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Hacks & tips for happy pets

“Are plastic toys harming your pet?  We’re worried about ocean plastics.  What about the threat to our pets?

After spending 16 years immersed in caring for people’s precious fur kids I would like to share some ideas & suggestions.  In here you will find some easy, inexpensive swaps for Cats (being my area of expertise), & a few suggestions for Fido too.

If your pets could talk they would be screaming at you right now – plastic man-made mass produced pet accessories as far as the eye can see, none of which come close to replicating anything found in the wild. If we look at the whole circle of sustainability then we should include not only ourselves and our children but also our fur babies. As the human we are responsible for what our cat or dog eats, play with and uses, it’s our job to make sure we do the best by our pets. 

 Meow ~ Natural Products for puss

Possum Tails & Rabbit Tails.  Sustainable & most often a throwaway waste product.  Good for teeth & environmentally friendly.  Months of fun for cats, mine even chew their way through the rabbit tails till they are just tuffs of fluff under the couch that you suck up the vacuum.  Remember in the wild these are exactly the sort of things they would hunt. I get mine from my local Raw Essential pet shop - $1 rabbit & $3 possum tails. 

Large Bird Feathers.  Another natural product that is of great interest to cats.  I look out for these on bush walks or at the beach.  My girls are indoor cats so this is as good as it will get for getting close to birds.

Knitted mice filled with screwed up newspaper (not easy to find – SPCA used to have them but I have a feeling the older ladies who knitted them filled them with foamL) – much better alternative to Chinese made rubbish

Cat Litter – for years I have used and recommended a NZ made by-product of natural wood pellets that are used to run pellet fires.  They are inexpensive, biodegradable, harmless to your cat and excellent at moisture and smell absorption.  A superior option to nasty clumping or crystal litter.  Available at M10 or Bunnings $18 for 20kg bag.  The only downside is a little more ‘tracking’ but it’s a fabulous product for this purpose.  I even use it on the boat when the girls come sailing as I can simply throw it over the back and know it won’t harm the environment.

Woof ~

My sister’s springer spaniel Bowie has a natural dried cow’s hoof that she drags around the house and chews.  Its pretty gross but has lasted well and Bowie loves it.  The other thing I’ve seen is dried beef tendons, and of course large ‘uncooked’ bones if you can get hold of them.  Do not be fooled into thinking Raw Hide products are a good option–they are not.  Here is a link to an eye opening article about this popular mass produced product https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/rawhide-dangerous-for-dogs/  remember dogs love to chew and destroy things thereby consuming parts of what they are eating, so keep clear of plastic or manmade fibres – opt for natural & digestible.

General easy swaps ~

Feeding time - Your local Op Shop is a great place to visit a lovely ceramic bowl or saucer for your pet.  When you do this you are upcycling and it’s a much better choice over plastic – it also looks much nicer in the kitchen.  The other option could be silicone folding bowls for out and about with the dog.  Ditch that new plastic bowl from the store with the little cute paw print on it, it’s not recyclable and likely not bpa free.

Scratch Poles – solid wood poles with natural fibre sisal or carpet wrapped around them are built to last for years, and you can just re-carpet when they go threadbare, (again reusing second hand carpet that would have been tossed) They will outlast any cheap cardboard based Chinese made one you picked up at Kmart that will end up in the rubbish.  This is definitely one of those things you go with quality over price.  My cat tree is NZ made by Comfy Pets, cost me $350, is now 8 years old, has taken a hammering from 2 kittens, and is still looking great.

Beds ~ cheapest bed option for your cat is a cardboard box with a lovely warm blanket in it.  It’s free, easy to find and can be recycled and replaced.  Cardboard gives great warmth and cats love to curl in smaller spaces.  We have a box in the office for our girls.  A great option for dogs are sack beds – again the sacks can be replaced when necessary and it’s a more natural product.  Of the course humans bed is always the first choice!

Walkies ~  being mindful when out and about, dog owners please carry & use compostable poop bags as this product goes straight to landfill.  Reusing standard plastic food produce bags tied to your lead is not cool and just leads to a bigger problem.

Fortunately the Pet industry around the world is changing and growing, it recognises now more than ever that people are more conscious about what they buy for their fur kids.  So play your part and reduce their carbon paw print, and your four legged friend will live a longer and happier life with less vet bills too.  I hope these comments I have shared are helpful.  Leanne

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