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Cat waste disposal, otter protection, and plastic bags

Original post made by litebug, Duveneck/St. Francis, on Apr 21, 2008

In all the conversation about elimination of plastic bags I have yet to read about the fact that proper disposal of cat waste requires plastic bags. For years now, I have felt obliged to explain this every time I’ve requested plastic bags at the grocery store. It is unfortunate that so few cat owners are aware of Toxoplasma gondii and the connection between cat waste and otter deaths. Sewage treatment plants do not remove this parasite.

I've been told that using plastic bags for disposal of cat waste is the official position of the State of California. I tried to find the actual policy statement online but failed. However, there are many sites with information concerning this issue. Following is some information from one of them. Although only sea otters are mentioned in this excerpt I have read that fresh water otters are also vulnerable to this parasite

Web Link

"Scientists and researchers have recently discovered a correlation between Toxoplasma gondii and the decrease in the sea otter population off the California Coast. Since cats are the only creatures that shed the T. gondii parasite, through their feces, there seems to be a direct link. Don't Flush: Even if you use a "flushable litter," dispose of used litter, including feces and clumps by placing it in a plastic bag, tying tightly, and putting it in the garbage can. Land wastes, where your garbage will end up, are covered with soil and have membranes to prevent pollution of ground water."

When I change the entire contents of a litter box I use a large plastic garbage bag but in between I remove all solid waste and urine clumps at least once a day from each of our cat boxes and I use plastic bags from the grocery and other stores for this purpose. People also use them for picking up dog poo.

What are we supposed to do if plastic bags are banned? Are we to buy new bags for cat poo? That surely can't be the answer but I've yet to hear what the answer is by the "ban the plastic bag" people. This environmental issue needs to be addressed as there are a lot of cat owners out here who don't know what we are supposed to do: avoid plastic bags or save otters.

Comments (4)

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2008 at 3:51 am

The sea otters were first reduced by trappers, and then by abalone divers. Cats are native to California.

Like this comment
Posted by Take your cat out of my yard
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2008 at 6:28 am

This is a good reason not to own a cat. I don't but all the neighbors' cats find my yard to poop in, and I've about had it up to here!!! No I'm not going to pollute anymore with plastic bags, I just throw the poop into the gutter for the street sweeper.

Like this comment
Posted by Cat owner too
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Apr 22, 2008 at 8:06 am

Just continue to shop in Mountain View. We also appreciate the sales tax revenue. Target's bags are the best for disposing of cat litter. I bring my onw cloth bags at Safeway, but I shop at Target especially for their nice plastic bags.

Like this comment
Posted by litebug
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 22, 2008 at 1:42 pm

To Take your cat out of my yard:

You sound so delightful that if I were a cat, and knew where you lived, I'd visit your yard right now and leave you a gift of appreciation.

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