The claws are out for philanthropic economist Gareth Morgan after he called for the eradication of cats from New Zealand.
A website set up by the Morgan Foundation called Cats to Go drew a sharp response from feline lovers yesterday.
The site says cats have contributed to the extinction of nine native bird species and impacted on 33 endangered native bird species.
"The fact is that your furry friend is actually a friendly neighbourhood serial killer," says one of the slogans on the site.
It goes on to say that killing cats is not necessary but is an option.
"We appreciate the fact that you have an emotional connection with your pet and that pet ownership is a rewarding experience.
"But there's a real problem with cats - they kill for pleasure, and most of that killing is out of your sight, so probably out of your mind," the website says.
However, Leonie Jarvis, of the Taranaki Animal Protection Trust, said the issue was not cut and dried.
"Cats are predators but they are not the worst and, in fact, they prey upon the worst predators so they have a function out there in the wild," Ms Jarvis said.
Keeping a cat as a pet was a basic civil right and the therapeutic value outweighed any negatives, she said.
"I also believe that we are entitled to have these amazing creatures in our families.
" They are amazing animals and I love them."
Ms Jarvis believed Mr Morgan was taking advantage of his name and position. "He's just mischiefmaking, I feel."
She said a cat responded to two drives - sex and food - and if a family's feline was desexed and kept well fed it was less likely to prey on native birds.
"A cat with a full tummy is basically a lazy bugger," Ms Jarvis said.
"If they are fed, they don't need to respond to their instinct to hunt in the same way. I'm not saying that they won't.
"The problem is that cats that are not fed will be hungry and they will react to instinct."
Mr Morgan's website urged Kiwis to be responsible cat owners if they thought New Zealand's native species were precious and should be fostered.
"That means keep them inside 24 hours a day and if that's impractical then when the time comes ensure this is the last cat you ever own.
"I am advocating responsible pet ownership, not for people to bop their pets on the head.
"Then when their cat dies, I think people should consider not replacing it."
Councils also needed to step up and manage cats like they did already with dogs, he said.
"All cats should be registered, chipped and neutered, while setting live capture cage traps on your property and turning the miscreants over to the local authority should be encouraged."
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- © Fairfax NZ News
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