Reducing Your Cat’s Carbon Footprint
Reducing our carbon footprint and making our everyday lives greener have become important to many people in recent years. But what about our pets? Are there any ways that eco-conscious cat owners can reduce the ecological footprint of their pets?
It's estimated that an average-size cat generates around 680 pounds of CO2e per year, and what cats and dogs eat annually generates the same amount of carbon emissions as a year's worth of driving 13.6 million cars!
Luckily, there are some easy ways to reduce your pet’s environmental impact and make your feline eco-friendlier.
Kibble is a massive contributor to CO2 as industrial production, ingredient sourcing, and transport use a ton of fossil fuels. So, reducing your cat’s daily kibble intake can help make a small reduction in this industry, plus help reduce the worrying trend of pet obesity. Beef, the main ingredient in some cat foods, has a carbon footprint of almost four times that of chickens. Try to stick with chicken, animal by-products, or sustainable fish as your cat’s main protein source.
Dr Lorna Whittemore, a member of the veterinarian team from ExcitedCats.com, adds, “Pet obesity has been described as an epidemic, and this has an impact not just on the health and wellbeing of your beloved cat but also on the environment. So, you can do your cat and the earth a favor by feeding just enough kibble to keep them fit and healthy rather than overweight and ailing.”
There has been a shift in recent years to provide grain-free diets with human-grade meat to our pets. While cats are obligate carnivores, they can process and gain nutrition from insect and plant sources in well-balanced commercial cat foods, and these alternatives may help to reduce the reliance on meat production. Preparing food yourself occasionally can help, too; of course, make sure to do your research and make sure you include all the required nutrients.
Pet essentials are also another massive opportunity to reduce your cat's carbon pawprint. Try and use second-hand toys or cat trees when possible, or make your own DIY cat playgrounds from reclaimed materials. Dr Whittemore adds: “Get creative with objects you have around the house or in your garden to provide stimulating enrichment for your cat. They can use their hunting skills to chase and pounce on a homemade teaser toy or have fun leaping around in a cardboard box before it goes out to be recycled.”
Cat litter made from recycled paper, corn fibers, or pine shavings is also far less environmentally impactful—traditional cat litter is made from bentonite clay, extracted from the earth using damaging strip mining.
Fleas and ticks are a problem for all pet owners, but some of the ingredients in shampoos are potentially environmentally damaging and contain pyrethrins and organophosphates, which can be harmful to your cat. Using flea combs, non-toxic and organic shampoos with biodegradable ingredients, or eco-friendly products like diatomaceous earth can help with flea prevention and are not harmful to the planet.
Dr Paola Cuevas, another ExcitedCats.com veterinarian, has further suggestions. “Planting a cat-friendly garden including cat grass, catnip, valerian, cat thyme, cat mint, and rosemary. This will provide sensorial enrichment to your cat while also helping to clean the air. Additionally, cat mint flowers help to feed honeybees!”
Opt for collars and leashes made from sustainable materials like hemp. These are far better for the environment and strong and long-lasting too. You can also purchase bedding made from bamboo, which is far more environmentally friendly than cotton, and toys, bowls, and collars made from recycled plastic. Also, try using stainless steel bowls as they’ll last longer and are not as harmful to the planet as plastic.
ExcitedCats.com veterinarian Dr Maxbetter Vizelburg adds: “When considering purchasing various non-essential items for our feline friends, it may be best to rethink what our cats really need. Reduce food waste, reuse old toys, recycle newspapers as needed, and remember to keep your cats indoors. This way, they are less likely to kill the estimated 1–4 billion birds a year in the US for which they are thought to be responsible.”
Lastly, help reduce the pet population by getting your cats neutered or spayed. This helps reduce everything discussed above and helps to make sure fewer cats are living without loving homes.