I’d like briefly to address two aspects of owning a cat that can burden the planet: litter and food.
A discussion about drying clothes on outside clothes lines (washing lines) gave me the idea. Do you dry your clothes on a clothes line or in a tumble dryer? I believe that in the USA only about 5% of people dry clothes outside, in the air. The remainder use tumble driers. This is because the law forbids air drying outside. An American might kindly clarify that for me. In the UK, about 40% of people dry their clothes naturally, outside in the air. Which one do you think is better? Air drying leaves clothes smelling so much sweeter and it is entirely natural.
Is it sensible to forbid people to use environmentally beneficial ways of doing something?
- About 2.16 million tons of mined clay is used in the USA per year as cat litter
- Once dug up – leaving an ugly hole – it is transported to a drying facility where petroleum products are used in the process. Then it is..
- transported to retail outlets and then
- transported to homes and used and then
- transported to landfill…where it hangs around for a few centuries.
Clearly there is a quite a large environmental impact from clay based litter. How many cat owners with fenced gardens have a cat litter tray in the house full of clay-based litter where their cat routinely goes to the toilet rather than letting their cat use the garden?
Now, I realise a lot people will shout at me and start talking about risks, hygiene etc. But I don’t see any more risk or a hygiene problem in a cat using a garden (where available) than using a litter tray, provided common sense is used. If the cat is a full-time indoor cat, an outside toilet facility using the earth, that is available, could be used. That would eliminate all the environmental impact problems of using conventional litter. I think we owe it to the planet and our children to think about how we can do small things to improve the environment and make things sustainable.
In my opinion it is not viable to use cat litter as composting material. It does not work. Very few people train their cat to use a human toilet. Throwing litter down the toilet must be irresponsible.
Before cat litter was invented cats used to go outside and use the garden as a toilet. Perhaps some sand was put down for the purpose. It was all natural and normal and not labour intensive and environmentally dubious.
The source of cat food is mysterious and horrible. I won’t focus on that but on the amount of waste. In my experience, cats, perhaps because they are long sighted – they can’t see the food very close up – can leave quite a lot of wet cat food in the bowl where it goes off. That food could be used to feed other animals rather than dumped in the garbage bit (dustbin in UK) where maggots breed and run riot. Once again waste cat food is destined for landfill sites. We have enough landfill sites and in the UK and we are running out of space for them.
I know people are going to shout at me! I put waste food out for the foxes and the odd stray cat who is starving. What they don’t eat the slugs get and the bowls are completely clean the next morning. None of my cat food is wasted. Everyone gets a share of it and there is no landfill.
Oh…and I dry my clothes on a line. I only use the tumble dryer as a last resort. What about you?