My roommate brought home a kitten this week. She was tired of being snubbed by my cats and wanted some unconditional furry love of her own, and so Kenya the jungle kitty was welcomed to our home, at least by its human occupants. As is probably true of every new pet parent, my roomie also came home with a new cat box, feeding dish, toys and water bowl – an electric water bowl that constantly circulates water.
Now, I know it is not easy living with me. I try to be as green as I can be. I compost and recycle. Something has to be on the verge of disintegration before I will get rid of it for a newer version. I am the bringer of the dark, going through the house turning off all lights that have been left on. I grow as much of my own food as possible and store it via canning, freezing and dehydrating. It is pretty clear to most of my family that sometime over the past ten years I became my grandfather. Having lived through the depression he viewed waste as a sin. I agree. While I welcome our new feline housemate, I can’t help but to find her electrified water bowl as wasteful and unnecessary. At the very least I see it as negating the LED light bulbs I had installed the day before.
I know her heart was in the right place. The water bowl circulates water so that it remains fresh. There is no question that pets deserve clean drinking water. But then, we already have a water filtration system so all of the water that comes out of our tap is fresh and pure anyway. Not to mention, dogs and cats have been domesticated for well over 8,000 years and they have gotten along just fine without electric powered water bowls. I had two cats that both lived long, healthy lives. They didn’t need electric powered water bowls. Neither do my two current cats. They get all the fresh water they need without increasing our kilowatts per hour. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I just don’t think pets should have their own carbon footprint.
I know in the grand scheme of things, an automated water fountain is a minor blip on the grand scale of energy usage. I mean, at least she didn’t drive her new kitty home in a Hummer. I also don’t expect any appreciable increase in our utility bills. Perhaps I’m over reacting. My response to my roommate upon first seeing the water bowl was “An electric water bowl? Really?” to which she responded “It only uses a little bit of electricity” which technically is true. It only uses a little bit more than what we are using now. But that’s not the point. I suppose some may say this is a mental illness on my part, but I can’t help but to remember the oil gushing in the Gulf of Mexico during the BP disaster. That only happened because of our energy demands. I can’t help but to remember the thousands of American troops that gave their lives in Iraq so we can have oil to power our way of life. I don’t forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died either. I can’t erase the knowledge that if we haven’t already hit peak oil, we are fast approaching the day when it starts to run out. Not to mention, I am acutely aware of oil’s role in climate change. Every time we plug something into a socket, we are burning a little bit more oil. Personally I believe that each and every one of us has a responsibility to consume less and instead of rationalizing that we are only “using a little bit more” we need to start focusing on using a little bit less.