The cat is the most prevalent pet in Canada. 7.9 million of them live in Canadian homes, streets and shelters. And for most of us, they bring us lots of joy and we love them dearly. But they also produce a lot of waste, are a disruptive force to the surrounding environment and boast an impressive carbon “paw print” (estimated to be equal to driving a medium-sized car for a solid year!!).
The amount of waste kitties produce is a seriously startling. Where does it all come from? Cat litter amounts for about 2 million tons of landfill space each year. And clay litter, the most common choice is litter, is not biodegradable. Cat food is also predominantly meat based. As I am sure you are aware, the meat production industry is a significant polluter.
While I’m sure little Tiger is a heart stealer, cats share our impressive ability to wreak havoc on this planet. Like any invasive alien species, cats have caused irreversible damage to the surrounding native environment. A study published in 2012, estimated that cats kill “1.3–4.0 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion mammals” per year. They have already been blamed for the extinction of at least 33 species. Of course, this carnage could be greatly reduced if cat owners just kept their pets inside (my cat’s an outdoor kitty… I’m kind of a hypocrite!).
Of course, the problem isn’t really the cats. It's us. The choices we make for our pets reflect our consumerist lifestyle. For example, by 2017, pet product sales are expected to reach 95 billion dollars. From production to packaging and transportation, all are dangerously damaging to the planet. Fossil fuel is used all the way along the production line and carbon pollution is significant. By purchasing frivolous toys for our cats, we continue to stimulate and support this industry.
So what can the average cat owner do? Choose to purchase more sustainable cat litter. Keep your cat inside. Because the production of beef is the most polluting of the meat industries, avoid it and feed your cat chicken or fish based food. Also, realize that your cat does not need another toy or that super cute monkey costume. (This does not mean you can’t enjoy the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niVI1Cy2x2c)
I am a cat lover to the bone. I have a collection of cat accessories, own 10+ cat themed sweaters and, of course, have a furry feline friend at home, who I love more than anything else on this planet. And while I have no intention to dispose of my cat, it is clear that we need a fresh, more environmentally friendly approach the domestic pet industry. Otherwise, we could have a catastrophe on our hands.