Does New Zealand Hate Cats?

We explore the stats and history of this hairy situation

By Ava Agata Gorecki

Does New Zealand Hate Cats?

Cats weren’t always terrorizing the flightless boobies, kingfishers and pigeons of New Zealand. In fact, not too long ago they weren’t even on the island at all. Cats were first introduced to New Zealand by European settlers in the mid 19th century. Specifically, by Captain James Cook who used them to control the rat population aboard his ship. Thanks, England.

Today New Zealand hosts more cat owners per capita than any other country with 45% of households blessed with a feline friend. Fittingly, we can conclude that Kiwis have a heart-on for kitties.

So what’s the T?

According to Gareth Morgan, a nationally recognized economist turned environmental activist, if you don’t abhor the little fluffers, you should. He famously refers to cats as the “friendly neighborhood serial killer.” Sounds rather dramatic to us but here’s why. Cats have been a predominate contributor in the extinction of nine native bird species and have impacted the population of another 33 species. Morgan is claiming that he is only looking out for flightless birds who can’t escape kitty-cat claws, particularly their country’s namesake the Kiwi bird. (We don’t want to have another Dodo situation on our hands.)

His solution is to put a ban on cats by placing higher restrictions on cat owners, similar to those of dog owners, until they are completely eliminated. He suggests that all cats are to be registered, chipped and fixed and when your cat goes to the sweet litter box in the sky don’t replace it.

He also encourages citizens to cage-trap wandering cats that appear on their properties and hand them over to the local authorities. If a cat is found to be unregistered Morgan says it should be euthanized and if it does belong to a loving home…sorry ’bout it buddy, but you’re getting a huge fine.

Morgan is also turning to the government for help. Asking them to assist with the free disposal of cats as vets can be expensive, which deters the average Kiwi to take action.

Is one man’s crusade another man’s tyrannical nightmare? How do we go about choosing which creature’s life is more important? Morgan does say that he is not anti-cat, but anti-wandering cat. This problematic propaganda perpetuates cruelty towards our little kitty pals, but is it justified?

Sounds to me like Morgan is throwing a little hissy fit himself. Whatever your opinion on the matter, I couldn’t see myself without my precious kitty which would make it difficult for me to follow a campaign against any cat. Yet again, with environmental consequences looming, it may be a good idea to hear all sides of the argument. The great cat battle of New Zealand rages on.

So, does New Zealand hate cats? Statistically, it seems like they do not. But the pressure to ban cats is in effect, especially among the more environmentally aware.