Zero Waste Cats


Meet Kar and Toffel. Their names, when transliterated into French, mean "Pomme de Terre." In other words, meet Po and Tato.

They could be zero-waste, but I was overly indulgent with them as kittens and now they don't respect my life choices. I tried Swheat Scoop litter and cooking their food myself; they went on a hunger strike and Swheat Scoop made them (and me) vomit (was I eating it?), so we switched to bulk silicone litter from Truffaut or Gwendog. The flushable litter biodegrades in a month (for a reusable litter option in France, click here). We use the plastic litter box they came with, and when it needs replacing, I'll get a stainless steel hotel pan from Les Halles to match the stainless scoop I already use. Meanwhile, I scrub the box with baking soda, then vinegar, weekly.


Bulk cat foods seem unhealthy and gross. Here are recipes I tried for homemade cat food (all foods can be stored in the refrigerator three days; add nutritional yeast for flea control):
Ground beef 85% lean 15% fat, crumbles, cooked, pan-browned + sweet potato, baked in skin without salt. Pan-brown ground beef in a pan until fully cooked. Drain excess fat. Bake sweet potato in the oven without any added salt. Cut sweet potato into small pieces. Mix the beef and sweet potato and serve.
Chicken breast, meat only, without salt + sweet potato. Bake chicken and sweet potato in the oven without any added salt.  Cut sweet potato into small pieces and mix well.
White potatoes with flesh + chicken breast. Scrub well without soap or vegetable cleansers. Bake chicken and potato in oven without any added salt. Cut into small pieces, mix, and serve. 
Atlantic salmon, wild caught, or Coho + sweet potato. Bake wild caught Atlantic or Coho salmon and sweet potato in oven without salt. Cut into small amounts and mix well.
Based on advice from a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, I used twice the amount of protein than carbs and eliminated oil and supplements, using meat drippings instead. My French friends make their own cat food, consisting of boiled or baked chicken, rabbit, fish, and sweet potato, nothing else. Their cats are healthy, happy, and live past age 20! Kar and Toffel don't trust my cooking, but enjoy homemade cat treats. I buy Almo Nature and Acana food in fully recyclable packaging- PETA lists them on their most humane pet food lists- and use a bamboo and stainless steel feeder (similar here). They have eaten vegan Ami and Benevo in addition to their regular food before, but male cats can only eat about 20% vegan, it seems, without risking urinary tract problems. Our cats don't mind the bowl; if your cats need a fresh supply of running water, Pioneer Pet makes plastic-free stainless steel and ceramic fountains.

Kar and Toffel have two toys- an upcycled organic catnip and wool Scrappy Rat and a natural hemp / jute fish from Martin Sellier, which came on compostable cardboard tied with twine (Purrfect Play makes plastic-free pet products). When their synthetic carpet cat tree finally gives out, we'll build our own Catissa, a natural sheepskin and wood house with water-based varnish, or buy something like this natural wicker cat house. They don't have a cat bed because everything is their bed.

We use the carrier and brush they came with. If you're in the market for one, try plastic-free tampico or wooden pin brushes (here and here) and wicker carriers. Fleas haven't been a problem yet. In Cleveland, I had two outdoor cats and a carpeted home- vacuuming, washing, and moderate use of apple cider vinegar prevented fleas without Frontline. For a nice homemade cat or dog shampoo, combine 1 tablespoon unscented castile soap (make sure there are no essential oils!) in one and a half cups warm water. You can also use cornstarch with lavender flowers for dry cat shampoo.

As for ordering items online- I try not to do it. Zooplus, however, ships everything in cardboard with paper tape and no plastic or styrofoam peanuts inside. They are really good about packing everything tightly so they don't move in the box. I hate recycling because so much of it ends up being wasted anyway, but I always find a use for the boxes, whether it's to make a cat fort or help a friend move, and drop them off at a resourcerie after.

Paris to Go


  1. I stumbled on your blog and love your cat names. This may not be useful to you but we use the litter robot. I know, I know, electricity and the thing is darned expensive.. but it saved my marriage. We tended to argue about household duties, litter box cleaning being one of the big ones. Here is the key bit. It pays for itself. We use clumping litter and with three cats we used to buy a new box of litter every week or two boxes (40 pounds of clumping stuff) and now we buy one a month! I compost the litter in the garden. I have dedicated spot... again not workable in a paris apartment *jealous* Also, love your wish for a fridge free life. I'm eating two meals a day raw/vegan and find that our fridge space is cut in half for how much we store. I think it has something to do with prep needing or being better fresh immediately before I eat. Thanks for sharing all you do!!

    1. Thank you so much! How do you feel eating the two meals raw/vegan? And then are you eating a regular meal after? I was vegan for a year and a half and vegetarian for two years and as of last week went back to's harder than I remember so I may need to do a transition phase with the two meals vegan and a normal dinner after. Do you have any recommendations for good raw/vegan recipe sources? All the raw dessert recipes I see look mouthwateringly delicious. I unplug our fridge half the time because it's so empty but most of our food doesn't really need it (mainly fruits/veggies/legumes).

      I am jealous you can compost in your garden :) We have a compost in the arrondissement, but I'm fighting my landlord to be able to compost on my balcony. I've done it before and you will not believe the disgusting things my neighbors have on their balconies. There is no reason a clean, natural, contained compost shouldn't be allowed!

      I'm the only one that scoops the litter box but my husband and I differ on what litter is best haha. I'd say using that much less litter makes it an environmentally sound choice! My husband really wants one of those robots to vacuum though... cat owners rave about it but I'm ready to sell the vacuum we have now, we don't really need it with hardwood floors.

  2. For floors, they also have a robot mop; I saw it being used on tile flooring at my dentist's office. You might want to look into it, might save you from hand-cleaning the floors and satisfy your husband's desire for a robot-cleaner too.

    1. Ah, thanks for the suggestion! It doesn't take me so long to clean the floors and it hasn't become a pain yet, but if he wants to get it for himself, I won't stop him. I think he likes the idea of it more than anything, the floors are never dirty so it doesn't really bother him :)

  3. Hello,
    I live in Paris and recently adopted three kitties. I am trying to find as many ways to reduce the amount of waste caring for them produces.
    I went and bought a plastic litterbox on leboncoin before I found your blog. But I plan on selling it and trying a stainless stell one. Have you switched to stainless since you posted this ? I was also wondering where in les Halles you could buy hotel pans ?
    I went to visit the temporary biocoop 100 % sans emballages. I don't know if you've had a chance to check it out. I wanted to support the concept even if they didn't have that much more in bulk than my regular biocoop.

    1. Hello! I saw that store and wanted to visit, I was so excited! I haven't had the chance yet though. I will go! How did you like it? That is so nice that you supported the concept, do they have more of a variety of soaps and unpackaged personal products?

      I still have the same plastic litter box. I'll switch when it gets ruined but it is in good condition still. In Les Halles you can buy hotel pans at cookware shops like La Bovida, but, I think they are much cheaper online. The prices seem very expensive to me.

      I am so happy to hear from someone in Paris, your three kitties sounds very lucky to have such a good parent :)

  4. I wonder if the food can be freezed so we could make a big batch and thaw as needed.

    1. Hi, I'm sure you can, I read on the Cat Site that people do that! The only time I heard otherwise was watching a documentary about Agafia Lykova and she said her cats got sick from frozen treats :( But she didn't specify what she was feeding them, it sounded like human food, not cat food!

  5. Your cats are adorable. So are their names.

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