Hi, I'm K. Marie Alto, fur mom, wife, writer, blogger, and the co-founder and Chief Fur Children Happiness Officer at Toe Beans.
After suddenly losing our first kitty to cancer and then in 2018 losing the second one to a combination of kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes, my husband recommended channeling my grief into something positive. He suggested I create a pet blog to share the lessons learned from my 20+ years of pet parenting.
He also thought it was a great idea to create a Facebook page to reach more pet parents with my message. A month later, we had more than 1,000 followers relating to our stories and sharing their own experiences.
It was sometime after that point that we decided to use that platform to promote cat and dog adoptions and bring a little bit of happiness to other furry children. We created a biweekly pet parent giveaway; one for cat parents and another for dog parents.
We strongly believe a life-long process of exposure to toxins contributed to our furry children getting sick.
If you’ve ever lost a fur child to cancer or any other serious illness at an early age you may relate to our story. So, in looking for answers we undertook extensive research into dog and cat products sold in the USA.
Our analysis revealed scary and astonishing findings.
First, the ease at which hidden toxins can absorbed via contact with imported food and products (mainly from Asia, or oftentimes marketed as made in the USA but using "globally sourced" ingredients).
A second important realization was that almost all the cat toys in our house were very low-quality and low-cost toys also manufactured in Asian countries.
These two findings lead us to do more research about dog and cat products ingredients and raw materials. Adorable toys and treats that are super inexpensive are pervasive in the market. But how do they make them so cheap? By manufacturing them overseas where production regulations don’t meet US standards.
The more we read the worse we felt about our previous purchases. What we found scared the heck out of us! You can learn more about these findings throughout our pet blog.
Perhaps the most frightening discovery was that, contrary to what we secretly hoped, there was no such thing as the "pet products safety police."
There was nobody "in charge" of making sure the pet products we purchased from "trusted" retailers, online or otherwise, were safe, or at least non-toxic.
You know, some sort of dog and cat FDA or any other regulatory agency watching over the wellbeing of our fur babies.
To our total dismay, we also realized that not even the largest eCommerce platforms guarantee or seem to even care about the safety let alone the integrity of ingredients/raw materials used in the products they sell on their own platforms.
No wonder the market is flooded with cheap and dangerous imported pet products that can cause so much harm to our dogs and cats.
We also learned that the pet products industry is as lawless and poorly regulated as the wild west.
For years uninformed pet parents such as ourselves (up to that moment!) have been victims of unscrupulous online sellers that will, with total impunity and awareness, use all sorts of low-cost, low-quality, toxic ingredients and raw materials to develop and sell anything at the expense of our fur babies happiness and health.
If your dog or cat is sick with cancer or passed already due to cancer you may find answers in our blog.
Given the lack of oversight in the pet products industry we were not surprised to find out that important product attributes such as "organic" and "natural," two of the most sought-after words by health-conscious pet parents, were being abused and attached to many “fake organic” and “fake natural” products.
Many "organic products" were not organic at all, and many "natural products" turned out to contain natural ingredients that were actually toxic to dogs and cats.
We were astonished to find how many dog and cat products on the market today carried some version of these claims, and in many cases the claims were unsubstantiated or not backed by well-known third party certifications.
It was as if a new "organic and natural fake-ism" movement had taken over the pet industry. This was (and still is) a real threat for our fur babies.
We concluded that, "natural" should never be used as a proxy for non-toxic or even safe. Neither for our fur babies nor for us.
We adopted three rules of thumb. Rule of thumb #1, if a product is labeled as organic without bearing the USDA certified organic seal, odds are pretty good, it’s not even organic at all.
And, for the well-being of our fur children, we should either scrutinize them thoroughly before purchasing, or simply stay away from such products at all costs.
Rule of thumb #2, never ever again buy any consumables that come from China, or that use ingredients coming from China. One shocking discovery was that oftentimes these ingredients are labeled as "globally sourced" ingredients.
And last rule, rule of thumb #3 is to always be very specific when searching for pet products online. All of our searches for organic products online have swapped from simply “organic catnip” for example, to “USDA certified organic catnip.”
And, given our realization that the word natural is not a synonym or even a good proxy for non-toxic or safe, we completely stopped shopping for "natural pet products."
Now, our story is not intended to claim or even suggest that all pet products in the marketplace labeled as "natural" or "organic" are bad for your fur children. Not at all.
I'm simply sharing the research and analysis of a regular health-conscious pet parent. I am sure there are bona fide manufacturers that make truly safe pet products.
My advice is that all pet parents out there should research and scrutinize all products their fur children consume, or come in contact with such as toys (read my blog series on catnip on our blog).
Especially those that have unsubstantiated claims. Simply, beware of unsubstantiated claims and marketing gimmicks.
Our research revealed dozens of conniving marketing tactics (that we believe should be illegal as they mislead consumers into purchasing products they otherwise wouldn’t buy. They slap buzzwords onto packaging to mislead unsuspecting pet parents by masking the actual toxicity and harm potential of products. We like to refer to these tactics as the art of deception in our blog posts.
Throughout my blog, and whenever relevant, I do my best to alert pet parents of pitfalls and things to avoid in dog and cat pet products. We believe educated pet parents will make better decisions for their fur children thus improving their lives.
Needless to say all these shocking discoveries were a big turning point in our lives.
We concluded that if we were to ever raise happy, healthy, and longer living fur babies, we had to educate ourselves on how to navigate the pet products industry wild west, or simply develop and manufacture products we could trust.
Our fur babies were so vulnerable and they relied on us to make educated purchase decisions on their behalf.
One big question remained though: What about other pet parents and their fur children? While giveaways were a small way to make a difference, we felt we needed to do more, much more, so here we are.
Toe Beans® was founded in 2018 with one mission: To improve the life of every fur child and their parents’ via pet parent education, a little bit of humor, and unique and truly safe products made in the USA using only US sourced high-quality ingredients and raw materials.
HAPPY FURRY CHILDREN MAKE HAPPY PEOPLE
“There is nothing stronger than the power of joy and happiness animals bring to our lives.”
At Toe Beans, this philosophy is our driving force. In return, we strive to improve the life of every fur child with every product that arrives at your doorstep.
- K. Marie
Co-founder and Chief Fur Children Happiness Officer Toe Beans
Founded in 2018, Toe Beans® is a proud American family-owned online boutique pet store based in McLean, VA.
We take pride in our small selection of high quality, unique, limited production items, and exclusive brands.
Our mission is to improve the life of every fur family member.
We believe passionately in the power of love and joy animals bring.
Through better products, pet parent education, advocacy, and a little bit of inspiration and humor, we strive to help others navigate the challenges of pet parenting.
Toe Beans® envisions a world with happier, more active, healthier, and longer living fur children in every home.
- Compassion and Care
- Innovative Enthusiasm
- Exemplary Corporate Citizenship
We focus on developing unique, small-production pet supplies that are made, delivered to you, and can be disposed of in a more environmentally friendly manner.
Our 5 Key Quality Guiding Principles
1. Impact: Every product in our portfolio is intended to have a positive impact on fur children, their parents and the planet.
2. Certifications: Third party endorsements are an integral part of making credible and substantiated claims of any sort, while providing a strong sense of trust and confidence. We take pride in having attained some of the most coveted certifications for our products and our business including USDA Organic, USDA Biobased Products, FSC, Certified Secure Site, and A+ Better Business Bureau Accredited Business. Stay tuned for more to come.
3. Quality Suppliers and Raw Materials: We rely on carefully screened and selected trading partners that are aligned with our quality philosophy.
4. Continuous improvement: We believe in making small improvements on our products and processes every single day.
5. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee: All our products are covered by our no-questions-asked 30-day return guarantee.
For every single living creature and the planet.
Informed and knowledgeable pet parents make better decisions for their fur children, thus improving their lives.
We develop unique, reliable, and safe pet supplies that enhance the quality of life of fur children and their parents, while helping preserve our planet.
We love discovering new and/or improved ways to delight our customers.
As a US company, we contribute to society by doing the right things right. We do right by your furry children, by you, by the planet, and by our country.
We are a US Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited business based in Mclean, VA.
Our A+ rating speaks to our commitment to quality and customer care. We abide by the BBB standards for ethics and trust.
The BBB Standards for Trust consist of eight principles covering business practices that help build and maintain trust, credibility, and a good reputation.
These standards serve as the foundation for the BBB Code of Business Practices that Accredited Businesses are required to meet and maintain in order to remain BBB Accredited.
Learn About the Basis for our Accreditation Here.
3/21/2001 - 5/14/2013
Our first kitty angel and the smartest kitty we ever met!
3/14/2001 - 6/4/2018
Our second kitty angel; meowmy's snuggle bug.
4/11/2004 - 3/11/2023
A stereotypical scaredy-cat we couldn't love more.
4/11/04 - 10/16/2020
Our 3rd kitty angel; a sassy little girl who had lots to say.
1/14/2007 - 8/28/2010
Our horse-sized not so little nephew.