Keep your cat safe with these eco-friendly cat toys

February 5, 2020 by  
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Veterinarian Lynn Bahr’s coworkers laugh at her when they see her mouth full of cat toy. “When I’m designing toys, I put everything in my mouth. If my cat is going to chew on it, or my dog is going to chew on it, I’m going to chew on it first. I feel it, I taste it. I just really pretend that I’m a cat.” The pet product industry has long thought that dog owners would shell out for products, but cat owners were stingier. “Cats have always been sort of a second-class citizen and not much thought has been put into products for them. Now, that’s changing,” says Bahr, founder of Dezi & Roo  pet  product company. As cat product lines become more robust, people are growing more concerned about exactly what’s in those toys. The demand for safe, eco-friendly products is growing. Dangerous ingredients for cat toys Unfortunately, no US regulatory body is responsible for tracking  toxins  in pet toys. This means manufacturers are expected to self-regulate. With many pet toys made overseas, it’s even harder to rely on any standards. Polyvinyl chloride  (PVC) is used to make auto parts, pipes, polyvinyl flooring, raincoats, shower curtains, shoes and pet toys, among other common products. And while you probably wouldn’t chew on your shower curtain, your cat may be chomping PVC toys. Manufacturers often use  phthalates — linked to liver and kidney troubles — to soften toys and make them more flexible. PVC is nicknamed “the poison plastic” for its unfortunate tendency to leach ingredients. Bisphenol-A (BPA), another common plastic ingredient, has been linked to cancer and endocrine disruption. Lead, a neurotoxin, is still used in some imported toys, especially those that are painted. Eco-friendly, non-toxic cat toys So, what should you look for in the ultimate cat toy? Something safe for cats and that won’t cause environmental harm or clog a  landfill  for the next millennium. Instead of a plastic ball, check out  Billy Bob the Cork Ball . Made by From the Field pet product company, these balls are marinated in primo  catnip . Dharma Dog/Karma Cat  toys from Distinctly Himalayan are handmade by women’s collectives in Nepal , crafted from Himalayan and New Zealand wool and non-toxic dyes. Their packaging is also eco-friendly. Choose from adorable toys shaped like octopi, dolphins, snakes and starfish. Strictly Himalayan also manufactures cute pet beds and baskets. The baskets are made from seagrass and water hyacinth sourced in Vietnam. “Being sustainable and fair trade is actually very serious for us, and has been for decades,” Jennifer Neufeld, co-owner of Distinctly Himalayan, said. “We’re members of the Fair Trade Federation and Pet Sustainability Coalition.” Etsy  has a whole department of green cat toys. This is the place to get something really special to express your cat’s personality. You can get handmade fabric  sushi  rolls, zombie sharks and pot leaves stuffed with catnip here. About half of  Dezi & Roo’s line is eco-friendly. You can choose little felt clouds with stuffing made from post-consumer and BPA-free plastic bottles, or paper ring toys. The Hide and Sneak — which resembles a rectangular tube made from paper sacks with cardboard entries at each end — is a top seller. Bahr recommends dusting toys with silver vine, a catnip alternative. Dezi & Roo processes the silver vine in the US, then tests it for mold, yeast,  salmonella  and E. coli to ensure your pet’s safety. Making your own cat toys is another excellent option, allowing you to reuse and  recycle  things around the house. Holly Tse and her cat Furball wrote  Make Your Own Cat Toys  so other cats could have endless entertainment while reducing their carbon paw prints. Their cat crafts use old clothes and items from your recycling bin. Bahr says a good homemade toy can be as simple as wadding up some paper, dusting it with silver vine, and throwing it across the room for your cat to chase. DIY cat toy concerns Before you get too creative with your recycled toys, remember that cats often swallow things they shouldn’t. Part of the reason is just how they’re made. Those adorable sandpaper tongues are covered with backward-facing barbs designed for grooming. But those barbs can act like Velcro, forcing Kitty to swallow something before they — or you — know it. This can lead to illness, expensive vet visits, and death. So, tempting as it is to let your cat play with fun and inexpensive things like dental floss, rubber bands and hair ties, keep these easily-swallowed items away from them. Also, if your cat seems low-energy or has diarrhea after eating catnip, you might have got a moldy batch, or catnip treated with  pesticides . Find a reliable source of regular, US-grown catnip. Play with your cat Cats love to play. “I think the thing that really propels me is how many owners say their cats don’t play,” Bahr says. She blames a lack of good products, rather than your cat being too mature. This is especially tragic if you have an indoor cat. Instead of dooming your cat to life as a couch potato, try buying or making some new,  environmentally friendly toys for them. Also, supervised play is best. It bonds you with your cat, and if Kitty starts chewing up something they shouldn’t, you’ll be there to intervene. Via Lynn Bahr , Earth Easy and Pet MD Images via Teresa Bergen and Distinctly Himalayan

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Keep your cat safe with these eco-friendly cat toys

Sophisticated, sustainable lakeside cabin showcases the best of Nordic minimalism

February 5, 2020 by  
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With its black-oiled timber cladding, angular zinc roofs and minimalist interior , the 3-Square House by Helsinki-based Studio Puisto is the epitome of Nordic design. Located on the waterfront and surrounded by a dense spruce forest, the home’s walls are punctuated with large vertical windows to create a seamless connection between the interior and the stunning natural surroundings. Located on the waterfront of Lake Saimaa in southeastern Finland, the 3-Square House is surrounded by idyllic nature. Tucked into a lush spruce tree forest mere steps away from the water, the home’s location serves as a peaceful refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life. Related: Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets To make the most out of its incredible setting, the home is comprised of three interconnecting cubes. The main block contains the living, sleeping and dining areas, while the smaller ones contain the sauna, utility facilities and garage. All three of the cubes feature an oil-painted black timber facade and are covered in a series of dark zinc roofs that extend in various angles. Built on a slightly sloped hill, the front of the home is elevated slightly from the back of it. The interior living space follows a minimalist design , with dark wood flooring and honey-toned walnut paneling on the walls. Built-in sofas and a concealed kitchen add to the minimal atmosphere. Within the living areas, there is a continuous flow from one space to the next, with no traditional division into separate rooms. To keep the spaces nice and toasty year-round, a geothermal heat system was installed that lets heat radiate from underneath the floor. The windows are also electrically heated. To create an unobstructed connection between the outdoors and the interior spaces, large vertical glass panels run the length of the main building. Wrapping around one side of the home is an open-air deck, complete with a sunken tub for enjoying a little bit of stargazing. Various walking paths lead from the deck to the waterfront. + Studio Puisto Photography by Marc Goodwin via Studio Puisto

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Can vegan pet food be good for the planet and your pet?

December 20, 2018 by  
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Does your pup hover at your feet when the smell of bacon or steak wafts in his direction? It’s no surprise, considering the ingredients dogs are used to receiving and the evolution of the species. Every bag of food at the pet store promotes meat as its main ingredient. From chicken to lamb to bison, meat reigns supreme in the pet food world. Now it is coming to light that maybe it would benefit the planet and our pets if we moved to vegan food to fulfill their dietary needs. But is a plant-based diet both good for your pup and our Earth? Many companies are jumping into the plant-based pet food market. Celebrities are shining a light on the irony of providing shelter for animals and then feeding them animal-based foods. More and more people are beginning to question whether feeding meat-based foods is an unnecessary form of animal cannibalism. Does it make sense to rescue animals like rabbits in one effort and then raise them for slaughter in another? Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for pets A potential issue with meat-based pet food is the consumption of meat in a world already stressed by the burdens that cattle and other livestock industries contribute to the planet. When you consider that animals drink water and also consume foods that require water to grow, the effects are staggering, and it explains why many vegans have chosen a meat-free diet. In addition to gouging water resources, animal production requires massive amounts of land. Opponents of the meat industry argue that all forms of fruits and vegetables produce more consumable food per acre and use significantly fewer resources. Some estimates report that eliminating meat from the pet food market could reduce the environmental impact by over 25 percent. Of course, there is also the ethical component in the mix. Ask any PETA member and they will scream out that raising animals entirely for the purpose of butcher is inhumane. Plus, there are well-documented issues about how these animals are treated during their short life cycles with little room to move, limited access to the outdoors and an inability to follow their instincts. Related: This sustainable dog house has a green roof and solar-powered fan to keep cool Many animals are already vegan . Think cows, hamsters and elephants, for starters. So we know that humans and some animals can survive without meat. But does that apply to our domestic friends, too? The question has been asked, “Is it healthy for animals to go vegan?” This is where science and veterinarians weigh in. In short, the answer is yes, cats and dogs can be perfectly healthy eating a vegan diet. Like humans, the key is acquiring the right nutritional balance. We associate meat with protein , but vegetables can fill that requirement just as well in many ways. There are exceptions, however. For example, some vets argue that cats and dogs do not absorb vitamin D from the sun and need to get it from their food. Specifically, dogs and humans can absorb D2 from foods, but cats need D3, only available in animal proteins. An inadequately balanced diet can result in a deficiency of minerals, nutrients, vitamins, amino proteins (especially taurine) and essential fatty acids. A shortage of these dietary needs can lead to irreversible medical issues. As the premium pet food market explodes, manufacturers are finding ways to make sure that food meets the nutritional needs of our pets. That means that many products spend time in a lab before being added to food. This food technology is not new. Scientists have worked toward meat substitutes in our food markets for many years. The advantage of transferring this technology over to animal products is that the consumer is a whole lot less picky. Where humans require a smell and texture similar to the meat variety, pets don’t care about tactile pleasure. That means that pet food produced with the help of a lab is faster and less expensive to make. It also means that scientists can carefully balance the nutrients in the food, even if the ingredients don’t provide them upfront. The bottom line is that pets need specific nutrients, regardless of what form they come in. These needs are well-backed by science, so everyone can agree that if the nutritional profile is being met, then it’s absolutely healthy for your pet to sustain a vegan-based diet. The problem is getting a guarantee that your pet food selection in fact meets those needs. Pet owners should not make the decision lightly. After all, modern day pets are members of the family, and we want to provide them the best care we can. When considering the switch to vegan pet food, there are several things to keep in mind. Make sure the food has been thoroughly tested through trials and has met the requirement outlined by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). Discuss the switch with your veterinarian; not only are they trained in animal diets, but they’ve seen the results of a poor diet and can guide you toward the best combination for your pet. Get a preliminary or baseline blood test for your pet, and take them back in for another test after six months. Never feed a vegan diet to puppies or kittens, or any animal that you plan to breed, as these groups have additional nutritional needs. While many see this as an opportunity to significantly reduce the carbon footprint from meat production and offer an alternative to the use of animals in animal food, others maintain the believe that there is no substitute for the real thing. Either way, the market is providing options for consumers on both sides of the aisle. Via Popular Science Images via Ish Ka , Mimzy and Shutterstock

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New wall-mounted furniture suits people and their cats

March 23, 2016 by  
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These incredible doghouses are funky palaces for your four-legged friends

February 4, 2016 by  
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Officials accused of criminal cover-up over Flint water crisis in Wednesday House hearing

February 4, 2016 by  
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The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a heated hearing yesterday that grilled officials on their lack of response to the Flint drinking water crisis —with Governor Snyder notably absent. Not surprisingly, testifying officials tossed blamed back and forth during the hours-long hearing in attempt to evade attempts to pin down responsibility. Despite the ricocheting blame, critics were steadfast in their accusation of a criminal cover-up. Read the rest of Officials accused of criminal cover-up over Flint water crisis in Wednesday House hearing

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Skoda unveils a seat belt to keep your dog safe on the road

July 20, 2015 by  
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Most of us wouldn’t think twice about buckling up ourselves or our kids, but a AAA survey found that only 16 percent of dog owners use a restraint to keep their pup safe on the road. Fortunately, some automakers are working to change that, and Czech automaker Skoda just became one of the first car manufacturers to offer a dog-specific seat belt as an option on their vehicles. Read the rest of Skoda unveils a seat belt to keep your dog safe on the road

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Floating Fish Dome lets fish swim above the surface of water

June 9, 2015 by  
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The good people at Velda have designed a product that all pond owners cannot (and, frankly, should not) live without. Behold the Floating Fish Dome . 31-inches and $200 of plastic is just what your koi need to experience life outside the grind of swimming around the pond all day. Read the rest of Floating Fish Dome lets fish swim above the surface of water Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: floating fish dome , koi accessories , koi pond , pond accessories , pond dome , velda

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Samsung’s $30,000 Dream Doghouse gives your posh pooch a hot tub and treadmill

March 12, 2015 by  
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Samsung  has unveiled a $30,000 two-room “Dream Doghouse” that provides your thoroughly-pampered pooch with a hot tub, astroturf-covered treadmill, paw-operated food dispenser, velour upholstery and a wall-mounted tablet. Designed by a team of 12 architects, the doghouse “looks sleek and modern, featuring the kind of tech the discerning dog of the future will need,” explained Samsung in a press release. What more could a doggie desire? Read the rest of Samsung’s $30,000 Dream Doghouse gives your posh pooch a hot tub and treadmill Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: cainine , crufts , dog , dogchitecture , doghouse , dream doghouse , future doghouse , kennel , pet accessories , pet architecture , pet health , pet technology , samsung , treadmill

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Samsung’s $30,000 Dream Doghouse gives your posh pooch a hot tub and treadmill

Let Your Dog Take a Bite Out of Boredom With This Eco-Friendly Puzzle Toy

October 28, 2014 by  
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Elegance and a balance of form and function aren’t normally the attributes one would normally associate with a dog toy , but this little gem isn’t your average ball. The Odin , named after the inventor’s own dog, is a toy that engages dogs both physically and cognitively, while looking sleek enough to display in the chicest condo. Made of eco-friendly materials , this minimal design belies its fun nature: there are several different slots inside it for hiding treats, and your puppy pal  needs to play with it and work with it to win them. Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Read the rest of Let Your Dog Take a Bite Out of Boredom With This Eco-Friendly Puzzle Toy Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: dog toy , dog toy kickstarter , dog toys , eco-friendly dog toy , kickstarter , Odin , Odin puzzle , puzzle dog toy , puzzle toy , puzzle toys , The Odin , toy , toys

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