Reduce Your Cats Carbon Paw Print with Eco-Litter

Reduce Your Cats Carbon Paw Print with Eco-Litter
Photo Attribution: 
Joanie McCorry

Many of us have a dog, or cat, or both. We love our furry companions!  Pets make for great company and can enrich our lives.  But what toll does pet-ownership take on the environment?  Just taking care of your cat's waste is one thing that wreaks havoc on our planet, if you happen to be of the billions people who use clay cat litter.  Researchers estimate that approximately 8 billion pounds of kitty litter end up in North American landfills each year. Clay litter has been around since 1947, and is still widely used today.

What is clumping “kitty litter” made from?

Bentonite clay, which is strip-mined. Strip mining is a form of surface mining. Like other kinds of surface mining, this practice ends up destroying the areas around the mine as rock, gravel, trees, vegetation and dirt are dumped in these areas. The mined land usually ends up destroyed as well; with no vegetation left, the top soil is bulldozed under the rock. The waste, dirt, and rock that are taken off of the top of the next strip are put on top of the last one.  This process is repeated until the last strip is done and the waste from the first strip is brought back to fill it.

There are also a host of health problems that can result from the use of bentonite litter. In many cat litters found on the market, the clay sediment is permeated with carcinogenic silica dust that can coat the cat’s lungs, and can end up eventually causing breathing difficulties, asthma, or cancer.

While cat owners should take pains to avoid clumping clay, it is important to pace the transition to alternative litters.  According to expert Anne Soares, VMD, cats are very protective of their litter boxes and can become distressed if the change happens too suddenly.  Some cats may not ever adjust, according to Soares.  “There will be some stubborn cats out there who will just refuse to make the switch, no matter how gradual,” Soares says. “If that’s the case, let him or her live with what they’re used to and choose another aspect of their life to work on being more eco-friendly. You may have to accept that you can’t change everything.” 

Luckily, there are many alternative and healthier choices for cat litter, including those made of soft woods like pine and cedar, plant based litters made from corn or wheat, and even litters made of recycled newspaper. 

References:
http://www.worldcoal.org/coal-the-environment/coal-mining-the-environment/
http://www.catchannel.com/care/natural-cat-care/natural-cat-lifestyle/gr...

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