Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats

From PLOS

Gregory S. Okin

Published: August 2, 2017

Abstract

In the US, there are more than 163 million dogs and cats that consume, as a significant portion of their diet, animal products and therefore potentially constitute a considerable dietary footprint. Here, the energy and animal-derived product consumption of these pets in the US is evaluated for the first time, as are the environmental impacts from the animal products fed to them, including feces production. In the US, dogs and cats consume about 19% ± 2% of the amount of dietary energy that humans do (203 ± 15 PJ yr-1 vs. 1051 ± 9 PJ yr-1) and 33% ± 9% of the animal-derived energy (67 ± 17 PJ yr-1 vs. 206 ± 2 PJ yr-1). They produce about 30% ± 13%, by mass, as much feces as Americans (5.1 ± Tg yr-1 vs. 17.2 Tg yr-1), and through their diet, constitute about 25–30% of the environmental impacts from animal production in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphate, and biocides. Dog and cat animal product consumption is responsible for release of up to 64 ± 16 million tons CO2-equivalent methane and nitrous oxide, two powerful greenhouse gasses (GHGs). Americans are the largest pet owners in the world, but the tradition of pet ownership in the US has considerable costs. As pet ownership increases in some developing countries, especially China, and trends continue in pet food toward higher content and quality of meat, globally, pet ownership will compound the environmental impacts of human dietary choices. Reducing the rate of dog and cat ownership, perhaps in favor of other pets that offer similar health and emotional benefits would considerably reduce these impacts. Simultaneous industry-wide efforts to reduce overfeeding, reduce waste, and find alternative sources of protein will also reduce these impacts.

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Citation: Okin GS (2017) Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats. PLoS ONE 12(8): e0181301. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0181301

Editor: Mathew S. Crowther, University of Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Received: August 25, 2016; Accepted: June 14, 2017; Published: August 2, 2017

Copyright: © 2017 Gregory S. Okin. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files, including the URLs for the databases used for the study. The URLs for these databases are: http://www.census.gov/popclock/; https://www.akc.org/reg/dogreg_stats.cfm; http://www.petcarerx.com/article/dog-breed-weight-chart/267; http://www.statista.com/statistics/188670/top-dry-dog-food-brands-in-the-united-states/; http://www.statista.com/statistics/197947/symphonyiri-tracked-dollar-sales-of-dog-food-in-the-us/; http://www.statista.com/statistics/254171/market-share-of-the-leading-dry-cat-food-brands-in-the-us/; https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-per-capita-data-system/; http://www.census.gov/popest/data/state/totals/2015/; http://faostat.fao.org/.

Funding: This study was done without extramural or intramural funds besides those used for the normal salary of the author.

Competing interests: The author has declared that no competing interests exist.

Introduction

Dietary choices have considerable impacts on environmental sustainability [1]. Compared to a plant-based diet, a meat-based diet requires more energy, land, and water and has greater environmental consequences in terms of erosion, pesticides, and waste. With over 7 billion human beings on the planet, increasing attention has been paid to the environmental effects of peoples’ diets, with some predicting a 100–110% increase in demand for agricultural production by 2050, which could require ~ 1 billion hectares to be cleared globally for agriculture [2]. Meat consumption, already high in developed nations, is increasing in developing nations as the standard of living increases [1, 35]. In addition to requiring greater land compared to plant crops to produce equivalent protein energy, and contributing to soil erosion, animal production has considerably greater impacts on water use, fossil fuel use, greenhouse gas emission, fertilizer use, and pesticide use [27]. Despite the fact that more than 60% of US households have pets [8], these consumers of agricultural products are rarely included in calculations of the environmental impact of dietary choices.

Given the significant environmental impact of meat production, the contributions of our omnivorous and carnivorous pets deserve special attention. The US has the largest population of pet dogs and cats globally, with an estimated 77.8 million dogs and 85.6 million cats in 2015 [8]. The consequences of these animals on wildlife and water quality have been investigated, with studies showing considerable impacts on carbon usage [9, 10], water quality [1114], disease [1518] and wildlife [1921]

Here, the contribution of dogs and cats to total US energy and meat consumption and the environmental impact of that meat consumption, including the production of feces, is considered. The goal of the study is to understand the scale of these animals’ dietary needs in relation to those of Americans. The number of dog- and cat-owning households is increasing in the US [8], and at the same time there is an increasing trend in the “humanization” of pets and pet products [22, 23]. As a possible consequence, there is a trend toward increasing meat quantity and quality in pet foods, which results in further increases in consumption of animal products by pets. There is evidence that this trend may continue as younger people are more likely to purchase premium pet food that includes more desirable cuts of meat [24]. Globally, the increasing pet ownership in developing countries [25, 26] may serve to increase the potential environmental impacts of pet dogs and cats.

Methods and results

Total energy consumed

Energy consumption was calculated as: (1)where is the total energy consumed annually, is the per-capital annual consumption, and N is the number of individuals. was calculated separately for humans, dogs, and cats.

The Census Bureau estimates that the total population of the US was 321 million in 2015, with roughly equal proportions of men and women [27] (Table 1). The USDA Agricultural Research Service estimates that on average, US males (age 2+) consume 10,330 ± 91 kJ d-1 (2,469 ± 81 kcal d-1) and US females (age 2+) consume 7,607 ± 64 kJ d-1 (1,817 ± 15 kcal d-1). Therefore, the average daily energy consumption for both males and females is 8,966 ± 155 kJ d-1 (2,143 ± 37 kcal d-1) [28]. Using Eq 1, these estimates result in a total human energy intake of 1,051 ± 9 PJ y-1.

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Table 1. Population and energy requirements of US people, dogs, and cats.

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The American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimates that there were 77.8 million dog and 85.6 million cats owned as pets in the United States in 2015 (Table 1) [8]. Dogs’ energy requirements are taken as ~544 kJ (kg BW)-0.75 d-1 [29]. Dogs’ body weight (BW) varies greatly by breed. To estimate the average BW of dogs, the average weight of the American Kennel Club (AKC)’s list of the 10 most popular dog breeds in the US was used [30]. Average breed weights were taken either from the AKC or other sources [31]. This resulted in an average US dog BW of 22 kg. The standard deviation of the average breed weights represents the variability among breeds, rather than uncertainty in the average dog weight and is therefore inappropriate for the uncertainty analysis done here. To estimate the uncertainty in the average dog weight, data from Meyer et al. [32] were taken for 10 breeds of different sizes. For each breed, Meyer et al. [32] reports the mass and standard deviation of the samples (n = 4 to 9). The standard deviation was regressed against the mass (r2 = 0.87) and standard deviation at 22 kg was estimated as 1.2 kg. Therefore, the estimated average US dog BW that will be used hereafter is 22 ± 1.2 kg giving an average energy requirement of 5,594 ± 443 kJ d-1 (1337 ± 106 kcal d-1). Multiplied by the estimated number of owned dogs in the US (Eq 1), this results in an estimate of 159 ± 13 PJ y-1 consumed by dogs [29].

Cats require ~544 kJ (kg BW)-0.67 d-1 energy [29]. The body weight of cats varies less than that of dogs, so the average and standard deviation of cat weight in Bermingham et al. [33] (4.2 ± 0.2 kg) were used to represent average cat weight, resulting in a total cat energy requirement of 1,426 ± 79 kJ d-1 (341 ± 19 kcal d-1). Multiplied by the estimated number of owned cats in the US (Eq 1), this results in an estimate of 45 ± 2.5 PJ y-1 consumed.

The proportion of the dietary energy in the US consumed by dogs and cats was calculated as the sum of the energy consumed by dogs and cats (203 ± 15 PJ y-1) divided by human energy intake (1051 ± 9 PJ y-1), with the result that dogs and cats consume about 19.4 ± 1.6% of the energy that humans in America do (Table 1).

Energy from animal sources

For humans, the fraction of energy that is derived from animal sources, FA, can be calculated as: (2)where EA,C is the energy consumed by humans from animal sources (subscript A). EA,C can be calculated from data available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (Table 2): the total amount of red meat (including beef, veal, pork, and lamb), poultry (including chicken and turkey) and fish (including fish and shellfish) eaten by each Americans is 59.6 kg yr-1. Given the energy density of each food used by the USDA (Table 2), and with the conservative assumption that this meat provides the only animal-derived energy consumed by Americans, it is calculated that Americans consume 206 PJ yr-1 from animal sources, which constitutes 20% of their total energy intake.

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Table 2. Per capita meat consumption in the US.

Data from [28]. Uncertainty not available.

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For dogs and cats, direct data on consumption is not available and therefore FA cannot be calculated directly using Eq 2. Instead, new calculations must be made based on available data: ingredient lists for dog and cat foods and the composition of these ingredients in terms of substrates which have well-known energy densities (i.e., Atwater factors for protein, carbohydrate, and fat).

To do this, the ingredient lists for individual pet foods were used. Individual ingredients were considered in terms of the content of energy-providing substrates, protein, fat, and carbohydrate and non-energy providing components like water, ash, and fiber. Compositional data analysis is required for these calculations because the substrate components must sum to unity [34]. For a particular pet food, m, the center (analogous to the arithmetic mean) dry mass fraction of substrate k (protein, fat, carbohydrate, other), expressed as average grams of k per gram of m, was calculated as the closed geometric mean: (3)where is the mass fraction of substrate k in one of the first five ingredients, i, in a particular food (i.e., grams of k per gram of i). For these calculations, the category ‘other’ was included to provide closure [35], that is, so that the fractions of all categories would sum to unity. was estimated for each ingredient by equating it with a general ingredient category for which substrate content is available (Table 3) [29, 36].

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Table 3. Simplified ingredient list including dry matter content and content of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

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Similarly, the average dry mass fraction of animal-derived substrate k for a particular food (i.e., average grams of animal-derived k per gram of m) was calculated as the closed geometric mean: (4)where is the mass fraction of animal-derived substrate k in one of the first five ingredients, i, in a particular food (Table 3 asterisks indicate animal-derived). For these calculations, the same approach was used in calculation of , except non-animal derived protein, fat, and carbohydrates were added to the ‘other’ category to maintain closure. and are (geometric) average mass fractions and therefore explicitly assume that the first five ingredients in a food are present in equal proportions and that they constitute nearly all of the mass of pet food m. This assumption is wrong, but conservative, as explained below. Uncertainty in was calculated as the variance across all m for each substrate k [35].

The fraction of energy derived from animal products in a food m (animal-derived joules per total joules) was calculated as: (5)where Ek is the energy density of the substrates (i.e., Atwater factors: Eprotein = Ecarbohydrate = 4J/g, EFat = 9 J/g [29]). Eother was set to zero in for both total and animal-derived calculations. In the former case, water, ash, and fiber, which provide no dietary energy, comprised the ‘other’ category. In the latter, ‘other’ contained water, ash, and fiber as well as non-animal derived protein, fat, and carbohydrates, on the logic that these do not provide animal-derived dietary energy. The total animal-derived energy was calculated as (6)which is the weighted average fraction of animal-derived energy in four categories: premium dog food (n = 102), market-leading dog food (n = 9), premium cat food (n = 163), and market-leading cat food (n = 9). is the annual total energy consumed by dogs and is the annual total energy consumed by cats (Table 1) Px,y is the proportion of dog or cat owners and (x = Dog and Cat, respectively) who prefer premium or market-leading foods (y = P and N, respectively). Likewise, Mx,y is the number of foods considered here in each category. More premium foods were used in these calculations because there is more diversity in this market sector. For dry dog food, nine foods from just five manufacturers constitute 48% of the market [37]. For dry cat food, nine foods from just four manufacturers constitute 49% of the market share [38].

Dry foods were used for these calculations. For both dogs and cats, dry food sales dominate wet food sales (billions of US dollars in sales for various foods in 2012: 8.7 (dry dog food) vs 2.3 (wet dog food) [39], and 3.6 (dry cat food) vs. 2.4 (wet cat food) [40], and thus are more representative of the foods fed to cats, and especially, dogs. The dominance of dry food as the preferred form is especially true when the price per serving is taken into account. One market-leading wet cat food costs approximately $0.83 per serving while a dry food by the same manufacturer costs approximately $0.23 per serving. Using the this per-serving price ratio, dry cat food outsells wet cat food on a per-serving basis by a factor of about 3 to 1. Furthermore, dry food typically has lower animal content (as determined by the list of ingredients in descending order of mass contribution) than wet food. Thus, use of dry food for these calculations provides a conservative estimate of the greatest proportion of dog and cat food sales in the U.S.

USDA labeling rules require that pet food ingredients be labeled in descending order of weight contribution, as they do with foods intended for humans. Calculations were made on the assumptions that 1) each of the first five ingredients contributes, by mass, equally to the mass of the pet food and 2) collectively, these first five ingredients make up nearly all of the mass of the pet food (that is, there are no other ingredients that contribute substantially to the mass of the food). With regard to the former, for marketing purposes, animal-derived ingredients typically appear in in the top couple of places in the ingredient list. This is particularly true of premium foods, where 100% of both dog and cat foods examined here had animal-derived products as the first ingredient (Table 4). For all types of dry food examined here (market-leading v. premium dog and cat foods), animal-derived ingredients appear among the first two ingredients more commonly than among the third and fourth ingredients (Table 4). Thus, the calculations made here over-weight the later ingredients, which are less likely to be animal-derived, compared to the earlier ingredients, which are more likely to be animal derived. Although there is no way to know, in proprietary recipes, the exact proportions of ingredient, by weighting the first five ingredients equally, a minimum overall estimate of animal-derived energy in dog and cat food is produced.

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Table 4. Frequency of an animal derived ingredient in one of the first two positions or one of the two following positions in the ingredient list of dry foods considered here.

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With regard to the second assumption, that the first five ingredients make up nearly all of the mass of the pet food, ingredients appearing past the first five in the ingredient list are often nutrients (e.g., tocopherol) added in trace quantities. If ingredients past the fifth are not trace, then given the requirement that ingredients be listed in decreasing mass contribution, the sixth ingredient must contribute less than 16% of the mass of the food. In the case of seven substantive ingredients, the maximum fraction of the mass in the 6th and 7th places is 29%. Among the premium brands that were examined, the proportion of animal-derived product decreased as they occurred later in ingredient lists with only 21% of the sixth ingredients in dry dog food being animal-derived. Thus, even in the extreme case, a maximum of 3–6% (21% of 16% = 3.5%; 21% of 29% = 6%) of the animal-derived content may be missing in the foods examined here. Although the methodology use here cannot give exact amounts of animal-derived content from foods, the potential maximum exclusion of 3–6% of animal-derived products is sufficient to draw important conclusions about the amount of animal-derived energy consumed by dogs and cats.

The APPA’s annual pet-owners survey [8] provides data that can be used understand consumer preferences, thus providing information about ratio of premium vs. non-premium (market leading) foods consumed. Non-premium brands tend to have lower animal-derived content whereas premium brands tend to have higher animal-derived content. The premium brand category used here includes the ‘premium’ and ‘gourmet’ survey categories. For dogs of all sizes, the average percent of owners who usually feed these meat-rich dog foods is 38%. For cats, this number is 30% (Table 5).

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Table 5. Values used in the calculation of the fraction (and total) of energy consumed by dogs and cats in the US.

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The final market-wide estimates of the fraction of energy in dog and cat foods that is animal-derived are 34% ± 4% and 31% ± 4%, respectively (Table 5). In total, Eq 6 yields an estimate that animal-derived energy constitutes 33% ± 6% of the diets of dogs and cats in the US. This is significantly higher than the fraction of humans’ dietary energy that is animal-derived (19%). Because dogs and cats consume, together, 203 ± 15 PJ/year, it is estimated that dogs and cats consume a minimum of 67 ± 17 PJ/year in animal-derived energy, which is 33% ± 9% of the animal-derived energy consumed by humans in the US or 25% ± 6% of the total.

An important caveat for the calculations of the relative consumption of pets and humans is that the sources of the data, and mode of calculation, are dramatically different. As a result, their ratios may be systematically biased. Nonetheless, the calculations of absolute amounts (e.g., PJ/yr) are informative, and the relative amounts still provide important insight into the magnitude of pets’ consumption.

Plant-equivalent energy consumption

Calculating the dietary energy in animal-based diets compared to the equivalent plant energy required support animal production for those diets is an important way to contextualize different dietary choices (e.g., [41, 42]). Here, plant-equivalent energy calculations are used as a means to understand the scale of the impact of dogs’ and cats’ meat consumption in relation to the energy requirements of people. The plant-equivalent energy consumed by humans and animals can be calculated as: (7)where FCRE is the feed conversion ratio for meat on an energy (J/J) basis rather than the more common mass (g/g) basis. FCRE is calculated to be 4.7 joules of meat energy per joule of plant energy, which is the average of loss-adjusted FCRE for beef+lamb, pork, and poultry, weighted by their relative availability in American’s diets [43]. Mass-basis feed conversion ratios are reported by Rosegrant et al. [44] as 7, 5, and 2 for beef, pork, and chicken. These values were divided by total proportional loss from primary weight to consumer weight [43] to adjust for processing and waste loss and converted to energy units using their average energy content from [43].

EPE for dogs and cats is calculated as 453 ± 105 PJ yr-1 compared to humans’ 1810 ± 16 PJ yr-1, resulting in the conclusion that pets’ share of the total plant-equivalent energy consumed by pets and humans is 20% ± 6%. Because these calculations involve a ratio with FCRE in both the numerator and the denominator, it is not very sensitive to the actual value of FCRE; within a realistic range of estimates for FCRE (2–10), the range of pets’ total share of the plant-equivalent energy is 18%–22%. 139 ± 34 million people, eating 8900 kJ d-1 (2143 kcal d-1) could be supported by the plant-equivalent energy of US dogs and cats, whereas 553 ± 14 million people could be supported by the plant energy equivalent consumed by people in the US.

Feces production

I used data from Lampe et al. [45] to estimate the average fecal matter produced by people as 0.147 kg capita-1 d-1, wet weight. De-Oliveira et al. [46] estimate that cats produce 0.042 kg cat-1 d-1 of fecal matter. Meyer et al. [32] has produced estimates of the amount of fecal dry matter (FDM) and fecal water excretion (FEW) produced by different breeds of dogs with both dry and canned diets. These data were fit to separate power laws (dry: FDM = 46.2 BW-0.052, FWE = 2.57 BW0.059; canned: FDM = 34.5 BW-0.111, FWE = 4.69 BW0.110) and values for a dog of estimated mass 22 ± 1.2 kg (calculated above) were calculated. Results for dry and canned diets were averaged and total fecal matter production was calculated as 0.15 ± 0.07 kg dog-1 d-1. Therefore, the amount of fecal matter (wet weight) produced by dogs, cats, and people in the US is4.4 ± 1.8, 0.72 ± 0.03, and 17 ± 1.3 Tg yr-1, respectively. In total, US dogs and cats produce 5.1 ± 1.9 Tg yr-1 of feces, which is 30% ± 13% that produced by humans and 23% ± 12% of the total.

Assuming that Americans throw away about 2 kg d-1 as garbage [47], if all of the feces from US dogs and cats, not including kitty litter and bags, were disposed as garbage, their feces would be equivalent to the total garbage produced by 6.63 million Americans, or approximately the population of Massachusetts (population 6.64 million in 2015 [48]).

Relative environmental impact

I followed Reijnders and Soret [6] in determining the environmental impact of dogs’ and cats’ land animal meat consumption. Reijnders and Soret [6] used life cycle analysis to determine the relative impact of producing meat protein compared to producing plant (soy) protein in several categories. In separate calculations for pets and humans, the impact of animal production compared to plant production was calculated as: (8)where Ij is the impact of animal production in category j (land use, water use, fossil fuels, phosphates, biocides) and Wj is the relative impact of meat protein production (Table 6). The non-animal product energy consumed (i.e., ) was given an implicit value of unity. The resulting values can be used to determine the relative impacts of pets’ and people’s diets in a way that accounts for varying energetic needs of pets and people.

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Table 6. Weighting factors for categories of environmental impact.

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With regard to land use, water, and fossil fuel, the environmental impact of animal production (compared to a plant-protein substitute) used to feed dogs and cats is 25–30% of that used to feed humans (Table 6). For phosphate and biocide use, this proportion is 26–27% ± 5%. An important caveat in these calculations is that the animal-derived energy used includes fish. The approach of Reijnders and Soret [6] is strictly for land animals, which have clear land use, water, fossil fuel, phosphate, and biocide impacts. There is no clear way to determine the amount of fish-derived energy as a proportion of total animal-derived energy in animal feed. However, if the number is similar to that in food consumed by people in the US (~1%, [28]), then the proportional calculations are approximately correct. An additional caveat in the interpretation of these calculations is that they do not differentiate between different sources of animal protein, which can have distinctly different environmental footprints. We used the range/uncertainty provided by Reijnders and Soret and Pimentel and Pimentel [6, 7] to provide reasonable bounds on these results. Without market-wide knowledge of recipe and sales data, much of which is proprietary, a more detailed calculation is not possible. However, this does not mean that these calculations are not valuable to provide an estimate of the scale of the contribution of dogs and cats to these environmental impacts.

Non-CO2 greenhouse gas production

Eshel and Martin [41] calculated ~0.8 kg cap-1 yr-1 CO2-eq due to livestock-related non-CO2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (specifically methane and nitrous oxide) produced nationwide. Assuming the mean American diet (with inefficiencies) and multiplying by the population of the US yields an estimate of 260 million ton yr-1 CO2-eq methane and nitrous oxide produced in the course of livestock production in the US. The proportion of total animal-derived energy consumed by dogs and cats is 25% ± 6% and thus the pets’ share of the livestock-related methane and nitrous oxide production is up to 64 ± 16 million tons CO2-eq GHG, although this number may be lower because, presumably, there is less waste in the production of dog and cat food.

Discussion

People love their pets [49]. They provide a host of real and perceived benefits to people including companionship [50], increased physical activity [51], improved mental health and social capital [52], benefits for child development [53], and social status [54]. Many dogs are also working dogs and have roles in assisting the disabled, contributing to military and civilian security, and in traditional roles on ranches and farms. Cats, too, have traditional roles in pest control in addition to their roles as pets. This analysis does not mean to imply that dog and cat ownership should be curtailed for environmental reasons, but neither should we view it as an unalloyed good. It is clear that a transition to pets that eat less meat, and therefore have less environmental impact, would reduce the overall US consumption of meat.

The results presented here indicate that exclusion of pets in calculations of food consumption can skew considerably estimates of the total energy actually consumed. As calculated, US dogs and cats consume as much dietary energy as ~62 million Americans, which is approximately one-fifth of the US population. Although there are fewer dogs and cats in the US than people, they derive more of their energy from animal-derived products (33% ± 6% vs. 19% for people). Thus, if pets’ consumption was included in calculations, the US would be equivalent to a country of ~ 380 million in terms of raw dietary energy consumed and a country of about 690 million in terms of animal-derived energy consumed. Thus, it is clear, at least for countries with considerable populations of dogs and cats like the US, that the consumption by these animals should be considered when calculating national food consumption. Their smaller size, lower energetic needs, and primarily herbivorous biology means that small pets, like birds, rodents, and reptiles consume less animal-derived energy making them less important in these calculations.

It could be argued that dogs and cats eat meat that humans cannot consume and which is simply a byproduct of production for human use, and therefore should not be counted as consumption beyond that of humans. To some extent, this is certainly true; humans, for instance, do not generally consume bone meal, a common ingredient. But other ingredients in pet food that are byproducts of human meat production are certainly edible after processing. The argument that dogs’ and cats’ environmental and energetic impacts are obviated by the fact that they eat byproducts from the human food system, and that otherwise the material would go to waste, relies on the assumption that these same byproducts could not be made to be suitable for human consumption after suitable processing. And much pet food probably is already edible and serves as a potential source of protein as a food of last resort; there are reports, both official and unofficial, of impoverished Americans eating pet food as a necessary supplement to their diet [5557, 58, 59]. At any rate, the trend toward premium pet food with more animal products that Americans would recognize as edible indicates that pets are eating animal products that could also be eaten by humans and that there is direct competition with the human food system for ingredients in some of these products [10].

The proprietary nature of and incredible variety in pet food recipes makes a detailed calculation impossible, but for the sake of argument, if just one-quarter of the estimated 33% animal-derived energy in pet food was consumable by humans, it alone would support the animal-derived energy consumption of 26 million Americans (with 19% of their energy in derived from animal products). This same energy is equal to the entire energy requirement of almost 5 million Americans, or approximately the population of Colorado [48]. If animal-derived energy was converted to its plant equivalent, one-quarter of the animal-derived energy in US dogs’ and cats’ food would support ~35 million humans. If even only 5% of the animal-derived energy in pet food could be eaten by humans, this would be equivalent to the animal-product consumption of more than 5 million Americans, and the total energy consumption of 1 million Americans, or about the population of Montana [25, 26, 48].

Additional research is needed to evaluate the animal content and human-edibility of ingredients in dog and cat food after processing, but the calculations presented here indicate that these pets comprise a significant proportion of US energy and animal-derived product consumption, with the consequent environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emission and feces production. Inasmuch as increasing animal production is a threat to the sustainability of the global food system [1, 2], the non-negligible contribution of dogs and cats compounds the problem and exacerbates the threat to sustainability posed by our dietary choices. This is particularly true given increasing pet ownership in some developing countries, and trends in “humanization” of pet food [22, 23] which competes directly with the human food system [10]. Reducing the rate of dog and cat ownership, perhaps in favor of other, less energy-intensive, pets that offer similar health, social, and emotional benefits, would considerably reduce America’s overall livestock-related environmental impacts. Both small (e.g., birds, hamsters) and large (e.g., horses) have been shown to be associated with important benefits, including friendship, verbal interaction, companionship [60, 61], promoting self-care [62, 63], and increased empathy [64]. For children, both small and large pets provide friendship, love, and fun as well as opportunities to learn responsibility and deal with pet mortality and mourning [65, 66]. For children with illnesses, small pets have been shown to improve their attitude and help them keep their minds off their disease [67].

It is not just what we feed pets, but how we feed them that contributes to the environmental impacts of our pets, and obesity is a major problem among domestic animals [68, 69]. The pet food industry has also started to confront the issue of the sustainability of feeding pets through advances in product design, manufacturing, education, and policy in order to reduce overfeeding and waste, encourage recycling, and find alternative sources of protein [10]. Simple measures like feeding domestic dogs and cats nutritionally appropriate amounts will certainly reduce their environmental and energetic impact. However, without large-scale reduction in their number and changes to the food system that drastically reduces the per-capita animal product consumption, the environmental and energetic impact of these animals will remain significant.

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141 thoughts on “Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats

  1. “…Reducing the rate of dog and cat ownership…would considerably reduce these impacts…”

    I have many dog-owning friends who dabble on the AGW soapbox. They won’t like the taste of this.

    • Why stop there? Pets aren’t the only animals that have a diketary footprint. Clearly we need to go all-in to save the planet and start killing off species wholesale. The amount of meat eaten by lions, tigers, bobcats, mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, etc, has to amount to a significant factor. I think we have no choice but to slaughter all meat-eaters but man. To save the planet.

      • You don’t get it. The green meanies would much rather slaughter humans than wild animals.

        “Gordon Gekko: That’s the one thing you have to remember about WASPs: they love animals and hate people.”

        Wall Street

      • I don’t see how replacing meat-eating pets with non-meat-eaters would benefit the environment. trading in my dog for a horse, a cow, or an elephant is certainly not going to help the environment. What happened to the concern about cow flatulence and the large amount of land required to feed such animals? Plant-eating animals that die and decay, instead of being eaten by carnivores, are still consumed by microbes. The process may be a bit slower, but the end results are the same. So do we need to kill off all animals, meat-eaters and plant-eaters alike to save the planet? Certainly not. An ecosystem needs a mix of plants, herbivores, and carnivores to remain healthy. This is another case of the cure being worse than the disease.

      • What about it all the lobster and caviar consumed by eco-green-renewable-planet friendly politicians and activists? Surely we could do nature a favor by converting them all to a diet of wild grasses and belly button lint.

    • They should try inverting the equation and calcuate the carbon savings of “Environmental impacts of food consumption OF dogs and cats.”.

    • This “deep ecology” thing has obviously now become a religion. The only reason it has as much traction as it does is because the lion’s share of the population now has no screen-based, non-propagandized actual contact with Nature. Should people be parted even from pets in the name of Political Correctness and the non-existent “problem” of “greenhouse gases,” our severance from exposure to other species will be complete.

      If the over-educated dingbat who wrote this “study” would like to eat the “meat by-products” listed on a can of dog food, he can knock himself out. Ground-up chicken feathers sounds like the content of his brain.
      I know of no animal species, anywhere, which is raised exclusively to provide pet food. I might add, that even in the most “impoverished” areas of America today, the primary illness of malnutrition is obesity–caused by overconsumption of refined carbohydrates, not meat.

    • Michael
      It seems there can be a common-sense look at this.

      From the lead paragraph:
      “In the US, there are more than 163 million dogs and cats that consume, as a significant portion of their diet, animal products and therefore potentially constitute a considerable dietary footprint.” [Date not given that I could see, but published 2 August 2017, which may mean little]
      From http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/#top20 downloaded at about 2132 Z, 27 August 2017: – “U.S.A. 326,847,362” – almost exactly double the number of ‘dogs and cats’
      Yet dogs and cats are reckoned to contribute –
      “about 30% ± 13%, by mass, as much feces as Americans (5.1 ± Tg yr-1 vs. 17.2 Tg yr-1)
      AS A ROUGH GUESS, THEREFORE, IT SUGGESTS THAT – IF [AN IMPORTANT QUALIFIER] – fecal output is proportional to body weight, then America’s dogs and cats are about – on average – 60% of the weight of Americans.
      Some dogs are big – say 100 Kg, or a little more. Some of them are not big – fitting into handbags . . .
      Many cats are small – my three are 3.3 Kg; 3.4 Kg, and 5.3 Kg, at last weighing, for what it is worth.
      I note that some human – many outside the USA – are pretty big – I am about 128 Kg, ~284 pounds; but others are bigger.
      Are dogs and cats really themselves 60% of an average human weight?
      Do note – “- IF [AN IMPORTANT QUALIFIER] – fecal output is proportional to body weight,”

      To me, this doesn’t pass the back of an envelope calculation.
      Undoubtedly, pet animals consume resources, but this looks – to me – to be pretty desperate . . . . . . .

      Auto

  2. Leftist climate Nazis want to get rid of pets to fight an imaginary bogeyman – how unsurprisingly cruel and idiotic.

  3. A twofer on Causes–Veganism and PETA style animal rights activism (PETA hates the idea of pets BTW).

    • Lost the ability to count past two? I have been up watching Harvey. Three causes, I forgot global warming.

  4. The more AGW/Climate Change nuts I meet, the more I like my Dog… and given the choice between feeding and ANTIFAkir for a year and feeding my dog for a year…there’s no question, I’d feed the ANTIFAkir to my dog.

  5. How about a study on the environmental impact of studies of global warming … just think of all the time and energy spent studying the climate and anything remotely connected to it and all the billions spent on it in a vain effort to find this elusive global warming …

    • This “study” should be tracked back to its funding source and whoever put up the money exposed and called out far and wide for their idiocy.

  6. If you’re really concerned about the energy footprint in relation to foodstuffs, for people or for pets, consider the use of corn for fuel alcohol production. Most engineering figures I’ve seen indicate it’s a) a net consumer of energy, b) a driver for elevated food costs for those living in marginal subsistence areas of the world, tending to lead to starvation for those with the least ability to either produce or afford food.

    • Using food for motor fuel is a true crime, IMO.
      Thanks for pointing it out.
      The list of distinct and separate idiocies connected to CAGW is astounding, and getting longer by the day.

    • Food for fuel is a crime! Mostly just a government subsidy for Cargill, ADM, Monsanto and other global agro companies. Its main use in fuel is to reduce nitrogen oxide in the exhaust and improve octane rating. It would be significantly cheaper and more efficient to produce it directly from petroleum products and skip the in between steps of farming, fuel, fertilizer, harvest, drying, fermenting, distillation, cooling, special freight handling, and distribution. The oil companies would d all that much cheaper and easier.

  7. This came out a while back. I had been waiting for someone to realize that dogs and cats eat a great deal of meat, often of “human” quality. No longer are by-products acceptable to many. It wasn’t that tough to figure out how unpopular this entire idea would be. I guess believers are either desperate or emboldened. Hard to tell with these individuals. I don’t see this catching on.

    • The vast majority of meat products used in pet food is what is known as offal.
      Trimmings, scraps, innards, lips and snouts and ears and what not, and stuff that has fallen on the floor, or is spoiled to some degree but still okay for animals that are happy to eat carrion in their wild setting.
      Very little if any is human quality. Even the most expensive pet foods are dirt cheap compared to most any meats eaten by humans.

      • All true; but its easy to put this nonsense over on the urban hipster virtue-signaling crowd who have never even seen an “animal product” other than shrink-wrapped, bar-coded or presented with a garnish of parsley.

      • Sheri,
        Do you not mean to say “some dog foods” say that?
        Here is a label from Alpo, googled and picked at random :
        “Water Sufficient for Processing, Chicken, Turkey, Liver, Meat By-Products, Wheat Gluten, Soy Flour, Carrots, Corn Starch-Modified, Potatoes, Green Beans, Salt, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Added Color, Choline Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, Mono and Dicalcium Phosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin, Sodium Selenite.”
        Lets find out the most popular dog food and look at that label:
        Hmm, not easy to find. Here are some ones list as most popular on retailer websites:

        Cesar:
        Rotisserie Chicken Flavor with Bacon & Cheese In Meaty Juices: Sufficient Water for Processing, Beef By-Products, Animal Liver, Chicken, Meat By-Products, Bacon, Cheese, Chicken By-Products, Soy Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Carrageenan, Wheat Flour, Potassium Chloride, Natural Flavor, Magnesium Proteinate, Xanthan Gum, Dried Yam, Added Color, Guar Gum, Cassia Gum, Salt, Erythorbic Acid (preservative), Rotisserie Chicken Flavor, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Red #3, Monocalcium Phosphate, Copper Sulfate, Sodium Nitrite (for color retention), D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement.

        Rachael Ray Nutrish (very expensive compared to the others):

        Savory Lamb Stew: Chicken broth, Lamb, Dried Egg Product, Chicken, Egg White, Pea Protein, Ground Tapioca, Natural Flavor, Carrots, Brown Rice, Dicalcium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Spinach, Choline Chloride, Salt, Magnesium Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Caramel (Color), Fish Oil, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Celery Powder, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of vitamin C), Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Iodate, Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of vitamin B6), Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of vitamin K activity).

        Most dog food has not just by products, but ones from unspecified animals.
        Rachael Ray seems to substitute pea protein and “dried egg product” and chicken broth for much of the protein source.
        But her dog foods appear to contain a lot of other stuff like gaur gum and tapioca and vegetables that I do not see in the others.
        Trust me, they are not using the good parts from the slaughter houses.
        I suspect that chicken broth, the number one ingredient in all her foods, can be made from nearly any parts of a chicken.
        The same is true for ones that just say “animal protein”.
        They rake all the leavings and rend it down and extract the protein. It is then no longer a by product.
        But consider…dogs and cats and other predators are able to eat all the stuff that humans would eschew and be very happy. Cook up a batch of organ meats and see if your dogs will eat it if you doubt this.
        Cats, on the other hand, have grown finicky. I used to have cats that would eat table food, but for many years now, no cat I have had is the slightest bit interested in eating any human food…not steak, not chicken, not even ham! They are putting something in cat food so tasty to them that human food does not even smell like food by comparison. I suspect it is an amino acid, could be the taurine.

        When I was younger, any cat would go nuts for ham, and there where even people who made a living on the appeal of ham to cats:

  8. I don’t feed my cat. It has to earn its keep by catching gofers that ruin my garden and lawn. I do provide it a dish of water when the pond goes dry. She’s 17 years old.

      • Evolution has programmed your cat to do that. As an ancient Egyptian farmer, of which of your cats are you going to keep the kittens? The once that shows you that she is a good catcvher of pests of course.

      • I am pretty sure that when my cats bring the birds (are) and mice and other animals they catch into the house…they are doing it for a couple of different reasons.
        My cat Dewey does it because he knows they cannot escape once they are inside, and he has great fun bringing them home unharmed and releasing them and them chasing them around the house.
        My now deceased friend, Bad Apple Jones, used to bring in the multitude of lizards he caught for a similar reason, although it turned out he also fancied himself the curator of the Jones Museum of Maimed and Mutilated Animals…I found his extensive collection only when I was packing up to move.
        For females, I think it is either a gift for the Alpha, or an intended contribution to the communal food cache of the household.

      • That should be (rare), as in catching birds is a rare thing for most cats…birds are not an easy catch.

    • The cat, of course, never leaves the boundaries of your yard and invades the neighbors, tearing up the flower beds and leaving “gifts” for the neighbors?

    • I have a dog that can get those gophers and moles. She gets them just about every time she pounces and digs them out of the ground. But I have a hard time imagining a cat digging a gopher or mole out out of the ground. Not saying they can’t, I just never heard of one doing it. Not having cats as pets limits my experience with their abilities.

      • My cat Dewey can catch moles easier than any other animal, except maybe moths and dragonflies.
        Cats have incredible hearing, and are astoundingly patient.
        Once they know where the tunnels are (they will just be walking along and suddenly turn back a few steps looking down with ears focusing like radar antennae. Cats can control the direction and shape of each earlobe independently at will.
        Anyway, once they hear them down there, it does not take them long to realize they can just focus on one spot and wait for a mole to walk down the tunnel. They then pounce by standing up and dropping down paws first into the spot.
        Voila…mole fricassee is on the menu.
        Dewey does not eat anything he catches…he would not know how to kill and eat an animal. He would likely learn if he were starving.

    • My 21 pound (not an ounce of fat on him) Maine Coon likes to catch and eat the small lizards that run around here in S. Florida. The 16 pound Maine Coon (only very slightly prosperous) only chases squirrels, for sport (she does catch and release). The lizards eat the caterpillars of the (threatened, think) Monarch butterflys that are all over our back yard. The squirrels eat the food that we put out for the birds, which include all sorts of cherished species.

      A proper environmental assessment should include that all of these aspects of pet ownership/food consumption, as well. When you get down in the weeds at this level, you find so many issues that lend themselves to academic studies and modeling and all sorts of juicy grants from the government. They would like to get rid of the pets, sure, but the grant money and employment of the academics is a big driver, as well.

      • I was going to mention Maine Coon cats, but never had one.
        Most cats are far smaller or else fat makes up most any weight above about 14 pounds for a large male.
        I have had Siamese that were all solid muscle…mean cats those Siamese, I would never get one again. I love regular American shorthair mutt cats.

      • My avatar is Jellical:The Little Princess, Killing Machine. Six and a half pounds of Unstoppable Killing Fury! Actually she is probably 5lbs or a bit less, getting a bit long in the tooth, still a mean little beeatch.

  9. Wonder how the true environmentalists will react to this? If the capacity of the world to produce enough food is truly in jeopardy they ought to be the first to demand we get rid of our pets (accept for theirs of course). . Liberals never work on how to increase the earth’s bountifulness so more people can live comfortably.

    • Warmistas pretend food production is decreasing rapidly due to “climate change”.
      They also pretend that CO2 increasing has no effect of food production.
      Like everything else they believe, they are laughably wrong.
      Or it would be laughable, if they were not actually implanting policies that harm us all in order to combat their delusions.

  10. I have argued on every thread it has come up, here and elsewhere, that these numbers being reported for cats in the US is outlandishly far too high. It seems that my argument will have to extend to dogs as well, if the reported numbers are widely said to be as high as this article states.
    Before even getting into the polling data that created these speculative numbers, one should stop and consider a few obvious facts.
    One is the amount of pet food compared to human food stocked on store shelves.
    In most supermarkets and grocery stores, the pet food aisle is a small fraction of the space devoted to human food.
    This alone makes the idea that total consumption of food by dogs and cats alone is 20% of what humans eat completely unbelievable. Even without doing any research whatsoever.
    The figure of 33% for the total calories from animal sources (plus or minus 9%! So as much as 42%, they claim!) is even more obviously ridiculous.
    Once I read these numbers, there was little reason to read any further, although I did get to the part that they advocate for reducing pet ownership, or at least switching to some other unnamed animals that would be just as good but eat less (My paraphrasing, but that is the gist of it.)

    Who could possibly believe this? You would have to be an idiot…or a warmista I suppose, those people will buy any malarkey and baloney sandwich you throw at them.

    Besides for the made up numbers of such pets being far too high, the fact that cats and most of the dogs are a tiny fraction of the size of a person seems to have escaped them.

    Consider…for these numbers of relative proportions of food consumed to be accurate, the average of all grocery bags checked out at every market in the country would have to support these numbers, logically.
    Sure, there are pet stores that sell only pet and no human food, but these are not exactly huge businesses compared to the food business for human consumption.

    The easiest way to disprove this idiocy would be to compare the total tonnage of all food produced, subtract exports, and compare that number to the reported number of all the producers of pet food.

    Lots of people have dogs, and lots of people have cats…but these numbers are ridiculous.
    I will gather proof for anyone who buys this crap.

    • Did you count in the hundreds of pet stores and the internet sources for pet food? I buy all of my dog’s food off the internet (mostly because she cannot eat grain in her food, but partly for convenience) off the internet. Many people do.

      Dogs are smaller and eat less, but remember that many people have more than one cat or dog. Some have very large dogs—like 3 St. Bernards. I’m pretty sure those are healthy eaters.

      • Cats are smaller and eat less, as I am sure you meant to say, true. But the food is generally more expensive per ounce, and somewhat more calorie dense.
        Since last night, I have looked at a lot of labels…most wet foods are about 80% water, and about 10% protein.
        Dry foods are about 12% water, and are 30% protein.
        Cat foods that is…have looked at fewer dog food labels. Dogs eat more but the food is cheaper.
        I know that a large number of people have all sorts of ideas about what they themselves “can eat” and “cant eat”, but these are mostly hallucinations.
        Very few people, for example, have gluten intolerance, but lots of people say they do.
        I suppose the same goes for pets.
        Not saying your dogs are not grain intolerant, just that for many many years all dog foods were virtually the same and every dog ate them. Marketing has advanced tremendously…I am not sure dogs or people have evolved to be more intolerant of common food items.
        Just sayin’.
        And of course I know that many pet owners have multiple pets.
        For any thing you can think of, in a country of over 300 million people, there will be many of any particular example of such things.
        The question is, how many are there, how does anyone know, and why are they so sure if they think they know?
        I have looked into where these numbers came from, because although in many places lots of people have pets, in those same places many people have zero pets. Just look at how many people jammed into the pet food aisles of stores.
        As for online sales, obviously they are increasing, but for food in general, sales penetration are low. That could change. Do you have evidence that pet food is a trend leader in online food sales?
        Of course I also know about pet store…there are several large chains.
        I buy a lot of my cat food at them now, not because it is cheaper…it is more expensive, but because i made the mistake of occasionally giving my cats certain pricy foods, and they quickly refused to eat anything else. I know I could get them to go back to Meow Mix and Special Kitty, but I do not have the heart to make them go hungry for long enough to do that.
        I suspect you many have a similar problem.
        Pet stores are sparsely inhabited, and i have never seen anyone else in the food aisle while I was there getting their food.
        The same is largely true for supermarkets. Pet food aisles are not a bustle of activity, as they would have to be if that one little section was selling as much as 20% of all the food sold.
        And there are no cat or dog restaurants, a huge business that rivals retails sales in annual revenue.
        Pizza, hot and fresh, is by itself a bigger business that pet foods of all types. By over 50%.
        Cost of pet food and human food on a per calorie basis vary over about an order of magnitude for the majority of common foodstuffs, and overlap very well with each other.

        This makes sense…it is all to some degree the same stuff, prepared and packed and selected differently.
        If pet food was way more expensive, people would feed dogs and cats eggs and chicken.
        There are low cost options for those of limited means, but our pets to a large degree are family members to many people, and they live in the house and can smell what we are eating.
        So, there are many high priced selections for people who can afford it.
        Personally, i want to buy the cheapest they will happily and healthfully eat.
        But the cats have figured out how to play me like a fiddle.

        In any case…These number (in the article) are far off the real truth, I would bet money on it.
        The truth seems to be somewhere under one twentieth of what they assert.
        41 cents per day.
        That is how much is spent per cat and dog if the entire $24 billion was spent on dogs and cats food, none on anything else, and the spending was similar.
        It seems it may be similar, although i tend to still think the average dog costs more to feed than the average cat.
        Trends in dogs have changed…many small dogs are owned now compared to decades past.

        What is most clear is that the labels on cat food tremendously overstate how much to feed cats, as the authors of this article do. But those labels are written by people in the business of selling a product…they would be very happy if everyone throws away half of what they buy for their pets.
        Look at a label and tell me if your cat eats like that…several cans a day for an average cat, or one whole cup of dry if they get only dry.
        Those are ludicrous numbers compared to what cats really consume in a day.

    • That’s my attitude, too, SMC. I only have two dogs, and they aren’t getting either one of them. They are part of my family.

    • Consider that almost no one has read this “study,” except someone with excessive time on their hands to even find it, and post it here, where we who have excessive time on our hands to contemplate the bogosity of “climate change” (TM) could even find it. 99.99876% of everyone is out ENJOYING their pets without a care in the world! Only leftist extreme nutbags read the leftist nutbags paid to churn out this stuff.

  11. we need some simple calculations here- average life for large dog? 15 years, so if you want to buy a big SUV, you need to figure out how many dogs you need to get rid of to cover the carbon deficit. Why concentrate on domestic pets? Shooting a polar bear might be a good way to cover for a snowmobile carbon footprint, one bear = how many seals or penguins if you are at the other pole. Why aren’t greenies providing this information in an easy to understand format? How many squirrels for a pair of jetboots?

    What about all the bison that were slaughtered? how much CO2 was saved by that?

  12. Soylent green anyone? Why do the Progressives believe they have the answer to Utopia when they wouldn’t know it if it stared them in the face?

    • But places like North Korea and Venezuela are veritable utopias. Who wouldn’t want to live like the North Koreans and Venezuelans? :)

  13. Given the choice between our cat or the neighbour’s dog or the average Global Warmista, it would have to be the Global Warmista who walked the plank to Davey Jones’ Locker.
    Cats and dogs are more intelligent and caring than your average Global Warmista.

  14. I’m sitting here waiting for the Mayweather-McGregor slobber-fest to start and I see this:

    5,400 words about the danger cat & dog poop pose to the world.

    In 30 years, our children/grandchildren will look back on this era and laugh so hard they might hurt themselves.

  15. Wow.

    Just how OCD can these loons get with their Carbon hatred? Who let them out of the Climate Matrix?

    There seems more maths applied to this than one might find in ‘the models’!!!

    I might read this schlock out loud to my dogs and see if that will put them to sleep.

  16. This wierd stuff is eventually going to be called Ozzie literature with the rest of the world having got the memo that Trump shut down CAGW Inc. Catastrophic and Dogastrophic global warming will never replace it, sorry.

    BTW, the cats are getting fat eating bats and birds at the Deathstar farms and Solar Barbie sites. Anyway, aren’t they all contributing to biodiversity? And what other kind of diversity is there besides “bio”?

    What kind people are these? Thank you Donald for foiling the plan for people like this to run the world.

  17. The estimates for the amount of calories eaten by cats and dogs both is too high by about 50%.
    Few cats eat anywhere near 200 kcal/day.
    This is based on looking at cans of wet cat food and the packaging for dry cat food and comparing that to the recommended daily amount to feed them, then compared to personal experience over many decades and dozens of cats. And entire 5.5 ounce can of Tuna and egg flavored Friskies wet food is more than most cats could eat in a day, by a lot, and has 175 kcal/can. A kilocalorie is the same as the Calorie with a large C used in human nutritional reportage. For dry food, using Bistro Recipes Meow Mix, an 8oz cup has 340 Calories. There are virtually no cats that can choke down an entire 8 oz cup of dry food per day.
    Not even close. Half that is still too much.
    I have had cats that were starved nearly to the point of death show up at my house, apparently following my cats home or else just smelling the food I leave out for them.
    The last time that happened was about a month ago…a starved black kitten.
    She ate nearly an entire can for the first week or so, and in these few weeks has become a round ball of cat.
    She now still eats ravenously but stops at about a half a can. The large male can i have named Hoover because of the prodigious and seemingly endless amounts of food he can and does consume seemed to be endless…but it is not endless. He is a large male cat, and eats a lot for a cat, being outside all the time and not sleeping 20 hours a day like most inside cats do…even when they go outside they just find a place to cozy down for an outside nap or ten…he has now gone from thin as a rail to muscular and huge, and never ate a cup of dry food even once.
    Half a cup would be a lot.
    I just went over to the kitchen and put 340 Calories of Meow Mix in a cat bowl. This amount they claim as an average for all cats is far more than my two inside cats, or Ms Plumpenfluffy (the once-starved young female that just recently showed up…she needs a real name, please help!) plus Hoover eat in two days.
    An eight pound bag of Meow Mix is eleven cups. I just opened a bag and measured it out. According to what the author(s) of this article states, that should last eleven days for one cat.
    The think the truth is that a bag that size will last two cats close to a month if not more, but I will have to check.
    I will have to find the receipts from my pet food purchases to figure it out.

    The numbers for they report for dogs are just as bad if not worse.

    This article is warmista jackassery at it’s finest…instead of finding out what dogs and cats actually eat, they derive the numbers mathematically, and then do not bother to verify that any of the beasts really eats as much as that in real life.

    BTW, anyone who thinks that the meat they use in pet food is fit for human consumption has never opened very many cans of it on an empty stomach in the morning. I think possibly the same crew of jackasses that wrote the eat bugs reports must have hand a hand in this dreck.

    • Ms. Plumpenfluffy…that’s great. What’s wrong with that name? Anyway, post a pic (or a link to a pic) of your rolly polly fluff ball, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of suggestions. :)

      • I will get you a picture.
        Every time I pick her up I cannot even believe how fast she put on the weight and got healthy.
        The name is purely descriptive, and for that it is apt. But it is a trifle undignified for a cat…they have their pride after all :-)
        Hoover is a great name for the other one…I had to make the cat door into my kitchen one way…out only…he would come in during the day and eat the fancy stuff I leave for my two spoiled cats, Tallulah and Dewey. I think he is a cat left behind when some neighbors moved away a while back.
        Now I know why they call them cat burglars…that cat could come in and eat all the food while I was sitting right there, and not make even a tiny sound. I would only hear it when he let himself out and was not as quiet. I tried to run him off after he sprayed in the house once, but was ultimately far too soft hearted. About two weeks after I locked him out, I saw him running around the neighborhood with his ribs sticking out, and started to just feed him outside on the patio. I even found worm and flea medicines that can be mixed with food, so he is now parasite free.
        But now I need to catch him and take him to a shelter to at least get fixed and make sure he has all the right shots…the new cat is a kitten but probably at least six months old and not fixed yet either…so I reckon I am no more than a few months away from a cat-aclysm of new kittens…cannot have that.

      • A 5.5 ounce can of wet cat food lasts my two cats 3 or 4 days @ two meals per day. Also between them they consume about a cup of dry food per day.

      • I would have guessed about half a cup. But I never looked at the calories before, and never really measured it with a measuring cup.
        I did so tonight, and realized an eight oz cup is much more than they eat in a day, combined.
        I also give them canned food, but they never finish it. The two eat maybe half a three oz can a day. Most of them have between 70-100 Calories per can.
        So, maybe 150 Calories each. The outside ones eat a little more, but they sometimes do not show up for a day or two also.
        They could not eat 340 Calories when they were starved.

    • I think Plumpenfluffy is a great name for a cat.

      But, you must be a denier, because only a denier would undermine a climate model with facts.

      • I deny that I am denying anything.
        Nothing real anywho.
        But it is easy to undermine warmistas…they argue such ridiculous nonsense.
        One dog or cat kept as pets for every two people?
        Inane, plain and simple.
        20% of all the food that people eat?
        I know of no one for whom the amount of pet food they buy is anywhere close to this number…and a large number of households, perhaps a majority, have zero pets.
        So the ones that do would have to have proportionally more than 20% of the food they buy (on a caloric basis) be pet food.
        I bet one could look at the sales numbers for a large retailer such as Walmart and get numbers for the proportion of pet food sold to human food. I doubt it is 5% even.
        And it is logical to think that that number is likely very close to the proportion overall, for all retail sale of food.

        And then there is the whole restaurant industry…which I bet is far larger in terms of calories served than the entire pet food market in the US, although small compared to total food consumption.
        Several fast food chains are among the largest corporations in the entire stock market.

      • A small handful of companies make the vast majority of all pet food.
        None of them are among the largest stocks in any stock market.
        Not even close.

    • I know chaps who have come home from a robust night out and, feeling peckish, have made themselves a sandwich using what was in the open can in the refrigerator.

      They report the sandwich filling as having been “full flavoured”.
      On this basis I claim that noses, ears and other sundry appendages are fit for human [or at least early 20s males] consumption and that therefore we are in direct competition with our pet carnivores for those calories.

      • I do not think anyone who is not really wasted would ever eat the stuff they sell here in the US…and even then i doubt it.
        Where do you live?
        Now, fry food, or biscuits like Milk Bones for dogs…those are likely palatable if you were very hungry…like stranded in the Arctic in a blizzard hungry.
        I would eat that before knowing off my own arm…or yours!

      • I seem to remember seeing a program about how dog food is made, and the factory’s PR person leading the explanation took a bite of the product on the production line. He commented that it was quite tasty and offered some to the camera-person, who declined. It is made to the same standards as food for human consumption, I believe because of the possibility that it might be actually consumed by humans. The study makes all sorts of statements about how the stuff tht goes into pet food could be used for human consumption, but I don’t think that many people who live in the US would eat it.

        The big tell is the complete absence of pork pet food. I have never seen it in the US, in the EU, anywhere, for sale. Evidently people like the tast of pork so much that there is nothing left of the animal for non-human consumption after they make all the sausage, etc for people. The pig is indeed the perfect animal for feeding people. NOTHING is wasted.

      • ” noses, ears and other sundry appendages are fit for human consumption”

        So is Soylent Green.

      • The same standards as in it is sterile and has no poison in it…that I believe.
        Same standard as in smells and tastes yummy to a person who is not starving to death?
        Nah…not buying it.
        It smells awful.
        Foods mostly taste like what they smell like.
        Would it sustain a person?
        Yes…we are omnivores.
        We could and would eat anything rather than die.
        But we are in no danger of dying.

    • True. The estimates of how much pets eat is exaggerated. My cats take over a month to go through a bag of dry food.

      • The numbers for cats and dogs kept as pets is exaggerated as well.
        I am not sure by how much, but it may be double what actually exist.
        In the past, when claims were made about the numbers of cats in the US, and how many birds they collectively consumed in an attempt to minimize the harm from wind turbines by pointing at something worse, I was able to determine that the numbers were faked by two estimates…one was an estimate of cats based on surveys returned in a very small number of mass mailings, and then extrapolated out to the whole country.
        They seemed to have used exceptionally poor methodology, and used zero statistically valid estimates of error. For example…they assumed that the proportion of returns was equal to the proportion of pet owners, never stopping to consider that people who had no pets would not even bother to send it back…just toss in in the trash, and were likely to do so in far higher numbers than pet owners. Just one possible source of a gigantic error.
        To be valid, they would have had to send out many batches and treated them as separate runs of the same poll, then used statistical methods to get at the error, after correcting for biases.
        For feral housecats they took a small area of a city that had a huge number of feral cats and projected that out to the whole country on a square miles basis. Came up with a number that was a so many cats per square mile for the whole country, as if rural areas, mountains, deserts, crop lands, and plains and grasslands had families of cats on every square mile in similar numbers to a city with people feeding them and trash to scrounge and rats aplenty.
        I divided the numbers given (over 50,000,000 feral cats) by the number of counties in the US (3144), looked at a the average size of a county in square miles ( about 600 in the eastern US)), and realized that for the numbers to be correct, there would need to be wild cats in every bush (27 per square mile in the east).
        Even without accounting for the obviously near zero wild cat count in uninhabited areas. I can tell you, there are few wild cats ranging about in Wyoming or Arizona. Or anywhere there is no place for them to hide.
        feral cats colonies form around food sources. they are not evenly distributed geographically, so projections based on numbers from cities is ridiculous. There are not cats on every square mile of the US. I think there are few outside cities, and fewer still outside cities in the seasonally very cold regions. Almost none in deserts and mountain areas. Very few across the vast plains and farmlands. Very few in deep forests.
        Plenty in warmer places with lots of people, but not like the numbers in the big cities. One feral cat for every six people in the US, they claim. This number is now widely reported as factual. It is malarkey.
        People exist in vast cities and large towns and crowded suburbs and scattered evenly across the farm states and plains. There are no vast cities and towns of cats living in the wild. Nor are they spread out evenly and profusely like people in rural areas.

        They used a similar type of extrapolation to determine that billions of birds annually were killed by cats (2-4 billion per year!)
        It came to more than a bird a week (40-50 per year per cat for each of the 50,000,000) for each of the fake number of cats projected by inane sophistry.
        But such numbers are rarely checked…and many people just accept them as factual and pass the stat along.
        Some number arrived at by some ridiculous and easily debunked means then takes on a life of its own.
        These numbers are now considered “valid”.
        The same sort of methods are used here in this article.
        Just pure bunk derived by innumerate knuckleheads who never do any verification.

      • If each of the 160,000,000 cats and dogs consumed the same amount of food in dollars (they do not), and the entire $24 billion spent per year on pet food was for dogs and cats (it is not), that works out to $150 per year per pet. 41 cents per day for each dog and for each cat.
        Now, dogs eat more than cats.
        And some people pay a lot for pet food…a couple of dollars per day for a cat is not unusual for someone who dotes on them and gives them expensive food and throws a lot of it away uneaten.
        And much of that 24 billion is for other animals. Maybe a fifth. maybe more, maybe a little less.
        But even 41 cents a day is not enough…the numbers must be much smaller than 160 million.
        Probably half of that. Maybe less than half, unless an awful lot of people are feeding their pets very much more cheaply than i have ever managed to do.

      • @Menicholas
        I would think that the best way to get an estimate is to survey those jurisdictions that require cats and/or dogs to be licensed. No doubt there will be some under-reporting, but I think it a more likely source of an accurate count.

      • Few places I know of require a license for a house pet. And there is no way to know how many have died, how many are not reported, etc.
        And then match that by population?
        Assume it is representative of the whole country?
        Too many assumptions.
        I think the amount spent n food puts a lower and an upper limit on the number in real time.
        I found some source the other day that indicates that pet owners polled showed that the average for expense for food per pet is about $330 for dogs, and about $270 for cats.
        If verified, this would indicate, when combined with the calculated amount for each dog and cat I did here, $150, to indicate that the actual number is less than half of these widely circulated “estimates”.
        Recall that if every cent of the $24 billion spent was on dogs and cats alone, the total per dog and cat is $150 per animal. if there is indeed 160,000,000 dogs and cats.
        Since we know that a lot of that $24 billion was on other pets, like fish and birds, the total number on dogs and cats is less than that.
        So, since there are very roughly equal numbers of dogs and cats (very roughly), if the average amount spent is closer to $300, and part of the $24 billion is other pets…there are less than 80,000,000 dogs and cats.
        Still a lot, but closer to what seems likely given the proportion of homes with no pets.
        I think the pet food numbers are likely to be accurate…and the reported expense per pet comports with what I think one must spend to keep a pet well cared for.
        Nothing in my experience would lead me to believe that 160,000,000 is anything but a wildly inflated guess that no one seems to be bothered with checking on.

      • Hmm, appears I misremembered the cost reported for cat food here…closer to $300 that $270:

        “Dog lovers spent an average of $269 on dog food and $61 on treats over 12 months, according to respondents of the pet association’s 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey.”

        “While cat food costs less than dog food, it’s still $246 on average annually, according to the survey. Add in another $51 for treats”

        Which powers the total number estimate based on food purchased to decrease still more.
        Note that such reported costs per pet eliminates having to worry about cats that forage and dogs that eat table food, since this average would include all of that…all that matters is the average spent.
        Some no doubt eat more, and some less, but the averages would account for that as well.
        I think following the money is the way to go…it eliminates a lot of the estimating.
        Then the only sources of large error would be the accuracy of the total spent on pet food, and the owner estimates for cost per pet.
        I think going into a large retailer like Walmart and eyeballing the amount of various types of food stocked and the cost thereof should be an accurate way to get at what people are feeding their pets. The majority of the shelf space is for middle priced foods. Expensive brands have more stock than bargain basement brands.
        This skews the amount per pet higher than just looking at the cost for average priced food.
        A LOT of people treat their pets very well these days.

        http://www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/smart-money/how-much-does-owning-a-pet-cost-in-a-year/#slide=2

  18. Peer reviewers should have demanded empirical backup for eyebrow-raising consumption estimates.

    I suspect that common estimates for the number of birds killed by cats are way too high.

    Wasn’t there a popular robot dog sold by a big Japanese company a few years back (and discontinued)? Why not bring it back? Robotics is advancing rapidly, so maybe other pets could be robotized too. (Maybe they could be solar powered.) It might make an interesting student competition for technology and engineering schools, or for Silicon Valley firms.

  19. You know, rather than expressing quantities such as mass of feces produced in grams (which naturally requires the unit “tera-gram”, or Tgm), they should express it in atomic mass units. Then the numbers would appear to be even more astronomical, and so beyond the ken of the innumerate average citizen that he/she/ze would demand an immediate euthanizing of all carnivorous pets – and their owners.

  20. The very first ANIMALS that need REMOVING due to carbon footprint are Al Gore, DePaprio, Soros, Steyer, the Ork,…. etc etc etc

    and every one of the climate troughers that fly all over the world on politically organised RORTS.

  21. I hope you all realize how dangerous this type of “study”: this is a real fodder for the media – mainstream and yellow and social, and just all. And thus its middle ages ‘morality’ will be multiplied by the millions. Planted forcefully into heads – I almost wrote brains, sorry – of at least a billion people. They won’t do anything as per usual, but the “climate warming” belief will be stronger in them, while “science”, real scientific thinking (or thinking as it is) gets farther from everyday people by light years. Clear and present danger.

    • You have just discovered the reason that the study was created. As a supporting “scientific study” to drive public opinion, eventually political opinion, and then legislation to “fix the problem” that the study created.

    • When I was a kid, ca. 1971, some proto-SJW up the street got in my mother’s grill about our having a St. Bernard; “Think of all the starving children in Africa who could be fed instead!”
      My mother told her to go to hell . . .

  22. Just looked it up:

    Pet food in the US is a $24 billion per year industry.
    Food sales in the US, total of all retail and food industry sales?
    4,430 billion dollars.
    That’s right…$4.43 trillion.
    Almost 2000 times bigger number in sales.
    But it is 20% of the calories, and 1/3 of the meat?
    Looks like the real number is less than 1%, even after accounting for disparities and being generous.

    • This is funny…i just looked up graphs of food sales in the US, and came across this one for pizza, that i was not even looking for.
      Pet food is a $24 billion/yr industry.
      Pizza pie sales?
      This number appears to be only fresh hot pizza from a pizza shop…not including frozen pizza sold in stores or pizza made at home from scratch:

      Yes, that is right…pizza alone, sold fresh and hot, is a bigger business by over 50% than all pet food sold.
      over $38 billion per year…in 2014.
      The pet food number is 2016.
      Given the trend in pizza sales, it is may well be ten percent higher in 2017.
      Now, this is obviously dollars and not calories, but food is food, and this is just hot pizza.
      Dollars per calorie may be off my an order of magnitude, or even two, one to a hundred, and the numbers they cite are still way high by a factor of 20.
      Funny how you only need to use common sense to know bullshit when you hear it, and yet warmistas make a scientific case for the veracity of said bullshit.
      This is not really proof of anything, except that in terms of raw numbers, the case this article makes looks preposterous.
      I showed at least two reasons why…completely fabricated data on the number of pet dogs and cats, taken and asserted as factual.
      And similarly fake and easily disproven numbers for how much each of these animals eat…proven by pure sophistry and backed up by zero empirical evidence.
      In an hour someone sitting at home can easily disprove some research one can only imagine took a long time and cost a lot of money to produce.
      As someone said…confirmation bias is wicked strong.
      They must not have even done any basic cross checking, or just say back and thought about reality and how it stacked up to what they were claiming.

      • “In an hour someone sitting at home can easily disprove …”

        Yes, the persons who should be most embarrassed by this study are the peer reviewers and editors.

      • Thank you for the Dog and Cat diary post!!!!! I have cut&pasted it and am sending to friends around the world.

    • Excuse me but 4430 divided by 24 is 185, not almost 2000. You are wrong by a factor of 10.

      And I would expect my food to be of better quality and taste and therefore more expensive by the pound that my pet´s food.

      I don´t have a dog now but I used to have one when I was a teen. I used to fed my dog with leftovers. She was good at catching hares, which my mother used to cook. The leftovers were the dog´s food, along with other leftovers such as chicken paws from corral raised chickens. I didn´t use to buy canned dog food in the supermarket.

      Apart from that, I agree with you, the numbers look inflated and unrealistic.

      • Pet food, certainly in Australia, has to be fit for human consuption. But I will pass on a Winalot madrass!

      • There is no such rule here in the US.
        Pet food must be nutritionally complete for the animal intended to eat it. IOW, even for such things as treats…every pet food must be able to support the animal if it ate nothing else, ever.

      • Urederra,
        Yup, my bad on that. I am just running through this quickly. Thanks for checking.
        I was wondering how they could have made such a giant error, but even still, they are way off.
        Price per calorie for pet food and people food is comparable.
        Pets eat a tiny fraction of what people do, because most of them are small.
        I just knew this article sounded crazy…pet food is a tiny market, nothing like a large fraction of food consumed.
        As for prices…see below.
        Markup on pet foods is high.
        You can get store brand pet foods and give your pets nothing else, dry food will support them.
        It is much less than the canned stuff.
        But within these categories, the price range is huge…larger than it ever was before.
        There are specialty brands that are $1.50 for a three oz can. And store brands for 60 cents for twelve ounces.
        I do not know what the averages are…so looking at total sales figures, then looking at price per calorie of a range of foods, as I did below, gives a ballpark estimate.
        And you make a good point…lots of dogs eat a lot of table food…but some people strictly avoid ever doing this. Personally, I think they make good leftover disposals, but animal care experts tend to recommend against it.
        Likewise, some cats eat foraged food, some eat none.
        And regardless of what these people claim about food diverted to pets that people could eat…I think they are crazy. These markets are efficient…they use what they have to use, and also what they can use.
        If pet food was too expensive, you could just give them people food like chicken for less.
        If it was too cheap, it would not be worth making and selling.
        So, it seems that the prices are in the same sorts of ranges as a variety of people foods.
        As little as a many calories per cent, as much as one cent per calorie.
        Pet and human food alike. I do not think any pet foods are as cheap as rice or beans by the fifty pound bag though. But neither is rice or beans by the five pound bag.
        Cats and dogs have good noses…they get upset if you try to feed them cheap crap…at least every one I ever had does, while we are eating yummy stuff.
        If you starve them, they will eat whatever they can get. If not, they can get picky.

      • For any who may have missed it:

        The Dog’s Diary

        8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!
        9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!
        9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
        10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
        12:00 pm – Milk bones! My favorite thing!
        1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
        3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
        5:00 pm – Dinner! My favorite thing!
        7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
        8:00 pm – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
        11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

        The Cat’s Diary

        Day 983 of My Captivity

        My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

        The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates my capabilities. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little hunter” I am. Bastards!

        There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of “allergies.” I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

        Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow, but at the top of the stairs.

        I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released, and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird must be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now …

      • Pet food, certainly in Australia, has to be fit for human consuption. But I will pass on a Winalot madrass!

        I wonder if that’s a characteristic of progressive governments that pride themselves on ensuring that their pensioners have enough to eat.

    • Some other interesting numbers on consumables in the US are for beer and wine.
      Wine sales in the US is apparently a far larger business than pet food, by over 50%…rivaling hot pizza…between $34 and $40 billion/ year.
      Beer alone is a $107 billion dollar business in the US…over four times the pet food market.
      There are a lot of calories in beer and wine.

      I think the best way to quickly get at the numbers is to look at price per calorie of various foods and consumables.
      For starters, it appears that for low (not cheapest) priced wet cat food, 7 calories per one cent, and for dry food, again not the bargain basement nor the high priced premium products, about 10-15 calories per cent.
      More expensive cat food cost three to five times as much as the cheaper kinds…Fancy Feast is about 85 cents/3oz can and has an average of about 90 calories…a little over a cent a calorie .
      Same maths apply to more expensive dry foods, they are 2 calories per cent.

      For comparison, the relatively high priced pre-prepared hot pizza has, for a large cheese and pepperoni pie, about 1800 Calories and costs between $10-13. Taking $12 for the sake of easy calculating, that works out to about 12.5 cents per Calorie.
      Food is food. The costs per calorie may be off my an order of magnitude here and there, but I think on average, pet food is expensive on a per calorie basis.
      For beer, lets use the most popular beer at the per case price, and get that by dividing total sales by number of cases sold. The beer is Bud Light, and they sold 269 million cases for $5.45 billion, or about $20 per case.
      That is about 1.2 calories per cent. Other beers cost about the same and have more Calories, so we get about 2 calories per cent for regular Bud. By the bottle bought in case lots.
      Draught beer is less…maybe half as much per oz by the keg? Cans are somewhere in between.

      What about restaurant food…about $700-800 billion in sales per year?
      Lets look at a Big Mac: $3.99 for 540 Calories (all calories above are large C…kilocalories) or about 1.3 calories per cent.
      How about food prepared at home:
      Lets look at a can of soup or a mac and cheese.
      Chunky Beef soup, $1.99 to $3.39/can and about 383 calories. Call it $2. 1.9 calories per cent
      What about say, a potato or a bowl of rice and a steak?
      Rice from Walmart in a five pound bag…a whopping 34 calories per cent.
      Potatoes, in a five pound bag, about a dollar a pound. larger bags are far cheaper, as little as 7 pounds for a dollar from Costco in a fifty pound bag, but this is the same for most dry foods like the rice above…very cheap in large amounts. Average price for large bag of twenty pounds is about 50 cents a pound, and has about 330 Calories. 6.6 Calories per cent.
      Steak, round: Has gotten very expensive, $5/pound is a good price these days. 580 calories, about 1.17 calories per cent.
      Chicken: Whole, a dollar a pound for a decent shopper, 800 Calories…a bargain! 8 calories per cent.
      Less if you eat dark meat like thighs or legs.

      Mac and cheese, $1.30 and about 560 calories. 4.3 calories per cent

      I think we will find that the cost per calorie of foods is within an order of magnitude no matter what you are talking about.
      So judging by the sales numbers alone, I think this study is off by at least two and maybe as much as four orders of magnitude.

      • 20 percent of people make up 80 percent of alcohol sales.

        What a waste of money, and think of all the problems it causes.

      • I used to be one of the 20%. For over 15 years i have not been.
        I have never once for a second regretted not drinking anything ever anymore.

  23. this was an exceptionally long piece with many replies. Was it mentioned that in the news today was a report that the first fly factory has been set up in south Africa whose larvae will produce protein for pets?

    It is the first of 100 planned throughout the world with greatest concentration in those countries with the most pets.

    Each fly factory will contain around 7 billion flies….

    Yum!

    tonyb

    • They must be growing them for pet lizards and fish.
      Hardly what I would call pets.
      I know my cats would, if they got wind of this, scratch out the yes of anyone involved, and pee into their brains.

  24. I have heard before that a dog has a similar carbon footprint to an SUV so if you own an SUV and are concerned about it”s environmental impact you can easily offset your carbon emissions by running over a dog.

    Obviously if the dog is a few years old then you might need to run over 2 or 3 just to be sure which might be traumatic and increases the risk of damaging your SUV so new born puppies would be the best bet.

    This concept could be extended to a full carbon offset business where puppies are bred to be drowned at birth to offset all types of carbon sin’s.

  25. Well, I have a dog but I follow him around and scoop his poop into plastic bags which are sealed and gathered for disposal to a landfill where the carbon is sequestered. My dog is a carbon sink!

  26. @ Menicholas:
    From your comments, I infer that you have a lot of cats. I also discern that you feed and care for them very well.

    What do you do with the pelts?

    • I have two cats. Plus the two strays I am trying to figure out what to do with.
      More than two cats is too many.

      • It boils down to workload, and to some extent, finances, but 2 cats per person is probably a good rule of thumb. There are two of us, so we have had 4 cats (currently 2, but we are thinking of getting a couple kittens). Our cats are family to us.

      • I am also wanting to get some kittens whenever I see them in the pet store adoption center or in a shelter or online video of rescued animals.
        But cats generally hate newcomers…almost for sure there will be a traumatic breaking in period. Sometimes it flat out will not work.
        If and when I am retired, or if someone was always here, I think more pets would be fine. I would love to have a dog, but I need to make some home modifications first.
        A fenced in area around the house for one thing.

  27. This extremist mindset is based on the mindset that the raising of all domesticated animals should cease. When the benefit of animal manure as crop fertilizer is mentioned to those who hold this belief, they – who believe that oil should be kept in the ground – say that synthetic fertilizers are the ethical choice. It’s really extraordinary how much they disrespect a rational thought process.

  28. So, what I’m hearing from this envirokook is that if you “care about the planet” you should kill fido and fluffy and get a pet rock. Unless you’re a hypocrite of course.

    • I don’t think they recommend killing fido and fluffy—they have not lost all sense. They recommend not replacing fido and fluffy when they pass on naturally.

  29. Methane and Nitrous Oxide are not ‘powerful greenhouse gasses’ and totally, utterly insignificant compared with CO2, which itself is a minor climate driver compared with other natural mechanisms.

    I appear to have a creature-comfort carbon foot print, a mobility carbon footprint, a dietary carbon footprint, twice because of my cat. Do I also have a blogging carbon footprint?

    • There was a story on NPR the other day about how Walmart is starting to label its products with an estimate of their carbon footprint. They seemed to be impressed about how progressive Walmart has become, by providing the masses with this important information.

  30. An awful lot of verbiage and numbers here, let me cut through the chaff and simplify it for the good doctor. Climate changes, it has always changed and will always change, humans(and their pets) are not causing it to change and can not stop it from changing. See how easy that was?!?! 27 words, 3 commas, 2 parentheses and 1 period solved the entire problem! Now these people can move on with their lives and do something productive, like work the nightshift at Taco Bell or clean out sewer catch basins.

  31. My first impression on the Comments on this article was that they were randomly polarized against it. I actually like reading articles that I fervently disagree with, if they are well done. “Not liking something” is not criteria for it not being part of reality (though if everything that is real had to meet the criteria of “Jan likes it” we would live in a far better world).

    That being said, I really appreciate Menicholas and the other folk who have corrected and elaborated on the statistics in this article (ie compared with alcohol sales…Hmmm). I do NOT like articles that fudge their data (whether I agree with them or not). Menicholas: I have copied the Diary of the Dog (/Cat) and sent it on to many people; that was great (and one of the reasons I love dogs).

    Amusingly, I agree with BallBounces: Pets are surrogate children for many people. Any burden calculation needs to take that into account: How many fewer human children are born each year because the parents decided they would get a puppy instead?

    Jan

  32. Boy, that’s a lot of digital ink-and-paper to waste on this topic.

    I have been in the pet business and can tell you that much (if not most) of the animal protein in dog and cat foods come from the unusable and unused portions of the animals for human consumption. All but premium dog foods are primarily grain protein.

    Only the very highest priced dog and cat foods contain parts of animals and fish that you would eat — most are by-products.

    On the farm, dogs and cats were fed food prep scraps, unwanted leftovers, and offal — when they were fed at all — many farm pets on my grandparents dairy farm simply saw to their own dietary needs — and heaven help them if they trespassed on human resources — chicken killing and egg eating were quickly handled by draconian Darwinian selection.

    That said, I am a firm believer that all feral or free-ranging pet animals (at least in urban and suburban settings — feral meaning allowed ofdf the property of their owners) should be rounded up, their owners fined, and where ownership can not be determined, euthanized. In the wild, dogs and cats are invasive predators that need to be eliminated.

  33. Starts with getting rid of pets…. ends with gassing J*ws. Society is the sum of it’s humanity, in all respects.

    Leave the pets alone and leave the people who own pets alone….. Bluddy Socialists, they have to involve themselves in everyone else’s business and empower themselves above all others.

    If you really, really want to save food, water and oxygen….. liquidate your socialists and most of your bureaucrats.

  34. The world is obviously out of meaningful work for many of the people that come up with these studies, and don’t get me started on the safety advocates, who are obviously out of good ideas.

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