Brian Edwards Media

An unusual case of avian racism from Gareth Morgan

Felix photographed by Marcus Chan

[Update: Gareth Morgan appeared on Campbell Live last night. It's worth pointing out, since no-one on the item, including Gareth himself,  did, that all of the cats shown killing native birds were feral cats. Domestic cats, the ones Dr Morgan seems most concerned to rid the country of, did not feature at all.]

My daughter Naomi is an actuary and occasional stand-up comedian. Her on-stage persona is a not-very-bright young woman called Dolly Putin. Dolly was responsible for this gem: ‘I can’t understand all this fuss about endangered species.  How can they be endangered when there are more and more of them all the time?’

I was reminded of Dolly when I read a story in this morning’s Herald, headlined, ‘Morgan calls for cats to be wiped out’. Morgan is economist Gareth Morgan who, according to the first line in the story, is launching a campaign to ‘eradicate’ domestic cats.

Despite the Herald’s sensation-seeking hyperbole, Gareth Morgan doesn’t actually want to kill cats; he wants cat owners to keep their pets permanently inside and not to replace them when they die – a sort of benevolent eugenics. No domestic cats would be killed, but the species would die out in New Zealand. ‘Cats,’ the Herald reports Dr Morgan as saying, ‘are sadists and natural-born killers that destroy native wildlife.’ 

I’d like to avoid a fruitless debate about the relative merits of cats and dogs as species or pets and look at the wider issue of the categorisation of species generally as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

The common feature among all species, it seems to me, is that they want to survive. They neither want to die, nor to die out. The survival of one species, however, is often dependent on killing and eating members of another species. We admire ‘big cats’ for their prowess in this, but condemn the same instinct in the domestic cat. I can see the logic in it – the domestic cat doesn’t need to kill birds or rats and mice to survive; its killing is gratuitous.

But this is equally true of humans. We don’t need to kill sheep and cows and pigs and assorted birds and sea creatures to survive. We do it primarily for our personal gratification. We could survive perfectly well on grains and vegetables and fruit. Millions of people do.

More interesting to me is the distinction which we make between cats killing birds (bad) and cats killing rats and mice (good).

Such distinctions directly reflect our view of the victims themselves. Birds are ‘good’ and ‘nice’, rats and mice are ‘bad’ and ‘nasty’. Neither the birds nor the rats and mice know this of course. They’re just getting on with following their instincts to breed and survive.

But if the rats and mice don’t know that they’re ‘vermin’ – perhaps the most derogatory word in our language – they certainly do know that they exist in constant peril of their lives. Their highly successful concealment and escape strategies attest to that. Rats and mice are clever creatures. So I have mixed feelings when our cats deposit a dead rat on the rug in front of the fire. I don’t like rats either, but I feel sorry when any living creature is killed.

I also feel sorry when the corpse on the carpet is a thrush or a finch. But I don’t feel more sorry. I don’t make that distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ species in the animal world, since animals don’t have consciences and can’t  make moral judgements.

Gareth Morgan’s desire to eliminate domestic cats from New Zealand (and presumably everywhere else) involves a further refinement of the ‘cats bad’, ‘birds good’ argument. Not all birds, it transpires, are created equal. The killing of an immigrant bird may be regrettable, but the killing of a native bird is an absolute tragedy. I have trouble with this argument on two grounds.

The first I’ve already advanced: one species may be more attractive than another, but its degree of attractiveness, let alone its nationality, ought not to confer on it a greater right to survive and breed. That is akin to animal racism. I find our native fantails absolutely charming but the death of an immigrant sparrow will cause me just as much grief.

So the issue finally comes down to Dolly’s endangered species. She’s right of course, there do seem to be more of them all the time. But society’s concern for endangered species seems to have more to do with sentiment than reason. Other than through the activities of men, most notably in the case of marine mammals, endangered species are the corollary of Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ – the non-survival of the less fit, the less well adapted.

Our national bird, the kiwi, is a popular example of an endangered species. Would it be sad if the kiwi disappeared? Well of course it would. And all the more sad because it’s neither gorgeous nor gainly and the silly thing can’t even meet the most basic qualification of birdhood, to be able to fly.

People say, ‘Just imagine what it would be like if you could never see another kiwi again.’ Well, it would be a pity but we’d get over it. For just as some species disappear, others are discovered. We will never run out of species to admire, love and have as national symbols.

Well then, Brian, why all the fuss about Gareth Morgan wanting to eliminate the entire cat population of New Zealand?

Well,  it’s based on sentiment rather than reason; his facts, as Bob Kerridge points out in today’s Herald, are (uncharacteristically in my opinion) wrong; it’s counterproductive since cats kill rats which eat birds’ eggs and kill their chicks;  it’s entirely impractical since the only way to keep cats in the house is to close every door and window; and, even if it were possible, it would bring enormous sadness to more than two million New Zealand men, women and children. I’m not in favour of that. And neither are Max and Felix.

Finally, as for cats being sadists and natural born killers. Well, that bit’s probably right.

,

99 Comments:

  1. Two things you don’t tangle with…cat lovers and Coronation Street watchers..! ( the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive )

  2. The death of a chicken eaten by a dog, pukeko run over, pet dog put down is indeed quite sad, but not tragic. The extinction of an entire species is, to me least, a true tragedy. The mass extinction of multiple species is a catastrophe. Think of it this way, if, as is highly likely (with ocean acidification alone let alone anything else) this small planet looses a huge portion of its flora and fauna, never in the time humans are still around, will they ever be replaced, except by robots and genetically modified versions of cows, soya beans etc. Evolution will be too slow to catch up with the loss. Beyond that, it’s entirely feasible for humans to now destroy the earth as a habitable planet to live in. In other words, it’s a new paradigm we are finding hard to come to terms with. We are actually moving into one of the most pivotal moments in human history right now.

  3. I’m on the side of the cats Brian; your comments would be the most equitable on the issue from either side I’ve read today, however the bar wasn’t set very high by the various correspondents.

  4. Brian, how do you know that:’animals don’t have consciences and can’t make moral judgements’. Sounds like bogus religious doctrine to me.
    Certainly not true of dogs…owners will tell you their dogs can look very guilty indeed when they are discovered doing something wrong. And they have huge natural empathy, even love,towards their humans.

    BE: Aline, I think you’re extending the meaning of ‘conscience’ and ‘moral choice’ to include conditioned reflexes. Do you really think that a cat thinks, ‘Hmm, I’d like to catch and eat that bird, but that would be a cruel thing to do, so I won’t'? Or a dog thinks, ‘Better not eat those chocolate biscuits. That wouldn’t be fair to the kids.’ Animals really aren’t equipped for that sort of ethical reasoning. The cat will probably kill and eat the bird anyway, for sport or because it’s hungry. The dog may remember the growling it got when it last stole the biscuits, but that has nothing to do with conscience. The relationship between people and pets is based on mutual benefit. Our cats like to eat and be warm and be stroked; we like to have them sitting on our laps purring. They feel nice and it’s pleasant, relaxing and said to keep your blood pressure down. We love them, but I very much doubt that they love us.

  5. I cannot quite put my finger on it but there is something about Morgan and his pronouncements from on high that irritates me intensely (and I do not speak as an ailurophile).

    Apart from having been successful in making money I am not sure what his qualifications are for poking his nose in and offering unsolicited advice.

    His interference at the Wellington Phoenix has already brought the predictable results and based on that I am not sure I would value his expertise on environmental matters. It seems to be a common trait with those who have made their pile that they think that they can preach on the evils of this world. He wants to go off on save the plant expeditions burning large quantities of fossil fuel, that’as great. I just wish he would shut up about it.

    And if he wants to wipe out a dangerous, destructive and homicidal species he could start with his own. Cats know no better. Human beings do not have that excuse yet cause more mayhem than any other creature on the planet. If the human race were wiped out tomorrow nature would take over and all these endangered species would soon recover. When it comes the environment mankind is a hindrance not a help.

  6. Such a relief to hear an intelligent rebuttal to Morgan’s statements, most of which are absurd and somewhat unsubstantiated

  7. 7

    TIM(Truth in Media)

    So Gareth Morgan actually wants cat control not eliminating cats from NZ.
    Your release is based on a lie, and it belittles racism, is this how politic figures are also trained now, lie making up sensational attention grabbing headlines.
    Obviously media should not be what it has evolved into today, its just a marketing and political tool with no truth to it.
    Its a shame people have used this lie to express their personal dislike of Mr Morgan. His misquoted opinion is a ” pronouncement from on high that irritates them intensely” funny how only if its not them making the pronouncement does it irritate them.

    BE: Well Tim, I’m a bit at a loss to know where the lie is. I specifically took issue in the post with the hyperbole involved in the Herald’s use of the terms ‘eliminate’ and ‘wiped out’ and clearly defined what it is Mr Morgan wants to do – to have people confine cats to their houses and not replace them when they die. Gareth certainly wants to rid New Zealand of cat pests, as he sees them. He made the point very clearly again on Campbell Live tonight. As for people making personal attacks on him, I entirely agree that this is unnecessary and unfortunate, but we try to avoid censoring comments too much. As to your comment about my referring to the distinction people make between native and introduced birds ‘belittling racism’, I have absolutely no idea what you mean. Finally, nowhere in the post is Mr Morgan misquoted. Most of the misquoting is in your comment which strikes me as particularly ironic in view of your pretentious nom de plume. Perhaps you could consider lightening up.

  8. Morgan is a Jeremiah also…

  9. “funny how only if its not them making the pronouncement does it irritate them.”

    Would you mind translating that into gramatical English so I can undestand the point you are trying to make?

  10. Your point about the relative importance placed on different animal species by humans is illustrated by the difference in human response between the beach stranding of whales and jellyfish. Each species has its place in nature for a reason or reasons, some of which will be known to science and some not. Who is to say which is the more important in nature?

    I agree with Morgan that cats pose problems for our wildlife. I believe our country would be better off environmentally if cats had never been introduced, but the same applies to mice, rats, stoats, ferrets, rabbits, possums and others. He is unrealistic in advocating the enforced keeping of cats indoors and that they shouldn’t be replaced when they die, but there could and should be stricter controls than there are. Feral cats are reported as being more numerous and a greater threat to our wildlife than are domestic pet cats, but without good controls many pet cats become feral, or produce kittens that become feral. I suggest a similar system of registration and microchipping for cats as we have for dogs, with local government, DOC or some other body being charged with humanely capturing and euthanasing unregistered and unchipped cats. The resultant reduction in the domestic cat population (who would own 10 cats at $50 a pop?) would translate, in time, to a decline in the feral population which would also be reduced by the eradication programme.

  11. I suggest we eradicate all economists. All existing ones should be kept inside at night, and once we celebrate their demise, they should not be replaced.

  12. Nice picture of Felix ,a classy Burmese.Surely Gareth Morgan Whos comments over the years have polarised opinion on many subjects should have his hands full with his Can of worms ,the Phoenix.Although he overstates the case (possibly one of the problems with Economists )the point he makes poorly is valid.All pet owners should take proper care of their pets, and cats dogs etc should be left inside at night.
    I have 3 burmese and find them fascinating.Dogs and Cats and other pets have been documented as having a beneficial effect on our lives.The problem Gareth fails to address is the behaviour of the owners.Its a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    Im sure the 7-1 loss may have tipped his balance slightly and he is just letting of steam.

  13. He’s probably trying to draw attention away from his Wellington Phoenix disaster.

  14. I’m afraid Morgan doesn’t have much going for him on this. We are surrounded by native birds including weka and kiwi all coexisting with card and dogs in the Russell predator free peninsular. Feral cats are a problem, but not domestic pets. More native birds are killed by cars and windows than domestic cats. Minah and other introduced species also crowd out natives in urban areas.

  15. Of course your cats love you Brian. You wouldn’t be welcome in their lair otherwise.

  16. Well said, Brian.

    Every day I get to talk with people who absolutely LOVE Monarch butterflies but hate Cabbage Whites and wasps and ants. The praying mantis creates a dilemma… for years the mantis has been on the “good” list – but when I tell them that mantises will eat their Monarch caterpillars, they don’t know any more which list it should be on.

    Another dilemma are the plug-in pest control gadgets – when people find that those items will also kill Monarch caterpillars, suddenly they realise how “bad” these products are.

    On another note, there’s a very successful restoration programme happening in Russell, Bay of Islands, with four endangered species of bird showing signs of revival. Yet, people still keep and love their cats. There has been an intensive programme to ensure that everyone realises the importance of keeping their dogs and cats indoors at night. It’s had great success.

    BE: Thanks Jacqui. On the few occasions when our cats catch birds, it’s almost invariably during the day. On most occasions we’re able to take the bird out of the cat’s mouths and it almost invariably flies off. Maybe Max and Felix are unusually gentle.

  17. According to Wikipedia, in the USA – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_wind_power#Birds – bird deaths from domestic cats are about 60% of those due to transmission lines, around the same as cars & trucks, agriculture, pesticides, hunting and, horror of horrors, building windows may kill as many as 10 x more birds than cats do!

    Surely Mr Morgan – being a dispassionate numbers person – should be promoting the immediate smashing of all windows, the cessation of agriculture, banning of cars, dismantling transmission lines etc????

  18. Ok, so i shoot feral cats on sight, I love supporting my native flora and fauna but a bit like social welfare. i don’t mind a hand up but a hand out? let’s get real Gareth. Train your Kiwi’s to recognise that cat’s are not edible and that rat’s aren’t friends. Fast track evolution. Shape up or ship out simple really!

  19. Purrrrrr….!!!

  20. Some people here need to take an environmental ethics class. There’s nothing terribly odd about assigning a species value over and above its members. It’s no more weird than holding that the loss of all Gutenberg Bibles would be a greater loss than the loss of one individual multiplied by the total number remaining +1.

    As for cats being kept inside, that is quite common overseas. My wife and I owned a cat in Toronto that, like most cats there, never want outside and panicked on the one occasion we tried to take it out (fire alarm IIRC). So there’s no immovable obstacle stopping New Zealanders from moving to keeping indoor cats over time, and that is in line with Morgan’s desire, which is a gradual reduction in predatory cats. An indoor cat is just as good a pet.

    The argument that cats keep rodents under control isn’t particularly strong. Here in Hamilton we have a feral cat problem, but it was a rodent poisoning campaign responsible for the increased presence of birds in the city in recent years, or so I am told.

    Keeping an outdoor cat in an urban area is a deeply anti social act. If nothing else people should be allowed to shoot or poison any cat they find on their property. Why should neighbors have to put up with ruined gardens and cat crap on their property because of someone else’s choice of pet? The correct answer is that they shouldn’t.

    The problem isn’t so much the cats as the feral, entitled New Zealanders who won’t keep their animals under control (the same sort of worthless people who let their dogs roam off the lead outside dog parks so that they frighten toddlers). I like cats, but that doesn’t blind me to the fact that outdoor cats are an unsuitable pet for NZ.

    BE: Your comments that people should be allowed to shoot or poison any cat they find on their property and your reference to “worthless people” disincline me to place any worth on your opinions.

  21. Meh. The old sophists trick of avoiding the argument by complaining about the tone. Gee, I’ve never come across that before. I honestly expected better from you.

    BE: You advocated the shooting or poisoning of domestic cats that strayed onto other people’s property. That is not a matter of tone, it indicates someone prepared to inflict extraordinary suffering on an animal merely because it annoyed or inconvenienced them, and of course on the family whose cat was shot or poisoned. I have no interest in what you expected of me. I expect absolutely nothing of you.

  22. If you make a ‘den’ for your cat (I use a small insulated dog kennel with a cat door, run, ‘ensuite’ food and water)and make sure that they are away before dusk and after dawn ( the prime time for catching birds) not only will you stop/greatly reduce bird fatalities, you will stop/greatly reduce trips to the vet for cat fight injuries. Night time is also the most dangerous time for cats to be around traffic. My cat seems to love his little house and it’s a really easy way to stop a lot of suffering and expense!

    BE: Sounds like a nice idea, Sunny. Thanks.

  23. I dunno but I just like the shear nuttiness of Gareth Morgan’s anti cat campaign. So many of our leaders are so perfectly polish in public, Mr Key comes to mind, it worries me, no one is perfect. I’d rather see the imperfections , Cat Hating for My Morgan, Gay hating for Mr McVicar.
    It adds colour I say.

    BE: Gay hating is a ‘colour’ most of us, including you I suspect, don’t really like. And, despite having taken the verbal cudgels to Mr McVicar on numerous occasions, I doubt that he’s a ‘gay-hater’. Like many others, he’s a traditionalist who has difficulty with the idea of homosexuality, gay marriage, gay adoption etc. Though I do agree the connection he is trying to make between gay marriage and increased crime is far-fetched to say the least.

  24. I live in native forest on a mountain side.
    In the morning I wake up to the dawn chorus of tuis, bellbirds and thrushes (native/introduced).
    Our family has a cat – it brings in whiteeyes (of which there are zillions), and many rats. On balance I think it does more good than harm with respect to what it kills – assuming we want native birds to survive. It is much loved by the family.
    Each year a pair of falcons nests on our land and never (so far as we are aware) manage to raise their chicks. Two experts have independently told us the problem is cats. There are some feral ones around which I think are the culprits. I try to trap them (2 in 8 years).
    So I stand in conflict over cats. Yes. Lets get rid of feral cats and stop dumping unwanted domestic ones. But cats as pets – yes please. (Keeping pet cats well fed does help as they tend to not go outside as much when well fed.)

    BE: Well said!

  25. Hi Guys, just thought I’d chuck in the conversation that is raging on facebook, great to see we are having the discussion…
    (link at the bottom, and my response to the comments, and yes, I’m they guy they interviewed working at the “Ark” project)…

    Andy Warneford I won’t give up me day job eh!
    14 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Katherine De Silva awesome just watched it! good work andy. gosh i was getting annoyed at that old coot from spca ! talking rubbish! ‘we shouldnt tamper with nature and let it sort itself out’ as if cats are part of our natural fauna and belong as part of a balanced ecosystem…god almighty!
    13 hours ago · Unlike · 3

    Jeremy Painting The only good cat is a hat.
    12 hours ago · Unlike · 2

    Graeme Butler Katherine I disagree with you. Bob Kerridge is a very compassionate lover of life where he considers all life as valuable. If you consider the broader view that all life is part of the planet, that the boundaries between NZ ecologies and other parts …See More
    4 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Jeremy Painting @ Graeme… so what you are saying would apply equally to the cane toad in Australia… nature will never balance that one out. Cats are NZ’s version of the cane toad, an entire environment that evolved with no mammalian predator… cats serve no more purpose in modern society then fluffy dice on the rear vision mirror, you can have them if you choose to.
    4 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Graeme Butler Jeremy nature will ballance the cane toad, natural balance is not about human perception of what balance should be.
    4 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Jeremy Painting You really think so? Look at the 200+ species already extinct from NZ. The damage is such that by the time your ‘balance’ arrives, there will be nothing left to compete, like letting a bush fire destroy an entire kauri forest and then saying the paddoc…See More
    3 hours ago · Unlike · 2

    Graeme Butler Ther eis nowhere that left to its own devices that nature hasn’t delivered or maintained adequate balance. Extinctions happen, new species develop, nature is always changing. Nothing to worry about, feel guilty over or responsible for.
    3 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Jeremy Painting So the continued relentless catching of dolphins will have no effect on the oceans ecosystems or your life? They will simply just be replaced with something else? Nowhere left to its own devices should not equate to ignoring what can be prevented or co…See More
    3 hours ago · Edited · Unlike · 1

    Graeme Butler If the industrial exploitation of the oceans continues as it is doing, then those species valuable as food for humans will be depleted, other species will be naturally promoted. Nature has all the elements needed for life. I’m not suggesting that ‘we…See More
    3 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Dylan Van Winkel Is that pro-cat guy on Campbell Live an absolute mongol or what?! “Nature doing its thing”…you have got to be kidding me!
    3 hours ago · Like · 1

    Andy Warneford Hi everyone, especially Dylan Van Winkel, Jeremy Painting, Katherine De Silva, and Graeme Butler for engaging in this discussion. My immediate goal fom doing the article was to get the discussion going, you guys have made an excellent start. My views are well known, and EVERYONE is entitled to their views of course…. cats killing birds, geckos, skinks, weta, kauri snails and everything else endemic and special to this country has nothing to do with nature. The only reason cats, stoats, weasels, ferrets, goats, pigs, deer etc etc and so on are here, is because WE put them here. Now, you could argue we are part of nature, and that the closing down of the original natural barrier, the ocean, thereby allowing these animals to “piggy back” with us across those oceans, “is” natural ecologly and evolution etc. However, one problem at this point. By that logic “I” am also nature. And, if I choose to do things differently to my ancestors, then surely by that logic, this is also evolution, and maybe true “progress”, which is often used to justify many moves that damage true “nature”.
    a few seconds ago · Edited · Like · 1

    Andy Warneford Another point worth considering I feel are our obligations under the treaty of Waitangi. We have a responsibility to protect the toanga of this land, as part of our agreement with Iwi to share this country. BTW, I consider myself indigenous to this lan…See More
    18 minutes ago · Like · 1

    http://www.3news.co.nz/SPCA-Gareth-Morgan-at-odds-over-cat-ownership/tabid/367/articleID/283829/Default.aspx

  26. Birds are mainly diurnal; rats and mice are mainly nocturnal. I woluld have thought that mice and rats roaming around are more in danger from a cat out at night, rather than birds, who should be tucked up in fairly inaccessible places on trees. Our cat has only brought in mice and rats from its night forays, no birds; the occasional bird – peccavit!- (non-native – tuis are too stroppy and woodpigeons too large) has always been nabbed during the day. An argument for keeping them out at night and in during the day, when they mainly seem to sleep anyway?

  27. Cats are largely nocturnal for a specific reason… it gives them an advantage over diurnal species, such as birds. It also means that even other nocturnal species in a country like New Zealand also become targets, for while they “are” nocturnal, they evolved in the absence of cats, rats mice etc as you accurately note.
    It would be nice to think that birds are safe while asleep, but they are easily in the reach of climbers which all these furry friends actually are. Diurnal yes, which means at night, their sight senses are at a hugely diminished level, thus, easier prey than rats and mice, who specialise in foraging, and surviving at night amongst predators, as they have done for millions of years. btw, rats and mice are also introduced predators, and have actually accounted for many extinctions in this country, for all these reasons mentioned.
    Great discussion guys! :)

  28. I am a ‘cat person’, so naturally I’m on their side.

    Cats are manipulative, deceitful, unloving, self-absorbed, wilful, which, I suppose, is why I like them.

    A cat we had was a great source of comfort and amusement to my then-three young children at a time of distress.

    Despite his name – Jaeger – he was an indifferent hunter. It seems as if it had occurred to him early in his life that he didn’t need to hunt: why would he, when he had these stupid, adoring humans to feed him sheep’s heart or ox heart every day. Not to mention the warmest spots in our beds. Who could resists such fervid, fervent purring, that wet nose at 2am?

    But the thing that seems shonky about Gareth Morgan’s ‘facts’ is that they aren’t. They seem to be guesses, for want of a better word, from how many cats per household, to how many ‘kills’ they bring home, and how even that is a sampling.

  29. @Paul, you hit a bum note with “unloving” but the rest is true.

    As for the pitifully-neurotic urbanites who think a cat ruins gardens – they should just try a weka or pukeko. Not to mention birds in general descending on seeds, fruits and vines. Unfortunately they are never likely to broaden their knowledge by doing so. No doubt that will not inhibit their opinionated nonsense.

  30. I think Gareth was really asking for the preservation of as much native fauna and flora as possible in New Zealand by ridding these and the surrounding environments of introduced predators such as domestic and feral cats. Unless people have easy access to these environments or appreciate visiting these types of environments, I don’t think they are going to understand what Mr Morgan was trying get people to think about. Where I live, I do have easy access to native bush and most people in our community treasure it. I guess if you live in a concrete jungle, you tend to appreciate concrete and coffee more than the natural environment of the New Zealand bush with lots of birds found only in New Zealand.

    BE: The sarcasm at the end of your comment doesn’t do you any favours. I’m delighted you live with easy access to native bush but that doesn’t excuse the mindless prejudice which you display by your reference to my living in a concrete jungle and appreciating concrete and coffee more than the natural environment of New Zealand bush… What intolerable arrogance permits you to make judgements like this about someone you don’t even know. For the record we live in a hundred-year-old villa in Herne Bay with a lovely private garden where a host of birds wait to be fed by us every morning.

  31. Alan: they ‘love’ only when it suits them. They and we know that. Somehow they make it seem a cute trait.

  32. Just amazing the level of ignorance about our native birds and other animals. On Red Radio this afternoon you made the very nice distinction between domestic and feral cats. I doubt the birds they kill would make such a distinction. Just because you don’t see your cats killing birds doesn’t mean they don’t do it. We have no cats-no one else on our country road has a cat and yet we get 6-12 at least a year here. Dumped by animals lovers! I shoot them-the cats that is – the dumpers if I could! Where do you think feral cats come from?

    BE: Thank you Roger. You don’t have a cat and no-one on your country road has a cat. Fine. Your choice and I respect it. We’ve always have cats. We love them. Our children and grandchildren love them. When our youngest grandchild (she’s 2) comes to visit, the first thing she says when she comes in the door is. “Miaow, Miaow, where’s the miaow miaow?” Judy and I think and her parents think that this early contact with animals is a good thing. Of course none of this is fine by you. We’re clearly irresponsible. You prefer to shoot cats and you’d like to shoot their irresponsible owners as well. (Incidentally we don’t come into that category.) Do you every wonder why self-righteous people like you get conservationists such a bad name?

  33. @Paul, no. Cats have their own distinctive characters. Some are very affectionate, others not. As Brian noted Burmese are quite like dogs in some respects. Ours was very people orientated and faithful. But other cats we have had have also been very attached and us to them. Of course just as with humans you tend to get what you give in relationships with animals.

    @Alex, I doubt either you or Gareth Morgan live amongst as much native flora and fauna as we do. However I won’t impugn your values though I do query your knowledge.

  34. Brian the “you” was not directed at you. It was more for those people who are cat nuts who never venture into the New Zealand bush but who live in built up urban areas. How can these people truely understand the concept of preserving that type of natural environment, which includes eliminating cats from it. Brian I am definitely not a tree hugger.
    @ Alan Wilkinson – I’m not sure what lack of knowledge you would be querrying? I am also amazed at how you know how much fauna and flora I live close to.

    BE: Thank you Alex, I appreciate the clarification.

  35. Get a dog for a change, Brian – then you’ll see they are more than a lap-warming accessory.

    BE: I like dogs, Aline. I just don’t want to take them for long walks with a poo-collecting plastic bag in my pocket.

  36. First of all I want to say that I am a cat owner, I love having a cat as a pet and wouldn’t particularly like to stop having one. Nevertheless I took exception to a number of the statements that you made while on the panel on National radio. Firstly, the statement you made in relation to domestic cats being unable to get birds such as the Tui, “they can’t do it, domestic cats”. Regardless of the fact you appeared to contradict yourself later on when you explained to your co panellist how the figure of cats catching 1 million birds a year was gathered, there are studies that clearly show domestic cats can and do eat native species. For example a study undertaken in Dunedin showing that domestic cats do bring in, not as often as mice, but more frequently the rats, a number of native species including lizards and birds such as the tui, bellbird and fantail. (see, http://www.gbict.co.nz/Newsletters/Issue6/Cats.htm Apologies it doesn’t link to the original University of Otago study but it summarises it well and is still worth reading the first wee bit.)
    A second comment that irritated me was when you claimed it was ‘Naïve to keep cats inside’, “you have to shut not only all the doors in the house but all in the windows in the house, they’re little escape artists. It’s ridiculous”. Yes Brian, it must be incredibly difficult to shut all the windows and doors in a house. Though perhaps I am being unfair to those of you who don’t live in the South as I do where it is a lot easier to remain comfortable with the doors and windows shut.
    Thirdly, “we have to worry more about native birds rather than immigrant birds” you stated in a questioning tone as if asking why native birds should be treated any differently to their immigrant cousins. I would put to you that the reason we would care more about the native species is that most of them are found only in New Zealand. When they are gone, they are gone for good. That seems a reasonably good reason to try and protect the few we have left, a task which may necessitate the removal of cats.
    You also made a sceptical comment questioning when anyone saw a cat eating a Kakapo. There is a reason we don’t see it Brian and it’s because none of them live on islands with cats anymore! Domestic cats are considered primarily responsible for the extinction of 8 island bird species, including Stephens Island Wren, Chatham Island Fernbird, and Auckland Island Merganser, and the eradication of 41 bird species from New Zealand islands alone. (Veitch, C.R. 1985. Methods of eradicating feral cats from offshore islands in New Zealand. ICBP Technical Publication 3: 125-141).
    Lastly you stated, “But garth I wasn’t talking about feral cats I was talking about domestic cats” your co panellist then said most domestic cats stay domestic so if he wants to get rid of the feral cats then start a campaign against feral cats’ something you said you were fine with. The point I would raise here is what Jim tried to raise. There is no guarantee that another feral population won’t gain a foot hold while there are still any cats living in New Zealand. The same reason applies for why no New Zealand Zoo keeps snakes.

    BE: Very reasonably expressed, Luke. Let’s just agree to differ.

  37. It seems to me that all extreme arguments for eradication of species which have been introduced to NZ forget that the most destructive introduced species here is ourselves!

  38. In your reply to TIM you deplored personal attacks which I guess was refering to my comments since TIM made reference.

    I am puzzled as to why you and TIM think that what I said was a personal attack on Morgan. I disagree with most of his opinions and I made that clear. I am not enamoured of his interference at the Phoenix a view shared by many other.

    I also made mention of the habit of those who have been successful in business becoming instant experts on every subject under the sun and then boring the entire population rigid with their opinions. Morgan is not alone in that. I question his qualifications to preach on environmental matters.

    I also suggested he focus more on the most destructive species on earth. On the matter of the moggie I hold no strong views. I do not own a cat (not that anyone can own a cat) but I do not begrudge others the pleasure and if I did own a cat I would resent Morgan’s intrusion.

    I made no personal attack on Morgan’s ethics, morality or behaviour so I fail to see how that was construed as a personal attack.

    I have to say many of your blogs on individuals who happen to have got up your nose have been far more vitriolic.

    BE: I don’t think I was referring to anyone in particular, Ben. It was a general observation.

  39. There could be a deal. Rid the South Island of cats and keep their presence on the North Island. There shall be many benefits.

  40. I note that having alienated cat owners he has turned his attention to alienating Phoenix fans in an interview with Radio Sport.

    If you happen to be a Phoenix supporter who owns a cat I guess Mr Morgan is not going to be your favorite person. One hopes he will not extend his influence to NZ cricket and rugby.

    I am afraid I find Mr M too much of a self publicist which probably colours my reaction to his opinions.

  41. The most bizarre thing I heard yesterday was Brian’s statement on National Radio that domestic cats are actually incapable of killing because that instinct has been bred out of them!
    My neighbour’s well fed cats at least do retain a sporting love of killing, and find my property an ideal place to pursue that recreation.
    My species preference is for birds, and after my children were massively upset by the sight of a much loved resident Fantail being tortured, (it was too late to save and I had to dispatch it myself), I asked my neighbour to prevent his cats from killing on my property.
    My Neighbour told me that I was being pathetic, as cats could not be told where to go or not go.
    Without my neighbour being willing to constrain his cats, I am finding it very difficult to see how I can achieve what I believe is a reasonable right not to have other peoples animals killing on my property.
    Brian seems to be an expert on both Cats and Ethics, so I was wondering how he would suggest resolving this situation?

  42. @Alex, I know Oriental Bay is not exactly natural cover and I know how much wildlife we have around us. Do you have weka, pukeko, kiwi, tui, kereru, fantails, quail, pheasants and moreporks in your garden and immediate vicinity? If so, I’ll be happy to grant you parity.

  43. @Dil, a water pistol. The warehouse has some nice, and powerful varieties to choose from.

  44. A cat of my acquaintance a long time ago (not ours)wanted to go outside. Its human slave didn’t want it to go outside because birds were feeding on breadcrumbs on the back lawn.

    So the cat yowled and prowled. The human slave went out for the evening, and came home to the net curtains shredded in the lounge. A water-filled vase had been knocked off the coffee table.
    The fishbowl was in pieces on the floor. The goldfish had expired; the cat hadn’t even bothered with it.

    To top it off the cat had shat a big heap by her bed.

    The human slave remembered the cat’s implacable stare as it sat next to the birdcage. The budgie was very quiet….

  45. Cats are able to be given a degree of freedom,I have small run on the side of my house but these are of superior build.C

  46. Cats Birds and Gareth Morgan may be able to live in peace together http://www.catsofaustralia.com/cat-enclosures.htm

    BE: Good idea – putting Gareth and the birds together in one of those lovely cages.

  47. Please excuse the format of these comments as my keyboard was danced on by you guessed it……

    BE: Tell me about it; or better still tell Judy. Max’s favourite sleeping place in on her keyboard.

  48. “is it reasonable to think we have the right not to have other peoples animals killing on our properties?”

    I was genuinely interested to know how Brian would answer that?

    BE: I’d be perfectly happy to answer the question, Dil. Of course you have that right. The question is what you do about it. Shooting and poisoning seem to be the preferred way of getting rid of other people’s cats on your property for some of the people commenting on this site. I’m not for that. But Judy and I did have to deal with a highly aggressive tom that was constantly attacking our more mild-mannered Mandalays some years ago. Both were quite badly injured. Solution? We caught the offender in a cage, gave him a thorough hosing down, then let him go. He didn’t come back. The only situation where I can imagine attacking or killing an animal would be if it was endangering me or a member of my family. And the guilty party there is most likely to be a dog.

  49. @Dill, you don’t have the right to stop birds using your airspace, nesting in your trees or defecating on your windows either.

    Along with the weather you can’t control there have to be some natural irritations to focus your neuroses on. Or just get a dog that frightens cats if you want to solve the problem rather than just grizzle about it.

  50. @Alan
    We’re not talking about ‘natural’ irritations. We are talking about things that other people have chosen to do that have an effect on what I believe are my reasonable rights.
    If I brought that dog – do you think it would be reasonable for me to allow it to roam freely across my neighbour’s property and kill his cats on his back lawn?

  51. “Solution? We caught the offender in a cage, gave him a thorough hosing down, then let him go. He didn’t come back.”

    Yes that sounds a ‘reasonable’ compromise in the use of force. I don’t want any killing – either of cats or by cats!

    Gosh, I wonder if Bob Kerridge would consider your solution cruelty to an animal?

    BE: Well, he was wet and miserable, but he was alive and physically unharmed. A better solution, I would have thought, to being dead or suffering the agony of poisoning. And our cats didn’t turn up torn and bleeding from then on.

  52. Thanks Luke, worth repeating:

    “Domestic cats are considered primarily responsible for the extinction of 8 island bird species, including Stephens Island Wren, Chatham Island Fernbird, and Auckland Island Merganser, and the eradication of 41 bird species from New Zealand islands alone. (Veitch, C.R. 1985. Methods of eradicating feral cats from offshore islands in New Zealand. ICBP Technical Publication 3: 125-141).

    Ah well, it’s a small price to pay to keep our influential commentators happy. Without the essential comfort of a callous killer to love and protect, how on earth would they muster the humanity and deep concern to address vital issues like sandwich thieves?

    BE: Pathetic! Why not just say what you have to say, instead of indulging in sarcastic belittlement of people you disagree with. And for the record there are hundreds of posts on this site covering pretty well every ‘vital issue’ you can think of, from capital punishment to gay adoption. But the best you can come up with as an example to disparage me is ‘sandwich thieves’.

  53. @ak, you deliberately mislabelled feral cats as domestic. Integrity fail.

  54. Clean cut and paste from Luke’s comment above, Alan. Target fail, if valid at all….

  55. @Dil, do you think that because a cat once caught and killed something on your back lawn you should have the right to ban any NZer anywhere from owning a cat?

    @ak, oh, no. No escape. You wheeled it out to attack owners of domestic cats and made yourself the legitimate target to be called on it.

  56. Seems you have started a bit of a ‘cat-fight’ Brian!

    Perhaps Mr Morgan has achieved something positive after all.

  57. Perhaps it was the Mission cat that stole your sandwiches. Did you see a replete looking moggie during the proceedings?

  58. I see Morgan has now resorted to Brian-bashing trying to defend his cat-bashing:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10861224

  59. Only the strong survive, that’s evolutionary. If native species are eradicated by cats etc so be it. Humans are in NZ now and we bring our baggage too. Its natural selection, and thus eventually the planet will be populated by rats and cockroaches. Surely if you really want to see a native bird just look in a book.

  60. Actually your wrong again Allan. Morgan clearly states that the premise of his argument is valuing the protection of bio-diversity. I like his idea of councils managing cats through registration, micro-chipping and neutering. He doesn’t talk about killing cats. I think he is being reasoned towards cats and fair to Brian.

  61. My two beloved well fed female cats have a private hunting jungle in the form of my overgrown garden. Fortunately for the hapless small creatures they catch (birds, mice, rats and lizards) their torture chambers are anywhere in my house. I always rescue these poor creatures from their fate, when I can, and they seem to realise that when I get hold of them they are in good hands. I have only been nipped once and that was by a lizard. Sometimes, birds need to be kept warm and stroked gently before they recover enough from their ordeal to be able to fly off. Once I saw one of the girls eat a whole sparrow, much like a python would, with the poor little bird’s legs being the last thing disappearing down the cat’s gullet. One annoying thing though, are the occasions where the smell of putrefaction pervades the house and maggot riddled corpses of large rats are found behind the telly or under the bed.

  62. Alex, the truth is ‘councils’ find it difficult ‘managing’ even rubbish collection!?

    “micro-chipping and neutering” best left for the National govt.

  63. @alex: “some of the debate has been pretty facile, including a surprisingly lightweight input by Brian Edwards who accused me of being a “cat racist” (should that be catist?) and wondered why I was favouring cats over native birds”.

    “facile”, “lightweight” – I think that is Brian-bashing. Morgan was obviously angry enough to mix up his cats and birds in the rest of the sentence.

    His claim for bio-diversity is simply false. He wants to eliminate all varieties of cat. Otherwise his proposal would not make an iota of difference to the number of species and bio-diversity of this country – so the net impact would be negative for the country while he attempts to reintroduce forest dwelling birds to his concrete jungle. But I don’t see him offering to pull down his mansion and replace it with trees, swamps and ferns.

  64. A cat free New Zealand is extreme but guess a good attention grabber. The less extreme but not as polarizing idea would be a case for introducing cat free zones in areas of significant ecological value. Start small and research how successful it actually is before declaring all cats must go. As hasn’t most of past practice been restricted to off shore islands & removal of all predators? (not just cats) No one can be sure if removing cats will make a difference – the rat and mice population will increase and things may be worse rather than better.

  65. Sarah, what about ‘Key-free’ zones in areas of significant economic, social AND ecological value!? Surely Keys own cats name ‘moonbeam’ is an alter ego of his prime minister-ship?

  66. Cats are just plain better. Why is this guy trying to kill these beautiful, majestic creatures for the sake of these fat, useless cretin-birds that can’t even protect themselves. I’ll tell you why, because New Zealanders take after their moronic birds, sit on there asses all day and let other people take care of them, that’s why the Dole rate is so massive down here. This asshole is trying to kill my favourite animal for the sake of a more or less retarded bird. I hope my cats kill a thousand kiwis a year.

    BE: just to be clear – Gareth has never advocated killing cats.

  67. Cats > Kiwis
    Cats: Fluffy, adorable, beautiful, graceful, make people happy, independent, powerful, active, Awesome.
    Kiwis: fat, lazy, ugly, unintelligent, slow, boring, bland, reliant on others, Pretty much everything you’d hate about a person and

  68. - New Zealand is trying to protect them for some reason.

  69. Like Ashika I fear evolution will doom most native birds to extinction. Around here there is much trapping of possums etc. Will these trapping efforts continue for ever? For 1000 years? For 100 years? I doubt it. Eventually/inevitably they will stop and ‘bye, bye birdies’.
    In the meantime I keep trapping so at least my family can enjoy them – it is all we can hear at our house unless the nearest neighbour (1km away) starts a machine.

  70. Get bibs for your cats.

    If cat owners stepped up a bit more, and got responsible then one day even suburbia can share in a decent dawn chorus.

    We’re slowly encouraging our 11ha of scrub to regen for the sole purpose of supporting native birds. We love our cat and he’s certainly part of the family, but he’s locked in at night and for large periods of time wears a neoprene bib once we let him out for the day.

    Real simple.

    The bibs stop his bird catching, 100%.

    He’s fluorescent, fluffy white with 2 bells which does nothing to inhibit his mastery of bird catching. His first bib, from Australia if I recall, was a revelation.

    We’ve lost a few bibs/collars over the years but hand make them now from scraps. We only replace them once he realises he can catch birds again and knocks of a few of the numerous waxeyes over.

    BE: Presumably with the added bonus that he’s now a tidy eater.

  71. Certainly no feathers left on his “plate” any more.

  72. I am really disturbed by the number of men in this debate who brag about shooting cats or planning to shoot cats or whatever. Smacks of a nasty, sneering machismo – and a recipe for absolute disaster when in their self righteous strop, protecting their property, etc – they miss the neighbour’s pet and hit their kid instead. A disturbing psychological profile seems evident in those who make sure everyone knows they have a gun and enjoy using it to kill stuff, verbally waving their gun in my face – it makes me feel threatened and I’m sure that’s what they intend/enjoy.

    BE: Same mentality affecting a large segment of the American male population and, sadly, quite a few women.

  73. I’m also intrigued by the fact that although this debate is being led in public by men, the “mad cat lady” stereotype gets dragged in – Kerridge is “Channeling his inner mad cat lady” etc. So on on side we have the men with guns (and dogs? The proper macho pet?) protecting the natural order of things and on the other the mad women and cats, disrupting the natural order.

  74. What about the ‘mad’ men and their poisoning of the country with 1080???( apologies to the men who oppose this …they are the good sane men) Our wwoofers ( overseas organic workers)are horrified!!!!…You cant tell me that cats, domestic or wild, are causing the crisis in the kea population. The kea after the introduction of 1080 is now an endangered species and Forest and Bird support this !!! After 1080 drops the forests are silent………Cats are a red herring, a diversionary tactic for the real problem.

  75. @J.Antill, yes your right, what about the ‘mad men’!!??…the real problem of course is ‘KEY’ the red herring is Cunliffe.

  76. Re our wwoofers who are horrified at the 1080 drops on forests and farmland for possum and rabbit control and the impact this is having on bird and wildlife. All of these mainly young wwoofers are environmentalists from Europe and North America, most have tertiary degrees or are working towards them, some are biologists ….and one has researched birds in Alaska and USA National Parks. Two NZ brothers have produced a film on 1080 and its fatal impact on kiwi and other NZ native birdlife.

  77. Bob Kerridge repeats his message to Morgan in today’s Herald.

    “Butt out of our lives, and don’t deprive us of the beautiful relationship that a cat can provide, individually, and in our families.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10861953

    Gareth has become a bore.

  78. Bob Kerridge is a hero !

  79. hey whats up fuzz nut (Gareth) stop picking on our lovley cats they are no harm to you so leave the poor things alone.(you egg)

  80. My cats Girlie and Nigella would like to know what happened to the cats Max and Felix’s contribution to this blog. Are they considered by Brian and Judy as unworthy of being published as Paul Scott seems to be?

  81. @Alan Wilkenson “do you think that because a cat once caught and killed something on your back lawn you should have the right to ban any NZer anywhere from owning a cat?”

    Of course I don’t. But I do believe it is reasonable that have the right not to have other peoples animals killing on my property.
    Do you think that is a reasonable expectation?

    Here’s a link of interest re. the impact or otherwise of cats…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21236690

  82. How do you account for the disastrous decline in native mountain Kea numbers?…No cat would tackle a Kea, nor have I ever seen a cat in the mountains or a National Park. Arthurs Pass and the Craigieburn skifields used to teem with Kea, swinging on the tow ropes..now you are lucky to see one! Two American scientists (one with a maths PhD),at least, have been scathing about the NZ ‘science’ used to justify 1080 poisoning of forests and farms( see ‘North and South’ magazine)1080 poisoning is a cost saving measure which is costing NZ birdlife dearly. The Kea is the sign.

  83. @ J.Antill “How do you account for the disastrous decline in native mountain Kea numbers?…No cat would tackle a Kea, nor have I ever seen a cat in the mountains or a National Park.”

    Introduced Predators are the cause. Rats, Possums, Mustelids – and you don’t think a cat would have a go at a Kea Chick?

    How do you explain the disappearance of the Birds in all the places that have never seen 1080?
    Or the fact that the only places that you can now see good numbers of birds (and a diverse forest floor) are in places that have had poision based pest control?

  84. I dont believe a cat would get anywhere near a Kea chick( let alone a domestic cat, which seems to be in question)…nor do I believe that rats, possums and mustelids are killing off the Kea, so that its very survival is now under threat……Much more likely the blanket 1080 poison drops…Kea numbers have declined dramatically since these drops….. There are also the reports and documentary evidence of multiple native bird kills by high country and forest hunters after 1080 drops.There has been a trade off between forest and birdlife….The bird life has suffered. Dont blame the cats.

  85. @J.Antil
    As you will know he use of 1080 has been the subject of highly credible scientific assessments by both The ERMA and The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
    Why on Earth would you dismiss those studies in favour of a populist documentary by a couple of Deer hunters?
    The last word must go to the P.C.E., who concluded 1080 came out so well in her investigation that we should be using much more of it.
    Enough said.

  86. Rachel Carson the great woman environmentalist and author of ‘Silent Spring’, widely credited with helping launch the contemporary American environmental movement, documented the effects of the chemical poisoning of the environment, particularly on birds..She accused the chemical industry of disinformation and public officials of accepting claims uncritically.
    1.) Use of 1080 is controversial around the world. It very effectively kills animals(possums) and birds but because of secondary poisoning it is difficult to estimate the extent of its devastation… deaths, bird numbers, eg Kea. Hunters and those NZers living close to sites of 1080 drops have valuable anecdotal evidence and many of them have grave concerns.
    2.) In 1998 it became illegal to use Compound 1080 in Oregon, a State at the forefront of environmentalism.
    3.)The Tull Chemical Company, Alabama, is the only legal producer of Compound 1080 in US. Most is exported to New Zealand.
    4.) New Zealand is the largest user of biodegradable 1080 poison, using approximately 80 percent of the world supply.
    5.) Question: Is it possible that NZ native bird deaths eg Kea and Kiwi are not just the result of naughty domestic cats, condoned by “mad cat ladies” and those irresponsible or ignorant males with an “inner mad cat lady”?

    BE: Seems like a good question to me.

  87. @J.Antill 5.) Question: Is it possible that NZ native bird deaths eg Kea and Kiwi are not just the result of naughty domestic cats,

    Of course it is not just domestic ctas, and I did not say it was.
    The decline of our bio – diversity is ENTIRELY due to the suite of introduced predators, and habitat destruction by Humans and introduced grazing mammals.

    There is a mountain of scientifically credible evidence to support that conclusion.

    Why don’t you answer my question?
    Why do you dismiss the conclusions of The E.R.M.A. and the P.C.E, and instead choose to believe highly unscientific and / or anecdotal ‘evidence’?

  88. @BE: Seems like a good question to me.

    The link I give above gives the following assessment of feral / domestic cat impact in the U.S.
    Google will provide you with various research in the NZ context if you are interested…here’s just one…
    http://www.gbict.co.nz/Newsletters/Issue6/Cats.htm

    .”…Researchers from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service carried out a review of studies that had previously looked at the predatory prowess of cats.

    Their analysis revealed that the cat killings were much higher than previous studies had suggested: they found that they had killed more than four times as many birds as has been previously estimated.

    Dr Pete Marra from the SCBI said: “Our study suggests that they are the top threat to US wildlife.”

    The team said that “un-owned” cats, which they classified as strays, feral cats and farm cats, were killing about three times as many animals as pet cats. However, they said pet cats were still killing significant numbers of animals, and that their owners should do more to limit the impact.

    Dr Marra said: “We hope that the large amount of wildlife mortality indicated by our research convinces some cat owners to keep their cats indoors and that it alerts policymakers, wildlife managers and scientists to the large magnitude of wildlife mortality caused by cat predation.”

  89. Good on you Dil. Good responses.

  90. ‘But society’s concern for endangered species seems to have more to do with sentiment than reason.’

    No it doesn’t. Have you heard about a thing called global biodiversity? There is a UN convention to promote it which I’m fairly sure New Zealand was a signatory to (not that backtracking on those pesky UN conventions bothers this government) – have you heard of the Rio convention on biodiversity? Promoting biodiversity includes trying to stop more species from going extinct. There is a large body of evidence indicating that enhancing biodiversity and maintaining ecosystems is of benefit to humans quality of life now and in the long-term. If you (and by ‘you’ I am referring to anyone who may be reading this – having read the previous comments and replies I realise the hazards of getting a casual ‘you’ misconstrued) don’t understand words like biodiversity and ecosystem there may be some good adult education classes in your area where these concepts can be explained in more detail. Other important concepts include things like predator-prey co-evolution, naive prey species, and surplus killing.

    I am intrigued by repeated references to the distinction between domestic and feral cats. In fact all the cats in New Zealand (apart from very large ones in zoos) are the domestic cat (Felis catus). Feral cats are in fact feral domestic cats (ie their species is still domestic cat) while cats who live with people are sometimes labelled in literature as companion domestic cats or pet domestic cats. The point is they are all one species and can interbreed, and companion or pet cats are the ancestors of all feral cats in New Zealand and are probably still contributing to the feral population. A pet cat that is abandoned or lost is called a stray, then if it breeds while not under the care of people its kittens can be considered feral. It seems to me that it makes perfect sense to require neutering of pet cats and also registration of cats and their owners. Identification of pet cats with a microchip or ID tag just seems like common sense for people who care about their cats. Otherwise how will someone know whether the cat pooing on their lettuces and possibly exposing their family to toxoplasmosis, is someone’s pet to be sent home with a note, or a stray or feral under no-one’s care that should be taken to the council (if it can be caught alive).

  91. J.Antill.
    You’ve gone so quiet all of a sudden!
    I answered your question, and now I’d really appreciate it if you’d answer the one I’ve asked you…

    “Why don’t you answer my question?
    Why do you dismiss the conclusions of The E.R.M.A. and the P.C.E, and instead choose to believe highly unscientific and / or anecdotal ‘evidence’?”

  92. Believe it or not I have other things to do with my day….I dont think I will change your mind. My arguments go right over your head …. I have said my piece…re-read my arguments. (Note that EU countries are finally getting around to banning poisonous pesticides which have been causing ‘hive collapse’ and billions of bee deaths …..pity they didnt take cognisance of Rachel Carson’s message sooner)

  93. @J.Antill

    You have evaded my question yet again.

  94. Hi Brian, I agree with most of GMs ideas on responsible cat ownership, my cat has always been an indoor cat with limited access to the garden.

    However, as a media commentator I would enjoy your view on why no one has challenged him as a former investor in Trademe. Sam is still involved, and this site lists cats. Surely if the idea is to encourage responsible ownership why take money from people giving away free kittens from irresponsible breeding? Why allow classified where clearly the people are not going to neuter after this ‘accident’?

    Not one of the media articles has asked why he didnt approach the cat fancy assoc, spca, mpi, and doc to work together on a joint program that would educate people, improve the lot of cats, reduce numbers long term and imrpove our attitudes to animals generally. Or is that not a sexy enough story, whereas the divisiveness and therefore failure of the message is?

  95. Brian in your reply to Lee Churchman you said he/she ‘advocated the shooting or poisoning of domestic cats that strayed onto other people’s property.’ He actually said that people should be allowed to shoot or poison cats on their property – not the same as advocating for it. He also didn’t use the word ‘domestic’ – you added that one in. According to your idea of a domestic cat (at a guess I would say you think this means it is someone’s pet – the scientific definition is different but more on that later), how is someone supposed to know whether the cat on their property is a domestic cat anyway without compulsory registration?
    You also said you were disinclined to place any worth on Lee’s opinions, but you were motivated to write a reply, while on most comments you have not written a reply. This is actually quite a nice parellel with the whole cat debate started by Gareth Morgan. Many people calling themselves ‘cat-lovers’ have been motivated to write (in some cases fairly abusive) comments about his ideas, they (Gareth’s comments) have been widely misconstrued by the media, and many have also questioned why he has raised this topic when he is not a scientist with expertise in NZ conservation issues. It’s true he is not an expert in these issues but he appears to have a team of people behind him who are, and he knows how to raise a topic so that people will listen (annoying a large segment of the population seems to be part of this formula). People working in conservation would have loved this topic to be raised many years ago, but the media don’t often listen to them as they talk in very boring evidence-based language. It seems that you have been motivated to reply to Lee (twice) despite the fact you place no worth on his/her ideas and expect nothing of her/him. Interesting.

  96. Oh and one more thing about Lee’s comment: you imply that having cats poo on your property is merely an inconvenience or annoyance. Cats often carry a very nasty disease called toxoplasmosis which is transmitted by cat faeces – it can kill children, and cause serious vision problems and can cause miscarriage – pregnant women are told in pregnancy-related literature to always wear gloves if they are gardening, mainly because of toxoplasmosis. I consider the risk of this disease more than an inconvenience.

  97. The level of vitriol in your reply to Roger Strong (never mind your complete either ignoring of the point he was making or you simply completely didn’t get it) made me think you must be a very nasty person indeed. I cannot see anywhere in his comment that he has supposedly placed any judgement on the fact that you have a couple of cats ['Of course none of this is fine by you'] …wtf???

    As for saying conservationists have a bad name – is that right? Charming. How maladapted humans must be if we have got to the point where the people trying to ultimately maintain the world’s life-support systems (i.e. trying to keep the earth habitable for future generations of humans) have a bad name in society. Very, very sad.

    For your information: Roger’s point was that while no-one on his road owns a cat, they still get cats turning up (and by the sounds of it, new ones continually turn up to replace those that get shot). ‘Where do they come from?’ sounds like a reasonable question to me.

    I simply don’t get why some self-declared ‘cat-lovers’ many of whom are probably fairly responsible (bearing in mind that there are degrees of responsibleness) cat-owners, appear to be in effect defending irresponsible cat-owners, by not supporting calls for compulsory registration, identification, and neutering of cats (measures which will tend to advance cat-welfare).

  98. Alan Wilkinson, you claimed that ak had mislabelled feral cats as domestic. He didn’t really mislabel them, for the simple reason that feral cats ARE domestic cats (they belong to the species Felis catus, whose common english name is domestic cat). As the article he was referring to was in a technical publication, it probably used the scientific name Felis catus along with the common name for the species, which in this case is domestic cat – regardless of whether the particular cats the author is referring to are living with people or are free-ranging.

    This should bring attention to the largely ignored fact that there is no biological difference between what the lay-people debaters are calling ‘feral cats’ and those they call ‘domestic cats’. The difference between a pet domestic cat and a feral domestic cat can be a as little as the passage of 1 year, and the instigation of a campaign to eradicate feral cats without first introducing tighter controls on pet cats and their owners, is akin to bailing a sinking ship. In fact it would be impossible to even instigate such a campaign because how would you know where to draw the line between feral and pet cats, without compulsory registration (unless you just try to kill any cat that isn’t registered, regardless of the fact that owners have not been told they must register their cat ie ‘you don’t have to register your cat, but if it’s not registered, we will try to kill it.’ Nice).

  99. 99

    Alex from Dunedin

    I think Brians take on the subject is brilliant. Anna I love my cats and.they look forward to going outside on a lovely summers day. It would be cruel to deprive them of the vitamin d and all their wee sleeping spots. I do not want to register my cats or microchip them because that would imply that my cat might not come home one day due to someone trapping and disposing of my cat which is.the right gareth morgan has said he wants. Apart from increasing animal cruelty in NZ this would mean that you cant love a pet lest ypur heart is broken by some cruel person. Such a law has nothing to do with protecting wild life but would simply be a legal reason to poisen or shoot or bash a srntient being and bring pain to families. Ad for.the wildlife argumrnt the whole thing is nothing more than a value judgement. Morgan and you are saying that a bird I do not know is worth more than the cats I love and share my home with. I do not share this view. Rats and 1080 are likely doing more hatm to wildlife. And if we could stop people dumping cats then humane trap neuter release.programmes would reduce feral cat populations. Compassion, love, decency and fairness are not species selective. You either have these evolved humane traits or you dont. You cannot love birds and hate cats as boh are expressions of the same crrative force that made us. Already because of Morgans cat hating campaign there have been cat shootings. This is not clean and green. Its cruelty. Lastly microchipping is a cancer risk and I wouldnt do that to any animal. There is no humane way of killing a cat on your property other than calling a vet to euthenise. If people had the right to kill their neighbours pets is that how they would do it? Humanely? I dont think so. My cats are part if my family. I love them. I never hurt Morgan but he had attacked my family. In turn I have cancelled all contribitions to forest and bird and now am firmly opposed to such programmes that support killing programmes.