Monday, February 9, 2009

Domestic Cats Damage the Environment

It is not the domestic cat's fault, but domestic cats damage the environment. This post explains how (and this is just one way). Take cat litter, the clay type, Fuller's Earth type actually (read about the history of Fuller's Earth). Some of it, a lot of it, is dug up in open strip mines in Brazil and Wyoming (src: Treehugger website). I guess it is processed and converted to nice looking cat litter. After use it is disposed of in land fill. We know that we can't go on indefinitely disposing of rubbish in land fill as the space has a finite limit. Damage to the environment at both ends of this process.

It all seems so unnatural to me. And we are talking about millions of tons. Lets remind ourselves that strip mining is very destructive. Thousands of acres of land is basically rendered useless afterwards. And I dread to think what happens in Brazil, where the companies doing the mining are likely to kick small holders off their land in the name of profit. All this to allow our cats to go to the toilet. There must be a better way and I am not talking about cats being trained to use the toilet as this is very difficult (but can be done). How about someone designs a human type toilet for cats and we flush after use? Crazy idea? Not sure? We need some sort of sustainability here. Nothing we do is sustainable, it seems.

cat and strip mine
Cat looking at a strip mine Northeast PA - "Come on humans find a better way will you?" - photo by AJ Franklin under creative commons license.

Isn't there a better way of disposing of cat litter? How about an imaginative company decides that it is financially viable to reprocess it? Messy work but could be profitable. Apparently Fuller's Earth contains Calcium Bentonite while the modern clay type cat litter is made up of Sodium Bentonite. The Treehugger website says that this substance has been linked to cat deaths by the way. Sodium Bentonite is used as a large scale sealant. An example of its use would be sealing in spent nuclear fuel in subsurface systems.

I use the wood chipping cat litter as it is cleaner to use but I am concerned that this too is damaging the environment. Where does all the wood come from? Chippings that would otherwise be thrown away or from trees cut down? Where does it come from?

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