While cats aren’t as popular as dogs, cat owners are generally fiercely protective of their feline friends, which may be why a new website calling for the eradication of the domestic cat population in New Zealand is gaining attention.
We ask you, Gareth Morgan, how you can deny yourself the affection of a cat like this one, named Simon?
The website, launched by high profile businessman and philanthropist Gareth Morgan and called “Cats to Go,” claims that New Zealand’s domestic cats have helped drive nine native bird species into extinction and that they are threatening the country’s remaining 33 endangered native bird species.
“If we are serious about conservation, protecting and enhancing New Zealand’s native fauna, even supporting a predator-free New Zealand, then we must overcome our denial and acknowledge that we are harbouring a natural born killer,” the website says.
Of course, Morgan isn’t asking that New Zealand pet owners kill their cats, but he is saying that once their cats have died that they shouldn’t be replaced.
“Don’t mind me, I’m too cute to kill birds,” says this cat, Frodo
“We don’t suggest you knock your favourite furry friend on the head. We do suggest you think about the consequences on the bird population of domestic cats, and make this cat your last,” the website reads.
The website also suggests that owners neuter their cats, keep them indoors, get bells for their cats’ collars, so any prey can hear the cats coming, and sign a petition to require the micro-chipping of cats.
“How can you call me a serial killer?” says this cat, Penny
While at least some of these suggestions are good ideas, even if you are a fierce cat lover, the website has gotten some backlash, with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals executive director Bob Kerridge telling New Zealand TV station TV3: “I say to Gareth Morgan, butt out of our lives. Don’t deprive us of the beautiful companionship that a cat can provide individually and as a family.”
Newspaper comments have ranged from agreement to outrage, including these comments on stuff.co.nz:
Why doesn’t Gareth Morgan go into a corner and let nature take its course? I am disgusted that any human being can come out with such an outrageous statement as his. His opinions stink and people should just NOT take any notice of his drivellings. Zip it Morgan!!!!I want Morgan’s ridiculous moustache to go … it’s a threat to my cat! … the Village People is so yesterday!Why do people have cats??? To keep down mice–and they do this very well. Birds aren’t all that innocent either. They damage and/or eat fruit, knock off the heads of flowers of small colourful plants, pull out worms that keep veggie gardens pliable. All creatures are disordered in some way, even humans. Surely there is something Gareth that you can campaign for that is more worthwhile–there are millions of starving people and here we are worrying about cats. My goodness me, let’s get things in order first.
Scientists have even spoken out about the website, with Landcare Research wildlife ecologist John Innes telling 3News that it’s too simplistic to claim that eradicating cats would revitalize the bird population, as cats also kill rats, which kill birds.
Judging by the website’s own poll, Gareth’s suggestions don’t seem to be gaining much traction. When asked whether people will make their current cat their last, at the time of this writing, 75 percent of respondents said “no,” meaning they plan on getting another cat.
Considering the cute critters in this post, how could they not?