Gareth Morgan: Feeding cats is banditry

By Peter de Graaf of the Northern Advocate -
Cats to Stay Army member Jean Williams and Paihia Cat Colony founder Betty Chapman. Photo / APN
Cats to Stay Army member Jean Williams and Paihia Cat Colony founder Betty Chapman. Photo / APN

High-profile businessman Gareth Morgan has joined the fray in the Paihia cat debate claiming that keeping stray cat colonies is "environmental banditry".

Commenting on a story on the Advocate's website about 86-year-old Betty Chapman's battle to continue feeding stray cats on a reserve, Mr Morgan said feeding stray cats so they were free to assault wildlife was offensive.

"Wandering cats do not kill just because they're hungry, they kill for the pleasure of it. If Betty Chapman is so concerned about these cats she needs to take them in, enclose them. Otherwise she's simply an environmental bandit, as is [RNZSPCA president] Bob Kerridge.

"Betty Chapman needs to get a grip," the comment said. "If she cares for these cats so much, she should take them all into her home and enclose them.

"Feeding them so they're free to assault wildlife is offensive."

Meanwhile, Mr Kerridge described last month's Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board decision to remove the cat feeding station as "one of the most inhumane and irrational decisions ever made by a local authority".

Most of the cats were past hunting age and would be unable to catch their own food if left to fend for themselves, he said.

Mrs Chapman said the cats were well-fed and most did not hunt.

"There are only 10 of them, and they are no more of a threat to wildlife than the domestic cats in backyards down the road."

That was disputed, however, by environmental group Bay Bush Action, which has documented an "elderly" cat stalking a native pigeon near the Parnell cat colony supported by Mr Kerridge.

Trustee Craig Salmon said the simple solution was for the SPCA to pick the cats up and re-home them, as they had done with hundreds of others.

"If they cannot be re-homed, they should not be then returned to the environment. We believe the cats should be in living rooms lying around hot fires and getting cuddles this winter, not living in the drains around Paihia.

"We stand by our view that this feral cat colony poses a risk to our precious native wildlife on the Village Green."

Birds seen around Paihia included the kukupa (native pigeon) and the endangered New Zealand dotterel.

The deadline for the volunteers to stop feeding cats on the reserve passed on Monday.

Bay of Islands SPCA manager John Logie met Far North District Council lawyer John Verry on Friday in a bid to allow the feeding station to remain.

The outcome is not known.

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