Green treats mean clean teeth (Day 160)…

August 7, 2007


My cat is excrutiatingly particular about her treats, but after the recent pet food scares I’ve been even more particular about which brands I’ll let her have. She’s always liked her Temptations, preferring the crunchy outside and chewy inside to the more uniform consistency of Pounce treats, and one of her all-time favourites was Pup-Peroni, which is meant for dogs but she goes bonkers for anything bacon-flavoured.

But Soph is getting older now — she’s about middle age in cat years — and I wanted to start giving her something healthier.

I stumbled upon these treats called Feline Greenies, and thought their Nantucket Bay Scallop flavour sounded especially posh — not to mention the fact that the ingredients are all natural and they keep teeth nice and clean — so I grabbed the packet and brought it back for her.

At first, she wasn’t so sure what to make of them. Everyone says cats are colour blind but I swear she could tell they were green, which led to a lot more sniffing and head bobbing then usual. Finally, though, she took the plunge and ate one.

Success! She’s officially hooked, and I can breathe a sigh of relief that she won’t end up keeled over at the vets with traces of rat poison in her intestinal tract anytime soon.

There is one problem with this product, however: the packaging. If anyone knows of any stores that sell cat treats in bulk, or at least ones that come in recyclable material, please point me in the right direction!
Image courtesy of this website

My undies get the cold shoulder (Day 159)…

August 6, 2007


For years now I’ve washed most of my clothes in cold water, but if I was ever cleaning something really icky — like the bath mat Sophie just pooped on, for instance — I would often use hot water. Somehow, it just got into my head that a hotter temperature would kill off more germs. As well, for whatever reason, the “delicates” cycle on my machine uses lukewarm water instead of cold, perhaps because it’s thought to be more gentle on finicky fabrics like silk.

But enough of this — cold water is just fine, especially seeing as it has plenty of detergent swirling around in it anyway. My precious unmentionables can suck it up and go in a regular cycle (at low water level, of course) with the rest of my clothes and warm up on the drying rack later. And the bath mat? Well, I’ll just have to convince myself it’ll get as clean as it did before… maybe I’ll throw Sophie in there with it.

I’m a fan of fans (Day 155)…

August 2, 2007


Today, in Toronto, it was 38 degrees, one of those days when it feels like you’re working up a sweat just by breathing. Without air-conditioning, it was pretty stifling in my apartment, and Sophie was none too pleased either — this was demonstrated by her shedding everywhere, then eating the clumps of fur later as though they’d turned into food, which meant she’d be coughing up hairballs everywhere. Then she decided to pee on the living room rug, poop on the bed and save a little extra where that came from for the doormat. Ah, the companionship of pets.

The thing is, Canadians are very reluctant to complain about hot weather because we spend so much of the year whining about the cold and snow. Indeed, if it were sunny and hot like this all year round, I really wouldn’t kick up much of a fuss. In the mean time, however, I need to find a way to beat the heat, and when I was in Madrid, I noticed most women carried around these beautiful paper fans. You could buy them on practically every street corner for just €2 (is that a Euro sign? Did I press the right key?), so I got one and brought it back home with me.

Now, I know it’s not made from recycled paper and it may or may not come from China, but there weren’t really many other options other than making my own, and I’m just not that crafty.

And while using a hand-held fan in itself isn’t much of a green change, the fact that I’m no longer going to use my electric fan is.

Photo courtesy of this artsy fartsy site

The pick of the litter liners (Day 150)…

July 28, 2007

I spent forever trying to find eco-friendly cat litter tray liners, perhaps ones made from corn that would eventually break down in my new compost bin (seeing as I’m already using a corn-based product in there), and came up totally empty-handed.

But because I’m desperate, I’m still going to lay claim to at least choosing what I think is the greenest option when it comes to this product.

Of all the brands on the shelf, I looked at the packaging involved, the quantity of liners per box and where they were manufactured, and eventually decided on Van Ness (OK, I may have also chosen it based on the similarity to my name).

They are made of plastic, but they’re simple (I didn’t choose the draw-string one) and come in a recyclable cardboard box, and that’s good enough for now. Next time, however, I may just choose to go without a liner altogether, because I truly don’t think anything could possibly be a bigger waste of time than shopping for cat litter tray liners.

A new ritual for my cat’s victuals (Day 107)…

June 15, 2007


After the Menu Foods recall and various other pet-food scares, I started to worry about what my little Sophie was eating. Her pooping schedule has also been somewhat irregular (whose isn’t these days, really?), which means more “accidents” on the bathmat, bed and living room rug… never on the hard surfaces, of course. And her dander is getting worse, too.

I tried a couple different vet-recommended brands, some with more fibre than others, then tried an organic one that she refused to touch. I kept scanning the shelves at my local pet store, reading through ingredients lists for any sketchy animal by-products. Finally, I found one, Nutra MAX Cat in roasted chicken flavour (the free-range rule doesn’t apply here, I’m afraid), which is formulated for older, indoor cats and promises to improve digestion and curb dander. The package — which was paper, not plastic — boasted of all-natural ingredients, so I went ahead and got it.

Success! She wolfed it down. But then I went to the company’s website and started panicking when I saw they’d had to recall a couple of their wet cat foods because of the Menu Foods thing. They insist none of their dry foods contain anything to worry about (like, say, melamine), but still, it bothers me that ingredients get sourced to begin with from dodgy places like the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., when they could be obtained locally.

I’ll commit to feeding my kitty the most natural, safe and if possible organic food from now on, but if anyone has any suggestions for brands that don’t taste like crap — seriously, I think Sophie is part French because she’d sooner sit by her bowl and starve to death than eat an uninteresting meal — feel free to comment below. It’s hard, though. I mean, just look at all these brands the FDA lists that may be contaminated. Perhaps the only truly safe thing to do is make it myself.

A needle in a hayfever stack (Day 83)…

May 22, 2007


Ironically, despite my newfound love for green, I also happen to be allergic to most of it: slightly to grass, pollen and a few trees, but especially to the plant seen above, the one with the ugliest name, ragweed.

Those who have allergies will be familiar with that pin prick test doctors do on your arm to determine sensitivities to everything from foods like soy and eggs to environmental things like mould and dust, and even animals like cats and dogs (they’ve somehow bottled cat and dog in liquid form and use an eyedropper to dispense them, which never ceases to creep me out).

The idea is that if more than a few millimetres of redness appears around where they prick your skin, you’re allergic to that substance.

Well, when they tested me for ragweed, my entire arm turned into one big, swollen rash. This means, not surprisingly, that come mid-August I either need to take five over-the-counter anti-histamines, like Reactine or Claritin, each day; or two to three prescription-strength pills; or … drumroll, please … Pollinex shots.

I think the most environmentally friendly option is the latter, as it creates the least amount of packaging and waste. It also is said to be the most effective, which means I shouldn’t need to buy any extra Visine or nasal sprays, and it leaves me all the more time to romp around the great outdoors and hug trees.

The .001 Mile Diet (Day 77)…

May 16, 2007

herb garden

It doesn’t get more local than my balcony, which I’ve just adorned with a cute little herb box full of mint (as I’m not chewing gum anymore), lemon balm (because I miss not having lemons), basil (risky, I know), swiss chard (even riskier) and an organic cherry tomato plant (totally not going to happen, I don’t know why I even bought it).

I got the wooden box and brackets from Home Depot and some soil from the corner store (I meant to get some Woop! but forgot), then planted away. Unfortunately, I have no idea what I’m doing; my thumbs are the opposite of green — so, basically, red. I have red thumbs. By the time I finally crammed all five plants in, there was dirt all over my arms, pants, my two chairs, the floor and surely on the balcony below me. Even my cat looked unimpressed (then again, cats always look unimpressed).

Anyway, feel free to comment below about how my herbs will never survive. I can handle it. In the mean time, however, when it comes to flavouring my home cooking, I’m officially restricting myself to using only these balcony bits and whatever other spices I still have in my pantry (let me check: dried oregano, cinnamon, celery seed, garam masala, fenugreek, turmeric, cayenne pepper and ground coriander … I like curry, OK?). The logic is that if I can grow it on my balcony, I don’t need to buy entire bushels of it from the grocery store, which have surely been driven there by truck.

But if any of them die, you’re going to have to cut me some slack and let me try again, maybe with something like parsley instead of a friggin’ tomato plant. And I’ll gladly take any suggestions for which herbs and vegetables thrive the best in confined, smoggy and mostly shady places.