Banning Cats in New Zealand is Not the Solution: I Have a Better Plan
New Zealand wants to ban cats, or at least a group there, led by environmentalist Gareth Morgan. I’ve been to New Zealand, and I understand that the native wildlife – particularly bird life – greatly have no defense against feral cats, or owned cats allowed outdoors (which are most owned cats there). Making matters more threatening to avian live, many native New Zealand birds are flightless.
Morgan wants to ban future cat ownership, allowing current owned cats to be ‘grandfathered,’ but no more cats when the current cats die. He doesn’t explain his plan where all the shelter cats would go.
The local SPCA is no better, their executive director Bob Kerridge says “I believe in nature doing it’s thing.” He says he’s ‘ok’ with the idea of cats doing whatever they do outside, even if that means killing native wildlife, however precarious the threatened species is.
Letting nature play out isn’t an acceptable response since cats aren’t indigenous to New Zealand. If they were, there would be a balance. Since some birds are flightless, this not only makes them more threatened by the cats, but also their chicks because they are ground nesters.
What’s wrong with these people? Both sides are wrong!
Indeed, there are a lot of cats in New Zealand. A 2011 survey by the New Zealand Companion Animal Council found that 48 percent of households in New Zealand owned at least one cat, a higher number than in other developed nations. The survey put the total cat population at 1.4 million. This means cats are valued in this country, people love them, and clearly choose to share their lives with them – for all their many benefits.
As I said, I understand the problem. I realize the real threat to native wildlife. There is a solution, though, is easy:
1) Keep pet cats indoors: Currently most cats in New Zealand are indoor/outdoor. Kept inside only, they obviously are no longer a threat to wildlife, or an annoyance to neighbors (also a problem), and the cats are safer as well. I don’t know the percent of cats spayed/neutered in New Zealand, but it’s not as high as in America, for example.
2) Initiate agressive trap, nueter and return to deal with feral cats: Volunteers set traps to capture feral cats. Once caught, the cats are given an overall quick health once over. Any cats suffering ill health may be put out of their misery. Kittens that are young enough do go to the SPCA to be adopted. While the vast majority of cats are spay/neutered, and in America vaccinated for rabies (rabies in not an issue in New Zealand). Ultimately, not being able to reproduce, the cats would die off.
There is unnecessary hate being perpetuated in this ridiculous campaign Morgan called on his countrymen ay to make their current cat their last in order to save the nation’s unique bird species. He set up a website, called Cats To Go. The site once depicted a tiny kitten with red devil’s horns. The opening line: “That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer.” Yes, cats are predators – but take the actions I describe above, and the problem will be solved over time. And immediately, there will be impact. Yes, sometimes answers are that simple. I can’t understand why the Kiwi’s aren’t seeing that.