ONTD Political

NZ environmentalist wants to rid country of cats?!?!

12:43 pm - 01/22/2013
New Zealand to eradicate pet cats? Purr-ish the thought!

It's for the birds, this one-man campaign to rid New Zealand of cats and return to the time when birds had no natural predators. It's not going over well: About half of New Zealand homes are graced with a pet cat.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Gareth Morgan has a simple dream: a New Zealand free of pet cats that threaten native birds. But the environmental advocate has triggered a claws-out backlash with his new anti-feline campaign.

Morgan called on his fellow citizens Tuesday to make their current cat their last in order to save the nation's unique bird species. He set up a website, called Cats to Go, depicting a tiny kitten with red devil's horns. The opening line: "That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer."

He doesn't recommended people euthanize their current cats — "Not necessarily but that is an option" are the site's exact words — but rather neuter them and not replace them when they die. Morgan, an economist and well-known businessman, also suggests people keep cats indoors and that local governments make registration mandatory.

Morgan's campaign is not sitting well in a country that boasts one of the highest cat ownership rates in the world.

"I say to Gareth Morgan: Butt out of our lives," Bob Kerridge, the president of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the current affairs television show Campbell Live. "Don't deprive us of the beautiful companionship that a cat can provide individually and as a family."

For thousands of years, New Zealand's native birds had no predators and flourished. Some species, like the kiwi, became flightless. But the arrival of mankind and its introduction of predators like cats, dogs and rodents has wiped out some native bird species altogether and endangered many others.

"Imagine a New Zealand teeming with native wildlife, penguins on the beach, kiwis roaming about in your garden," Morgan writes on his website. "Imagine hearing birdsong in our cities."

But many New Zealanders are against the campaign. Even on Morgan's website, 70 percent Tuesday were voting against making their current cat their last.

Morgan could not be reached Tuesday.

And the science remains unclear. Some argue that cats may actually help native birds by reducing the population of rodents, which sometimes feed on bird eggs.

Morgan's separate personal blog, in fact, has a separate campaign to raise $1 million to eradicate mice from the remote Antipodes Islands, where rodents are the only predators.

A 2011 survey by the New Zealand Companion Animal Council found that 48 percent of households in New Zealand owned at least one cat, a significantly higher rate than in other developed nations. The survey put the total cat population at 1.4 million.

In the U.S., 33 percent of households own at least one cat for a total of 86 million domestic cats, according to a 2012 survey by the American Pet Products Association.

Scientist David Winter said cats are indeed a problem in New Zealand, having contributed to the extinction of at least half a dozen New Zealand bird species. Writing on his blog "The Atavism," Winter said Morgan's campaign appeared designed to "start conversations."

Still, he added, "What hope is there for environmentalists in conversation where our side wants to take people's kittens away?"

Read more:

Gareth Morgan's website: http://garethsworld.com/catstogo/

The Atavism blog: http://theatavism.blogspot.com/2013/01/cats-arent-evil-but-they-are-problem.html


Good grief! SMH
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chaya 22nd-Jan-2013 06:49 pm (UTC)
chaya 22nd-Jan-2013 06:50 pm (UTC)
(seriously, though, couldn't you just suggest to keep cats indoors?)
lolahead 22nd-Jan-2013 06:56 pm (UTC)

I don't let my cats out, they are neutered and the only things they kill are pest insects like flies and stink bugs.
spyral_path 22nd-Jan-2013 07:03 pm (UTC)
He'd have a lot more luck with a campaign that educated cat owners about all of the benefits of keeping cats indoors. Indoor cats won't contract contagious diseases, get into fights, pick up parasites or get hit by cars. Cat owners will save lots of time and money they would otherwise spend on vet visits, de-wormings and flea control. And the birds would be safe too. That's a win win, and a much better sell than "your fluffy little kitten that you love more than anything is an environmental menace that you have to get rid of right now!
windsong_moon 22nd-Jan-2013 07:20 pm (UTC)
The people I know who have outdoor cats don't take their animals to the vet period, so it's not so much win-win in those situations.
calendae 22nd-Jan-2013 07:09 pm (UTC)
I don't know. Invasive species are invasive species, regardless of how much a family might love them. I think this guy has a point and a right to spend his resources in the manner he sees fit. He's not actually tearing people's cats away from them...
darth_eldritch 22nd-Jan-2013 07:11 pm (UTC)
Indoor cat, won't even look at birds.
maladaptive 22nd-Jan-2013 07:18 pm (UTC)
Ooooh this is missing the best quote from Bob Kerridge, though. “I love birds and I love cats and I believe in nature doing its thing – why interfere with that? I think as soon as we start to interfere with nature, we start to interfere in an area we really shouldn’t.”

That's right, bringing an invasive species that's decimating the local population isn't interfering with nature, but that totally alien species sending the local animals into extinction is just "nature doing its thing."

I think the plan would never work because people love cats, but I can see where Morgan's coming from. Unfortunately there really isn't a way to save NZ from cats, realistically, that doesn't involve some sort of ban or removal program.
moonshaz 22nd-Jan-2013 07:28 pm (UTC)
Actually, there is. It's called "Keep your cats indoors, people!"

If people could be persuaded to do that (along with spaying and neutering, which eliminates most of the urge to roam), the cats would not be able to interfere with local fauna.

It's actually VERY simple. The part that isn't simple, of course, is persuading people to change their habits.
windsong_moon 22nd-Jan-2013 07:19 pm (UTC)
Outdoor cats really are a problem, so I see his point.
akashasheiress 22nd-Jan-2013 08:27 pm (UTC)
But do you really think he's accomplishing anything by calling cats evil?
eyetosky 22nd-Jan-2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
... so you're a Batman villain, is what you're saying. You're saying some Batman level shit right here, in a Pamela Isley kind of way.
moussaka_thief 22nd-Jan-2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
Why all the hate for outdoor cats? Holy moly! Is it a cultural thing? Most cats I know are at least partially outdoor cats. My cat loves the outdoors and, yes, occasionally kills small rodents (and the occasional big fat rat!) but in a city it ain't like there aren't enough mice and rats. Most of the time she's outside she is lying in the sun, nomming on grass or attacking sticks and leaves. For the record my cat is spayed and neutered and goes to the vet. Sheesh. Also, my aunt is a farmer and semi feral cats are important for keeping the rodent population down.

I've always felt sorry for cats who never go outside.
world_dancer 22nd-Jan-2013 08:10 pm (UTC)
Cats are an invasive species in New Zealand, Australia, and the Americas. They destroy native flora and fauna, killing off multiple different types of animals.

Therefore, in any of these places, an environmentally conscious pet owner has indoor-only cats. It's not the cats' fault that they're fuzzy little psychos. But it is the human owner's fault for every species they kill off. Bio-diversity is an important aspect of our planet that not everyone seems to get.
world_dancer 22nd-Jan-2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
I see where he's coming from.

But I think he'd have more success advocating responsible pet ownership: No cats outdoors, neuter/spay all cats, set out cat traps for strays so that they can be taken to the pound.

akashasheiress 22nd-Jan-2013 08:21 pm (UTC)
One thing I've noticed about some of these folks is that they really, legitimately hate cats and seem to consider them honest-to-goodness-evil.
eyetosky 22nd-Jan-2013 08:24 pm (UTC)
Well, they kinda are. And by "kinda", I mean "really".
ikhouvanjou 22nd-Jan-2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
possiblyevil 22nd-Jan-2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure where people are getting this "making people give their cats away" part from. Did I miss something in the article? All I read is him mostly suggesting "hey spay or neuter and don't let your cats out, maybe consider not getting another once yours passes away on their own".
ginger_maya 22nd-Jan-2013 08:42 pm (UTC)
Dude might have good intentions but he's going about it in the worst possible way.
yeats 22nd-Jan-2013 09:12 pm (UTC)
what about just putting bells on all outdoor cats? that used to be a law in a lot of places
bluebombardier 22nd-Jan-2013 09:27 pm (UTC)
That just encourages cats to go into super stealth mode. They learn to move without jingling and become even better hunters.
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