Posts Tagged ‘cats’

DIY: Make kitty litter bags from newspaper

Plastic bags are a precious commodity in my house. In the past few years, we’ve settled into the reusable bag groove and hardly ever miss a beat these days. Nothing changed when San Jose banned the bag at the beginning of this year. Our remaining plastic bags come from the odd produce bag (we don’t always remember to bring our reusables, and some things like green beans and cherries can’t really go in the bag loose), my mom (who likes to give me food and thinks I am too skinny — yes, she’s Asian), and bags that food came in (bread, potato chips, frozen vegetables).

We definitely don’t have enough for me to use one every day to clean Brie’s litter, so I came up with another solution a while ago: origami kitty litter bags. Oh yeah. Green, meet the ancient art of paperfolding.

A few years ago, I was really into origami. I think my crowning achievement may have been the two headed crane (two heads plus a tail and wings, made from a single square piece of paper). It’s still hanging from the mirror on Kevin’s car. The fold that I use for cat litter bags is traditionally known as a cup fold. It will actually hold water if you use sturdy paper and chug. But even better, it’s quick and easy, reuses materials, and biodegrades (or would, if you use non-clay cat litters and our landfills let things biodegrade). I find it especially satisfying to fold up an annoying politician’s photo and use it for cat excrement.

This is just about the simplest origami fold I know, and one of the most useful. Observe.

Step 1: Take a full sheet of newspaper. The San Francisco Chronicle is very close to square, which makes things easier. Notice the original vertical fold. We’ll need it later.

Step 2: Fold in half along the diagonal. You’ll notice that the top and side corners are slightly offset because the paper isn’t perfectly square.

Step 3: Bring the right corner up. This step requires a little eye-balling, but you’re basically looking for the bottom of the right corner to be parallel with the original vertical fold of the newspaper.

Step 4: Turn it over and bring the left corner up. You can adjust if things aren’t lining up well at this point.

Step 5: Fold down just the top layer. Turn it over and fold down the other side.

Done! You should now have a pocket in which to deposit all the lovely leavings of your favorite feline. Attention: this fold stays together best if you pull it wide apart (the mouth should look square or diamond shaped) while putting things in it. That locks everything into place.

Once you know what you’re doing (and this is by no means rocket science), it takes 5-10 seconds to make one, as long as the cat doesn’t come over and sit on your newspaper. (I sometimes leave out a sheet of extra newspaper just so the cat can sit on it and leave me alone.) On Sunday, the only day on which we get a newspaper, I sit down, pull out my least favorite sections, and make a stack of kitty litter bags for the week to come. Even if you don’t get a newspaper regularly, you probably have a neighbor who does and would be happy to share.

You won’t save the planet doing this, but if your plastic bag drawer is empty, it’s a reasonably green solution. Dog owners, I apologize, but I’ve got nothing for you.

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The power of community

Looking for a home in NYCThe past two days of my life have been a blur of stress, hope, and phone calls to random strangers. On Thursday night, I unwisely clicked on a Twitter link that took me to the Pets on Death Row page on Facebook. PoDR posts pictures and bios of cats who are scheduled to be put down at NYC Animal Care & Control. Some of them are sick with colds or other minor illnesses. Others are scared and stressed and are considered unadoptable.

Meet Kitty. She’s a pretty 6 year old calico who was surrendered by her family due to allergies. (Not relevant, but this seriously pisses me off — if you adopt an animal, you commit yourself to working around whatever issues come up, exactly like choosing to have a child.) She was labeled as having behavioral problems, though her former family described her as incredibly sweet, loving, and cuddly. She is absolutely scared out of her mind in this picture.

Kitty looks a lot like my first cat Naomi, who was my best friend throughout my teens and into my twenties. It wasn’t rational, but when I saw her photo, I knew I had to try my best to save her.  (This is another example of how we don’t necessarily choose the things we care about. Sometimes they choose us.)

It turns out that I know more people than I thought. I reached out to high school, college, and internet friends and pumped each friend for yet more NYC connections. I got up at 5 to call, email, and harangue no kill rescues in New York. I messaged experienced pet rescuers on FB. I finally got through to the friend of a friend of a friend who could possibly take Kitty and was able to get her reprieve extended, and then a rescue organization named Anjellicle Cats stepped in and put in a pull. As of this morning, Kitty is safe, and my stomach is slowly untying itself from the knots it’s been in.

I’m not a team type of person. I don’t particularly play well with others. I do not voluntarily reach out to anyone, and certainly I never expected to be asking for major favors from friends of friends of friends. But if I learned one thing through this experience (other than to not click on links to death row animals who are on the other side of the country), it was that a group of caring, determined people with a common goal can make more of a difference than I could alone. We saved just the life of one cat who didn’t deserve to die, but who knows what else we could do?

Today, I’m thinking this over with regard to the environmental problems we face. But mostly, I feel grateful this morning that one small calico cat is still in this world. May she make the most of her second chance.

My cat is greener than your baby.

I try to be a fairly respectful and tolerant individual, but sometimes I lose it when I hear women with a lot of kids bragging about how green they, their families, and their babies are. This post is my ‘Fawk You Friday’ (yup, it’s Tuesday; I suggest you deal with it) to all those smugly self-satisfied ‘green mommies’ and their designer organic onesies, eco-cupcake stands, recycled plastic sippy cups, and far too many babies. Wake up.

10 Ways in Which My Cat is Greener Than Your Baby

  1. Brie has reached her adult weight of around seven pounds. She will never become an average 164lb American woman who devours 6oolbs of dairy products or more each year.
  2. As an indoor cat, she uses sustainable Feline Pine that will neither leave mounds of plastic diapers or e coli in public washing machines. I admire the principle behind cloth diapers, but…eew.
  3. Brie requires minimal stuff. This equals major savings in plastic, raw materials, transportation fuels, and other such things. You: sippy cups, strollers, breast pumps, child seats, pacifiers, educational toys, teething rings, BPA-free bottles, bibs, walkers, onesies, booties, diaper bag. Me: litter box, litter scoop, kitty tree, food bowls, pet carrier.
  4. The cat satisfies my [minimal] maternal instincts at a fraction of the carbon footprint. Huge childfree win.
  5. The average lifespan for an indoor cat is around 15 years. The average lifespan for a human is 70+ years. Guess who will consume more?
  6. Brie has never taken a single tub bath or shower, leading to gallons of water savings every day.
  7. She will need, on average, two to four car trips per year. The amount of gasoline expended on her behalf will be minimal.
  8. Brie is a master reuser of aluminum foil, crinkly packaging, bubble wrap, and twine. The best toys in life are, apparently, free.
  9. Brie creates minimal laundry, for considerable water and energy savings over her lifetime.
  10. Kitty is spayed. She will not contribute to feline overpopulation. Her carbon footprint ends with her. Most parents can’t say the same about their children.
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