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From The Daily Cat: Advances
Go Green for Your Cat’s Health



By Darcy Lockman for The Daily Cat

Go Green for Your Cat\'s Health

What do Easter lilies and antifreeze have in common? These, and many other substances, are all poisonous to felines. “Cats have a very low threshold for toxicity,” explains Dr. Trisha Joyce, DVM, of New York City Veterinary Specialists. This uber-sensitivity in cats results from their body producing little of the enzyme that other mammals rely on to break down chemicals, leaving cats generally more vulnerable to toxins.

Jumping on the green-tech bandwagon, a handful of pet care companies are now hocking organic cat wares to save Fluffy from the evils of plastics and perfumes. Below, Dr. Joyce weighs in on what to try and when to proceed with caution.

Dishware
Plastic has received bad press in the last few years as worried parents keep their children away from the chemical BPA and legions of water drinkers refrain from refilling their plastic bottle empties. But is plastic potentially bad news for your cat too? Yes, but for different reasons than for humans.

“A cat’s life span isn’t long enough that carcinogens impact them the same way as humans,” she explains. Still, Dr. Joyce emphasizes that ceramic and metal dishes are not only better for the environment in general but also for your cat’s skin. Plastic dishes retain bacteria and can cause chin acne, an uncomfortable condition for your pet.

Veterinary Verdict: Choosing ceramic or metal over plastic is good for the environment and kitty’s complexion.

Flea Remedies
The slew of chemicals in traditional flea and tick products may seem like reason to stay away from them, especially when “natural” flea remedies tout compounds that won’t pollute your pet’s bloodstream and your family’s home. However, buyers beware. “I’m not a fan of any over-the-counter flea preparation,” Dr. Joyce says. “You can get away with it for a dog, but cats are more sensitive and can have bad reactions. Sometimes, chemicals can be good.”

Veterinary Verdict: Ask your veterinarian to prescribe a flea and tick medication. If you must try a natural product, use one that’s approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Check with your pet’s doctor before applying.

Kitty Litter
Without a doubt, natural cat litter made from wheat and corn is better for the environment. It breaks down naturally rather than spending a lifetime in a landfill. The impact on your cat’s health? Inexpensive litters in general create more dust, which can trigger asthma attacks. If you’re concerned about your cat’s lungs, monitor how much dust is stirred up in the burying process. Switch litters if necessary.

Veterinary Verdict: Natural cat litter is best for the environment and produces the least dust, which is also best for your cat’s respiratory system.

Shampoo
Over-the-counter cat shampoos often contain perfumes, which smell pleasant to cat owners but may irritate sensitive feline skin. If so-called organic cat shampoos are perfume-free, your pet may tolerate them. However, veterinary-prescribed cleansers are less likely to cause dry skin and allergic reactions.

Veterinary Verdict: If you choose an organic, over-the-counter product, make sure it is cat-specific as opposed to a general pet shampoo. Look for the AVMA seal of approval. Be on the alert for signs of allergic reactions (e.g., excessive scratching) after the first use.

Cat Accessories
When it comes to beds, collars and toys, carcinogens are not a big kitty health concern — for reasons explained above — though the well-being of the environment may be. Such items are currently made from a variety of recycled and organically grown materials, taking less of a toll on the natural world. “With cat toys, the main health concern is not lead paint but a small piece that may break free and be ingested by the animal,” says Dr. Joyce.

Veterinary Verdict: If being kind to the environment is on your priority list — and it should be — organic cat accessories can help you meet your goal. When buying cat toys, forgo those with small pieces that may break off.

General Tips for Choosing Organic Cat Products

  • Buy products specifically made for cats as opposed to products for all pets.
  • Look for a seal of approval from the AVMA.
  • If your cat is doing well on a traditional product, think twice before making a switch to organic.
  • Be cautious. Consult your veterinarian before trying new cleaning or medicinal products.

While organic goods appeal to consumers for a variety of important reasons, Dr. Joyce warns that the industry is not yet well-regulated. “Theoretically, organic has less chemicals, and that’s best for cats because they’re so sensitive,” she says. “But I recommend caution in experimenting with new products. Try things slowly and only in moderation.” Those are words for the healthiest cats to live their nine lives by.

Darcy Lockman is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to The Daily Cat. Her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times and Rolling Stone.

Catnip for Cats and Other Green Feline Delights

Here’s a guest post from Becky, a Green Little Cat reader.  She shares three greener ideas for playing with your cat.

Cats are undoubtedly very laid back, nonchalant creatures. It takes a lot to impress them or even get their attention. Many people waste a lot of time and resources on non-recyclable, non-biodegradable toys and treats for their cats But there are healthy, organic treats and toys that will have even the most reserved cat bouncing off the walls.

Here are a few ways to mesmerize your cat the “green” way:

Catnip 

Catnip for cats is an irresistable treat for cats. Catnip, or Nepeta cataria, is a mint plant that drives most cats crazy. According to WebMD, one in two cats is sensitive to catnip and the high sensation will last approximately 10 minutes. Nepetalactone, the oil found in catnip, stimulates the cat and pushes her to a temporary state of insanity.

Catnip can be used for training. Sprinkling a little on your cat’s scratching post will encourage her to scratch the post and not those undesirable places such as your furniture or rugs.

You can also entice your cat to play with certain toys by dipping them in a bag of catnip prior to handing it over to her. Many cats will roll around, and aggressively lick or smell the infested area. Some may even get aggressive and be very protective of the area or item that contains the catnip.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options for organic catnip as well. Many catnip seeds are grown right here in America using sustainable techniques.

Laser Lights 

Every cat loves a good chase which is why they are so fascinated with laser lights. The moving target simulates a chase to them as they race around the house trying to capture the beam of light. Many pet stores carry laser lights specifically designed for cats. Purchasing these cat-approved toys will ensure they are both safe and appropriate for your feline friend. Most cats love laser lights, so this is one toy that you know can entertain your cat for hours on end and won’t get tossed in the reject pile.

Dangling String 

Finally, string has survived the test of time as a toy favorite for cats. Attaching something to dangle at the end brings even more pleasure. You can dangle the string and object in front of your cat for endless entertainment. Another option is hanging it from something so that your cat can entertain herself. Either way, the constant rebounding object gets your cat’s paws up and batting it back and forth.

One of the great things about string is that you can usually find it in any old random closet in the house. This is a great example of reusing old supplies in a way that’s fun for your car and good on the environment. Why contribute more plastic waste to the world by buying some contraption your cat may not even like when good, old-fashioned string is all you need?

Stocking these three irresistible toys and treats for cats in your home will result in an entertained, happy cat. Since these non-wasteful delights will have your cat moving and burning calories, you can also feel great about providing her with an organic, reusable treat option. These can be found at your local pet store or online, along with a myriad of other “green” pet supplies.

What To Do When Your Cat Is Sick

A Green Little Cat reader sent us some tips on what to do when your cat is sick.  Consider this a public service announcement to encourage you to create a plan of action for what to do if you kitty needs medical attention, which hopefully will be never.  At the very least, find the number and address for the 24-hour emergency vet nearest you.  Here’s the post:

Like humans, cats can pick up a large number of ailments and illnesses from a sprained poor to an eye infection, a lost tooth to a ripped-out claw, an upset stomach to an abscess. A lot of animal ailments are obvious and visible to the eye, but some are less obvious and can take some working out to diagnose and treat.

My kitten scared us when he was getting severe diarrhea and after 48 hours of it we had to assume it was not just something he had eaten whilst out and about but possibly something more serious, so we took him to our vets for an appointment.

The vet asked what food we were feeding him on and said it could be a case of a dietary intolerance and to try him on Royal Canin Sensitivity, which is a “highly digestable, hypoallergenic diet for kittens and cats”. It has been specially made to assist in managing any diet intolerance and hypersensitivity.

We were very fortunate that the new food helped Ackee’s stomach; we don’t know what triggered his reaction but having found a food that keeps his stomach well we decided to stick with it and not investigate the trigger any further. There is plenty of other cat food on the market to help with other dietary issues your cat might have, so it is always worth a look to see if a food could help with a particular problem.

We have found that some problems do not require medical attention so long as you keep an eye on them. For example, Ackee ripped out one of his claws and it did bleed a lot but he kept it clean and we checked it daily to ensure it was not infected, and it healed up well with a new claw coming through.

It is sometimes easy to panic and rush your cat into its cat carrier and down to the vets, but sometimes problems do resolve themselves. My rule is to think of your cat like a child and would you rush your child to the doctor if they got a cut or a bruise, or would you use common sense and keep an eye on things to see how they got on so long as any wounds were clean? And if the problem is indeed urgent, then always take to the vets ASAP.

 


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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