Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fostering Sustainable Behaviour in your Pet

The Liberals and NDP have formed a coalition in a bid to replace the minority Conservative government in which they’ve lost confidence. If formed, a Liberal and NDP government will address our struggling economy, as well as provide a plan, supported by scientists and environmentalists, to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

They need your help. Please sign AVAAZ’s petition and write to your Member of Parliament and the Governor General offering your support.

Sustainability and your Pet
You’re doing your bit to reduce your carbon footprint. Is your dog? How about your cat? What are they doing to ensure that future four legged fuzzies have a future?

I know. How can you blame our little furry friends when they depend on us for everything? So let’s help them out.

Jane and I weaned our cats off clay-based litter and got them onto corn. Rayal Cormier of Bark ‘N’ Scratch, our local pet store, recommended Anderson’s Clump & Flush, a pure corn litter, as an eco-alternative that cats quickly adjust to. The trick to a successful change in product is to add gradually and build. During the first week I added a modest amount of corn litter to the clay. Week two, I added half & half. By the third week, the corn variety made up two thirds of the box. By the fourth, it was exclusively corn without the feline riot act.

What’s the big deal? – Clay based litter contains silica dust, which is carcinogenic. The litter is also often strip-mined, making clay litter a danger to your cat and planet. Clumping clay-litter is particularly dangerous because of the ingredient used to clump the litter: sodium bentonite. This chemical acts like expandable cement when wet. When cats lick their paws, guess what they’re ingesting? – Cement that expands in their little systems.

Here are a few choices that are good for the planet and your cat:

Anderson Clump N’Flush – Yes it clumps, naturally. No chemical is added. In fact it is so safe you can flush it down the toilet without creating havoc to the plumbing. If you live in Toronto I recommend tossing it in the organics bin and not the toilet, which will end up in the lake. The advantage to the corn litter is that you can clean out the box every three weeks or so and not every week. You can also put the old corn in your compost heap.

Feline Pine – My friend Anne recommends pine litter. Her fussy cat Mary took to it with no problem.

Pet Food
Now that we’ve successfully switched our cats to better litter, we are turning our attention to their food. The recent recalls of pet food demonstrate that something is seriously amiss in the pet food industry. Poor inspection standards and inhumane treatment of animals, not to mention environmental fallout from the practices of agribusiness, make the food unfit for…well…animals – particularly the ones you love.

Like anything, there are environmental and healthier choices.

What’s the big deal? – Next to accidents, kidney failure is the number one cause of death for pets. They’re also getting fatter. Why? It’s the filler they put in the food. Like humans, pets are getting a hefty dose of corn and soy in their meals. It’s a cheaper substitute for meat. For more information: What’s really in pet food by the American Protection Institute.

Healthy Alternatives – For a growing number of us, ‘healthy and sustainable’ trump ‘cheap’ when it comes to food choices. This priority should extend to our pets as well. I asked Rayal at Bark ‘N Scratch about organic pet food. His reply was that most of the food he sells is high-end, which means that they contain human-quality meat and vegetables without the corn and soy filler. Some ingredients are organic.

One of the products Rayal suggested is Massachusetts-based Wellness. Other products worth checking out are:

Holistic Blend (Canadian-based)

Pet Promise (US-based)

Nature’s Variety (US-based)

While our cats Beau and Blacky will enjoy whatever food we offer them, Bunny and Bear require more patience, particularly Bunny – little Ms. Feline Prima Madonna.

If you feed your pet earth-friendly food, please post a comment on what you use and your pet’s response to it.

Dogs never see a tree they do not like. ‘Nature calls’ is a great euphemism for their daily constitutional, which affords their human caregivers an opportunity to commune with nature, whether in a park, ravine or near a body of water.

If all of us connected with nature daily, we’d be a lot happier and more connected to reality. The solution to the environmental crisis: everyone needs to adopt a dog.

Holiday Spirit
Choosing a Christmas Tree
If you are like my partner Jane, you’ll want to put up your Christmas tree this weekend. What’s the best choice for the environment? The following links will help you make eco-friendly choices when choosing a tree:

60 percent Campaign – O Christmas Tree

Greening Your Christmas Tree from Care2

In the News

Zenn and the art of electric car maintenance

Death bloom of plankton a warning on warming

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