What Is Your Cat’s Carbon Pawprint?

Environmental issues are, quite rightly, at the forefront of people’s minds at the moment, but have you ever stopped to think about your cat’s impact on the wider ecological status of the world?

Just as we all have a ‘carbon footprint’ which gives an idea of how much carbon we produce in a year, our cats have their own ‘carbon pawprint’.

A large part of a cat’s carbon pawprint is made up from their food, taking into account how it is made and where it comes from.

What can you do to minimise your cat’s carbon pawprint?

Tortoiseshell cat eatingAvoid foods that use only muscle meat

Putting cats into direct competition with high value human food increases their carbon pawprint drastically and makes their food production unsustainable.  Cats are not as fussy as us when it comes to what parts of the carcass they like to eat.  Heart, liver, kidneys, intestines all seem unpalatable to us, but they have great nutritional value and our pets love them!  These ‘byproducts’ only ever come from animals fit for human consumption so they are no less healthy than the muscle meat.  Don’t worry, in the UK and Europe at least, road kill, diseased animals and euthanased pets NEVER make their way into pet food, despite what some conspiracy theorists would have you believe!

Choose locally produced pet food where possible

Transportation carries a huge environmental cost so choosing a pet food company who are based locally, and who use locally produced meat, will minimise your cat’s carbon pawprint.

Feed the correct amount

Feeding your cat too much will either lead to obesity if your cat eats it all, or to food waste if they don’t.  Neither of these are great outcomes!  Use the food packaging as a guideline and get your cat weighed by your vet on a regular basis.  Weigh out dry food rather than estimating using a handful, scoop or measuring cup.

Don’t buy too much ‘stuff’

Our consumerist lifestyle is killing our planet.  Cats love toys but many of these can be made from simple waste materials.  A scrunched up piece of paper will go down a treat to chase.  Egg boxes and toilet roll tubes make great puzzle feeders.  Corrugated cardboard can make a good scratching post.  Use your imagination and reduce, reuse and recycle where possible!

Other ways to minimise your cat’s impact on the environment

Cats can also have an effect on the environment by hunting, breeding and passing on diseases to other animals.

Black and white kitten stalking mouseReduce hunting

If your cat is a big hunter, you can help to minimise their impact on the local wildlife by keeping them in at dawn and dusk, when most wildlife is active.

Fitting a bell to their collar can help to warn prey animals of your cat’s presence and minimise their success with hunting.  Some cats can learn to silence a single bell, so two bells may work better.  Make sure that your cat’s collar has a snap release in case it gets snagged on something.

Enclosing your garden can give your cat a safe space to roam, while minimising their access to prey animals.  Make sure that you provide plenty of simulated hunting opportunities to keep them occupied instead.

Scottish WildcatReduce disease transmission and breeding

This is of particular concern when cats live in areas with other native wild felines (e.g. Scottish Wildcats).  Making sure your cat is vaccinated, neutered and has regular parasite control, will help to reduce disease levels in the environment and indirectly protect other vulnerable species.

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