I’ve always veered toward the earthy and the green. The more I learned about living green (and I know that’s a vague term with a lot of meanings), the more I put it into place in my own life. Gradually, this spilled over into decisions I made about the health and care of my cats. I fed them good food when I could afford it. I tried a green form of cat litter (made of wheat), but none of my cats took to it.
But largely, I found that my green endeavors fell into the cleaning category. Everything I use is free and clear, or fairly inert, due to human allergies and sensitivities. Here are some of the things I think about in my everyday life, regarding green cleaning and having a green house, for the benefit of both the humans and the cats:
It’s really simple around my house. Hard surfaces get cleaned with free-and-clear soap and water; floors might get the same, or that plus some white vinegar. For carpets, I have an awesome Dyson vacuum (the model especially for pet households). I love it because it does a fantastic job, and there are no filters to buy and throw away. You simply rinse and reuse the inner filter. But I am getting away from rugs, as well, which seem to harbor so much gross stuff the longer you have them. The Dyson does a fantastic job on hard floors, especially in pet households.
If I have to use something (cleanser, for example, where I’m unsure of potential harm to cats), I use green cleanser, but I also make sure that no trace of it remains in the sink or the tub, where little cat feet could come in contact.
This isn’t exactly living green, but it is about cat safety. We just moved into a new place. I’m not letting the cats into the basement until I’ve really checked it out, cleaned it thoroughly, and made sure that there’s nothing harmful down there for the cats to get into (an old mouse trap, for example, or mouse poisons that were used, etc.).
It may be months before my cats get to go down there — maybe never. It’s worth saving myself the worry about their health. And when we moved into this place, I kept the cats confined in a small breezeway until I had really cleaned the rest of the house and made sure there was nothing harmful the cats could get into.
I may be anthropomorphizing here, but it was a real eye-opener when I learned that I was allergic to a lot of stuff that is in fabric (formaldehyde, for example). So on my allergist’s recommendation, I wash any new fabric that comes into the house (towels, clothes) before I use it. And I have found myself doing the same thing for my cats. If I buy a new cat bed, for example, I’ll wash it first in hot water with free-and-clear laundry detergent. I figure it can’t hurt.
We moved from one cold-weather place to another place that’s slightly warmer, but still gets a chilly winter. We relied on a wood stove in the former place, and while the cats and I love a warm fire in the winter, I did worry about their constant and close exposure to ash. We’re going to be trying a pellet stove here, which is greener and less resource consumptive than a wood stove.
What does it mean for you to be green, and do you do things a certain way so that you and your cats can enjoy a more green household? Share your ideas, please!
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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.