Cat Poop and World Hunger

Cat Poop and World Hunger

World food prices are rising at a frightening rate, resulting in uprisings, hunger and death. U.S. government policy diverts food into the nation’s gas tanks by subsidizing production of corn ethanol, and not enough American farmland is planted in corn to meet demand. Millions go hungry or starve, governments are destabilized, and world food prices continue to rise.

How does American industry respond?  It turns corn into kitty litter.

World’s Best Cat Litter brags that it’s made from whole-kernel corn, and that it’s edible. The stuff is being sold as green technology, since it eliminates the need for strip mining millions of tons of clay to make conventional cat litter. Corn cat litter won’t clog toilets like clay, so it’s sold as “flushable,” but opinions differ on the wisdom of doing this.

“Corn-Based Kitty Litter to Save the Planet?” asks Big Agriculture, always happy to find another market that will increase demand and raise corn prices. Corn-based kitty litter is already expensive, so economy-minded consumers are making their own out of bulk cornmeal and chickenfeed.

The U.S. pet products industry, however, is anything but chickenfeed. Sales reached a record $53 billion in 2009, at the height of the recession. 38 million Americans own some 93 million cats, and many pet owners are willing to raise world food prices by letting their cats crap in cornmeal.

 

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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3 Responses to “Cat Poop and World Hunger”

  1. Dog Gone Says:

    Actually, cat litter is not only used for cats; in cold climates … people with very small dogs litter-train them as well, because … even with dog coats .. and/or …boots, it can be so cold outside that they suffer from frostbite … because they don’t have the body mass necessary to retain heat….

    The better … kinds of recyclable renewable resource products are those which … recycle paper into pellet products, usable by both cats and dogs …. There are also some grassy/ alfalfa products ….

    The reason people consider corn products for cat litter is that they are afraid of the chemical content of commercial products … cats groom themselves by first licking their feet ….

    The corn used in ethanol for gasoline addition … is NOT the same kind of corn eaten by humans. Only a very small amount of the annual corn crops raised in the U.S. ARE for human consumption.

    [edited for length and clarity – ml]

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    Dog Gone wrote: The better … kinds of recyclable renewable resource products are those which … recycle paper into pellet products …. There are also some grassy/ alfalfa products ….

    Use of true waste or by-products is good economy as well as good ecology. In a world where people go hungry and die of starvation, though, there is an element of sin when food or feed is used to blot up pet waste.

    The corn used in ethanol for gasoline addition … is NOT the same kind of corn eaten by humans.

    Feed corn is grown to fatten the beef, pork, and fowl eaten by humans so it amounts to the same thing.

    Only a very small amount of the annual corn crops raised in the U.S. ARE for human consumption

    It takes 5 or 6 acres to grow enough feed to nourish the average cow, which yields a mere 500 pounds of beef. It stands to reason that much more farmland is used to feed animals than to feed humans.

  3. Dog Gone Says:

    It is true that animal feed is grown on farm land, but it can be argued as well that our insistence on how much meat we consume has dramatically increased from what it was in the past, and that if we truly cared about the issue of world hunger, we would make different decisions about that.
    So while I agree that it is a form of conspicuous consumption … to use a food substance for cat poop, it is simply continuing that argument that we use that feed for so very many animals for meat instead of using it for human food directly as well, if that is our concern.

    I am not vegan or vegitarian, please don’t take this to sugget I am asserting that POV. I’m not. I’m suggesting that to get serious about world hunger, we need to do more than simply look at corn product cat litter, which is a negligable segment of the cat litter market, and look at the larger issue for which the corn cat litter is one example.

    [edited for length – ml]

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