Environmental Advocate Gareth Morgan Calls For People to Stop Owning Cats

| by Michael Allen

Environmental advocate Gareth Morgan does not want people in New Zealand to own pet cats.

Morgan, an economist and businessman, asked New Zealanders on Tuesday to make their current cat their last in order to save the nation's bird species, reports

For thousands of years, New Zealand's native birds had no predators Some bird species, such as the kiwi, actually became flightless. The arrival of mankind (and cats) have wiped out some native birds.

Morgan's website shows a tiny kitten with red devil's horns and the caption: "That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer."

His website also says: "Imagine a New Zealand teeming with native wildlife, penguins on the beach, kiwis roaming about in your garden. Imagine hearing birdsong in our cities."

Morgan wants people to neuter their cats and not replace them when they die. Morgan also suggests people keep cats indoors and that the government make cat registration mandatory.

Bob Kerridge, the president of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal, said on the TV show 'Campbell Live':  "I say to Gareth Morgan, butt out of our lives. Don't deprive us of the beautiful companionship that a cat can provide individually and as a family."

However, some argue that cats may actually help native birds by reducing the population of rodents, which sometimes feed on bird eggs.

Morgan's separate personal blog has a separate campaign to raise $1 million to eradicate mice from the remote Antipodes Islands.

A 2011 survey by the New Zealand Companion Animal Council found that 48 percent of households in New Zealand owned at least one cat, putting the total cat population at 1.4 million.

Scientist David Winter said cats have contributed to the extinction of at least half a dozen New Zealand bird species. However, Winter doesn't support Morgan and wrote on his blog: "What hope is there for environmentalists in conversation where our side wants to take people's kittens away?"