Those of us trying to be "green" often overlook are our furry little friends. Probably because they're such great companions, offering unconditional love and never talking back.
I'm going to focus on the environmental impact of cats for now versus other pets. Let's start with the major issue...poo.
Approximately 90 million households in the US have cats according to the 2005-2006 National Pet Owners Survey . Obviously a lot of waste is being produced. Unfortunately only Kopi Luwak, or civet cat coffee, is the only valuable thing retrieved from cat waste and this isn't produced by your average domestic kitty...I just couldn't resist throwing this weird tidbit in!
Clay litters are already in their final stages of decomposition so sending it off to a landfill isn't helping anyone. There are alternatives:
Buy a recycled or non-clay litter like: http://www.naturesearth.com/
Unfortunately composting is kind of tricky on account of toxoplasmosis. I'll defer to Grist on this one:
"That said, you can compost your catbox contents! Use a separate container from your other compost. It doesn't need to be fancy -- a small trash can with holes in the bottom and a tight lid will be fine. Just put the soiled litter in, and after all the poop has been in there anaerobically composting for over a year, spread it on your ornamental plants. Or you can bury fresh feces in a foot-deep hole, though not within 100 feet of a water source. Do not put fresh or composted cat poop in your vegetable garden. And if you have kids playing in your yard, I wouldn't do any of this. "
full read: http://www.grist.org/advice/ask/2005/09/26/kittylitter/
And now to discuss the pre-ingested situation. Think of how many cans and pouches are trashed (we hope recycled but not everyone is diligent about this) each day after these 90 million cat owning households finish feeding their pets. I know, it's mind blowing. I've heard of a raw food diet for dogs...but is there one for cats?
You bet. Not only is there less waste produced but no hormones, chemicals or pesticides. This diet better resembles what your purrfect pet would be eating in the wild. Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Jr. did a study in the mid-1900s on the effects of cooked vs. raw diet. Guess which one produced healthier cats? Uh huh.
You definitely will need to do some research though and get a diet plan laid out. Obviously it will be important to speak to your vet about such diet.
An example meal would include some kind of raw meat, cooked grains, raw veggies and perhaps some nutritional supplements. If you are a vegetarian then having a cat or dog is probably not such a good idea considering you will have to deal with raw meat or the mysterious content of canned food.
Is having a pet worth the impact, or the effort to offset it? I'll leave it up to you.