How a controversial plant can make your kitty's world greener
Simon is a large, loveable, affectionate Siamese cat, a former stray who jumped into Candy Luchsinger's car one evening and gave her a hug with his big front paws. Now he spends time outside during the day but comes in at night to his home in Hendersonville, N.C. He always wears a dye-free, breakaway cat collar made out of hemp. He also loves to play with his favorite toy, a catnip-stuffed carrot made from organic cotton with hemp cord "leaves."
Luchsinger chose products containing hemp for Simon for several reasons. One is hemp's durability.
"The hemp collar works so well for him," she says. "He hunts and climbs trees and he's a pretty rowdy boy, and the hemp is so strong it doesn't get worn out. It just keeps getting softer with age." Luchsinger also chose hemp because of its purity. "It's important to me that it is pesticide-free and dye-free, because the neck area is tender and the skin probably absorbs things easily, and I really want to try to keep his environment as pure as possible. Cats are sensitive."
When Simon chews on the hemp twine on his catnip carrot, Luchsinger believes the rough texture helps keep his teeth clean.
"He had a lot of dental problems, but after getting them fixed, his teeth have stayed looking beautiful," she says. "I think the hemp really helps." Hemp's environmental friendliness isn't lost on Luchsinger either. "Hemp is better for the Earth. It's more sustainable. It doesn't require pesticides or a lot of nutrients or even water to grow well. That's the beauty of it."
It's easier than ever to find this Earth-friendly material in products you can buy for your cat, such as collars, toys, beds and nutritional supplements — products that tend to be kind to the Earth and kind to kitties.
"Natural fibers are more digestible if a cat chews on them, and organic fibers without dye are much safer for cats who chew on their toys," says Pam Wheelock, owner of Purrfect Play, as small Chesterton, Ind.-based company that makes the collars and cat toys Simon uses. "We love working with hemp and plan to turn even more of our product line over to it. It's durable and cats love to play with it, and of course, it's gentle on the Earth."
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, hemp oil is nontoxic for cats when ingested as a fatty acid supplement, but it cannot be utilized by cats as fish oil can. Other sources also suggest that cats may not be able to digest the proteins in plant-based sources of omega fatty acids such as hemp and flax.
**Get the October 2010 issue of NATURAL CAT to read the full article.**
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