Cat paws holding a globe.
Cat paws holding a globe. Photography ©Gumpanat | Thinkstock.

Let’s Discuss Cats’ Impact on Planet Earth

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With concerns about the condition of our planet growing and U.S. pet ownership at an all-time high, geography professor Gregory Okin of the University of California Los Angeles wondered how much of an environmental impact our pets have on the planet, particularly regarding their food consumption and waste production.

Okin ran the numbers and published them in August in a paper in the journal PLOS One. Because pet food contains a lot of meat, dogs and cats account for 25 to 30 percent of the total environmental impact caused by meat consumption in the U.S. Additionally, dogs and cats produce 5.1 million tons of feces every year. That’s a lot of poop. Does this all mean we should not have pets? Of course not. But it’s some food for thought.

Jackie Brown is a freelance writer from Southern California who specializes in the pet industry. Reach her at jackiebrownwriter.wordpress.com.

Thumbnail: Photography ©Gumpanat | Thinkstock.

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12 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss Cats’ Impact on Planet Earth”

  1. If you are seriously concerned about global warming you don’t have domestic pets. Pets in the US consume more resources than dozens of third world children combined.

  2. There’s a reason I cancelled my catster subscription last year. With idiotic soundbite articles like this. 7 Billion humans on the planet and roughly 0.5 Billion cats & dogs that eat considerably less meat than us, but sure… go ahead blame the pets for the malaise of the planet. No journalistic perspective, just another useless tidbit.

  3. During WWII, Magnus Pyke in the UK suggested that the food shortages could by somewhat alleviated by killing all the pets and eating the meat that would have otherwise gone to them. As a bonus, there would be an extra ration of sausages for a couple of weeks.

    He was, of course, joking.

  4. The “meat” in most pet food is essentially what would otherwise be a waste product or undesirable parts to humans. Feeding pets likely doesn’t directly increase the total amount of greenhouse cases because the ingredients needed to make their food are already there as a byproduct of current human meat eating culture/habit. What else are you going to do with all those cow buttholes? I’m sure with the direction this country is going, some people would be happy for an extremely cheap source of protein that is on the quality of pet food. It’d be hard to get Americans to eat a significant amount more hot dogs than already consumed, so again, those buttholes/etc have to go somewhere! May as well actually feed them to pets who really aren’t going to care in the first place. They don’t even know how horrible the filler grains are for them and they eat that cheap, torturous kibble with a smile.

  5. I was definitely hoping for solutions instead of vague blame. Like, are there kitty litters that are more biodegradable? Should I use special bags to dump the litter? I have 5 cats & dump a grocery sack full of caca every single day. There must be better options Why waste time writing this article without giving any solutions?

    1. Many times I’ve asked on pet websites, even the manufacturers, how best to dispose of kitty litter?
      Put it in the trash is always the answer. How disingenous. But tahts what we do. But we would like to change that. Anyone done research?

  6. Cats cause global warming. Uh-huh. How about we just go back to accusing cats of consorting with witches? It at least leaves off the pseudo-scientific window dressing, is slightly less hypocritical and makes just as much sense.

  7. Very interesting. Reports show that 51% of greenhouse gases are contributed by animal agriculture which also feeds into our cat’s food. I would never say we should decrease animals, but it will be interesting if there is a way we can manufacture a food that contains no real animals and can also help the environment. With technological advancements, it may be very possible in the near future!

  8. I have seven cats , two dogs and two horses. I feed them properly and regularly. I have absolutely no guilt in keeping them.
    I instead of accusing animals that have a right to live how about removing all recreational vehicles off the planet. 99% of these things are only used for increasing the carbon footprint on the planet with no more purpose than self gratification.

  9. Pingback: Let’s Discuss Cats’ Impact on Planet Earth | mycatfirst.com

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