It was a regular old pussy riot on the airwaves this week after Gareth Morgan launched an attack on domestic cats.

He has set up a website called Cats To Go, featuring an image of a kitten with superimposed devil's horns and satanic eyes. He claims cats are natural-born killers and sadists and that they are responsible for the wholesale slaughter of New Zealand's native birds.

After his website was given publicity on Campbell Live and then in the New Zealand Herald, the talkback lines lit up with the overwhelming majority slamming Morgan for his views. Three or four of them even indicated they would transfer their Kiwisaver accounts from his investment fund - although it would be somewhat of an empty gesture given that KiwiBank now owns the Gareth Morgan super fund.

Nonetheless it's an indication of how strongly people felt about their desire to protect their pussies.


According to a survey by the New Zealand Animal Companion Council, 48 per cent of new Zealand households has a cat as a pet and that's higher than the worldwide average.

But are cats really responsible for the destruction of New Zealand's birdlife? Morgan's website claims "cats are incredibly effective hunters" and that they are "wiping out native birds".

Well, some cats, it's true, are ruthless killers. I have the privilege of knowing a tail-less (neutered) ginger tom called Marty who lives with his family on a rural property (or out in the wops depending on how you regard the postcode). He loves bringing tokens of love to his owners and they will regularly find the remains of rabbits, hares, rats - and yes, the occasional pukeko - on their lounge floor and they haven't seen a mouse in the house since they brought Marty home from the SPCA a couple of years ago.

He's a lovely cat - although he can suffer from morning halitosis after a long night out killing - and he's very affectionate. Marty's owners are convinced he's never killed a tui, a wood pigeon or a fantail because Marty takes great pride in his job as rural pest control officer (South Auckland region) and brings souvenirs home from everything he catches to show his people he's earning his keep.

Their other house cat is a complete wuss. He prefers his food to come from a can or, at a pinch, a packet and won't touch anything furry, feathered or hairy. Birds dive bomb him and he's terrified of possums.

The two cats couldn't be more different creatures despite both being members of the felis sylvestris catus species, and that seems to back up what Bob Kerridge of the SPCA says on the subject of cats and native birds.

According to Bob, the association's surveys show that fewer than half New Zealand's domestic cats are hunters and those that do hunt, like Marty, are far more likely to catch rodents and rabbits - ground animals - than they are to catch high-flying birds.

I accept that feral cats are a problem.

But Gareth Morgan's demands for cats to be locked up 24 hours a day and for owners to choose not to replace their pets when they die is completely over the top. Perhaps if he focused more on things he knows about - like soccer, say - but no, that's probably not a good example. Or global warming, perhaps. Or investment funds. If he did that, and stopped telling New Zealanders how to live their lives, he wouldn't be in danger of becoming the next Bob Jones. A bored man with too much time and too much money looking for attention.