Mixed views on Morgan cat campaign

He's branded them "the friendly neighbourhood serial killer", but not everyone in Gareth Morgan's neighbourhood shares his concerns about cats.

One neighbour who owns two cats laughed off the businessman's campaign to rid the country of the popular pets, saying it would never succeed.

Gina Hubbard, whose home overlooks Mr Morgan's house above Wellington's Oriental Bay, said tui and fantails were common in the area at the foot of Mt Victoria, and neither of her cats brought home birds.

"The only thing I've seen mine catch is mice."

Mr Morgan this week launched a website Cats to Go, which advises owners to keep their pets indoors 24 hours a day, fit them with a bell, and not replace them when they die because of the threat they pose to native birdlife.

Ms Hubbard, 26, dismissed the campaign, saying: "Good luck, it's never going to happen. It's like saying I don't want dogs because they pooh on the grass or something."

However, another of Mr Morgan's neighbours who would only give her first name, Alison, said Mr Morgan's campaign had made her think.

The self-confessed dog person said she had seen less birdlife in the neighbourhood in the past few years and Mr Morgan's campaign had made her wonder why.

"I think good on him because it's going to make everybody start to think. If there's a declining rate of birds I think something should be done."

Mr Morgan's arguments have drawn some support from the scientific community.

Yolanda van Heezik, a senior lecturer of zoology at the University of Otago, said Australia was among countries with regulation around cat ownership and movement, and New Zealand should consider whether to follow suit.

"I suspect that most people have never given the issue much thought, or they think that the one or two birds caught by their own cat makes no difference ... even though individual cats may catch few birds, cumulatively the total of birds killed is large."

Dr van Heezik has studied the prey caught by domestic cats in Dunedin and found cats were catching native species such as fantails and bellbirds, with fantails particularly vulnerable.

"My study identified that about one third of cats did not bring any prey home, about a half brought back prey infrequently, but that about 20 per cent were frequent hunters."

Mr Morgan's recommendations were reasonable, she said, and research showed that putting a bell on a cat reduced their catch by 50 per cent.

John Innes, a scientist in biodiversity and conservation at Landcare Research said the impact of cats on wildlife was controversial because it was site-dependent and ecologically complex.

Cats alone could not be blamed for the loss of any species in New Zealand, but they were "undoubtedly" key contributors to the decline of some birds in some places.

"For example black stilts, black-fronted terns and wrybills in braided rivers and other shorebirds trying to nest on beaches, but so potentially are hedgehogs, ferrets, stoats, four wheel drive vehicles, people walking dogs and fishermen," he said.

In New Zealand the major prey in native forests was the ship rat, which ate many more birds than cats did, he said.

- Hana Garrett-Walker of APNZ

Oh, for heaven's sakes

Daily reader, how would you know all that is going on in Australia?

Register cats now

People will never limit the number of cats they own till they have to pay registration fees for each cat. Like we do for dogs. A win win. Surely. Less cats, more easy money for councils around the country to pay for the costs they incur.

Personally, I would like to see the cat population decimated. They are no better than rabbits, stoats and possums.

One species or another

Te Jackle, if you can stop the humans who defecate in the wrong places, kill wildlife and keep the neighbourhood awake with their whining, then you can sort out the cats. 

My Cats

Te Jackle,

Your comments amuse me because you are making assumptions. I am living it for real. I know where my cats are right now and they rarely venture too far. Two are on the sofa and the younger one is wanting me to go bed where he sleeps every night, all night.

I agree, Cats should have to be registered like dogs.

My cats are also de-sexed.



So you can vouch that your cats have never killed a bird, that you have seen - are you constantly following them around especially at night while they are defecating in neighbourhood gardens, killing native wildlife, and keeping the street awake with their whining.

As I pointed out, regulate their ownership, license them and force cat owners to keep them secured at their own dwelling just like dogs.

I think any cat on the loose should be treated at a stray and as with dogs worrying sheep, cats on cities' fringes should be trapped and impounded.

Australia has strict cat ownership legislation, especially on the fringes.


Operation Big Cat

If humans had not interfered with Nature, domesticated cats would be cougars, and dogs wolves. Like Jack London ('Call of The Wild'), I think this would be A Good Thing. What do you do when good cats go bad?

Interfering with nature?

Don't you just love the mantra of Bob Kerridge and other cat owners: "Don't interfere with nature"?

Our society's whole cat ownership and "management" is one giant interference with nature as is.

Gareth Morgan is a brave man for fronting this issue and bringing it to public attention. Let's hope the resulting conversation leads to the adoption of a much less damaging cat ownership regime once the initial hackle raising dies down.

Ban 1080 not cats

Native birds have declined considerably in the past 60 years since 1080 poison has been used in NZ. Gareth Morgan needs to be more concerned about 1080 than he is about cats. He should read about "Operation cats" where cats in Borneo were killed by DDT which in turn caused a rat plague and thousands of cats had to be airlifted into Borneo to kill the rats.

Like Bob Kerridge from Auckland SPCA said: "Don't interfere with nature."

Cats 3

I too used to have problems with neighbours' cats coming into my front yard and sitting under the trees stalking the little finches. Initally, I used to get a bb gun to scare it off but in the end it would just ignore me, unless I scored a direct hit, and carry on regardless.

I did however solve the problem in the end by cutting down the native tree that was attracting both.

And before everyone gets on their high horses, I'm a Leo and have had cats most of my life. Until I got my first dog that is and saw the difference. Dogs have masters, cats have slaves.


Te Jackle,

By your comments I strongly assume you have never owned cats. I have three, two of whom I have never seen kill or bring home a bird they have killed. The younger one has killed a few when he was young but rarely any more. Rodents on the other hand are a regular kill. Get the facts right rather than listen to others. As for dog poo over the fence, well that says everything to me. [abridged]


I have written many letters to the ODT over the years regarding the lost income to the council by not imposing the same bylaws on cat owners as are currently imposed on dog owners - think of the revenue stream if cat owners had to register their furry feral friends.

Cats are not only gratuitous killers, they kill for fun not for food, they roam freely through backyards defecating when and where they like.

Why is this allowed? I took great pleasure in lobbing my dog doo over the fence to the neighbours, whose cat frequently returned the favour to my vege garden.

Keep your cats locked up - we shouldn't have to tolerate their roaming.

ODT/directory - Local Businesses

CompanyLocationBusiness Type
The Orchid Florist LimitedDunedinFlorists
Moto Technix CromwellMotorcycle Sales & Repair
Airconditioning, Refrigeration & Electrical Services Ltd (ARE Services Ltd)QueenstownAir Conditioning & Heating
Kamahi ElectronicsDunedinElectronics