The gigantic cat food industry is not at all sustainable. But thankfully, there are a few eco-friendly cat food pioneers leading the way toward a greener future for pets and the planet! 🌎
Why choose eco-friendly cat foods and what are the benefits for your cat and the environment? We’re delving deep into this issue in today’s post because we believe taking care of our cat in an environmentally-friendly way IS possible.
What Does ‘Eco-Friendly’ Cat Food Really Mean?
I’ve spent many hours across several days researching eco-friendly cat foods. At first, it was pretty overwhelming. Getting at the core of what “eco-friendly” really means in the pet food industry was a challenge.
But it was worth it! Here are all of the answers you need to make an aware and eco-conscious decision regarding your pet’s food.
This marks just the surface of my research findings thus far! Where does the list end?
Remember, eco-friendly is more than organic ingredients. It means more than the words “natural” or “free-range.” When you shop for eco-friendly cat foods, you should consider all of the above, and below.
Here are 8 ethical and eco-friendly cat food brands to reduce your cat’s environmental impact:
- Open Farm
- Tender & True
- Castor & Pollux
- Lily’s Kitchen
- Ziwi Peak
- Acana & Orijen
8 Ethical & Eco-Friendly Cat Food Options
First, let’s take a look at some of the most ethical and eco-friendly cat foods on the market today.
1. Open Farm (USA & Canada) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Open Farm is one of the most eco-friendly cat food suppliers I could find. They exemplify what it means to put the environment AND our pets first!
Who is Open Farm? Open Farm is a leading eco-friendly pet food manufacturer. They develop, formulate, and distribute their cat and dog recipes from Toronto, Canada. However, their manufacturing facility is based in Minnesota, USA to “facilitate the local vegetable program and access to audited and certified partner farms.” (Discover Open Farm on Amazon).
What do their cat food recipes include? Only the good stuff, as far as I can see.
And what makes them trustable? They are committed to transparency, detailing the source and origin of every ingredient and the process it goes through until production.
Did you know? 95% of pet food bags are not recyclable. As part of their Sustainable Program, Open Farm has partnered with TerraCycle, creating the first nation-wide recycling pet food bag.
In addition, Open Farm locally sources over 80% of their locally-grown non-GMO meat and vegetables. As previously mentioned, their manufacturing facility is in Minnesota, but they distribute from Toronto, Canada.
Organic vs. Certified Humane. When I saw Open Farm was Certified Humane instead of Organic Certified, I wasn’t sure what it meant. But after comparing the two, it seems Certified Humane wins.
According to Open Farm,
“We focus on the Certified Humane program for our meat, over an Organic one. Certified Humane is similar to organic, in that animals are fed a vegetarian diet with no animal by-products in feed and no antibiotics or growth hormones are allowed. Under Organic programs, animals must be fed organic feed, whereas under Certified Humane that is not a requirement. However, Certified Humane does have extensive standards for what the animals must be fed. But that is where organic ends; there are no welfare standards for organic meat. In contrast, Certified Humane, along with standards for feed, has an extensive program covering the treatment and care of the animals through their lives, such as space minimums, handling requirements and slaughter standards.”
2. Tender & True (USA) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tender & True, where have you been all my life? I’m so happy I discovered this incredible eco-friendly cat food brand.
Who is Tender & True? Tender & True is a pioneer for ethical, natural, and eco-friendly pet food. Their “certifiably better” slogan mirrors their dedication to having the best earth-friendly pet food on the market, with certifications to prove it! (Check price on Amazon).
Tender & True is truly a leader in the fast-growing natural pet food industry. With certifications to back their progress, they get A+++ for transparency and traceability. You can feel confident feeding Tender & True to your kitty or pup.
“In 2014, Tender & True pioneered the first and only certified humanely raised pet food meeting USDA standards to be truly organic from farm to bowl.” -Tender & True
It seems like the only thing Tender & True is missing out on is recyclable packaging! As for the rest, they get 10/10’s across the board.
3. Castor & Pollux (USA & Canada)
This eco-friendly cat food brand stands out from the pet food industry with its leading line of organic and responsibly-sourced pet foods.
Who is Castor & Pollux? Castor & Pollux Natural Petworks is a US-based eco-friendly cat food known for creating “America’s 1st complete line of USDA organic certified pet foods.”
They pride themselves on their ORGANIX (USDA organic) and PRISTINE (responsibly raised, caught, or grown) lines of pet food recipes (See on Amazon).
Castor & Pollux is another leading line of eco-friendly, organic, and natural pet foods. Since their inception, they’ve happily donated over 3 million meals to both pups and kitties in need.
Despite not being Certified Humane Raised and Handled, the company dedicates themselves (and is pretty transparent) to raising, catching, and growing their protein and ingredients in a responsible and sustainable manner; ensuring each animal was raised with respect, had access to fresh air, were free-range, etc.
4. Lily’s Kitchen (UK & Ireland) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Never heard of Lily’s Kitchen? I hadn’t either until I nose-dived into researching about eco-friendly cat foods.
Who is Lily’s Kitchen? Lily’s Kitchen is a UK-based pet food manufacturer known for its “Certified Goodness.” They’re the UK’s number one Ethical Pet Food Company, having won a slot in the top ten most ethical companies in the world. (See it on Amazon UK).
Lily’s Kitchen is a great eco-friendly cat food option for cat owners living in the UK. They source their ingredients from the UK but choose to source some ingredients from Austria and Germany for the high-quality wet pet food they produce.
Their packaging is 100% compostable, even the zipper, so you don’t wrack up plastic waste from purchasing their dinners.
As for their transparency, they don’t do as good of a job as Open Farm, but they still are straight-forward about their ingredients, composition, source, and so on. We’d like to see a bit more of their dedication to sourcing from audited and approved farms.
5. Petcurean (Canada / International)
Petcurean is behind the commercial Go! Solutions line of cat and dog food, but did you know they had a certified organic and sustainably-sourced line of eco-friendly cat food known as GATHER™?
Who is Petcurean? Petcurean is a proud Canadian-based pet food manufacturer. Their products feature fresh and natural recipes ranging from unique/special diet, market-fresh recipes, to certified organic nutrition. (Check dog & cat options on Amazon).
The GATHER™ line of organic cat food by Petcurean is supposed to meet strict criteria for sustainability which are based upon five core aspects, including:
1.) human animal welfare 2.) sustainable water use 3.) protecting farmer and rancher livelihoods 4). preserving natural resources 5.) preserving biodiversity
They go next-level to provide you with their “Producer Profiles” detailing exactly who and where the fish, poultry, or produce comes from.
Moreover, Petcurean understands that eco-friendly doesn’t end with sustainable sourcing and agriculture. They also feature a 30% plant-based bag to reduce their carbon paw print. A+!
6. Halo (USA / International) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
A recognizable and popular brand of organic, eco-friendly, and ethical cat food. Halo must be doing something right! Even Lil’ Bub is on board the Halo party! Let’s find out more.
Who is Halo? Halo caters to the holistic and natural dog and cat food industry. They make a discerned choice and effort to only use GAP-certified humane and USDA organic ingredients in their OrigiNative® sourcing line of pet food (See all recipes on Amazon).
As stipulated on Halo’s website, their goal is to “deliver the healthiest, most bioavailable and holistic whole food nutrition possible.” Equally, they endeavor to preserve and encourage sustainable and humane farming practices.
“People, Pets, Planet. Our partners help us steward the Earth.” -Halo
Halo does not have an organic certification. Instead, like Open Farm, they choose to deliver on their certified humane promise. Doing so ensures humane treatment animals and the environment throughout the entire life-cycle process.
7. Ziwi Peak ⭐⭐⭐⭐
If you live in Australia or NZ, you’ll be happy to hear you guys have your own options for eco-friendly cat food.
The ZIWI company is 100% family owned. All products are sourced and manufactured in NZ, but they export to over 19 countries. They also work closely with the New Zealand government to ensure (and according to them, exceed) government regulatory standards for sustainable agriculture and farming practices.
The quality of their ZiwiPeak line of cat and dog foods is at the top of the chain, thanks to their dedication to the environment and fresh nutrition for your pet.
8. Acana & Orijen / Champion Pet Foods (Canada / International) ⭐⭐⭐
Acanda and Orijen are probably the two more familiar or recognizable brands of premium natural cat food. Let’s take a closer look!
Who is Champion Pet Foods (Acana & Orijen)? Acana and Orijen are two lines of biologically-appropriate dog and cat food owned by Champion Pet Foods. They operate and source their recipes from their headquarters in Alberta, Canada but are available in over 80 countries. (Check Orijen on Amazon).
In 2017, they won the Eco Excellence Award in the pet food category.
Whether you buy Acana and Orijen, Champion Pet Foods promises fresh regional ingredients that are biologically appropriate for your pet in ratios that mirror their natural, wild diet.
Many “misallegations” in recent years have been placed on Champion Pet Foods, however, there was no product recalls. As far as transparency goes, you can see Champion Pet Foods seem to be making a comeback. A quick tour of their website and you can identify their trusted farmers, ranchers, and fishers in a series of slides.
What we would like to see is more certifications for their audited partnerships and dedication to preserving the environment through sustainable agriculture.
BONUS: Notable Natural Cat Food Brands
There are additional cat food brands featuring better, more eco-friendly alternatives to cat food.
I want to mention them here even though they didn’t get their own snippet because they do a much better job at sourcing high-quality, inspected ingredients.
- The Honest Kitchen – 100% human grade pet food
- Newman’s Own – offers only organic canned cat food
- Evanger’s – features hand packed pet food using raw ingredients which cook inside the can
- Raw Advantage – raw organic dog and cat food (will do a more in-depth look!!)
- Fresh Pet – natural, fresh-refrigerated pet food
- Nature’s Variety – raw, natural, grain-free recipes
- Blue Buffalo – natural, holistic dog and cat food
- Taste of the Wild – wild, grain-free recipes
These cat food brands didn’t get in the top 8 because they didn’t satisfy our eco-friendly checklist.
However, they are far better green alternatives to Nestlé/Purina, Whiskas/Iam’s (Mars Inc.), Hill’s (Colgate-Palmolive), Meow Mix (Smucker Company), etc..
Eco-Friendly Cat Food: Yum VS. Yuck!
Next, choosing an eco-friendly cat food is a part of being a conscientious cat owner. Therefore, it’s important to know what to check for when shopping for sustainable cat food alternatives.
🌱 YUM! Here’s what to look for in eco-friendly cat food:
Certified Humane or Organic?
At the very least, choose cat food brands that are either certified humane or feature certified organic ingredients.
Organic usually means less processed foods and no pesticides or hormones. The organic process also takes into consideration soil quality, sustainable agricultural methods, and inspection control, etc.
Certified humane also takes into consideration the above, but also ensures a respectful and humane life-cycle for animals raised, farmed, or caught.
MSC Certification for Sustainable Fishing
Fishing is extremely detrimental to the environment. Combat unsustainable fishing practices by buying cat foods with MSC Certification. The label certifies the fish in your cat food was sustainably sourced!
Transparency / Certification
Look for VISIBLE certification. Don’t just buy into what’s stated on the website. Look for USDA organic, Certified Humane, GAP Certification, or MSC Certification labels on your pet food.
If possible, buy from brands who focus on locally sourcing their products. This will reduce “carbon miles” and have a better impact on the environment.
Most pet foods don’t have recyclable bags, which is crazy to think about how much waste that produces. But there are a handful of companies beginning to use compostable bags, or even partnering with recycling programs like TerraCycle.
Public Statement/Description for Sustainable, Ethical, Responsibly Sourced Ingredients
It’s easy to think a brand is eco-friendly when they use key terms like “responsibly sourced”. But buyer beware, remember to look for certification for humanely raised, farmed, and fished ingredients.
🤢 YUCK! Here’s what to AVOID in cat food:
When shopping for cat food, consider your cat’s nutritional needs. But don’t stop there!
Consider the environmental impact of your choice. Shop local when you can. Buy organic or certified humane. Do your research.
- Avoid foods with meat by-products, fillers, artificial flavors.
- Avoid beef as it’s an unsustainable choice. Opt for chicken/poultry proteins instead.
- Don’t buy fish products without checking for the sustainable fishing label (MSC Certified).
- Stay clear from huge pet food companies, like Nestlé. They are far from certified humane or locally-sourcing their ingredients.
- Avoid foods with “meal” “by-product” corn, gluten, or carbs as the first 1-5 ingredients.
What’s in Commerical Cat Food?
So, as you might guess, cheap commercial cat foods don’t concern themselves with their environmental footprint.
Moreover, low-quality commercial cat food has some concerning ingredients, if you haven’t noticed.
It only takes a half-assed effort to check the ingredients label on your cat food to see if poor-quality ingredients are being used.
These products are easily-identifiable and are not environmentally-friendly OR healthy for your pet (think Meow Mix, for example).
Did you know? Meat meals and/or by-products are the slump from slaughter houses not fit for human consumption. These “rendering factories” are where all the carcass of the dead animal gets churned, together with other dead animal meat. Studies by the EPA even reveal that dead shelter animals are sent to these rendering factories to get added to the mix. Meaning, your cat is literally eating other dead cats and dogs.. ?!?
The Truth About Rendering Factories
Meat rendering plants, are they ethical? There are two points of view here.
For one, rendering plants use all the dead animal parts humans can’t consume. In this sense, meat rendering factories are recycling meat for a new purpose: pet food. Without them, would the dead animal carcasses just pile up in a landfill?
On the other hand, rendering plants churn out quite the disgusting mash of dead animals. With reports revealing that even euthanized cats and dogs from animal shelters are used, it makes the thought of rendering factories almost unethical and immoral.
Who’s to decide? What do you think about rendering meat factories? Are they actually eco-friendly in a way?
Can My Cat Be a Vegetarian?
For all of you wondering – no, your cat cannot and should not be fed a vegetarian or vegan diet. Why?
Unlike dogs who can receive their nutrition via plant protein, cats are obligate carnivores. Cats require a meat-based diet.
That being said, it would be risky and dangerous to feed your feline a vegetarian or vegan diet simply because you chose that path in your personal lifestyle.
Because I couldn’t have written this article without using the following resources, I want to include them here so you can also check them out.
The FDA Recalls Page: You can check which pet food brands have had recalls in the past months or years.
Producers with Certified Humane Certification: This link is for checking who is registered Certified Humane® and who is no longer not. This certification is NOT the same as the GAP Certification.
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Sustainable Fishing: If you wish to learn more about this third-party organization dedicated to sustainable fishing.
Final Thoughts: 8 Ethical & Eco-Friendly Cat Foods
Whew! Thanks so much for your commitment to improving our pet’s lives AND the planet by researching eco-friendly cat foods.
In conclusion, I just want to stipulate that every small step counts! Whether it’s with sustainable cat food, or transitioning toward a sustainable cat litter, or using eco-friendly cat toys, or scratching posts, it all matters and makes a difference.
Lastly, if you know of an ethical cat food brand that we didn’t mention here – please let us know! We’ll update the article as we learn more.
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