Monday, March 01, 2010

Oopsie Poopsie...

So an eco-confession to make… despite all my attempts to make the adventure cat into the eco-cat, I have begun to realize that I've made a pretty big oops. He's been eating his organic cat food since he was a mere furball, he's been using the post-consumer pine pellet cat litter and I was putting the used litter sawdust (non-feces) in the green waste recycling bin until I got the cease and desist from the city… then the sawdust was going in the worm bin. The poops, I was always dropping right into the toilet and flushing away. Unfortunately, I'm finding out now (after 10 years of reading environmental books, magazines, blogs etc…) is that flushing cat feces is actually illegal in California and probably should never enter the municipal sewer system anywhere. The issue is a parasite called Toxoplasma Gondii that many (but not all) cats carry and it can lead to Toxoplasmosis Gondii, the main reason pregnant women are told not to be the one change the litter box. There's no way to treat for the parasite's eggs at waste treatment plants and when that water heads back into the ocean, the parasite goes with it. The parasite is blamed for a high number of deaths of sea lion and sea otters.

Now from what I've read, it seems that if you have a septic system and don't live near a water body, you should be okay to flush cat poop, but if you're on the city's sewer system sadly, the only safe way to dispose of cat waste is to wrap it in plastic and send it off to the land fill. It can ONLY be composted in a pile that has temperatures over 160ยบ or below zero, as those are the only temperatures that will kill the organisms (and NEVER use the composted material on plants that you eat). The internets are surprisingly mum on ideas on how to face this problem ecologically-there are special composting bins for dog feces but the parasites in cat feces are neglected. If some creative and scientific mind (I really have to get myself an MIT intern) could get on a solution to this problem I bet the owners of the 90 million U.S. cats would sit up and start to listen.