Friday, October 29, 2010

Needing some help on the eco-kitten front!

Since rescuing our little bundle of devilish "joy" Atreyu from the SPCA, I have recognized (even though I had a smidgeon of a hint prior to) that being eco-friendly with pets is difficult. I've also realized that practicing yoga with Atreyu really isn't that difficult- it seems yoga scares the crap out of him while at the same time he is irresistibly drawn to my rubber prAna mat.

 (I am in attack mode- I will get my humans!!!, yes i do the voice over)
As a premature kitten who actually had to be incubated away from his mother, Atreyu was kinda litter box deficient. Which meant that for weeks we had to keep it uncovered (ew!) and in the middle of our living room in plain view. Yay watching a kitten pee and poo! We have now migrated to the corner of the living room, but he can't seem to figure out how to use the litter box properly with a cover.

Finding litter that is truly eco-friendly at the detriment of perhaps having poo and litter all over the house (the risk you take if your cat is litter box-handicapped) has been kiboshed. I know. I am lame- we've stuck with the "pine" litter even though I know there is no way straight up pine could magically clump. Some chemicals are obviously in there.

We've also been changing the litter by.... GASP.... throwing the litter in a plastic bag and dumping it. This seriously makes me want to vomit just a little bit every time. It goes against everything we've tried so hard to change in our lives. Sadly, I have no idea how to get around this one, since our municipal composting facility won't accept litter. BOO.

Even though he's been pretty sickly- a sneezing machine spewing cat goobers all over (including my macbook screen... ewwwww), Mr. Kitten sure does drink his water. Thanks to an energy sucking little fountain that we have to leave running all.the.time. Supposedly the common thought is that cats don't like to drink a lot of water and as a result get little crystal in their digestive tracts. Which is in fact false, cats just don't like to drink from still water sources. Give them a running water source and they go nuts. Atreyu drinks on average about a cup of water a day. He may have uncurable respiratory illness, but he sure is hydrated! I hate the fountain's use of energy, but he just drinks so much water...

 (although he likes to check to make sure nothing has changed in the toilet, he never tries to drink)

On a behavioural view, Atreyu has been a bit on the extra wild side. He likes to chew everything... especially metal. Our first vet actually scolded us as bad kitten parents because he was "so mouthy". As if we weren't spraying him with water every two seconds, because that's how often he play-bites us. No claws, he can keep those in. Can't seem to retract his teeth though. Bah. It's not even like he doesn't like humans, he's constantly wanting to be wherever we are... bathroom, kitchen, living room...he's a social cat. So now I have to actually warn guests- like an embarrassed parent- "Don't pet him, he bites".

Three things we've managed to do well on this Eco-Kitten Journey; food, toys and sleeping through the night. Andrew was adamant that Kitten not have access to the bedroom at night, so right from day one he was shut out in his Kingdom; the living room. Now he really prefers hanging out in Atreyuland to hanging out with us (plus a friend stayed over once and after one night claimed Atreyu tried to lick her eyeballs all night...).

We feed Atreyu Orijins cat food, made in Canada from sustainably sourced, minimal synthetic ingredients. (Acana is owned by the same company). I guess cats shouldn't be eating grain, who knew? Orijins actually states the percentage of protein, vegetables and grain in their food, which we still weigh out twice a day (he gets an amount depending on his age and current weight. yep we're anal kitten parents). Our cat probably eats less chemicals than we do.

Toys are actually the easiest. Atreyu's favourite toys have been a paper bag from Love,Me Boutique (which is fantastic for more than their cat friendly bags!) and a random ribbon. We've been blessed with awesome equally cat-obsessed friends who have given Atreyu toy hand me downs that their cats are no longer interested in. He adores them.

So, anyone have any suggestions to help with our litter-plasticbagtoawayland issue? How do you try to minimize your pet's footprint?

article and photographs copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Sounds like your new kitty is fitting in nicely. :)

    When changing the entire litter box, could you use the garbage bag that you are using to collect the garbage that you would be putting out on garbage day anyway? I guess that only helps depending on how often you empty your regular garbage and how often you change your litter. If you change your litter every 2 weeks and have a bag of garbage every 2 weeks, you could use the one garbage bag if there's room in it.

  2. My friend uses a litter that she is able to flush down the toilet!

    Sorry I don't know the brand but it sounds worth trying!

  3. enlist friends/famils to save their plastic breadbags or something like that to donate to your kitty litter cause- they'd likely be going in the trash anyways. maybe not reducing but reusing is just as valid in an instance like this!

  4. ah, the joys, the joys.

    i wish i had something encouraging to say on the litter front -- but alas, i do not. My only thought is perhaps you look into something called the Dog-Loo (?) -- it's a dog-turd composting add a biological accelerator to the waste and it composts down. Not something you'd want to reuse on your veggies but...maybe that's an option? OH, and pine will clump on it's own -- usually due to the dust-factor (i know this from years of using pine woodshavings for horse stalls...a little bit of damp and the bags would seize up into freakin' bricks) -- so maybe the pine litter really isn't chemicalized. (new word). And a lot of cats won't use a covered box -- they're 'vulnerable' when they're using the loo so don't like to have their view obscured. And I have many and lengthy theories on feral/stray gene-pooled cats and their proclivity to certain seems your little love-cat is just a slave to Darwin and that's why his mama got to reproduce....;)

    Sorry to hear about his chronic upper respiratory thing...ugh....not fun for anyone. His behaviour is probably due to his lack of time socializing with his littermates who would've taught him 'boundaries' as far as the biting thing. Have you tried just hissing and growling at him when he does it? Other than that.... time-outs work best. Good call on locking him out of the bedroom may have found your feet being used as *prey* in the wee hours if he's prone to such

    He's sure growing up to be wickedly adorable...


  5. We wrap the litter up in newspaper rather than plastic bags, then at least it has the chance to decompose at the landfill site rather than just sit in a plastic bag. Cat poo can't be used for compost as it is too acidic, which is a terrible shame as you could power entire alottments on what our two produce!

  6. Pets are definitely tough in the green dept! I have yet to come up with an eco-friendly way to dispose of waste. We always seem to have a plastic bag or two or three migrate into our lives every month. Drives me nuts, but there they are... I use them to pick up dog doo, and then yes, throw it away. :( I know you can compost dog doo yourself, but we aren't allowed at our rental, and I think it would be really hard to do so unless you basically own your own home and have a big backyard!

    But I don't know if you can compost kitty litter - I once heard that they have all kinds of diseases in their feces...but wouldn't that be true of dogs, too? I don't know...

    If you find an answer, let me know!

  7. Oh, BTW, I know Melanie of No New Plastic has trained her kitty to pee and poo in their TOILET! Crazy, I know, but I love it! It was a long process for her, but maybe worth looking into...?

  8. One option is to buy those paper lunch bags and put what you scoop in there instead of plastic bags- at least that way it'll decompose in the land fill unlike the plastic wrapped litter. I don't know what your personal feelings are towards purchasing the paper lunch bags (the whole stack does come in plastic wrapping, but that's less plastic than one plastic bag every day) but it is an alternative.

    Email me if you want to talk more about anything cat related. I am quite the OCD cat mommy (sort of- at least compared to anyone I know with cats) and am happy to help if I can.

  9. oh man, i was wondering when the unfortunate non-eco realities of the kitty would settle in...

    i understand all of your problems. i've actually had to start collecting plastic bags to dispose of my kitty litter, because i so rarely just have an excess of bags. i really like rachel's suggestion to use newspapers; i'm going to try that for sure...

    i used orijins for my cats for several years, and i was all enchanted by the high protein and seeming ethics of the company. however, i had to switch brands because my cats were losing hair and had dry skin. i started using specially developed "hair and skin" food, and i noticed a drastic improvement in the amount of hair i found around my house. unfortunately, this new food is cornmeal based and not organic. but my cats are happier and healthier...

    but despite the non-econess of cat ownership, i think it's completely worth it. as an urbanite, my cats are one of my few connections to something primal, wild and non-human – even if they are basically domesticated and docile. they are a daily reminder that there are more than humans on this planet, and they're great teachers. i have learned so much about service, compassion and care from my cats. and best of all, they're my little friends (even if they annoy me and won't let me sleep through a whole night).

  10. I haven't started doing this yet, but I want to start scooping the litter straight into the main garbage. I keep the litter box in the hall closet (I don't hang coats in there, just use it for storing recycling and other random stuff) and I want to get a big garbage can to keep in the closet. Then whenever the kitchen garbage gets full or I need to clean the litter box, I can just scoop it straight into the main garbage. My little garbage cans aren't lined so when I do have to take out the garbage I just dump them into a regular trash bag. So what I figure I could just have the one big garbage can around to dump all the rest of the cans into. Does this make sense? It makes sense in my head. Because obviously I am not going to scoop the litter into the kitchen or bathroom garbage, but having one main garbage depository instead. Then when it gets full I take the garbage down to the parking garage in my apartment building. I want to get a lidded garbage can at Canadian Tire or some place. I realize that this method still uses plastic bags, but municipal garbage has to be in plastic bags anyway right?

  11. Oh poop forgot to say something about the biting. My cat is 3 years old and he still bites sometimes. He doesn't use his claws but he will grab at my feet and bite. He doesn't do it a lot anymore, but it's something he had to grow out of. Unfortunately spraying him doesn't do anything because he likes to drink from a spraying water bottle.

  12. Thanks everyone for the supportive comments and suggestions!

    @Mel, I've hissed a few times, but after you suggested it i tried again and it is WAY more effective in stopping him. Hopefully it will work over time.

    I like Rachel's suggestion too re: the newspaper.... except we actually flush his poop and pee, which I know has it's issues since there's discussion around whether the city's sewage treatment can treat it. But there ya go- we have pine that is flushable so we do.

    my litter concern was when we had to change the entire box over- with the old kitten litter stuff (we just changed to clumpable now that he's older) would break down when he peed, so eventually we had to change the whole box- dump in a plastic bag, rinse box and replace.

    now it might be a bit longer that we can wait since it clumps and i really like the idea of combining it with our regular garbage.

    We only have one small kitchen plastic bag every week and a half, but i'm sure we can manage to work the litter in somehow.

  13. Yeah, we can't flush here, Cambridge is fenland, we're barely a foot away from being underwater as it is and the sewer systems can't cope with human waste to be honest (especially as humans see fit to flush nappies and condoms but that's another story). When we empty the whole box we tend to just empty it straight into the outside bin (poos and pees removed into newspaper first).

  14. We are pretty awesome! LOL, just kidding, great post Lisa! I have been racking my mind about the litter thing to, but unless potty trained...?


I love hearing from you! So I don't miss a comment, I like "pre-approving" them :)
I ask only that we stay respectful.
Also, please note that this is a personal blog and not a space for advertising your company. I reserve the right to delete "advertising" comments.

**NB: The ANONYMOUS option is the BEST way to comment if you don't have a blogger or established google/gmail account.