Cat lovers' claws out for Morgan

By Genevieve Helliwell


Local cat owners are sticking up for their feline friends after New Zealand economist Gareth Morgan launched a campaign to eradicate domestic cats.

Mr Morgan has set up a website called Cats to Go, where he calls the animals "natural-born killers" that destroy native wildlife.

In the Western Bay, Mr Morgan's comments have fallen on deaf ears, with many locals saying he was out of line.

"I don't think it's really fair," said Papamoa cat owner Melissa Henderson.

"Cats are part of our family and I'd hate it if they weren't around."

In her Papamoa household she has five cats, all of which come from the same family line.

"I've had one of the cats for seven years and her mother is my brother's cat.

"Her grandmother was my husband's cat and her great grandmother is my mate's cat. It's multi-generational and they're family, they're our family."

Her cats often caught rats and mice and sometimes a bird, "but never a native", she said.

On the Cats to Go website, which was set up by the Morgan Foundation, it said cats were "incredibly effective hunters" and the only way of increasing the population of our native birds was to eradicate domestic cats.

Mr Morgan said killing your pet cat wasn't necessary but it was wise not to replace it when it died.

"We appreciate the fact that you have an emotional connection with your pet and that pet ownership is a rewarding experience. But there's a real problem with cats - they kill for pleasure."

Mrs Henderson said Mr Morgan's comments were "sad" but agreed he raised a valid argument. "In a way he does have a point. I definitely don't want kiwi and wax-eye birds to be hunted by cats, but I don't want rats and mice running around my house either, not that I've got rats and mice but you know what I mean.

"I don't have a problem with hunting feral cats, I think that's a good idea, but not domestic cats."

Tauranga SPCA animal welfare inspector Jason Blair said eradicating cats would not fix the problem.

"Yes, there is an element of truth to what he's saying, in the fact that cats are hunters, but whether they have a true effect on the native ecology, well, I can't really comment on that.

"Cats give a lot more than what they take away."

Mr Blair said cats targeted rats and mice and sometimes birds.

Part of the problem was the increasing stray cat population and Mr Blair urged owners to desex their cats.

"Whether you could eradicate cats completely is quite drastic and impractical.

"Cats bring a lot of enjoyment to people's lives and I'd hate to live in a country without cats."

On the Bay of Plenty Times Facebook page, more than 40 comments were posted, with the majority of people against Mr Morgan's campaign.

Tauranga's Chris Blackmore said: "I think that's a little ironic that he calls cats sadistic and natural-born killers and yet he wants them eradicated.

"I guess he doesn't know about the reputation humans have and killing of multiple species of animals.

"There are far better ways of solving this problem."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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