TreeHuggers everywhere are working to lighten the carbon load on the planet. Some of us are doing a little, others a lot. Whether it's through offsetting your flights, taking public transport or by buying energy efficient light bulbs, there are some simple things we can do that can make a big difference.
But have you ever thought about your pet's carbon footprint, err paw print?
Take cats. Some 40 percent of all Americans own at least one, and not all of these cats are permitted outdoors for various reasons. Keeping them inside spares them from contagious diseases and accidents, and helps protect songbirds as well. However, the huge quantity of cat litter they produce is a burden on the environment.
Cats need to dig, so they need a litter box. But one ounce of cat urine consumes three ounces of clumping cat litter, which must be hauled to the dump. The standard clumping litter is not biodegradable and is made from sodium bentonite which has been linked to cat deaths (the link points to a TreeHugger forum discussion about this issue). The source of todium bentonite? Strip-mines in Wyoming and Brazil. Can you believe that we are strip mining for cats?
According to CatGenie, inventor of a new self-flushing cat box, millions of tons of used cat litter ends up in American landfill sites. CatGenie's solutions? Their appliance, which is likened to a toilet for cats, uses washable, litter-like granules that are permanent. Liquid waste drains through them while the machine scoops out solids and liquefies them into a poop puree for easy drainage. The granules are then washed and dried.
A New Appliance?
Normally we do not advocate buying a new appliance to fill one specific need, but we do think the CatGenie, despite using water and chemicals to biodegrade cat feces, may be a better solution to your cat's litter box. For cats, says the company, "it's a roomy cat box filled with fresh, clean litter-size granules that are comfy for digging and covering.
"For cat lovers, the CatGenie is a washing, drying cat sanitation appliance. At least once a day, CatGenie automatically washes."
The CatGenie adds the company has a magical "GenieHand" that scoops, scrubs and scours the granules and box interior and then a blowing function dries the granules. Located just outside of Philadelphia near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania (it was developed in Israel and tested on Israeli cats) the machine can be purchased online.
Now we haven't done a carbon audit on CatGenie to see how much less carbon intensive their device is on the environment than self-clumping litter but we imagine it is significant.
We were concerned though about toxoplasmosis and the environmental hazards of flushing cat fecal puree down the drain. Here's what CatGenie's marketing rep Steven says in reply:
With regard to Toxoplasmosis, it is almost a non-issue for indoor domestic cats. Additionally, even if a cat does get the parasite and sheds the oocysts (eggs) which is what causes the concern they only do this for 2-10 days 1 time in their entire life. Thus an individual cat passes oocysts into the human environment for only a small fraction of its entire life span.
Indoor cats that do not hunt are even less likely to get it, and cats that come from shelters have usually had it already (remember they only get it 1x in their lifetime). Because oocysts are passed unsporulated and noninfectious, contact with fresh feline feces (<1 day old) of an infected cat is not a risk. Since the CatGenie is cleaned at least 1x every day and in the rare situation where a cat that is passing oocysts use it, the feces are flushed out of the home before there is any issues.
Additionally, the CatGenie does kill many other types of bacteria that are much more common and is a clearly better alternative to sending wasteful and bacteria filled litter to the dump. The EPA recommends that the best way to handle pet waste is to flush it. The biggest risk to people and the most common occurrence of toxoplasmosis comes from people eating uncooked meat and digging in the garden.
We continue to improve the CatGenie and are reducing the plastic used in the disposable cartridges and will be reducing waste of those cartridges by 50% in the next few months combined with looking into producing them as biodegradable like our Washable Granules.
See a film about how CatGenie works:
If the infomercial on CatGenie still hasn't sold you, there are some environmentally-friendly cat litter solutions. Here are a couple:
World's Best Cat Litter —— A dust-free litter is made from absorbent corn protein and other fibres which is flushable and biodegradable.
Swheat Scoop —— This is a clay-free and chemical-free litter made from wheat. It also biodegrades and is safe for both sewers and septic tanks. Clumping well, Swheat Scoop can also be tossed in the compost heap.
Win a CatGenie
Have an idea for reducing your pet's carbon paw print? Enter the contest to win a free CatGenie, retail value about $300. Put your ideas in the comments section and we'll choose the one we like best in one month.