Cats v. Dogs: Which Pet Is Greener?

Tallying your best friend’s carbon pawprint.

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

back-of-the-napkin calculations based on a University of California-Berkeley study suggest that on average, feeding Fido creates 596 lbs of CO2 emissions a year, versus about 517 lbs for Fluffy’s kibble. Size matters: According to a 2006 National Academies study, a Saint Bernard needs 12 times as much food as a cat, meaning greater energy use and more emissions; Chihuahuas are daintier eaters, and thus greener pets. A weekly 10-mile ride to the off-leash park produces about 400 lbs of carbon per year—the equivalent of feeding a whole extra cat. But (sorry, catbloggers) felines have flaws, too. They kill songbirds, and litter pellets, often made with strip-mined clay, add some 3.4 million tons of solid waste a year to US landfills. The biggest problem? Pet owners: We spend $1.8 billion each year on dog toys, often imported and/or made of plastic. Cats have to make do with $1 billion worth of catnip and rubber mice.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend