Pussy riot likely in wake of Morgan's call

VICKI ANDERSON
Last updated 13:20 22/01/2013
Fourteen the kitten
RESCUED: Possum, or Fourteen as he was initially called.

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Gareth Morgan may want to kill all the cats in New Zealand but what's he going to do about all the cats on the internet?...

May 11, 2012: All staff email: ''Kitty rescue operation in process outside Portacom 18, please avoid walking on our boardwalk if possible. We've taped it off.''

It began with tiny little miaows heard coming from under the floor of Portacom 14 at The Press' temporary home at Logistics Drive post quake.

These little miaows were directly under my feet. How they tugged at the heart strings of myself and colleagues.

How did he get there? Was he trapped? Had he been dumped?

The SPCA were called but were too busy.

In our Portacom cafe, which we named the Transit Lounge, in the queue in front of our then editor Andrew Holden, I asked for a saucer of milk.

He looked at me quizzically but said nothing. I'm a known freak.

Five minutes later he emerged from the cafe to see me lying on the ground, head shoved under a gap underneath the Portacom, waiving the saucer of milk and calling ''here kitty kitty''.

I knew he was there because I clocked a pair of shiny black shoes stage left.

Emerging from under the Portacom with a strand of cobweb on my hair (which I discovered later), he said with a grin something along the lines of ''do we pay you to lie around on the ground holding milk for feral animals?''

I explained that there was a trapped kitten which needed to be rescued before I could do any writing as, er, the miaows were disrupting my concentration.

Fourteen, as I initially named him, was one earthquake refugee who needed help and boy did he get it from staff at The Press.

Bowls of milk, kitten biscuits, Fancy Feast and even a small cat bed were wedged under the portacom by various members of staff. A baking raffle was held to raise funds for his vet treatment.

While those pro-cat argued he was a valuable addition to the crew, particularly when it came to catching mice, others were concerned that he was a potential health hazard.

It took three days for Fourteen to be enticed out of his lair, his little eyes narrowed, his oversized ears pricked.

On May 11 a cat cage was modified into an elaborate cat trap which involved placing dollops of Fancy Feast (supplied in multiple tins by one feline lover) at various intervals down the boardwalk. The cat cage was placed on its side and a string to the lid led into the Finance portacom.

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Fourteen was a scrap of a kitten but life on the mean streets of Logistics Drive had made him super feral.

Operation Kitty left many would be rescuers with scratches and he took a decent chunk out of a finger of one colleague.

That night I took him home. Some people are cat people, some people are dog people. Me, I love all things great and small but am particularly fond of an underdog.

He spent nearly a week shut in our sunroom with a cat litter box which, thankfully, he seemed to know how to use.

He emerged from under a table only to wolf down large bowls of Fancy Feast, to hiss at anyone who entered and dangle precariously from various objects around the room.

''Can I pat the kitty?'' said Hollie, 4, peering through the window.

''Er, not just yet, kitty's a bit cross,'' I replied.

Kitty was cross for some time.

But my eldest daughter, Lily, 13, spent many hours in there with him, calming him, taming him.

It might sound a bit silly to some but for me he became something of a symbol of earthquake survival.

He lost his house, presumably his family, and was left, abandoned to fend for himself.

Now he is loved, has a home and is the cuddliest, most loving creature you can imagine.

Starting life with the name Fourteen he was briefly Kitty Purry before settling into his name Possum (he has a boofy tail). He's become part of our family.

I'm writing about Possum today because Gareth Morgan is calling for the eradication of cats from New Zealand.

The Morgan Foundation is behind the website Cats to Go which has a picture of a cat with devil horns (which, ironically Mr Morgan, just makes me love kittens more) and which claims ''The fact is that your furry friend is actually a friendly neighbourhood serial killer''.

It also says cats have contributed to the extinction of nine native bird species and impacted on 33 endangered native bird species.

Note the words ''contributed'' and ''impacted''.

Presumably Morgan will soon be starting a Stoats To Go website?

It goes on to say that killing cats is not necessary but is an option, answering the question ''So are you suggesting that I just go out and have my cat euthanised?'' with:

''Not necessarily but that 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. If you think NZ's native species are precious and should be fostered then it's important you be a responsible cat owner.

"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.''

When Possum was rescued from under the Portacom there were some who scoffed at us, the kitty rescuers, as if his life was meaningless and we should not bother to care about a scrap of hissing kitten.

Some might say it's a fragment of a wider issue in society, a lack of empathy for others who are less fortunate.

Like Morgan, I too care about the survival of our native birds but killing all our cats to ensure this just seems bizarre to me.

What do you think about Gareth Morgan's idea to get rid of all cats in New Zealand? Do you agree?

- The Press

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