell, kava kava, unicaria, ginkgo biloba, zizziphus, licorice, schizandra, Dan Shen, biota, melatonin and more. I recognize a number of these herbs from Traditional Chinese Medicine and they are known to have calming effects.

The tablets need to be given daily so I have to balance how stressed Furball is vs. how stressd he’ll be from having a large pill shoved down his throat. If you decide to try the Calming Support Formula for your cat, you should consult with your veterinarian first.

Calming Stressed Cats: Natural Method #3


One of my favourite natural remedies for calming a stressed out cat is Rescue Remedy. This is a homeopathic tincture for humans that also comes in a version for pets. It really works! For people and pets. I gave Rescue Remedy to Furball when we flew him across the country. After the flight, I expected to see a freaked out cat, but instead found a very mellow cat.

Furball also likes to lick this stuff off my finger and considers it a treat, so giving him this natural remedy is really easy. You can find it on Amazon here:

Furball’s holistic vet also recommended Rescue Remedy Cream. This is the human hand cream version. The vet suggested that I dab a small amount inside my cat’s ear to help calm him down. I’ve done this a number of times and find it helpful too. Between the liquid tincture and the cream, we’ve got things under control for calming our cat. Please consult with your vet before giving this to your cat.

So, there you have it, my reviews of three natural ways to calm a stressed cat. Hope you find what you need for calming your cat! Hmm, maybe an exclamation point after that sentence isn’t very calming?

Day 2: Organic Cat Food Comparison from the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

If you’re considering switching your pet to an organic cat food or at least, a more natural cat food, I did some research to compare the organic cat food options that are currently available. I thought I would consider changing Furball’s diet if I could find a suitable organic cat food.

I was actually shocked by what I learned. As consumers, we go about our business and think we’re supporting sustainable businesses when we plop that bag of organic, natural or holistic pet food into our shopping basket. What I found was that the pet food industry appears to be a tangled web of companies with many paths leading to Menu Foods, made infamous by the pet food recall of 2007.

What follows is an overview comparison of organic cat foods. I haven’t even delved into the mix of ingredients or how well people’s cats respond to the food, but that would take much longer than the 30 days in this 30-Day Green Cat Challenge. Hopefully this will get you started and be sure to check out the tough questions to ask your cat food company at the bottom of this post.

Another caveat: Before making changes to your cat’s diet, you should consult with your cat’s veterinarian first. Cats can be very sensitive if their food is changed (i.e., barf city or digestive issues). When switching to a new cat food even if it’s natural or organic, you should proceed very gradually and slowly introduce the new food.

After several hours of research, here’s what I found out about organic cat foods (in alphabetical order).

Blue Organics organic cat food

1. Blue Organics

  • Makes an organic dry cat food in a chicken and brown rice flavour
  • Blue Buffalo is listed as the manufacturer, but it looks like this company is owned by a larger not so green-friendly pet company. Or, it may just be that their food is made by another company. I’ve flagged this for investigation when I examine pet foods in more detail.
  • They had a recall in 2007 due to an ingredient in their food containing melamine. Everyone equates melamine with Menu Foods, but I couldn’t find a mention of Menu Foods being a supplier to Blue Organics. However, you can check out this link for details about the recall on the FDA website.
  • Blue Buffalo Co. website

2. By Nature: Organics

  • Wet and dry organic cat food; dry is a chicken formula; canned food comes in chicken, turkey, chicken/turkey and chicken/mackeral
  • By Nature appears to be a division of Blue Seal Feeds, Inc.
  • By Nature products were not affected by the 2007 pet food recall
  • Some of their products are made by Menu Foods
  • By Nature Organics Canned Cat Food
  • By Nature Organics Dry Cat Food

3. Castor and Pollux: Organix

  • Oregon based company that is family owned.
  • Their product line, Organix, is composed of a chicken, brown rice and flax formula as well as canned food (mostly turkey) and cat treats (chicken, cheese or seafood flavours)
  • In 2007, they did a voluntary recall because their products were produced in a manufacturing line following the production of another company’s that contained affected wheat gluten. In this link, they identify their supplier as the infamous Menu Foods.
  • I tried feeding Furball the dry food once since I could pick it up easily at Whole Foods. I stopped feeding it to him because his coat seemed to lose some of its lustre. However, Furball has also been described by a friend as the “softest cat in the world”. His coat seemed more like a regular cat when he was eating Organix. This was long before the pet food recall and before I had any inkling of the way pet food is manufactured.
  • Castor & Pollux Organix Feline Formula
  • Castor & Pollux Organix Cat Treats

4. Evanger’s

  • Canned wet cat food
  • Illinois based company, looks like it’s family run.
  • Food and produce is purchased locally.
  • Great little tour of their facilities hosted by Rachel Ray at this link.
  • Evanger’s 100% Organic Cat Food

5. Natura

  • Features a line of natural pet foods, but only have an organic dog food right now, and no organic cat food product
  • Their product lines include:Innova, EVO, California Naturals and HealthWise
  • The company claims, “The healthiest pet food in the world”
  • Natura has its own manufacturing plant located in Nebraska and say that they purchase many of their products from the same suppliers as local grocery stores.
  • California Natural Cat Food

6. Natural Planet Organics

  • Natural Planet Organics offers an organic dry cat food formula, with chicken as the main protein ingredient.
  • It looks like this company is related to another company called Nutrisource. Nutrisource is surprisingly candid about the lineage of its brand. It started as a Ma-Pop company, which was then bought out by Starkist, followed by Heinz, then Windy Hill Pet Food, and finally merged with Doane Pet Care, which is a part of the Mars chain of companies.
  • Natural Planet Organics Cat Food

7. Newman’s Own Organics

  • The man who brought us salad dressing and fig newtons also makes organic wet (chicken, turkey, beef) and dry cat food (chicken).
  • Not affected by the 2007 pet food recall
  • Newman’s Own says that their pet food is made in the U.S.
  • Donates large amounts to charity.
  • Newman’s Own Organics Adult Cat Formula

Raw Advantage organic cat food

8. Raw Advantage: Organic Dinner for Cats

  • Raw Advantage’s Organic Dinner is comprised of frozen turkey meat with a mixture of grains and veggies.
  • Manufacturing facility is located on Camano Island, in the Pacific Northwestern United States
  • You might want to read about toxiplasmosis since there’s a risk of getting this disease if your pet eats raw food.
  • Raw Advantage website

Conclusion

After doing all of this research, my head is spinning and I still don’t see a “perfect” choice for an organic cat food to feed Furball. It seems like a lot of canned food products are made by Menu Foods with the exception of Evanger’s. For the dry food, it did seem like Natura was manufacturing in the U.S. I’m going to delve into these brands in more detail over the next few weeks and will share what I learn.

How You Can Take Action

  • Investigate your cat’s food. I’ve been learning that “natural cat food” and “holistic cat food” and even “organic cat food” is very complicated when trying to make the greener choice. Here are some tough questions to ask:
  1. Have any of your products been recalled in the past 3 years?
  2. Does Menu Foods manufacture any of your products?
  3. Where are the ingredients for your cat food sourced?
  4. Where is your product manufactured?
  5. Is any of the manufacturing outsourced to another company?

Eco-Friendly Cat Litter Reviews

Eco-friendly, enviro-friendly, earth friendly (or whatever you want to call it) cat litter appears to have hit the big time in the world of cat litter. These days, you can get litter made from pine, corn, newspaper, guar bean, wheat, etc. In my greenventory to reduce Furball’s carbon pawprint, litter is definitely an important item to consider.

However, changing cat litter is always a tricky process. Fortunately for me, Furball is already using an eco-friendly litter. If you’re considering making the switch, I can share with you our experience with three enviro-friendly cat litters.

When evaluating these cat litter reviews, you should take into consideration that Furball urinates about 4x as much as other cats due to his high water diet (for crystals, more on that later) and that his box is in a fairly well-ventilated bathroom.

1. Yesterday’s News

Seven years ago when I first brought home a teeny baby Furball, there was a dearth of earth friendly cat litter. At the time, there was only one product available at PetSmart — now it looks like almost 1/4 of their litters are eco-friendly. The litter was called Yesterday’s News Cat Litter and it was made from recycled newspapers.

From what I recall, it was manufactured by some company in the maritimes, although now, the bag is plastered with the Purina logo and comes in a gajillion varieties, so I’m guessing the smaller company got bought out. Furball was already litter trained when I got him and luckily he took to Yesterday’s News like tomorrow’s latest trend. It’s made up of tiny grey cylindrical pellets that fit through the slots of a standard litter scoop.

PROS:

  • 7/10 for controlling odour; as good as any eco-friendly litter can get
  • Doesn’t track dust
  • Easy to scoop #2 from the cat litter
  • Made from recycled newspapers
  • Comes in a “softer” version that is more “clay-like” so this might be a good transitional litter if your cat is used to clay

CONS:

  • Impossible to shake out all of the pellets through the scoop as they JUST FIT through
  • Pellets stick in between the cat’s toes and can be found occasionally throughout the house
  • “Softer” version tracked little crumbly bits all over the house
  • Scented version stinks like fake perfume

2. Cat Country

When I moved to California, the local PetSmart did not carry Yesterday’s News or any other enviro-friendly cat litter. Fortunately, I found Petfood Depot, which had several eco-friendly litters to choose from. It probably took me half an hour to read through the bags and ingredients.

I went with Cat Country Litter for a couple of reasons. One, it seemed so “California” to be using litter made from organic wheatgrass. Two, it was shaped exactly like Yesterday’s News, so I hoped the cat would transition without incident. Fortunately, Furball switched without really even noticing the difference.

PROS:

  • Made from organic ingredients
  • Family owned, sustainable business
  • 7/10 for controlling odour; as good as any eco-friendly litter can get
  • Doesn’t track dust
  • Easy to scoop #2 from the cat litter
  • Flushable (see important note below)

CONS:

  • Smells like malted barley — I put out a fresh box before the pet-sitter arrived and she dumped out the whole box thinking it was full of cat urine because of the weird smell. On the plus side, you only smell it if you’re near it.
  • Impossible to shake out all of the pellets through the scoop as they JUST FIT through
  • Pellets stick in between the cat’s toes and can be found occasionally throughout the house

3. Swheat Scoop

I was enticed to try Swheat Scoop Natural Cat Litter after a fabulous sales pitch at the Sweat Scoop booth at the San Francisco Green Festival in 2007. The person RAVED about the superior odour control of their cat litter and how eco-friendly it was. He also gave me a bunch of coupons so I decided it was worth it to try a change. This time Furball did not take as quickly to the new litter.

I did the whole litter transition process, but he seemed very unsure and wouldn’t use his box for the whole day. I think what confused him most was that the litter was made from wheat. It seemed he wasn’t sure whether he should eat it or pee in it.

When I brought the bag home and opened it up, he meowed and rubbed up against me like I had just brought home the ultimate mega-sized bag of cat food. After I poured it in his box, he looked extremely puzzled, with a “why are you pouring my food in my cat box?” look on his face. He kept sniffing the box and looking at me.

I finally figured out that he was wondering whether he should eat it when he kept pawing at the bag and trying to get into it like he would with a bag of cat food.

PROS:

  • 7/10 for controlling odour; as good as any eco-friendly litter can get
  • Flushable (see important note below)
  • Made from wheat, so it’s natural

CONS:

  • It’s made from wheat so the cat wasn’t sure whether to eat it or pee in it
  • Flour + water = glue. So too, Swheat Scoop + urine = bricks of litter that are really hard to scoop
  • Odour control wasn’t any better than the other two eco-friendly litters I used
  • Made of tiny granules that did track. These were a pain to sweep up.
  • Priced slightly higher than Cat Country
  • It’s made from wheat, so I’m not sure if they’re diverting resources from the food chain

My neighbour used it for her cat and thought the odour control was pretty good. She said she didn’t have a problem with the litter bricks, but she did say that you had to use enough of it to avoid this problem and that “you have to stay on top of it”.

Conclusion

Based on my three eco-friendly cat litter reviews, I personally would give thumbs up to Yesterday’s News and Cat Country. For me, Cat Country Litter edges out Yesterday’s News because it’s organic and made by a family-run sustainable business.

When doing a green evaluation, you might conclude the opposite, that Yesterday’s News is better because it’s made by a large company (i.e., larger impact, economies of scale and efficiencies) and uses recycled newspaper. Just goes to show nothing is 100% cut and dry when doing an environmental evaluation, especially for cat litter.

However, I did find both of these eco-friendly cat litters be fairly equal in their use in the real world. I’d give thumbs down to Swheat Scoop for the extra labour involved in scooping, the tracking of wheat dust and that it’s using wheat.

Other “Earth Friendly” Cat Litters

These litters on the PetSmart website also look like they might be eco-friendly or “natural”. However, I haven’t had any experience with them. Please post a comment if you have used them and let us know your experience with these or any other enviro-friendly litters not listed here.

  • World’s Best Cat Littermade from corn. With all of the controversy surrounding biodiesel made from corn, this might not be so enviro-friendly. On the other hand, it is an extremely lightweight litter so there would be carbon savings in transporting and shipping it.
  • Nature’s Miracle Just for Cats Corn Cob Cat Litter
    – I’ve used their carpet cleaning solution and it really did neutralize the urine smell. The company says it uses “enzymes” as opposed to chemicals, so I suppose if odour control is really an issue, this might be a better product to use.
  • Feline Pine
    – Made from “kiln-dried shavings reclaimed from lumber production

IMPORTANT NOTE In the state of California, there are concerns about flushing your cat litter in the toilet. Every bag of cat litter must include a warning label. Why? Apparently sea otters are being killed by parasites found in cat feces, specifically Toxoplasma gondii.

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