Furry, four-legged creatures enrich our lives with their unconditional love. Some people are looking to add a pet to the family, while others have a special furry family member in their household already. Whether you’re looking for a new pet or have one already, why not take some simple steps to make your pet healthier and more sustainable? Making small changes over time is less stressful than trying to change the world in one day. It’s easy to be green!

1) Adopt a Pet from a Shelter. Adopting a shelter cat or dog is the ultimate in sustainability and recycling. Oftentimes breeders are thinking of one goal: breed as many purebred animals as possible for income. Over the decades this has resulted in overbreeding, inbreeding, overcrowding, and lack of proper care of many animals. Instead of buying a dog or cat from a breeder, consider one of the unwanted animals in shelters across the US. Each day shelters are overrun with dogs and cats in need of a good home. Shelter animals make good pets! Why buy when you can adopt? Don’t forget the ID chip and pet tag!

2) Spay or neuter your pet. Thousands of puppies and kittens are born each day in the US, adding to the homeless pet population. Spaying and neutering your dog or cat helps them live longer, healthier lives while preventing unwanted puppies and kittens.

3) Contain your pets to protect them and native wildlife. Always keep your dog on a leash when outside, and keep your feline indoors. Cats are the biggest bird killers, surpassed only by habitat destruction. Even wind turbines don’t kill as many birds as cats. While you may dismiss cat-related bird-mortality rates as no big deal, domestic cats do have the advantage. Unlike wild predators, these feisty felines are well fed, well rested, and have built in weapons.

Indoor cats are safer and live longer due to the dangers of cars, predators, disease, and other hazards found outside. Consider a cat enclosure as a good way to compromise if kitty needs to feel the grass under her paws.

4) Be #1 in #2! Be sure to scoop pet poo into biodegradable poo bags. Pet feces can pollute water and spread diseases and parasites. For kitty, avoid clumping clay litter, which contains a silica dust and other chemicals that can get into kitty’s lungs and on her fur, which is bad for kitty. Eco-friendly cat litters made from newspaper, corn, or wheat are a safer, healthier alternative. Want to go a step further? Consider composting your pet’s poo in a pet waste composter. It biodegrades naturally and prevents that waste from heading to the landfill.

5) Use natural pet-care and cleaning products. Look for gentler, non-toxic options for washing your pets or cleaning up the occasional pet mess.

6) Pets are a long term commitment, choose wisely. Remember, that snuggly baby bunny or chick at Easter, or the puppy under the tree at Christmas will eventually grow from fun-sized to full-sized, along with the time and money needed to take care of them. Be sure that you’re ready to take on that commitment over the long term before taking the plunge.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll be on your way to sustainable pet ownership! Your pets, and Mother Nature, will thank you! For more information on sustainability, please view our Facebook page at


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