Ban on Kiwi kitties causes uproar in New Zealand

By Efrosini Costa

Cat-lovers in New Zealand are up in arms over one man’s campaign to keep furry felines out of sight - and eventually out of mind - by eradicating them from the country for good.

‘Cats to Go’ is an anti-cat campaign launched by New Zealander Gareth Morgan. It’s a movement he hopes will save the country’s native flightless birds from untimely death.

“That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer,” the campaign’s website provocatively states.

Morgan’s nationwide crusade calls for cat-owners to keep their pets inside the house at all times, get them neutered, and not replace them when they die, in an effort to curb the loss of native birds, caught and killed by cats.

According to Morgan’s research, the 1.4 million Kiwi kitties have been responsible for the eradication of almost half of New Zealand’s entire native species, with each cat killing up to 65 animals every year.

“Naturally, I’m not suggesting you go out and knock your furry friend on the head right now,” Morgan wrote in a local newspaper.

“But if we are serious about conservation, then we must acknowledge that we are harbouring a natural born killer,” the self-proclaimed environmentalist says of the non-native bird-catching cats.

But, in a country with one of the highest cat ownership rates in the world, (with every second household owning a cat) convincing New Zealanders to get on board with the ‘Cats to Go’ seems highly unlikely.

“Don’t deprive us of the beautiful companionship that a cat can provide individually and as a family,” Bob Kerridge, from the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told a local talkback radio program.


John Innes, wildlife ecologist with government research body Landcare, believes Morgan’s argument – while somewhat justified – is “too simplistic” especially since it doesn’t consider the effect other animal predators, such as rats, have on native wildlife.  

“No-one’s ever actually done the numbers to see whether the number of birds that those rats would kill is bigger or less than the number that the cats kill,” Innes said.

An online poll on Morgan’s campaign website, which asks cat-owners: “Would you make your current cat the last one you own?” has proved abysmal to the cause. Three quarters of those surveyed have responded negatively to the question.

What do you think of Morgan’s stance on cats? Would you ditch your cat if you knew it could help native wildlife prosper? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.



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