Fur flies over campaign to curb cuddly killers

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 08:07 23/01/2013
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Ensuring cats are desexed is a more realistic way of reducing the impact they have on the environment than eradication, the Nelson SPCA says.

Nelson SPCA manager Donna Walzl said the big issue for her was the de-sexing of animals and she believed if everybody had their cats de-sexed and did not dump them economist Gareth Morgan would not have such cause for concern.

Mr Morgan pitted the cat owners against the pigeon lovers yesterday by launching a controversial website Cats to Go advocating the eradication of cats in New Zealand.

He tells cat owners: "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."

His hard-hitting website, which has a picture of a kitten with devil eyes and horns, said that the "little ball of fluff you own" was a serial killer that destroyed New Zealand's wildlife.

"The fact is that cats have to go if we really care about our environment," Mr Morgan said.

He has launched a petition calling for local governments to require registration and micro-chipping of cats, to provide eradication facilities for unregistered cats, and encourage people to trap and turn in unwanted cats on their property.

Mr Morgan said there were 1.4 million cats in New Zealand and cats had wiped out nine native bird species and impacted on 33 endangered native bird species.

Ms Walzl said already this year the SPCA had received 141 unwanted animals, the majority of which were cats or kittens.

Cats were prolific breeders with one cat able to have up to 10 kittens a litter and two litters a year.

A statistic she had been quoted was that two unsexed cats left in the bush, and their resulting offspring, could breed up to 72,000 cats in seven years.

"I think if we got the numbers under control it would not be such a huge problem.

"I don't think we have got any comprehension of how many there are out in the bush and I think if the public knew we would all be shocked."

She said it saddened her how many animals were not desexed or abandoned and she could not comprehend why people chose to have an animal that was not desexed when de-sexing services such as the SPCA were available.

Neil Page of Richmond Native Bird Recovery said it was "fantastic" that the debate about cats was being had.

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Mr Page said he saw first hand the damage cats did to wildlife and just last week a tui at the hide had been killed by a cat.

He said it seemed stupid to send out an army of volunteers to trap stoats and rats and tell them they could not touch cats which were also predators.

Birdlife on the Grampians member Bryce Buckland said he did not believe eradication was realistic, but he thought better controls on cats was desirable.

He said someone had spoken to had found a dead cat up the top of Jenkin's Hill, which had possibly been killed by a dog. It had tags on it which showed it was from Main Rd, Stoke.

Australia had much tougher rules around cats as it had acknowledged the effect they had on the environment.

Nelson Cat Club president Loraine Craw said Victoria, Queensland and Perth had cat curfews. She had lived in Perth and believed a nighttime curfew where cats were shut inside from 6pm to 6am would work.

Gareth Morgan's suggestions for minimising their cats impacts on the environment.

1. Get a bell for your cat. They may be less than 50 per cent effective but every bit counts.

2. Get your cat neutered.

3. If you have a cat, keep it inside from now on.

4. Overcome your denial, domestic cats are an environmental threat, don't replace your cat.

source: Cats to Go blogsite.

- Nelson

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