Gareth Morgan has an unlikely ally, of sorts, in his campaign against cats - with a celebrity cat psychologist agreeing the pets should stay inside.
Jackson Galaxy, heavily tattooed and looking more like a rock star than an animal behaviourist, is the star of hit television show My Cat From Hell, on which he cures seemingly crazy cats.
Morgan's Cats To Go campaign aims for a cat-free country as he blames cats killing native birds.
Galaxy is unimpressed with the way the Morgan anti-cat campaign has been pushed. "It does nothing but stir hatred for a species. All that happens is that animals suffer and die."
Last month the SPCA claimed aggravated violence and cruelty against cats had been on the rise since the campaign launch.
Galaxy said calling for cats to be eradicated was an "ethically slippery slope" and based on hysteria rather than scientific fact about declining bird numbers. Scientists have said rats kill more birds than cats and cats kill rats.
His advice for anyone who is anti-cat is to get to know one: "Take a step back and discover a little bit of humility. Those of us who appreciate animals in our daily interaction with them are always preaching that if you stop and humble yourself to the animals around you then you as a human, as a spirit, are infinitely wiser."
However, Galaxy agrees with Morgan when it comes to keeping cats inside. "We know cats will live longer lives inside."
He acknowledges it may seem unnatural to keep a cat locked up.
"Are we taking away from their quality of life having them indoor only? Quite honestly, yes we are, they are hunters; their curiosity, their confidence, the wholeness of their life revolves around them being able to hunt.
"That said, we can also provide them with hunting substitutes in the form of play. You have to wear your cat out physically and engage their deep hunting instinct."
A cat requires just as much time and energy as a dog, he said, and owners who simply installed a cat flap and let their moggie wander were irresponsible.
"You don't just hand your dog a leash and let it take itself for a walk. You don't just give your dog a tennis ball, you go and throw it.
"It is why I insist on talking about us as guardians and not owners. When you are a guardian you have a responsibility for their [the cat's] emotional and physical fulfilment and when you just open the door and let cats wander it does lend itself to a divestment emotionally for their well being."
Galaxy also urges owners, sorry guardians, to give cats three meals of meat a day to structure their "emotional" cycle. "Don't just let them graze through the day on dry food."
New Zealand has the highest rate of cat ownership in the world, with 1.4 million cats here according to a survey in 2011 by the Companion Animal Council.
A new season of My Cat From Hell starts on Animal Planet on July 13 at 9.30pm
- Sunday Star Times
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