I made the switch to greener, safer products for myself and my family many years ago. And after I started buying more natural products for the humans in my home, I turned my attention to our 4 cats.
Yes! I have 4 cats! It wasn’t quite intentional—we went to pick up kitty #3, a one-eyed former barn cat named Mochi, and his BFF Miso seemed to know what was up and refused to leave his side. So: 4 cats.
Anyway. We love our pets like family, yet so many products meant for pets are made with low quality ingredients. Why is that? Luckily, safer options are plentiful these days—you just need to know what to look for. Here are 3 simple swaps you can make for a healthier pet.
Switch to Natural Litter
If you have cats, this is a biggie. Ever find yourself overwhelmed by the perfume-y smell of conventional cat litter when it’s fresh out of the bag? Or maybe the area surrounding your litter box is covered with a fine layer of dust from clay. Ick. If you’re irritated by these things, imagine how your cats feel!
Cats breathe in that clay dust and it’s bad for their lungs. When the dust gets on their paws and fur, they lick it off and it ends up in their stomachs. Cats are especially sensitive to artificial scents too. (And did I mention the 2.5 billion pounds of landfill waste clay litter creates every year in North America? Yikes!) It’s time to be better than clay and go natural.
I think what puts off most people when it comes to natural litter is the odor—or specifically, that unmistakable there’s-a-cat-in-this-house smell. I get it! I have 4 cats, remember? I never want people to walk in our front door and immediately know that we have cats.
One natural litter I’ve tried is ökocat and it’s fantastic—it’s biodegradable, it’s lightweight and it’s produced in a sustainable way. ökocat Natural Wood Clumping Litter (yes! it clumps!) absorbs 5 times its weight in liquid and it neutralizes odor for 7 days. I love that performs better than conventional clay litter, but without all the downsides.
Ditch the Scented Shampoo and Wipes
I used to use lavender scented wipes on my cats—because let’s be real, cats aren’t going to cooperate for weekly baths. They smelled so good afterwards, but again: that fragrance is irritating to them. And the same phthalates from artificial fragrance that are bad for humans are bad for our pets too.
If you ditched shampoos made with sodium lauryl sulfate for yourself, it’s time to ditch them for your pets for the same reason—SLS can be irritating to their skin too. When our cats need a bath now, we use a product we already have on hand for ourselves—castile soap! The unscented kind that’s formulated for babies is perfect for cats too. (Never use the scented kind on cats—or anything containing essential oils, for that matter. Cats’ livers cannot metabolize many essential oils.) For dogs, try this DIY dog shampoo recipe.
Go For a More Natural Food Brand—Or Make Your Own
Pet food recalls in recent years have brought to light a scary fact: many of us have no idea where or how our pets’ food is made or with what kind of ingredients. Instead of feeding them what they’d eat in nature, they’re fed a diet of corn, fillers, and animal byproducts. Seek out brands that are transparent about how they operate, made with ingredients your pet would eat in nature, and that are manufactured in the United States.
If you have the time, you might even want to look into making your own pet food. It could be as easy as scrambling some extra eggs for breakfast as a special treat (my cats’ favorite!) or you can try these homemade cat food recipes. If you have a pup, there are some great dog food recipes here.
What natural product swaps have you made for your pets?0