Dispatch: Pet Smart

story by Monica WeymouthEven for cats, Oscar and Stella are offensive creatures. When not plotting how to bat my glasses off the table at the most precise and destructive angle, they are busy sleeping away the day on the darkest pile of clean laundry available or treating flies to the slowest deaths their tiny paws can deliver. ¶ Thankfully, these paws don’t have opposable thumbs. But even so, when my husband and I gave our own diets a makeover last year as part of a larger effort to tread more lightly, I feared the cats would be a problem.
I feared correctly.
Although we added most fish to the list of animals we don’t eat, Oscar and Stella continue to demand—loudly, menacingly, around 6:30 a.m.—Friskies Seafood Sensations. No other brand, no other variety will do. I’m not entirely sure about the “ocean fish,” but I’m comfortable assuming that there is nothing sustainable or humane involved in the harvesting of this mix’s tuna, salmon and crab.
Adding insult to injury, our cats also refuse to use any of the recycled or natural litters available. It’s Fresh Step, or they’re not interested in using the box. And, to be fair, I’m not really interested in a basement at the mercy of litter made from newspaper shreds and “seafood sensations.”
At least our shih tzu is less demanding. (In fact, Murphy thinks Fresh Step-covered “repurposed” Friskies make a great snack.) He’ll happily eat his way through whatever dog food promises to be better for the Earth and his health that week. As for the occasional Beggin’ Strip, well, he’s only a dog, and those things smell pretty good when you haven’t had bacon in a couple years.
Murph has his diva shih tzu moments, but he doesn’t care what you use to clean up after him. Better known for its curbs full of Arctic Splash containers, Fishtown is also a hot spot for all types of discarded plastic bags. I’ve found they work just as well as the cutesy ones we used to buy for a decidedly uncute task.
Ultimately, like the other areas of our lives, I was happy to accept that our quest to be more sustainable pet owners would be full of small wins and clumsy setbacks, of happy accidents and the occasional wasteful experiment. But I thought it would be different with the squirrels.
I wanted to win with the squirrels.
I figured that my daily offering of peanuts—a gesture to make up for the inhospitable concrete slab my house’s previous owners laid down in the backyard—couldn’t really hurt anything. They were organically grown, the plastic bag had a spot reserved in the afterlife and, behind a screen, Oscar and Stella could safely get in touch with their inner murderers. It was brief, perfect harmony on Thompson Street.
Then one evening, our neighbors invited us over for a summer cookout starring some ingredients from their container garden. It was delicious, and may have been more so if obese squirrels didn’t keep digging up their tomatoes to bury peanuts. What weirdos, our neighbors wondered, would be feeding the squirrels peanuts?
The same weirdo who sniffs, with a little sadness, the Beggin’ Strips. ■+