While Mark and I have made some great, no-plastic changes in our lives, maintaining kitty Cosmo’s quality of life has presented a bit of a challenge. We realized a few days ago that her food bag has a plastic lining. We did some research at Beth Terry’s site, FakePlasticFish.com, and learned that canned cat food is lined with plastic, too! We looked into making homemade cat food, but realized other obstacles with that …
- Sometimes drastic food changes can cause digestive upsets in cats
- Making nutritionally complete homemade food will take lots of extra time and research, not to mention the fact that I’m a vegetarian and the idea of cooking meat every week for our kitty is not appealing. I realize the grossness of how bagged food is made, but it still feels better to me.
- The research we’ve already done suggests supplementing homemade kitty food with powders that are also packaged in plastic, so we wouldn’t be eliminating plastic after all.
Honestly, I can see us making her food in the future, but we’re not there yet. So what have we decided to do? Thankfully, we have a full bag of cat food to figure it out. The first thing I did was write to the company we get her food from and ask if there’s any way we can get it without the plastic bag. I even asked if we could just go to where it’s manufactured and buy some without any packaging. I’ll let you know if they write back.
After a long discussion with Mark, we decided to go easy on kitty Cosmo. We’re already making big changes with her litter and how she goes to the bathroom, so adding new food onto that just seems like a bit much for our kitty to handle all at once.
Have you heard about our kitty cat toilet training? I have an update!!! I’ve been researching ways to teach cats to use the toilet (the human one) for several months now. A few days ago, we moved kitty’s litter box right next to the toilet and started leaving the toilet seat up. This is the first recommended step. This did take some getting used to on our part because we are toilet-seat-down people. However, compared to the ease of not having any litter to change or clean up after, along with the sanitary benefits of not having a kitty with yucky poopy litter paws walking all over the house, leaving the toilet seat up seemed like an okay compromise.
Today, we took the next step and bought a pan that fits inside the toilet. Eventually, she will begin using the toilet with the pan of litter set inside the rim. Until we get to that point, we set the new pan inside a box so it would have a “rim”, put some litter in the pan, and placed it near her old litter box so she could get used to it. She spent several minutes sniffing around it and rubbing against the box, which I took as a good sign. I also unintentionally spied on her and saw many other promising signs that this experiment is going to work. When she went to use her litter box, she first stopped by the new contraption and put two little paws in (I saw the indentations of her paws in the litter later). Then, I saw her on the toilet rim!!! This is the biggest YEE HAW! for me because for the past few days I’ve been worried about the rim being too slippery for her to stand on. Every time I sent her images telepathically of her using the toilet, I’d get images of her slipping on the rim. So, I cut a circle out of non-stick drawer liner and it placed on the rim. That was not very attractive, even though it had a palm tree print, so I was so glad to see her up there without it. Not only did she have all four paws on the rim, but she was also leaning way down into the toilet, showing off her wonderful balancing abilities. Now, I know you’re probably thinking that now I have a cat who will drink out of the toilet bowl. To that I say, she won’t be drinking out of it when her new litter box contraption is in the center!
An important part of this story, though, is our first purchase of plastic since the start of our project over a week ago. We were about out of litter. We’ve tried many different brands of litter before finally finding one that works for us. However, it has a plastic handle on the box. In order to avoid buying anything with plastic, we first tried using a bag of litter my mom had in her garage that she wasn’t going to use. We tried it for one day, and it was the nastiest nast nast litter EVER! It smelled so bad that I covered my mouth and tried not to breathe when going to the restroom yesterday. Ew. Gross. It really was. I have no idea why it is a national brand. Anyway, after talking about the benefits of keeping kitty Cosmo’s same litter and buying one more box while she learned to go in the toilet, we decided to go ahead and buy it. It will most likely be the last box of litter we will ever buy, so one little plastic handle was the compromise.
One last thing I’d like to mention is toxoplasmosis. In several posts I’ve read about toilet-training cats, people have written in concerned about the toxoplasmosis parasite that some cats carry in their feces getting into our water supply and killing marine animals in California. So, I did some research. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services), some cats can get this parasite by eating other animals, and the parasite is indeed transferred in their feces. However, this parasite is also found in contaminated raw meat, especially pork, venison, and lamb. Also, 22.5% of humans in the U.S. over the age of 12 have the parasite already, and where do you think they are poo pooing? In short, after reading all the information on the CDC website, I personally don’t feel this is a logical concern, especially as kitty Cosmo is an indoor cat. Even if she was an outdoor cat, I wouldn’t be concerned about this. Also, an article in Cosmos: The Science of Everything magazine reports a study that suggests anchovies carrying toxoplasmosis could be the reason other marine animals are becoming infected. Here’s another study from the National Public Health Service for Wales that says they haven’t found any link between cat feces being flushed and marine animals contracting toxoplasmosis. It looks like this theory began with Dr. Patricia Conrad of the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. She and her colleagues studied toxoplasmosis in 223 sea otters off the coast of California and found that otters near coastal areas of freshwater runoff were approximately three times more likely to be seropositive for T. gondii than otters farther away from freshwater runoff. You can read more about her research on their website. My other thought about this is that if we didn’t keep cats as pets, they would live in nature and defecate in nature. Rain would carry their feces to streams, rivers, and oceans anyway as a natural process. The other option, using plastic bags to put the cat feces in a landfill, sounds more unnatural and more detrimental to me.
Update: 4/6/2010 – Here’s another article from the Environmental Protection Agency saying it is safe to flush pet waste: Managing Pet and Wildlife Waste to Prevent Drinking Water Contamination.
That’s the latest from Kitty Cosmo’s world!