Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Eco-Sacrifices we made for our Cats

Emergency trip to the vet. Yep, the majority of my Friday was spent consoling and soothing our cognitively impaired cat, Atreyu as I discovered from a 3 hour emergency visit that he also has crystals. 

(Atreyu saying HI!) 

Weirdly, we call our cats "pooper" or "kitten" or some variation. Our friends now refer to them as such as well, our Peruvian friend calling them "Poopina and Poopino". 
(Asteya in her favourite place, an old box that delivered Andrew's WoW headphones... she LOVES that box. Also, the Medical Food made her gain weight, so she now has a tummy...)

Sigh. Although Atreyu is recovering well from what appears to be a potentially fatal blockage, both Andrew and I are disappointed. Crystals mean no more nutrient-rich, grain-free environmentally friendly food. We'd prided ourselves in buying Canadian made, grain free foods that would help keep him healthy (ahem, fail) and his coat shiny. Due to the presence of crystals in his urine, formations caused by insufficient water uptake and can cause sceptis and death within hours, we will have to feed him grain-filled Medi-Cal Urinary SO for the rest of his life.

When I voiced my concern regarding the presence of grain to the vet, however, she wasn't very sympathetic. "There is no harm in feeding grain to a cat, corn isn't bad". Unless you care about the planet, the monoculture crops and pesticides taking over our soil and air. Sure grain isn't "bad" for your cat, but it's a filler- minimal nutrients. Like eating white bread. Or MacDonalds. 

We also had to cave and purchase another cat fountain. I was so happy to unplug and give our previous plastic monstrosity away. Our cats were drinking enough from the twice daily changed water bowls we left them, why have something use up extra electricity? Except they obviously weren't (since they BOTH have crystals now).

Saturday was spent purchasing a new, stainless steel and easier to clean, cat fountain. They adore it, but the energy leeching away irks me. At least our friend yoga sessions will now be graced with the peaceful sound of trickling water.
(Atreyu is often confused by things... like water, flames, generally anything at all. Since he doesn't have object permanence, every time he sees it, it's like the first time all over again!)

Our two cats remain eco-friendly in a few ways though....
  • We still have grain-free food left, so it will be a 80(Medical)-20 mixture until it's gone.
  • We use chemical-free pine litter
  • They were both rescued cats (SPCA). An entire section of Alan Weisman's The World Without Us is dedicated to how cats are becoming a huge problem to birds. If you want a kitten, instead of adding one to the billions already present, rescue one and get it fixed.
  • They're indoor cats. 
  • The fountain at least is stainless steel and not plastic.

Despite their eco-rating rapidly slipping away with the ridiculous water fountain and expensive grain-filled stinky food, we love our cats. Even Mr. Atreyu, who as a premature kitten kept in an incubator became our special needs cat (I could write an entire blog post on his "moments", but then I'd REALLY be a cat Plus, my favourite is a purring mass of fur love while I'm in downward dog. 

article and photographs copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Oh no---that's too bad, but I'm glad he's okay. Never fun to have a vet trip though. With furry friends, sometimes you just do the best you can! Sending happy thoughts to your furballs!

  2. I often think of how un-ecofriendly it is owning pets. I have 2 dogs and a cat. Of course, I try to do whatever I can to be environmentally conscious, and I do feel it is important to have rescue animals. However, they eat and poop a lot. I posted a blog about cat litter some years ago about my research into eco-friendly cat litter and how horrifying it was.

  3. Yep, pets are a problem.

    I remember reading a pretty good analysis of their "pawprints" that suggested that the typical pet used more resources and had a heavier impact on the earth than the typical child in the developing world.

    Makes you think about who should be *really* cutting their numbers, the kids or the cats and dogs...maybe the people who criticise third world population increase are "barking" up the wrong tree (pardon the pun, I couldn't help myself, but the point remains).

    We're the worst sort of hypocrites if we tell people they can't have kids, while we keep pets that use more resources!

    We loved our cat in Melbourne, but decided against keeping one here, for those reasons and others.

    Realistically, I think the best "green" decision though, is to look after the animal ethically and well, and then just not replace it when it dies.

    Oh, and to support RSPCA and other charities that spay / neuter.

    Maybe the time has come for us to reconsider our addiction to pets, or to limit their numbers - one pet per household, maybe?

    Food for thought. I don't know the answers, and I'm not about to pass judgement. But we do need to start open dialogue on these issues. Thanks for being frank about them.

    And your photos are gorgeous :-)

    *(I love cats)*

  4. Poor meows!

    I read some research once about the number of generations of cats that disease takes to show up in animals at kitten-hood. It isn't too many, actually.

    So your poor furry creatures probably have a bit of DNA behind their health problems.

    My Miss Cleo eats kangaroo meat and dry food that's specifically formulated for oral hygeine (she gets terrible plaque!). So I understand your frustration.

    I think we simply have to do the best we can, while taking care of these animals, who we've raised over the years to become dependant on humans.

    So we have to do what we can to support them and as environmentally friendly as possible.

    Cleo was also adopted from a pound. She mostly "goes" outside (she prefers it), and I use recyclable litter when needed. Otherwise she's mostly an indoor cat...

  5. I'm glad he is okay, though I share your eco-frustrations when it comes to pets and vets. LOL. I have so many similar issues with my dog.

  6. I am so glad Atreyu is ok. I am also happy you re-desitrubuted the old plastic monstrosity for Moses and Peakee - they love it! I now have fountain envy though.

    You can only do what you can do for the planet when it comes to the health of those precious furballs, Lisa. Peakee needs medical food too forever and he is a happier and healthier cat despite the planet/wallet strain.

    Keep up the good work.


  7. i'm delurking again for a little veterinary two-cents....

    there are other options -- and you didn't hear it from me but i wouldn't feed him SO for the rest of his life...

    you can email me if you'd like some off-the-record thoughts...from an rvt at a feline-only practice...*ahem*


    ps. but i will say that i've been doing a LOT of research lately on the food i think you were feeding your wee ones and don't let it take the blame for the crystals....'nuff said...*slinks back while looking furtively around for Veterinary Overlord*

  8. Glad your poopers are okay (that's what we call our dog as well). I remember when my last dog developed kidney disease and I had to put her on Science Diet it was so disappointing to leave the Canadian-made grain -free stuff behind. But as long as your pet is happy and healthy, it's all worth it right?

  9. Ah how I can relate to the crystal problem. The first time our cat got them, I did a ton of research and switched him from dry to wet food (grain free, etc etc) and got a water fountain because I figured that would be enough moisture to keep the crystals at bay.

    WRONG! He blocked again within 6 months and we spent hundreds more dollars keeping him at the vet for the weekend (and then he subsequently got a bladder infection - awesome.)

    He's been on the SO food now for 6 months and no problems yet...fingers crossed....


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