Archives
May 29, 2017
link to facebook link to twitter
More Stories
The annual Avenue of Flags May 29 at RP Community Center SSU commencement; one for the history books Problem reaching AT&T last weekend? During Rohnert Park City Council meeting protestors unexpectedly take center stage Vehicle pursuit ends with arrest of 14-year-old Ex RP public safety officer pleads no contest to sex offenses Rancho 2017 top 20 Great turnout for RPPSOA pancake breakfast to help Project Grad Gabriella stole the show Town Hall meeting Sheriff's office releases details on SSU officer involved shooting A true celebration of ‘Cinco de Mayo’ Project Grad help in full swing Richard Crane Elementary School Suspect arrested after evading a Cotati Peace Officer Emiri Nomura awarded scholarship Shopping carts ran amok in Cotati last Saturday Ricardo Oliva receives ‘Coach of the year’ for the Northern District Sonoma State University equestrians jump with joy on their way to Kentucky Double Decker Lanes hosts the QubicaAMF Boys and Girl Club employee arrested for child endangerment Armed suspect arrested after resistance RP girl accosted while walking to school And they're off. . . Saddle Up and Ride Community quickly rallies for Project Grad Cotati opposes SB 618 Rohnert Park City Council to host Town Hall meeting on May 3 Graton Tribe makes good on payments Auto burglar arrested by Cotati Police A bit of Uganda A mission to help RP to replace old trees Engineering with Legos at the Ray Miller Community room Bunkers at Foxtail set for repairs RP man arrested for attempted murder CRPUSD OKs two contracts Credo gets used to new digs at SMV Golf Course Drive Crossing concerns may delay SMART train ‘Quiet Zones’ Man busted for DUI after crashing into tree in RP New hands bring subtle changes to Sharing of the Green fundraiser A traditional dance of Japan Shameful time in history RP rejects new self-storage facilities Survey Says: Rohnert Park Residents Love City, but not Traffic Council amends UDSP Body of missing woman found RAFD names part-time fire chief KRCB garners huge windfall from FCC auction Missing Penngrove woman's body found in Marin County Bunfest was hopping with bunny lovers Nonn expected to sue CRPUSD Credo crew marches to new home Cotati delays vote on Valparaiso The Voice enters into 25th year Cotati-reviews midyear budget Two RP Parks getting upgrades A new look for SSU gym RP man reported missing Padre Town Center changes hands Sonoma County to take a look at immigration issue Bomb scare closes RCHS Local Tech High student chosen for Scholars program RP to conduct survey Man arrested after high-speed chase through 3 cities RP makes changes to city code for ADUs Man gets 11 years in prison for RP knife attack Man who led chase into SF caught Treasurer for Rancho Cotate High Project Grad Arrested for Embezzlement A crab feast at Community Center Taking a pie in her grill RP man busted for possession of meth Cotati OKs water, sewer rate study RP votes to regulate vaping CRPUSD schools now a safe haven for immigrant students RP adds seven to public safety Cotati votes to host shopping cart race Man arrested for attempted murder Defibrillators proving to be invaluable assets Artists ready for art show at library Reilani Peleti Corrections Suspected explosive device at RCHS Seventh-graders in local schools to be taught CPR Voice issues apology to school board, superintendent RP man arrested on drug possession charges

How cat owners can help save the sea otter

By:
December 7, 2012


The California Sea Otter could possibly be one of the cutest sea creatures in the ocean.

The Sea Otter has always had a special relationship with humans. They are pint-size pranksters that exude charisma. They are extremely intelligent and very curious. The bright shiny eyes, expressive face and soft furry body make the California Sea Otter a local favorite. Sea Otter colonies range from Japan, along the coast of Siberia and the Aleutian chain and down to Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and of course, California.

As few as 2,800 of them call California’s waters their home. The California population descends from a single remaining colony of about 50 otters hidden within the crags of Big Sur. They have a very important niche in the beautiful California near-shore ecosystem by keeping kelp forests healthy by eating urchins that can overgraze.

What do cat owners have to do with sea otters, you ask? Recently, the population size of sea otters has been declining in response to changes in environmental conditions. One major reason for this, among others, are parasites called toxoplasma gondii known to breed in cats. Scientists hypothesize some sea otters may be dying because coastal area cat owners flush used, feces-laden cat litter down their toilets, use it as compost, and dump it in storm drains.

Any pollutants on our streets, business lots, farms, vineyards, driveways and yards pour into the ocean after it rains. Some of the major offenders are motor oil, gasoline, paint and painting equipment wash water residue, animal refuse, farm, vineyard, garden and yard pesticides, and soap suds from washing cars in the driveway. The fact is sea otters feed close to the shore, which makes them vulnerable to these pollutants in coastal waters.

According to Christina S. Johnson, a science writer for California Sea Grant, the scientists' best guess is parasite eggs in cat droppings are being washed by sprinklers and rains into coastal-bound storm drains and creeks. Although many different kinds of animals, such as birds and rodents, can serve as intermediate hosts for toxoplasma gondii, cats are the only animals known to shed the parasite's eggs in their droppings.

Not just otters but also people are potentially at risk from the parasite. People eat many of the same shellfish as otters. Also, this cat-parasite link is the reason pregnant women are advised against cleaning cat litter boxes because it can pose a major health risk for the baby and mother. Fortunately, humans, cats and other animals infected with this parasite rarely show any symptoms. Those that do usually already have a weakened or compromised immune system. Sea otters are not so lucky.

Fortunately, there’s a silver lining to this story because there is something we can do to help. I am assuming most cat owners are animal lovers and are not aware of the dangers of improper disposal of cat waste. Safely disposing of your fur baby’s droppings starts with picking the right litter. Do not use any flushable litter because the sewage treatment might not be able to kill the T. Gondii. Choose a litter that clumps up easily and put the pieces in a plastic bag and seal it for land waste disposal.
The feces are sealed so that it won’t go into any water sources. Unfortunately, there is no better way to dispose of cat litter yet. Each city has its own law on cat litter disposal; it is important to find out the local regulations. Here in Sonoma County, we can dispose of our kitty litter in the grey curbside garbage cart that goes to the landfill. Keep the kitty litter out of the green compost bin. If you are not sure about your area, the best place to ask is your local animal shelter.

If we know better, we can do better. As busy humans, there is only so much we can do to help with our environment. But we have to remember it’s the little things that add up. We can overcome some of these challenges our local species face. We need to realize, in fact, otters are a very important indicator species for the humans. Therefore, we should take note, because if our oceans are facing new challenges, sea otters likely will show the first indication of trouble.
 
Elspeth Wood is a student participating in the Hutchins Program at SSU. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Creek Stewardship Day
When: Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 a.m.-noon. (It was originally scheduled for Dec. 1 but canceled because of foul weather.

Where: Falletti Park, off Gravenstein Way (east of the intersection of Old Redwood Highway and Highway 116, just north of Peet’s Coffee and Walgreens).

Details: Help take care of native trees and shrubs along the Laguna de Santa Rosa channel in Cotati by weeding and mulching, and some planting. Tasks will depend on weather and conditions on the ground. Dress for work and weather with old clothes, in layers, with boots or sturdy shoes, and bring rain gear. Heavy rain cancels the event. Bring your own drinking water bottle. Gloves, tools, and some refreshments provided.

Full details: www.CotatiCreekCritters.info

Contact: jenny@creeks.cotati.info or 792-4422.