As this experiment reaches its “week” point, I find myself facing a bit of an obstacle. Most of my fundamental needs, namely food and booze, have been fun and surprisingly easy to satisfy. I haven't once missed the longer hours or convenient proximity of Carrefour throughout this week and have managed to be a healthier, happier, and creative person since swearing off the mega-chain.
However, this second Carrefour-severed week brings with it a new problem which concerns a certain apartment-bound cat who needs to have his litter box changed. Jack Meower, the cat in question, is not at all exigent when it comes to what brand of litter we put in his box and ever since Carrefour got rid of it's (pretty great) vegetable-based kitty litter-which looked not unlike what we used to feed to goats at petting zoos- we've just bought whatever they had on hand and Jack was pleased as can be. Now I find myself in a quandary and don't know where to turn.
The Leader Price across the street carries a similar veggie-based product at a lower cost. I am tempted to continue buying from them, because I like this product and the price is right, but am not comfortable with replacing Carrefour with another chain store. While it's considered to be the “poor man's” grocery store, Leader Price is owned by the French Groupe Casino which controls other mega markets such as Monoprix and Franprix and Naturalia.
While Carrefour is larger than the Groupe Casino markets, being the only chain that even approaches WalMart as a potential concurrent in the market, Monoprix et al are no better. Recent employee strikes at Leader Price stores in Bretagne and the Loire-Atlantique confirm that the chain espouses an all too common disregard for their employees livelihood.
So what do I do about the litter box? The website The Greenists suggest I make my own kitty litter. They even offer a great recipe for how to do so. This is a stupendous idea, and if I had no excuse not to DIY I would, but I don't think my 38m2 Parisian apartment can house the manufacturing set up required by this project. If I had a back yard, I would totally do this though.
Lifehacker.com recommends making your own litter as well, but also offers alternative ideas. The most intriguing of which, for someone in a living situation similar to mine, was suggested by a reader, Brian Roberts, who pointed out that "The easiest and most inexpensive thing we have found is to simply purchase bedding intended for horses...We were at Tractor Supply one day and found a bag of pine horse bedding, which turned out to be identical to the stuff marketed for cats. It was much cheaper, at about $10 for a 50 lb bag. Cheap, economical, and can be found at just about any equine supply store." This sounds like a brilliant idea! Now I just need to find an equine store somewhere in Paris.....
No matter what solution I settle on, this research has yielded unexpected findings on the health dangers of certain types of kitty litter. An article by Jasmin Malil Chua on PlanetGreen.com points out that litter that uses clumping clay technology is a double no-no. She writes, “Not only is clay strip-mined (bad for the planet), but the clay sediment is also permeated with carcinogenic silica dust that can coat little kitty lungs (bad for the cat)”. It gets worse, she adds, “the sodium bentonite that acts as the clumping agent can poison your cat through chronic ingestion through their fastidious need to groom. Because sodium bentonite acts like expanding cement-it's also used as a grouting, sealing, and plugging material-it can swell up to 15 to18 times their dry size and clog up your cat's insides”. No good.
So what is an urban pet owner supposed to do? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!