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Organically Speaking… In The Home & Garden

Even though they’re messy, time-consuming and even sometimes a pain, we love our pets through it all. As especially health- and eco-conscious consumers, we also know that our pets deserve a safe and healthy home–just like us. Maybe you’ve already started with small things, like feeding your pet organic treats? With just a few more changes you can make your home even healthier for your furry friend. Here are several easy ways.

  • Know which houseplants are toxic – Pets are curious. If they decide one of your houseplants seems interesting, they could accidentally ingest something toxic. Are the plants in your home toxic to pets? Some common ones include aloe vera, begonia, baby’s breath, calla lily, palms, daffodil, geranium, jade, dracaena and tulips.
  • Help pets sleep healthier – Whether it’s naptime or bedtime, your pets deserve a nontoxic bed to sleep in. Look for pet beds made with natural fibers like organic cotton, organic hemp or organic wool. These natural fibers will protect your buddies in their most vulnerable moments–just like your organic cotton sheets keep you from breathing in off-gassed chemicals while you sleep.
  • Run a better bath – Just like you’ve greened your personal care products, it’s time to do the same for Fido and Fluffy. Get that mangy mutt clean with shampoo and conditioners that are free of sulfates, parabens, artificial colors and synthetic fragrances. Look for products at your local health food store that contain naturally antimicrobial essential oils (to get rid of bacteria and odor) like tea tree, rosemary, eucalyptus and peppermint.
  • Avoid hazardous chemicals – Your pets spend a lot of time on the floor. Sniffing, rolling around, playing, sleeping. Curious cats might explore cupboards and cabinets that hold cleaning supplies. If you use conventional cleaning products to mop your floors, dust and just generally clean, you could be exposing your pets–and yourself–to hazardous chemicals.

Many household cleaning products contain chemicals that are toxic for both you and your pets. Watch out for bleach, ammonia, chlorine, glycol ethers and formaldehyde. These ingredients can cause health problems in adults and children, but young kids and pets are particularly at risk for cancer, anemia, liver and kidney damage when exposed to products with these ingredients.

Organic Cat Litter

Many cat owners are seeking out organic cat litter as an alternative to the conventional clay or silica based litters. But what makes organic cat litter better than non organic cat litter?

Organic cat litter is any litter made from plant matter. Non organic cat litter, by contrast, is made from non-plant material, the most common material being clay of some kind, or silicon. It is important to note that the use of the word “organic” here does not necessarily mean that the plant material has been organically grown (i.e. without pesticides or other chemicals).

There are many different types of organic cat litter available nowadays, made from a wide variety of different plant material. Common types include litter made from wood (e.g. chips or shavings), food crops (e.g. corn kernels), non food crops (e.g. hemp) and crop by-products (e.g. wheat husks, straw).

When cat owners make the choice to use an organic cat litter, it is almost certainly in the expectation that it will confer benefits either to the cat, the environment or both. However, not all types of organic cat litter will provide as many benefits as others–and not all organic cat litter will perform effectively in terms of absorbency and odor control. So it is important to understand exactly what benefits you are hoping for, and then choose an organic cat litter which can deliver those benefits.

Many cat owners look around for an organically based cat litter as a way to avoid the health concerns associated with conventional clay or silicon based cat litters. Clay based litters can be very dusty, creating respiratory irritation for cats and owners alike. Not only that, but some types of clay and silica particles are known carcinogens and should be avoided.

In addition, these litters typically contain additional chemicals to aid clumping or to mask or suppress odors. Clumping cat litters can present significant health risks if inhaled or ingested, especially for kittens and smaller cats, while perfumes can be irritants for allergic cats and owners.

If you are looking for an organic litter on safety grounds, be sure to choose one which is dust free and chemical free.

Cats & Organic Gardens

  1. Cayenne Pepper — Most cats have an aversion to cayenne pepper. Sprinkling a small amount around your planter can help keep the kitties away from the plant itself.
  2. Aquarium Gravel – Unlike other surfaces, gravel is much too grainy for cats to really get comfortable on. A thin layer on your top soil can be enough to keep them out of the planter.
  3. Mesh Screening — Window screen is actually cheap if you purchase it in a roll. By using a few pieces of wood, you can create a mesh box around your plants allowing light and water in, while keeping kitties out.
  4. Citrus Peels — Citrus peels are a potent way to keep cats at bay. Place peels around your planters or gardens to provide a layer of protection for your plants.

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