This power smart cat's ready for Earth Hour

Bundy the cat reaches up from a chair to turn off a kitchen light, something he does on a regular basis, and not just for treats.

Blaine Kyllo

When it comes time to turn off the lights for this year's Earth Hour, Bundy will be doing the honours at the Ketchell household.

It's something Bundy does regularly. Which is pretty cool when you learn that Bundy is a cat.

Owner Dan Ketchell, who lives in the Oakridge area of Vancouver with wife Suzie and daughter Andy (son, Les, is attending university), says the talented cat's name comes from the Australian rum that is produced in the town of Bundaberg, north of Brisbane. Grey with white markings, Bundy turns five years old in March, and weighs in at 17 pounds. The heavyweight feline is not overweight, but is a long, lanky beast with a 38-inch reach.

It's those long limbs that allow Bundy to be power smart.

The life of the party

It all started at a Christmas party hosted by Suzie.

Dan had been testing Bundy to see how far the cat could reach, and placing a piece of kibble on top of one of the kitchen light switches looked to be about as far as the cat could manage. While trying to reach the food, Bundy would often trigger the light switch.

The duo were showing off their trick at the party, and one of the guests snapped a picture. A few days later they sent the snapshot out by email with the caption, "You know it's time to leave when the cat turns out the light."

Dan says that email was something of a motivation. Now Bundy turns out the kitchen lights whenever he hears "lights out" and will sometimes switch them off when he think's it's time for a treat. And the two are working on the other light switch in the Ketchell family kitchen. Dan says Bundy can hook the switch with his paw and pull it down just like a mere human would flick it off.

Meanwhile, in an effort to be more aware of his family's use of electricity, Dan has started looking at his power meter and says he's become more conscious about turning the lights out himself. Last month his meter reading was the lowest it's ever been.

Switching off

Turning off the lights is a great and easy way to conserve electricity and save money. In fact, switching off is a key Team Power Smart tip and it's one reason BC Hydro is a proud sponsor of Earth Hour, which takes place on Saturday, March 27 at 8:30 p.m. local time.

The World Wildlife Federation organizes the global effort. Toolkits to help organize Earth Hour events are available for individuals, businesses, educators and communities, and you can pledge your support by sharing your Earth Hour plans.

During Earth Hour last year, electricity consumption in B.C. dropped by 1.1 percent. British Columbians saved 72.67 megawatts of electricity from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., the equivalent of turning off 1.5 million lights. Pemberton recorded the greatest reduction, of 4.6 percent. See how your community fared last year.

If everyone in B.C. turned off their lights for one hour every evening, the combined electricity savings would be enough to power more than 2,400 homes for an entire year.

And if Bundy the cat can do it, so can you.

Blaine Kyllo is a Vancouver-based freelance writer and frequent contributor.