Cat campaigner Morgan happy to stroke council's cause

Invercargill City Council chief executive Richard King.
Invercargill City Council chief executive Richard King.

New Zealand's king of the anti-cat crusade has been invited to visit the deep south now that the Invercargill City Council chief executive is practically his "second cousin".

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said it would be great to host Gareth Morgan in Invercargill to discuss cats, especially since council chief executive Richard King seemed to be his "understudy" these days.

"I would say they will be best mates from now on."

TIM SHADBOLT: Invercargill mayor.
TIM SHADBOLT: Invercargill mayor.

Mr King's controversial comments this week about a city resident's 37 cats mirrored the views of New Zealand philanthropist Mr Morgan, an anti-cat campaigner, Mr Shadbolt said.

Mr King told The Southland Times neighbours of the woman were welcome to pick up traps from the council and as long as they were returned without a cat inside, no questions would be asked.

The council is beginning court action against the Invercargill woman, who has failed to comply with a bylaw stating she can have only three cats on her property.

"The trouble is with Richard I think he used the wrong word - traps immediately conjures up bloody rough gin traps in the outback. The word he should have used was cage," Mr Shadbolt said.

"Poor old Richard King, he tries to keep out of trouble and he uses one word - trap - instead of cage, and he goes through torture."

Mr King had just returned from a Local Government New Zealand conference at the weekend, where it seemed he was inspired by Mr Morgan, who was speaking about cats, the mayor said.

Mr Shadbolt said he now hoped to get Mr Morgan down to Invercargill to speak to the council and maybe suggest some ideas to control cats in the city. "I think we just invite Gareth Morgan to do a regional tour. Richard would have no trouble in persuading him."

Mr Morgan said he would pounce at the opportunity to visit Invercargill and meet the two leaders.

"I am happy to come. I would be willing to lend a hand, absolutely," he said.

Mr Morgan set up a website last year called Cats To Go, which states "that little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer".

However, Mr Morgan said yesterday that he was more focused on eradicating stray cats and would like to see domesticated cats microchipped.

He was supportive of councils taking control of cats, like they did with dogs, but conceded the bylaw the Invercargill council had was not working.

Mr Morgan said he was visiting the south next month and would be more than happy to speak to the council. Mr Shadbolt said he thought Mr King would be thrilled to see Mr Morgan.

"We would be happy to host him, I am sure Richard will be delighted to see his second cousin."

Mr King could not be reached for comment,

Meanwhile, Invercargill City Council environmental health manager John Youngson met lawyers yesterday who advised the council it could prosecute the woman who owns three dozen cats under the bylaw and the Health Act.

Mr Youngson said he still hoped the council would not have to take the woman to court and it could be resolved in the next couple of days, but court action was already proceeding.

"The moment we passed the file over the clock started ticking."


The Southland Times