Fur flies over call to rid New Zealand of cats

Jan 23, 2013
File picture. A campaign to eradicate New Zealand's cats as a way of protecting native wildlife has raised the hackles of pet lovers, with critics leaping to the defence of their feline friends.

A campaign to eradicate New Zealand's cats as a way of protecting native wildlife has raised the hackles of pet lovers, with critics leaping to the defence of their feline friends.

Gareth Morgan, a businessman turned philanthropist, has called for New Zealanders to give puss the boot, citing research showing the average cat kills at least 13 or animals each year.

He said the figure was unacceptable in a country where many bird species had already been wiped out and 37 percent of those that remained, such as the flightless kiwi, were endangered because of introduced predators.

Morgan, best known for helping to ship a stray dubbed Happy Feet back to Antarctic waters after it washed up near Wellington in 2011, said should keep their pets indoors and not replace them when they died.

"Naturally, I'm not suggesting you go out and knock your furry friend on the head right now," he wrote in the Dominion Post newspaper Wednesday.

"But if we are serious about conservation, then we must acknowledge that we are harbouring a natural born killer."

Morgan's campaign has not gone down well in a country where a 2011 survey by the New Zealand Council showed almost half of all households own a cat, one of the highest rates in the world.

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) executive director Bob Kerridge said Morgan had no right to tell people they could not have cats in their family.

"I say to Gareth Morgan, butt out of our lives," he told television station TV3. "Don't deprive us of the beautiful companionship that a cat can provide individually and as a family."

Even on Morgan's own website, opinion was running against his campaign, with three-quarters of respondents to an online poll answering negatively to the question: "Would you make your current cat the last one you own?".

John Innes, a wildlife ecologist with body Landcare, said Morgan's argument that cats killed birds may be too simplistic, pointing out that they also kill rats, another major bird predator.

"No one's ever actually done the numbers to see whether the number of birds that those rats would kill is bigger or less than the number that the cats kill," he said.

"I'm not saying that [] are good for birds, but it's not a stupid suggestion."

Explore further: Scientist creates automatic birdsong recognition app

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cat survey reveals impact on birds

Jan 11, 2013

Some pet cats are killing a lot of birds around the UK, a new study shows. Most don't do much harm, but millions of marauding felines add up to what could be a serious problem for the nation's wildlife.

Survey shows why claws come out over feral cat management

Sep 06, 2012

The contentious phenomenon of identity politics isn't limited to Democrats and Republicans. A national survey shows that "cat people" and "bird people" have heated differences of opinion, complicating the challenge of managing ...

Recommended for you

'Divide and rule'—raven politics

5 minutes ago

Mythology has attributed many supernatural features to ravens. Studies on the cognitive abilities of ravens have indeed revealed that they are exceptionally intelligent. Ravens live in complex social groups ...

Science casts light on sex in the orchard

19 hours ago

Persimmons are among the small club of plants with separate sexes—individual trees are either male or female. Now scientists at the University of California, Davis, and Kyoto University in Japan have discovered ...

Four new dragon millipedes found in China

21 hours ago

A team of speleobiologists from the South China Agriculture University and the Russian Academy of Sciences have described four new species of the dragon millipedes from southern China, two of which seem to ...

Scientist creates automatic birdsong recognition app

Oct 30, 2014

Dr Dan Stowell, an EPSRC Research Fellow in QMUL's School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has used a grant from Queen Mary Innovation to develop a prototype for an app that turns his research ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

alfie_null
5 / 5 (1) Jan 23, 2013
The article only addresses solutions to non-feral cat "problems", which is surprising. I assume there are also feral cats. I assume feral cats are a greater threat to endangered species (which probably don't live near households).

There are lots of ways to prevent domesticated cats from killing things. Suggestions like this only server to make him unpopular.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.