How can I reduce my use of cat food pouches and cans?

cat-food-pouchesWe’ve always tried to minimise the amount of waste our cats produce by buying in bulk where possible, choose recyclable packaging over plastic bags and they mostly eat biscuits, which have less water content so aren’t as heavy/bulky to ship.

Except now one of them is sick – very sick – and is having trouble digesting regular cat food. I’ve become incredibly familiar with cat food ingredients (and also the consistency of cat poop) over the last few months and the better quality stuff (stuff that is made up of at least 50 or 60% the meat/fish it claims to be – most cat food is around 4%) seems to come in small quantities in plastic pouches, or tiny, teeny cans. Enter loads of extra waste.

I try to feed her frozen fish/mince at least once a day – since that has a considerably lower packaging cost – but worry that she’ll miss out on essential vitamins/minerals if I just feed her those all the time. I’m happy to make her food from scratch but don’t have time to do it at every meal time since she’s eating lots of small meals throughout the day. I’ve tried making a chicken & rice mash before but it didn’t really interest her.

Unfortunately for us, this is a short scale problem with this cat (*sniff*) but looking at the ingredient lists on the standard cat food boxes & cans has made me want to do better by the other cats.

So has anyone got any suggestions for how I can reduce the amount of cat food packaging waste we’re producing? Anyone found any decent quality cat food (dry or wet) in large quantities rather than tiny sachets? Any popular homemade cat food recipes?

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9 Responses to “How can I reduce my use of cat food pouches and cans?”

  1. Sophie says:

    Hi and sorry to hear your cat is unwell! I would love to know the answer on how to reduce waste from cat food as we have a kitten and are also buying the pouches and dry food. In time, we know he will eat so much more, so it does worry me. Would love to know if there is a company we can buy from in bulk, as we are buying avery 1-2 weeks from Sainsburys, and trying to wean him off the wet food.

  2. We feed our cats dry food, big bags of Science Diet hairball control. They seem to do just fine on it — and they should since it’s a bit pricier than typical dry food. (But I don’t know if y’all have it over there.) If you’re worried about dry not being enough, you can supplement with some kitty friendly “people” food, like bits of chicken or fish. Just do your homework before offering them “people” food.

  3. Kara says:

    I have an ancient Siamese that can’t digest anything very well anymore, and we’ve had to give up on dry food altogether. One expensive but container-reducing option for a special-diet pet is a pet bakery or pet deli. Most of them around here cater to dogs, but I have found that they will usually work with me on recipe to make something more suitable for cats, who need more protein and fat than dogs.

    If you do make your own cat food, it can be frozen in portions and reheated. The animal protein to carbohydrate ratio should be between 1:1 and 3:1, and there are nutrient concerns: arginine and taurine, and vitamin A. Our vet and the local nutritional supplement store sell all three in liquid form, and they can be added to the cooked protein source after it cools off a bit. If you’re freezing portions, add the supplements after reheating. The following link has a scientific discussion of feline dietary needs if you’d like more information about that:

  4. Sherry says:

    First of all, cats NEED extra water in their diets, not less. Mix wet food with water to get them the moisture they need.

    Second, do some research on cat food because Hills is NOT a good brand, nor is it worth the $. (Actually it is the garbage from the Colgate-Palmolive Corporation) So really, do some research into the REAL premium foods if you are going to go that route. Wellness, Eagle Pack, Nutra and -my favorite Verus are good places to start.

    Now, if you want to make your own, there are plenty of recipes online. All you have to do it type homemade cat food recipes into any search engine and compare your findings. Also remember, vets have very little education in nutrition and what they have, they got from the pet food companies, like um Hills for one. It is actually a conflict of interest for them to sell you the food, but it is largely an unregulated industry.

    But the most important thing is to get more water in your cat.

  5. I ceased purchasing cat food in single-serve packaging and bought cat food in large steel cans instead. Steel cans contain 4-5 servings and can be cleaned out and recycled. Single-serve cans like those Fancy Feast ones have a sort of plastic coating on the inside and cannot be recycled. Alternatively, if you make your own cat food (cooked fish or chicken), you can always add pet vitamins (Felavite, Vitapet, Immunol) to it according to the recommended dosage.

    I hope your cat is making steady improvements. Much love and healing hugs to your cat. Pls stay strong.

  6. Bobbie says:

    Cats should have an extremely high protein diet. They must have an exact diet including all the right things for cats.

    Because kittens’ nutritional needs are very exact, developing a regimen of homemade food is in most cases not practical. Even minor imbalances can have devastating consequences. For instance, a taurine deficiency can cause blindness.

    Some foods are poisonous to them (Onions, Garlic, & Related Root Vegetables, Green Tomatoes, Green (raw Potatoes), Chocolate, grapes and raisins, milk (not exactly toxic but can cause problems).

    Please don’t let my comments stop you from finding recipes that are sufficient, but just be cautious and knowlegeable. I believe that we rely too much on prepared foods which require solutions for finding ways to recycle the excessive packaging. I mean, what did cats eat 50 years ago? I can tell you what because I was there. Mostly they stayed outside and ate mice, grasshoppers and things like that then once daily we gave them meat only. It worked, and we didn’t have any malnourished cats.

    Now, back to the reusing issue. You know they might just be the right thing for making a rain chain…They would make nice little bells to catch the water on the way down. They could be used after cleaning well and sanding sharp edges for snacks, mezzas, or the like. We build our own tacos using little dishes with an assortment of tomatoes, peppers, salsas, onion etc. Makes a fun meal even for company. The cans will be perfect for that and I will start saving them with that in mind.

  7. Cipollina says:

    In nature a cat will normally eat the whole animal except sometimes the head (and the feet of birds) – this tells exactly what a cat needs in his diet. In addition to this he drinks water and chews grasses and the occasional insect.

    A sick cat will need food that’s easy on stomach and intestines. We give our cat rice and turkey for a few days together with vitamin supplements from the vet’s. This is two parts turkey to one part rice boiled together into a mush – NO SALT/SPICES – and sometimes, when he eats too little, we add protein extract. The supplements are added when the mush has cooled a bit. If our cat has a diarrhea we make the mush on the runny side to make sure he gets enough liquids. It’s normal to eat less when sick, and it takes our cat a day or so to realise this is what he gets, but in the end he eats it.

    There are otherwise a lot of recipes for cat food to be found on the net. To make a batch once a week to reduce the amount of bags and tins is doable for anybody, and lucky are those who like cooking and/or have access to a butcher or farmer for the meat. Supplements – for those who don’t care much about the stink of the insides of the fowl or rabbit or whatever – can be found at the vet’s.

  8. Peanut says:

    As someone else commented on :

    “cats are obligate carnivores. Stop feeding the poor thing crap like oatmeal, rice, carrots and cranberries. These ingredients can cause lots of health problems including heart issues and diabetes. I wish someone had told me that before my cat required insulin injections twice a day. Eco friendly is great, taking good care of the animal you’re responsible for is way more important.”

    Even with just the lightest amount of research, I have found that expecting or trying to make you feline friend to take only dry food is something that is absurd and negligent; only humans eat cereal, after all.

    Special formula foods, such as “hairball control,” “senior,” and others, often have “acidifying agents, excessive fiber, inadequate fats…” Taking your pet to the vet for minimal medication (if needed) and your priceless TLC will yield much more satisfactory results in keeping your cat and yourself happy than trying to force them to be less natural of a creature than they were meant to be.

    Commercial pet canned food is already mostly rendered unwanted animal parts (including 4D: dead, diseased, drugged, and downed meat) as it is. I like the idea of home-cooking meals for my kittens, when they are older and I am bold enough to feed them from my kitchen (when I even have a kitchen). Supplement them with natural foods in between and watch how many of the even more bogus treats you give them.

    As far as recycling and reducing your waste, I think what is more important is the well being of your cats. I am a reuse nut, but lets not compromise their health. There are plenty of projects you can do with the leftover cans before you recycle them. Also, I have only purchased the cans so far (none of the plastic pour packs).

    I reuse the litter packages, if they are bags, by dumping old litter in them.
    Things I plan to do with my stash of cans:
    –fashion the can tops into a belt by sewing together
    –cans for shadowbox picture frames
    –use a can opener to open food cans from bottom so they can be filled with surprises (candies/trinkets) and glued back to give as gifts
    –gluing cans together by their sides to stand up and use as a small cup shelving unit on the wall

    Other people even reuse the cans to bake goods, as cookie cutters, votive candle holders, tree ornaments (hole-punch, paint, glued on fabric).

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