gray cat beside plastic free grocery bag

If you’re considering taking the journey towards becoming a more sustainable cat owner, then you’ll know one thing keeps cropping up: Plastic! 

And for good reason too. If you’re keen for your cat to live a more zero-waste lifestyle, or want to try and reduce your pet’s carbon paw-print, then reducing the amount of plastic in your kitty’s life is definitely the way to go! 

However, plastic is sneaky! It’s everywhere from plastic food pouches, to plastic food dishes to plastic toys – it’s pretty hard to avoid. 

So we’re here to help, with our top 4 recommendations for how to reduce plastic as a pet parent. In this blog we cover:

  1. Plastic free food options
  • Using brands with recyclable or compostable packaging 
  • Refilling existing containers at packaging free stores
  • Buying in bulk
  • Homemade cat food
  1. Plastic free cat litter
  • Eco-friendly litter boxes
  • How to dispose of cat litter without plastic bags through compositing
  1. Amazing eco-friendly cat toy ideas
  • Reusing and repurposing existing items
  • Buying toys made with eco-friendly materials
  1. Plastic free accessories and supplies
  • Which plastic-alternative materials to look for
  • Great options for eco-friendly cat supplies

But first, let’s consider why so many pet parents I know, or meet through this blog, are trying to reduce their waste. Why is it so important?

Why Should Pet Parents Reduce Their Plastic Use?

white gray cat with biodegradable fork in mouth

“It is our collective and individual responsibility… To preserve and tend to the world in which we all live. ”

Dalai Lama

Yoda brings us so much joy and happiness. The laughter at his goofiness, the purrs and cuddles on a lazy morning together, the way he helps us slow down and appreciate the world around us. 

Yet as we traveled with Yoda around the world, we became more and more aware of how our choices for his care impacted the world. Living in a van, there was no hiding from the amount of waste we – as a family – produced. More importantly, it emphasized to us exactly how much waste was created just from one small fur-baby!

So whilst Yoda adds such a positive impact to our lives, we realized that we had a responsibility both for his care and minimizing our negative impact on the planet.

This is why I did some digging, to work out how we could make a difference. And it turns out that reducing plastic is a great way to help. This is because:

  • While some more recent plastics can degrade, most standard plastics are not compostable. 
  • This means these materials can take around 1,000 years to decompose.
  • These excess plastics can then harm our wonderful wildlife, either by being ingested or by getting tangled in them.

Learning this, I was determined to find ways to reduce and remove plastic from both mine and Yoda’s world. But that doesn’t mean we changed overnight. Of course, we didn’t drop all our possessions and became perfect, plastic-free monks overnight – no sir-ee! 

We all need certain things to have a good quality of life, and so do our cats.

Here at Fluffy Kitty we fully believe making more sustainable choices as cat owners isn’t about depriving ourselves (or Yoda!). Instead, for us, it’s about making small choices every day to spread that all-important positivity.

And one of the easiest ways to do that is to focus on one step at a time. Whether it’s choosing to buy an eco-friendly toy, using eco-friendly litter, or writing a post like this so other owners can do the same.

We thought we’d share some of our favorite plastic-free options for cat owners, so you guys can join in too!

So, without further ado, here are 4 ways to reduce plastic for you and your adorable kitty.

How to Reduce Your Cat’s Plastic:

1. Food

If there’s one thing our pets love to do – it’s eating! But making our cat’s food more eco-friendly requires a little thought and creativity. Here are your options:

  • Choose Tins 

Sadly, most cat food pouches are plastic, and not recyclable either. So choosing to purchase cat food tins can be a quick way to reduce your furry friend’s plastic waste. Some brands even do half sized tins if you need smaller portions too!

You can also invest in reusable tin caps or clinging wrap made from natural materials, to help keep any leftovers fresh in the fridge.

  • Choose better sacks

If tins don’t appeal to you, try and find a brand that sells their food in recyclable packaging. Here’s a few we love:

  1. Open Farm – are partnered with TerraCycle, creating the first nationwide recycling pet food bag.
  2. Petcurean – has a line called “GATHER™”, which is a great environmentally-friendly alternative that uses 30% plant-based bags.
  3. Caru – this brand offers cat food in BPA-free packaging and is made up of 70% paper!

If one of these brands of food suits your cat, why not see if you can buy it in bulk too? This will help to reduce the shipping and packaging needed.

If one of these brands of food suits your cat, why not see if you can buy it in bulk too? This will help to reduce the shipping and packaging needed.

  • Buy loose

Ever seen one of those bulk or zero waste stores in your neighborhood? Sometimes these stores offer the option to buy your fur-baby’s food in your own bags. I’ve found that some old-fashioned pet shops will often do this too!

  • Make your own

If you have the time, making your own homemade cat food is a great way to reduce all that plastic and excess packaging that comes with commercial food. It’s also kind on your wallet too!

Of course, it’s important to make sure a homemade diet will have everything your cat needs. We’ve got a full guide to DIY cat food here, complete with some handy recipes.

2. Litter

One of the biggest considerations for plastic free cats is their poop! 

How can we dispose of cat litter without plastic bags? How do I find a plastic free cat litter box? We’ve got you covered!

  • Better litter boxes
    • Stainless steel – while stainless steel boxes and scoops are more expensive, these beauties will literally last forever! Plus they won’t absorb that ammonia smell that plastic ones do.
    • Disposable boxes – brands like ECOPET now create boxes that are made from recycled paper, meaning they are compostable when they need replacing. We reviewed the Nature’s Miracle disposable litter box, and loved it! It’s super long-lasting and uses integrated baking soda to keep odors at bay. 
cat sniffing eco-friendly litter pellets from red litter box
  • Plastic-free cat litter 
    • Natural materials – look for natural cat litter that should come in a biodegradable form. Make sure to search for an eco-friendly option first. Here are our favorite natural options. 
    • Make your own – yes, it is possible! Follow our guide to make your own eco-friendly homemade cat litter.
    • Compostto avoid using plastic bags to transport your litter to landfills, why not try building a cat compost bin? Keep it away from your garden or veg patch, but use this video to build your own and let it break down over time.
    • Research – if you don’t have any space for compost, see if your local waste programs include a compost initiative that takes animal waste. You might be surprised!
    • Compostable bags – if you can’t compost, opt for bags made of vegetable matter that compost easily. 

3. Toys

Our cats love to play, and having things to chase and pounce on is a great way to keep our furballs healthy, happy and enriched. 

Yet one type of toy I really try to avoid are those made from plastic. Some can contain harmful toxins and BPA, not to mention they may eventually end up in landfill. 

Here are some creative ideas for plastic-free fun:

  • Repurpose – it’s super easy to make cat toys from old clothing. Just rip up an old t-shirt and attach it to some string. Yoda also loves playing with a simple cardboard box with some holes in it!
  • Second hand – thrift stores sometimes have amazing toys just waiting to be rehomed, especially around the holidays. Just be sure to give them a good clean to remove any scent before giving them to your cat. 
  • Eco-friendly – if you want to buy something special, here’s a guide to my favorite eco-friendly cat toys.

No matter what toys are made from, remember it’s always best to supervise your cat during play time. Just in case they decide to try and eat something they shouldn’t!

4. Plastic Alternative Materials

Whenever you are looking to introduce something new to your furball’s life, here are some of the plastic-free or plastic alternative materials to look out for:

  • Wood – sourced from sustainably managed forests, wood is a renewable resource. It can make great eco-friendly cat trees.
  • Natural fibers – ideal for toys and bedding, natural fibers like recycled/organic cotton, linen, hemp, wool, or bamboo are all able to degrade much easier than plastic.  
  • Ceramics – if fired with non-toxic glazes, pottery is a great option for food and water bowls. 
  • Cardboard – most cardboard is fully compostable and recyclable, plus it’s fun for cats to play in! Read this cardboard cat scratcher guide.
  • Stainless steel – is super long-lasting and durable, which means you can use it for a really long time.
  • Sisal – fantastic for playtime, Sisal rope is made entirely from plants and is a great scratching post material. 

Here are some of our favorite cat accessory options that are plastic-free, or use alternative materials that are kinder to the planet:

  • BowlsBecoBowl makes amazing products from waste plant fibers! They combine bamboo and rice husks to create dishwasher-friendly bowls that can be buried and composted. Wow!
  • Bamboo towels cats can be messy, so swapping out disposable towels for fast-drying bamboo is a great way to reduce plastic packaging and keep your pet areas hygienic. 
  • Cleaning spray – when those stains do happen, a reliable cleaner makes all the difference! Rocco & Roxie use natural enzyme bacteria to remove stains and eliminate bacteria. They offer the option to buy in bulk too, so you can just refill that original bottle without adding to the plastic or packaging in your life.
  • Charcoal Bags – these handy and reusable bags can help to keep your home smelling fresh, without using hundreds of plastic fragrances or candles. Crafted from essential oils and bamboo, this calming lavender one looks like a treat!
  • Beds – these natural merino wool beds make a cozy and natural sleeping spot for your cat. 
  • Collars – you can now buy collars made from recycled plastic too! When you’re looking for eco-friendly collars, it’s important to know that many still use a plastic buckle for an important safety feature, ensuring your cat is still safe to break free if needed. 
  • Grooming – Etsy has a range of cat shampoo bars that come without plastic bottles. Just be sure to test it on your cat’s skin for any reactions before investing in a bulk buy.

Final Thoughts – Plastic Free Cats?

Plastic waste is obviously a super complex issue. As with everything, there is no perfect solution, but we can totally do our bit as pet parents.

However, I think it’s equally as important to be kind to ourselves. So don’t go beating yourself up over not being “completely plastic free”.

I bet you’ve probably taken a ton of amazing steps already, and even just reading this post is one of them! And you should be proud of that, and every other step you’ve taken. Cause hey, as Lao Tzu said:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Lao Tzu

Eliminating every single bit of plastic in our lives is going to be pretty impossible, but I hope this post shows that there are still a few easy ways to reduce how much we use…pretty dramatically! 

So many of our amazing community members have already shared their top tips and helped us to find ways to make more of an impact on an individual level. I hope this post helps some of you too. 

If you’ve got any of your own plastic-free pet tips, share them below!

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The Fluffy Kitty

The Fluffy Kitty blog inspires cat owners around the world to live a more adventurous and eco-friendly life with their cats. Read more about our story on our about us page.

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