As cat guardians ourselves, we are always trying to be more eco-friendly and as sustainable as possible when catering to our cats' needs. We started Noggins & Binkles to make vegan and eco-friendly cat and dog accessories (more on that later!), but there is plenty more we can do apart from accessories, such as the food we feed our cats, the litter they use and the toys they play with! Below are some of our tips to be more eco-friendly and sustainable with your cat or kitten.
Noggins & Binkles cat collar in white vegan cork leather
Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Cat Food Options
Cat food is the biggest thing your cat will consume so it’s really worth looking into the options. We make vegan cat and dog accessories because we believe there is absolutely no reason to use animal products for this purpose. However, when it comes to a cat’s diet, the jury is still out whether it is safe to feed cats a vegan diet. The majority of research currently suggests it is not, as they are obligate carnivores. We hope there might be some developments on this in the near future as it would be brilliant if there was a widely recognised safe vegan cat food. Having said that, vegan cat food does exist and some people choose to feed it to their cats. As we aren’t vets, we aren’t going to recommend a fully vegan diet, but instead look at the alternatives and what are the most eco-friendly and sustainable cat food options available. If you want to know more about whether cats and dogs can be vegan, you can read our blog about this. Dogs have more options as they are not classed as obligate carnivores like cats are!
One relatively new and more eco-friendly and sustainable cat food, compared to traditional animal protein based cat food, is insect protein cat food. Insect based food is normally dry kibble style cat food and it is generally a nutritionally complete recipe, but it’s always worth checking that for each brand. Insect based cat food is more sustainable because the insects feed on clean food waste and, as it’s very different from traditional farming, it also uses less land, water and produces fewer greenhouse gases per gram of protein compared to other animal proteins.
If insect based cat food doesn’t appeal or you have a fussy feline, try to source cat food brands that are made in the UK (or the country you live) and also use fish or meat sourced from the UK, as this will mean fewer food miles and a lower carbon footprint. For more eco-friendly options, look for organic and free range options, although they aren’t always easy to find. You should also consider the type of ingredients as meat, such as beef, will use more resources and have a bigger carbon footprint than UK caught fish. If you want to look at some of the common ingredients and their associated carbon footprint, the BBC has a useful chart.
Another option is to make homemade cat food, although we wouldn’t recommend doing this unless you seek advice from your vet first, just to make sure your recipe is good and your cat is getting everything they need. We cook fish for Noggins & Binkles, as they are originally from Seychelles and Mauritius, and when we first adopted Noggins you couldn’t buy cat food in the Seychelles. Instead we used to cook for him and then ask any friendly visitors we had to put some dry cat food in their suitcase, not good for air miles, but if it had been available locally it would have been imported in any case. Those days are behind us now though so they continue to eat their fish (MSC certified), which we cook and put into glass Kilner jars, which reduces the amount of cat food packaging we consume. They also eat a smaller amount of dry cat food which is fish based and made in the UK.
Choose Cat Food Tins and Pouches That Can Be Recycled
If you are trying to be more eco-friendly with your cat, it’s not just the food they eat that is important, but also the packaging it comes in. Tins are widely and easily recycled with your household recycling so are a great option to look for when choosing cat food. Soft plastic pouches and plastic pots seem to be a popular choice for cat food now though, so it’s important to check the packaging and see how easy it is to recycle. A lot of the larger supermarkets and Co-op stores now have initiatives to recycle soft plastics so you can often drop them in-store if they can’t be recycled with your household recycling. With dry food some brands are using paper bags now which are easy to recycle, but plastic bags are more common, so again it’s worth checking to see if they can be recycled either with your household recycling or taking them to a supermarket that takes soft plastic for recycling. Biodegradable and compostable packaging can also be found now for some cat food packaging, but it’s important to check what that actually means, as some are home compostable and others need to be industrially composted; if you aren’t sure you can check with the manufacturer.
Lily's Kitchen recyclable and compostable dry cat food bag
Choose More Sustainable, Eco friendly and Vegan Accessories for Your Cat
At Noggins & Binkles we make vegan cat accessories in the UK including cat collars, cat harnesses, cat leads, toys, beds and tags, all with an eye on being as eco-friendly and sustainable as we can be. Our vegan materials include cork, Pinatex, organic cotton and silicone. We also use a range of recycled materials in our cat toys in addition to organic cotton and natural cork. Vegan materials are more ethical as no animals are killed to produce them and they are generally more sustainable and eco-friendly. We recommend avoiding vegan leather or faux leather alternatives made from PVC or PU as these can release harmful toxins when being produced (none of our materials contain either). We have a range of interactive cat toys made from recycled, natural and biodegradable materials, but you can also make fun cat toys at home by reusing the cardboard tubes inside toilet rolls or tying some knots in some old bits of fabric to make a toy your cat can throw around and chew! If your cat is an indoor cat you can also grow some cat grass for them inside to keep them amused! Noggins and Binkles love it when we have fresh cat grass in the house and when we don’t you will often find them chewing our spider plant, so cat friendly house plants can also be great amusement, as long as you don’t mind a bit of help from your cat with the indoor gardening! We’ve gone through some of our favourite cat friendly non-toxic houseplants here.
Noggins & Binkles organic cotton heart cat toy filled with organic catnip and recycled polyester
Pass on Any Unwanted Collars and Toys
Your cat or kitten may no longer need their old collars and toys, so if they are in good condition check with your local animal rescue centre to see if they can use them or pass them to a friend.
Use Eco-friendly, Biodegradable and Sustainable Cat Litter
Most cat litter available is some form of natural material, with the common ones being clay and wood fibre. However, although clay is natural and found in the ground, it’s not biodegradable or the most eco-friendly and sustainable cat litter out there. Clay litter is normally made from bentonite clay which is extracted from the ground by quarrying. Bentonite clay is an absorbent montmorillonite clay formed from altered volcanic ash, so as you can imagine can take thousands to millions of years to form, so not sustainable at all. Another common cat litter that is widely available is wood fibre and can normally be bought in non-clumping pellets or smaller granules that normally clump. Wood fibre cat litter is often made from FSC certified wood from sustainably managed forests and of course trees grow back and are great for the environment when growing too, so it’s definitely a brilliant eco-friendly option for cat litter. Wood fibre cat litter is also biodegradable so won’t be hanging around for so long once it is disposed of like a clay litter would. There are other biodegradable cat litters available too, such as ones made from recycled paper, corn and even casava and tofu! We’ve tried quite a few with Noggins and Binkles and although we love corn cat litter, as it tracks less than the wood fibre litter, we have found ourselves using the wood fibre litter more recently as it’s produced in the UK, rather than Europe, so it has less air (or boat) miles! If you do choose to use individual bags when emptying your cat’s litter tray make sure they are biodegradable and compostable. Most biodegradable cat litters can also be flushed down the toilet (it will say on the bag if it can) or composted at home or in your green bin (without the poo), but it’s always worth checking with your water provider and local council before doing either of these!
Adopt Don't Shop!
One of the first decisions you will most likely make, after deciding you would like a cat to join your family, is what sort of cat and where are you going to find them. Adoption always comes to our minds first (we have two rescue cats!) and there are plenty of cats in rescue centres looking for good homes, so that’s a good place to start. We can confirm that rescue cats rock! It’s always important to neuter your cat so you aren’t contributing to anymore cats needing homes and this is normally a requirement when adopting if they haven't been already. If you do choose to buy from a breeder, be sure to do lots of research and only buy from a trusted and registered breeder.
Reduce Your Plastic Use Where You Can
You can reduce your plastic consumption in many different ways when looking after your cat. Be sure to reduce plastic when choosing food, poop bags, collars, harnesses and toys. If you do use plastic regularly for any of these things, make sure it can be recycled and recycle it!