Dear Christopher Cat: I need to dispose of medications prescribed for our elderly cat, who died recently. May I flush them down the toilet?

Christopher Responds: Please don’t do that, because wastewater treatment plants are unable to remove the drugs. They get into the water supply, and then into the fish we eat and the water that irrigates our food crops.

It’s also important not to dispose of unused drugs in the trash, because they eventually leach from landfills into the groundwater.

Research shows that many veterinary drugs – antibiotics, hormones, anti-parasite drugs, anti-fungal medications, anti-inflammatories and sedatives – inadvertently enter the environment and affect non-target animals and plants.

To prevent this, unused veterinary and human medications are collected and incinerated. You can dispose of them at “take back” collection events held several times a year in most communities.

Alternatively, you can take medications to one of the drop boxes commonly found at police/sheriff departments and pharmacies. To find nearby locations, call your local law enforcement office or pharmacy, or visit earth911.org and enter your zip code.