Saturday, September 23, 2023
Daily Featureessayliving green with pets

How Is Your Carbon Pawprint?

Evening Bean
Evening Bean

Jelly Bean always has a pretty good Earth Day.

He conserves a lot of energy by napping as much as possible, so much energy that he could probably cash in what he conserved to get himself some really good treats, or even some quality ‘nip. He even cuddles up with a brother or two so they could all stay warmer and drop all their extra furs in one place instead of all over the house, necessitating more angry growling by the sweeper monster and the energy it uses (but he’s not sharing his treats or nip, if he gets them).

And he knows he uses sustainable litter in his box—he’s really gotten to like the wood pellets because he can dig and dig and dig in the box and make a lot of noise and not get dust up his nose and sneeze, and then later he can toss an unused wood pellet out of the box and play with it, a great example of reuse! Litter pellets become toys, and sustainable toys at that.

And then he’s got his raw diet from local sources, even though his human had to drive to go and get it she buys it in such huge quantities it almost makes him faint to think of all that food right there in the kitchen, even if it is frozen, and on the other hand he eats less so she doesn’t have to drive as often. And he had the water in his bowls and his fountain filtered by his human.

He’s feeling pretty good about himself and his carbon pawprint today. He should even probably get some sort of an award for all his hard work and sacrifice.

Now it’s time for another nap while he waits for the phone call from the award center.

Things you can do to help your cats with their carbon pawprints

Our cats can only use what we give them to use, so it’s up to us to help reduce waste and use products that are recycled or have the least impact on our environment. In making sustainable choices we often reduce another part of their carbon pawprint and our own carbon footprint—sustainable products are often less toxic so we reduce the toxic load on our four-footed household members as well as ourselves, inside the house and out.

One of the biggest changes you can make for the environment is to stop using clay litter. Clay for cat litter is strip-mined, one of the most environmentally destructive types of mining because it works from the soil surface down to the mineral creating a huge pit, piling the overburden in other areas that often cause landslides or destroy streams, and the pit itself is often not remediated. On top of that, the litter itself can’t be recycled in any way and always ends up in a landfill. Moving away from clay litter is also good for your cats and you because clay contains silica, a known carcinogen, and the dust is a fine particulate, known to be an irritant to sensitive mucous membranes, like the sinuses and lungs and can lead to respiratory illnesses.

When I had eight, ten, twelve…or more cats in the house I used more litter than I can estimate, regular and scoopable, always clay. Right about the time I got tired of carrying home 40 pound bags of clay litter every week I decided I was going to look for an alternative. I started with recycled newspaper litter, then a few years later the owner of the Agway where I shopped told me about wood stove pellets which worked even better and were less expensive. I also tried all the plant-based and silica gel crystal type litters I could find but always came back to the wood or newspaper pellets to avoid the scent, natural or artificial, that came along with other litters, and the issue with dampness in my basement causing mold or mildew developing on the litter and reducing clumping ability. I have slipped a bag of clay litter in here or there when I needed litter and it was all I could find but we’ve all gotten used to the pellets.

So if you use clay, consider the alternatives you find in the store where you shop. Carefully try them to avoid any possible litterbox issues, always making changes gradually for your cats and leaving a box of the litter they’d been using handy.

Aside from litter, consider these habits for your pets, yourself and the environment:

  • Try to buy goods in larger quantities or in bulk to reduce driving, reduce cost and possibly reduce packaging.
  • Choose items that have recycled, recyclable or sustainable packaging.
  • Use pet waste bags for cat litter or doggy clean ups that are biodegradable and made from a renewable and/or sustainable material.
  • Clean litterboxes and litter areas as well as the rest of your house with safe, non-toxic cleaners and odor eliminators, even using common household substances in place of purchased commercial cleaners.
  • Likewise with pet grooming products like shampoos, stay with non-toxic products made from natural sustainable ingredients that are certified safe for pets.
  • And use brushes made of recycled rubber, plastic and other recycled materials.
  • Use flea and tick products carefully, only when necessary, avoiding any excess product that might be flushed down a drain or spilled on soil in your yard where it could run off into a stream.
  • Choose accessories such as collars and leashes and beds made of upcycled, downcycled or in any way recycled, sustainable or renewable material such as cotton, hemp, recycled polyester or rubber.
  • Choose certified organic catnip and treats, or make and grow your own.
  • Recycle household items for cat toys like cardboard boxes, paper and paper shopping bags—if your cat hasn’t done that for you already.
  • And no kidding—recycle a pet — adopt a cat from your local animal shelter or a rescue.
  • And most important: have your cat spayed or neutered to avoid the burden an overpopulation of homeless pets has on society and the earth.
Jelly Bean's Earth Day
Jelly Bean’s Earth Day

Also read an Earth Day essay from a few years ago.

Art and Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals


Feline Photos from Portraits of Animals

September morning in the garden.
September morning in the garden.

My garden kitty, Moses, enjoys her morning nap on the bricks in the shade of the beans, mid-morning in September. I’m fairly certain I took this in the late 90s, but it stands in for any sunny morning Moses and I enjoyed in the garden. Read more and order or browse my gallery of Feline Photos.


All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

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© 2022 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Weekly schedule of features:

Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life

Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters

Tuesday: Rescue Stories

Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork

Thursday: New Merchandise

Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy

Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats

And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!




From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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