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Morgan steps up cat-free New Zealand campaign

Published: 7:54AM Tuesday January 29, 2013 Source: ONE News

Economist Gareth Morgan has signalled the latest target in his campaign to make New Zealand cat-free, calling on the SPCA to abandon its current policies and for the euthanization of stray cats.

Morgan made headlines around the world with the launch of his controversial 'Cats to go' campaign last week.

It encourages cat owners not to replace their cats when they die, and to keep their pets indoors 24 hours a day in order to protect native bird species.

But Morgan said some people had taken his comments in the wrong way and released a statement overnight in response to the reaction he received.

"First let me say I do not hate cats, how people ever reached that conclusion is only for them to know," he said.

"What I do not like however is the evidenced damage cats are doing to our native fauna."

Morgan claims New Zealand's native birdlife is being decimated by domesticated cats, which he referred to as "natural born killers". His website says a New Zealand without cats would be "a New Zealand teeming with native wildlife".

In his latest release Morgan calls on people to trap cats if they stray on to their property and take them to the "local Mayor's office for them to deal with."

"Councils need to urgently bring down bylaws that force cat owners to register, micro-chip and neuter their cats, impose fines on cat-owners that need to retrieve their cats from the local pound and euthanize unclaimed cats."

He also calls for the SPCA to abandon a policy for neutering stray cats, in a scheme known as Trap Neuter Release.

"This despicable practice means that stray cats are no longer put down by the SPCA as they once were, but instead neutered and released into colonies where they can continue to kill wildlife unabated; simply neutering a cat does nothing to stop the bloodlust."

Morgan says the practice is open to a legal challenge as cruelty to animals, and may also be a violation of the Biosecurity and Wildlife Acts.

However the Royal New Zealand SPCA National President, Bob Kerridge, fired back with his own release overnight calling Morgan a "modern day zealot".

He warns that Morgan will face an even greater backlash by targeting colonies of stray cats.

"Sadly our domestic cats are very disposable, and stray cats are the result of these irresponsible people who discard their 'entire' cats to fend for themselves.

"The existence of these strays is not the cats' fault and accordingly we take responsibility for their welfare by de-sexing them, identifying them, and returning them to their colonies where they are fed and cared for.

"There is a veritable army of wonderful volunteer cat carers who will rise in revolt, supported by the SPCA, should they become another Morgan target."

Kerridge has called for Morgan to rethink his tactics and join the SPCA to develop a positive solution by encouraging responsible cat ownership.

Otherwise he says the economist can, "Butt out of our lives, and don't deprive us of the beautiful relationship that a cat can provide, individually, and in our families".