Cats and Their Impact on the Earth
Happy Earth Day, everyone! All creatures great and small have an impact on the earth and the ecosystem in which they live - cats included. It is all of our responsibility to take care of this beautiful planet by limiting our carbon footprints and keeping the earth as clean as possible.
Here are some ways cats are beneficial for the environment:
While cats are obligate carnivores who must eat meat, doing so keeps the circle of life in balance. Though most house cats don’t hunt and prefer to dine on canned food, there are millions of community cats in the United States who need to provide their own meals. Community cats (those who live outdoors) keep the rodent population in check. Cats typically catch the weaker or less intelligent prey animals, which encourages the prey population to better adapt to their environment - survival of the fittest. Nobody wants to live somewhere overrun with rats and mice - community cats work hard to keep the predator-prey relationship balanced at sustainable levels.
Community cats who have been Trapped-Neutered-Returned (TNR) get to live out their lives in the great outdoors without reproducing. Cats who are spayed or neutered can’t have more kittens, which keeps their population at a steady, manageable level. Since cats reproduce so rapidly - they can give birth to 4-6 kittens at only 4 months of age! - an unsterilized population would quickly run out of food and resources. Once cats are fixed, however, they help play their part in the food chain without overpopulating and creating a lack of food.
Here are some ways to limit your cat’s carbon footprint:
– Reduce and Reuse
Buy large containers of food/litter versus small, single-serve containers when possible. If your cat loves Temptations, for instance, try to buy the plastic tub rather than the smaller sized bags. Once empty, the container can be reused to hold other things, like cat toys!
Some pet stores allow you to bring a container to fill with litter so you aren’t buying a new plastic container every few weeks. Other litters are made of earth-friendly or biodegradable materials like newspaper or tofu. If you feed your cat canned food, time the time to rinse out the can and peel off the label so it can be properly recycled.
If your cat has grown bored of some of their toys, donate the items to a friend, rescue, or shelter. Rather than throwing out toys your cat no longer plays with or a new bag of treats they didn’t like, give them away so they don’t end up in a landfill.
– Keep them indoors or on a leash
If you let your cat outdoors for some fresh air, make sure they are leashed so they don’t injure or kill wildlife.
– Spay or Neuter Your Pets
To prevent pet overpopulation, cats need to be spayed or neutered, ideally before they are 5 months old. If there’s a cat colony near you, consider volunteering with a local rescue to TNR them. You’ll be doing both the cats and the earth a big favor.
If everyone makes a few changes to their lifestyle, we can keep this beautiful planet and its inhabitants - no matter the species - happy and healthy for many more years. Happy Earth Day!