Should we wipe out cats to protect NZ's native species?
Canterbury cat lovers are outraged over a call for cats in New Zealand to be eradicated.
Economist and businessman Gareth Morgan has set up a website called Cats to Go that encourages people to make their current cat their last.
"That little ball of fluff you own is a natural-born killer," his website says.
"Every year, cats in New Zealand destroy our native wildlife. The fact is that cats have to go if we really care about our environment."
Morgan said his website "deals with some of the myths and white lies we tell ourselves" to justify owning a cat.
"I am advocating responsible pet ownership, not for people to bop their pets on the head ... When their cat dies, I think people should consider not replacing it."
However, Morgan's website goes as far as to suggest people euthanise their current pets as "one option" for pet owners.
"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."
SPCA Canterbury chief executive Barry Helem said Morgan's views were "a bit extreme".
"To reduce the over-population of cats, it is important that pet owners de-sex their cats to reduce the number of stray, unwanted animals that may become a problem to native birds."
He said some people believed cats were "more of a benefit than a threat" to native bird life as they were an effective population control measure for rodents.
"A cat may kill one native bird, but a rat will clean out an entire nest of eggs. Cats actually help maintain the natural balance of native birdlife more by eradicating rodents," he said.
Christchurch cat lover Alexandra Davids, who has had her cat, IgglePiggle, for two years, said Morgan's views were "over the top and ridiculous".
"As cat owners, we do realise that our cats are hunters and understand that when they hunt they do it for pleasure, thus making them renowned predators," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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