Decrease your carbon pawprint, charity advises

As Earth Day approaches, a leading animal charity is offering advice on how to become an eco-friendly pet owner.

Cats Protection, the UK’s largest feline charity, says that investing in a greener future can start at home with a few simple changes to pet care routines.

Alison Richards, Cats Protection’s Head of Clinical Services, said: “Cats are generally very low maintenance pets, and they don’t need lots of expensive toys, bedding, or equipment to be happy and healthy. There are a lot of single-use plastic products on the market that we just don’t need to buy. So instead of diving into our coin purse and spending money on products that are harmful to our planet, we can swap the plastic for easy-to-make recyclable options.”

Cats Protection’s eco-friendly tips include:

Avoid plastic packaging: Every year billions of plastic and aluminum food pouches end up in landfill sites. Look out for products with recyclable packaging and make sure to clean out the packet or tin and recycle it once empty. Some pet shops even offer the opportunity to bring along a container to refill dry cat food, saving considerably on packaging

Get crafty: New toys are expensive and come with a heavy carbon footprint. You can create plenty of homemade playthings that will be just as exhilarating for your cat. Toilet rolls and eggboxes make great puzzle feeders. Old socks can be upcycled into a thrilling cat toy – just fill the sock with a few spoonfuls of dried catnip, tie it off at the end and give to your cat to enjoy. Fashion a fishing rod toy from a length of string and a garden cane for your cat to grab onto and play with. Cats also love boxes, so before you throw out a cardboard box, try cutting out a couple of holes for your cat to dash through.

Abandon luxury treats: Cats don’t need fancy treats in addition to their regular meals. Instead, try taking some dry food out of your cat’s daily food allowance to offer as treats. However, if you do want to give your cat the occasional posh treat, then try making your own. Homemade treats are not only more cost-effective, but they also save on the production of single-use packaging. Check out Cats Protection’s homemade meaty treat recipe here.

Watch out for palm oil: Palm oil production is incredibly harmful to wildlife and the environment, but it can still be found lurking in a large number of our foods. Make sure you read the label on all food products and either steer clear of those that use palm oil or research carefully to ensure the palm oil is sustainably produced.

Make your own cat bed: Cats don’t need expensive beds – a cardboard box and a blanket or old jumper work just as well. If you’re feeling creative, try using felt tip pens or paint to give the box a unique and fun look.

Safely dispose of poo: Never flush cat waste down the loo. Sewage treatments are not able to treat the parasites found in cat waste, which can make their way into our water system.

Check your cat litter: Swap litter that contains environmentally harmful chemicals for an eco-friendly litter brand or use materials such as sawdust or shredded paper.

DIY scratching stations: All cats need access to somewhere they can scratch to keep their claws in tip-top condition. Try replacing shop-bought posts with old carpet samples which are often cheaply available or even free at carpet shops.

Cats Protection is committed to working towards a greener future and making eco-friendly swaps wherever possible.

Lesley Cross, Cats Protection’s Head of Retail and Trading, said: “We have put a number of measures in place to minimise our carbon footprint and we will keep making improvements wherever we can. Currently, we use a ‘zero to landfill’ recycling company who last year collected 621,814kg worth of rag items from our retail stores. We also run a printer ink cartridge recycling scheme across all shops, which helps to reduce the number of cartridges that are sent to landfill as well as reducing the amount of energy used in making new cartridges from raw materials.

“We have removed plastic wraps from our cards and calendars, all of our donation bags are recyclable, Cats Protection branded clothing and tote bags sold online are made to order out of certified organic cotton and the packaging is plastic-free, the website is carbon neutral and the factories used are powered by renewable energy.”

To find out more about caring for cats, please visit www.cats.org.uk