Cat-astrophy

 

OPINION — Well, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that CNN, that paragon of integrity in news reporting, has finally figured out what’s causing all the global warming. The bad news is that the culprit is your pet.

Granted, no one reads CNN articles, so when they published their epiphany a while back, no one noticed it until they promoted it on social media. And that’s where things started to go south. Not that CNN wasn’t already circling the drain, but the reaction to the news outlet telling everyone their dog or cat is destroying the planet made things even worse. Whoda thunk it?

The title of the article was ‘Our pets are part of the climate problem. These tips can help you minimize their carbon pawprints.’ Seriously. Carbon pawprints. The piece drew from a 2017 study that said the meat people feed their pets has the same carbon impact on earth as 13.6 million cars does. I don’t know which of you drives 13.6 million cars, but stop it.

Luckily, CNN offers us a solution. The article said we can deal with this carbon pawprint thing by feeding our pets stuff like lab-grown meat and insect-based pet foods. In other words, either poison Fluffy or starve the little darling to death. But, hey, it’s for the planet. I guess.

CNN also thinks you should be more picky when you choose a pet, and get smaller breeds of dogs instead of big ones, since a Chihuahua has a far smaller carbon pawprint than, say, a Rottweiler. That advice may work for some, but if you have a junkyard to protect, I’m thinking a Dachshund might not be your best choice. They’re yappy and irritating, of course, but I’m skeptical as to how many thieves might be deterred by getting the Urine of Anger on their shoes.

Other pets were also suggested in lieu of dogs and cats. The article pointed out that you could get a bird, or a turtle, or a small rodent. That’s a great idea, although I’m doubtful as to how much fun a rat would be. And if you plan on playing fetch with your pet turtle, you might want to pack a lunch. Or two.

CNN was roundly drubbed over the piece, once they spent money so people would notice it. The reactions on Twitter were brutal, but that’s to be expected when you lead with your chin. One Twitter tweeter said, ‘CNN gets worse every day. Dogs and cats generally eat the parts of meat that people don’t, so I don’t see how this even makes sense.’ Wait. Was CNN supposed to make sense?

Maybe, and I’m just shooting in the dark here, maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to attack America’s family pets, painting them as the villains in an imaginary crisis no one cares about anymore. But that’s just me.

A kitten and a duck.

Anyway, if you want to take CNN’s advice and get a low-impact pet, such as a bird, you should probably get rid of your cat first. Cats eat birds. You don’t have to take my word for it. The American Bird Conservancy has a piece about it on their website entitled, ‘Cats and birds: The combination can be disastrous. Although domestic cats (Felis catus) can make wonderful pets, they threaten birds and other wildlife and disrupt ecosystems.’ It’s a long title, but the ABC has just about had it with cats. And you can’t blame them.

According to the story, cats have contributed to the extinction of 63 species of birds, mammals, and reptiles in the wild, and they haven’t done much good for a few others, such as the almost extinct Piping Plover. Whatever that is. I don’t much care for cats, but I’m willing to give them a pass on that one. The Piping Plovers may be committing suicide, because of their name. Just sayin.

But the ABC goes on to point out that, ‘In the US alone, outdoor cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds every year.’ ABC also says, ‘Predation by domestic cats is the number one direct, human-caused threat to birds in the US and Canada.’ Which I don’t think is fair at all, to blame humans. I’ve never encouraged a cat to kill a bird. At least, not that I’m willing to admit.

The article says that ‘Even well-fed cats will hunt and kill,’ and that, since cats were introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in the late 1700s, they’ve wreaked havoc on the unique native bird populations. Not only that, but the cats have caused ‘broad environmental contamination affecting people and wildlife alike.’ I’m going out on a limb here to say I don’t think ABC likes cats a whole lot. But that’s just me.

A cat and a bird

So maybe CNN is onto something with the pet thing, considering the damage cats do to the planet. Maybe the gubmint should put a bounty on them, or something. I mean a bounty on cats, not CNN.

On second thought . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and minister who loves cats, if prepared properly. Write to him at [email protected]

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