A high-profile New Zealand economist has launched a campaign to rid the country of cats that he says threatens native birdlife. And a scientist supports him.
Garteh Morgan set up the Cats To Go website - complete with a Photoshopped picture of a kitten with devil horns - yesterday to try and persuade fellow-New Zealanders to give up their cat-loving ways.
While he does not call for an outright cull, the well-known businessman believes euthanasia is "an option" and wants people to at least not buy or breed anymore cats. He also thinks cat owners should keep their pets indoors and believes registration should be mandatory, in order to help maintain the native birds he says are being wiped out by cats, dogs and rodents.
"Imagine a New Zealand teeming with native wildlife, penguins on the beach, kiwis roaming about in your garden," Morgan writes on his website. "Imagine hearing birdsong in our cities."
Pitching his idea to a country with of the highest cat ownership rates in the world, Morgan's could at least be commended for his bravery. His idea was not well received, with a poll on his own website leaning just 30% in his favour.
"That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer," Morgan writes on his website.
However, Dr Yolanda van Heezik, a senior lecturer in Zoology at the University of Ontago, told TVNZ that she believes Morgan is heading in the right direction.
"I support Gareth Morgan in his campaign to raise awareness about the impacts that pet, stray, and feral cats have on our native wildlife," she said today. "The recommendations given by Gareth Morgan are reasonable. Consider using a collar with a bell: our research has shown they reduced catch by 50%."
Van Heezik said that other countries - including Australia - regulate cat ownership and cat movements. "We need to start thinking along the same lines," she added.
In 2011 Western Australia caused controversy when it implemented a Cat Bill requiring owners to sterilise and microchip their cats by six months of age.
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Words: Anna Pollitt. Images: Rex features