Don't you wish that New Zealand's war on cats was actually a war OF cats? Think of it! It could be like Redwall and Narnia come to life, but no — instead it's a boring ol' war on cats as environmentalists push for the nationwide eradication of a beloved household pet. The war! It soldiers on!
We first reported on Gareth Morgan, a Kiwi economist-turned-environmental-activist, back in January when his anti-cat campaign was in its infancy. He had just kicked off the website Cats To Go, which urged pet owners to stop considering cats and even consider putting down the kitties that they already had. Why? Because they're seriously fucking up New Zealand's exotic bird population.
From the website:
New Zealand is the last refuge of a huge range of bird species, we’re famous for our claim to be clean and green, and some of us have recognised the huge economic benefit, let alone the ecological dividend, from achieving a Predator Free New Zealand.
But the vision is flawed. Almost half of Kiwi households have a cat (or two) making New Zealanders the world’s biggest cat owners  . Cats are incredibly effective hunters and are wiping out our native birds.
What Morgan's pressing for isn't actually euthanasia. Rather it's to convince cat owners to register their animals, have them neutered, kept in doors and, if they're let out, put on a leash — none of which sounds too crazy.
The activist hasn't been deterred by the barrage of global hate mail he's received since going public with his campaign this past winter. He recently told the Washington Post, "We have got a concerted effort on opossums, rats, mice, mustelids, but the one that stands out is cats. Everybody is too bloody PC and scared to take on cats. So I thought, I can handle that."
Last week, he visited Stewart Island, New Zealand's third largest island, to discuss making it free of feral cats, rats and all other bird killing pests. There have even been ambitious discussions between New Zealand's other environmentalists (like the late Paul Callaghan, one of the country's most celebrated scientists) about making all of New Zealand pest free. The project, however, would be both expensive (costing over $2 billion) and emotionally fraught as no one wants to give up their pet cats no matter how many birds they're killing.
Even NZ's Prime Minister John Key is in denial, having publicly denounced Morgan's campaign by claiming that his cat "would never hurt a bird." Morgan's ice cold reply? Let him perform autopsy, “And I said, ‘If there isn’t any feathers, I’ll buy you a new one.’ ” Daaaaaaamn.
It's doubtful that the War on Cats will ever gather enough steam to change New Zealand in a profound way so it's even more unlikely that it will ever make it to U.S. shores where American cats — according to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service — are killing a median of 2.4 billion birds a year.
Cat war breaks out in New Zealand [Washington Post]
Image via Norman Chan/Shutterstock.