Cats are eco-friendly. After quite a bit of research I make that statement baldly and without shame. Pet cats are, of course, mostly domesticated and not used to living in the wild. But their very natures can help keep their carbon paw prints small. When I did background research for this article I notice there’s a lot of actions that people can take to lower their pets’ impact on the environment. But my opinion is that the best guides for greening my cats lives are my cats.
A carbon foot print is the direct effect of actions on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, according to an article I read on the website www.eoearth.org/article/carbon_footprint . The article further explains that there are primary footprints and secondary footprints. Primary footprints pertain to the amounts of greenhouse gases produced for electricity, heating, transportation and water daily. Secondary footprints relate to diet, clothes, and personal products.
How are my cats’ footprints measurable? I wondered. I used a few people carbon footprint calculators to compare and it looks like each cat uses about 7.4 tons of CO2 per year.
I studied the calculators to determine what counts in my cats’ footprints . Heat and power are the biggest culprits, since they are primary issues. People today are leaning more toward sun power for heating and power. My cats have always known of this option. They will curl up near a heater if it’s on and enjoy the pleasure of roasting their bones just as I do. But when I consider my pet’s behavior over the last 23 years I realize how sensible they are. They have a few theories on heat. Heat is good. Heat from the sun is delightful. The first goal to get warm is to find a sunbeam. A second option for heat is body warmth. Find a family member to curl up with, preferably in the sunbeam. Two is better than one. Copy your cats. Lower your thermostat; open the curtains when the sun is shining, grab a blanket and someone – feline or human- to hunker down with. The environment will thank you, as will your snuggle partner.
Transportation is a huge issue with the environment. Fuel emissions from planes and other vehicles cause an unbelievable amount of damage to our world. Cats don’t like to travel, beyond where their paws will take them. It makes them queasy. Three of my cats are older and suffer from mild kidney insufficiency so they go to the vet once a week for fluid treatments. Yes, they could get the treatment at home. The first time we tried it, however, my Lodema looked at the long needle with her big, round, green eyes and yelped in terror. It broke my heart. So she goes to the vet where the techs can be the meanies that poke her with needles. So they travel about five miles a week by car, but not by choice. My cats’ would suggest that everyone should cut down on travel if you want to save a bit of the world.
Reduce your cats’ stuff. One of the funniest and disappointing moments in my life as a pet owner was the time I found a darling cat cottage in a catalog. I loved that cottage. It would be perfect for my dainty little girls. I had visions of them sleeping and playing in it and peeking out of the windows. When it came I happily unpacked it and started putting it together. It took about forty five minutes because assembly always challenges me. When I finished I turned and found my little girls playing with the packing box the cottage had come in. “Now, they’ll find this cottage and play in it!” I thought. It never happened. One of my girls politely sniffed around for a moment when I picked her up and put her in it. Then she went back to the packing box. The point of this story is to explain how non materialistic cats are. People go bananas for cat toys that their pets don’t really want. I’m not advocating getting rid of cat toys. But decreasing their numbers would be good for the environment. Find 3 -5 toys and stick with them. Better yet, make them. My Carla will find a little plastic bottle on the floor and bat it around cheerfully, calling loudly as she does so. Other items your cat must have is a scratching pad or post, which can be recyclable, a litter box, food and water dishes.
Grow a little catnip and a little cat grass in a windowsill. Cat’s opinions on the cat nip vary but they’ll love having a little greenery to chew on. I feed my cats both canned moist food and bagged dry food. But I wash and recycle the containers so I feel no guilt about the transportation that was involved in obtaining the food. Over the years I’ve read and tried producing a few types of cat food at home but I worry too much about their health to feed them homemade cat food on a regular basis. When I was growing up the household cats were fed table scraps and survived just fine on them. But I’ve researched cat nutritional needs and I’m shocked at how well my former pets did on the food they ate. Also, I have time constraints to consider. So homemade cat food in my house is a rarity and a treat, not a diet.
Of course, cats need water like any other living creature. I personally have set up fountains which are electrically operated and my creatures use and enjoy them. But they also drink from a large fish bowl that we originally intended to keep fish in when their tank was being cleaned. Needless to say, the bowl is being used as the cats wished. They don’t have to have anything fancy. I’ve seen outside cats drinking out of puddles. Though I definitely wouldn’t recommend such an action I can easily agree with my cats. Water is good. Enjoy it. Many experts suggest that pets be provided ceramic dishes for water and for food instead of plastic. My cats have no opinion on this. They’d eat off the floor if I let them. Instead I set down ceramic dishes.
They don’t rely on power. They don’t like to travel. They like greenery. The containers for their food are recyclable. A few simple toys are fun. Drinking water is a simple need and a pleasure for them. Have I convinced you that cats are environmentally conscious creatures? I hope so, because I believe it.