How Cats Work

By: Joy H. Montgomery

Cat Issues

Although the cat is a beloved household pet to millions, this species isn't without its share of issues. Among them, overpopulation, health risks and ecological issues are the most prevalent. According to the ASPCA, there are more than 70 million homeless cats in the United States and many more unaccounted for [source: ASPCA]. These homeless felines are a result of irresponsible pet ownership, feral cats and unsterilized cats that continue to produce litters. Think about it: One unsterilized cat and its offspring can produce hundreds of kittens as the cycle continues to multiply.

Cats are also known to carry health risks to people if special care isn't taken. The biggest of these is zoonotic pathogens found in cat feces, which can negatively impact the environment and cause health problems for other animals and humans. It's important for cat owners to collect feces in appropriate receptacles and dispose of them properly.


For decades, the most widely used litter has been clay-based. However, mining clay for this litter is hard on the environment, and most clay-based litters contain silica, which can be harmful and is considered a carcinogen. Litters made with wheat or other plant-based materials are best to use and safest for cats, humans and the environment.

As we've learned, cats are natural hunters. Free-roaming cats and feral cats feast on birds, mice and other small animals. The American Bird Conservancy estimates that, "nationwide, cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, and more than a billion small mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks, each year" [source: American Bird Conservancy]. The best way to ensure a cat doesn't hunt birds or other small animals is to keep it indoors or build an outdoor cat enclosure so your feline can enjoy being outside without being a danger to other animals in the neighborhood.