Economist Gareth Morgan is worried that domestic cats are threatening the very existence of New Zealand’s native bird population. To that end, he has set up the website, Cats to Go, which encourages people to think twice about adopting a cat. On his site, he writes “If we are serious about conservation, protecting and enhancing New Zealand’s native fauna, even supporting a predator free New Zealand, then we must overcome our denial and acknowledge that we are harboring a natural born killer.”
Cats have contributed to the extinction of 9 native bird species and have lead to 33 native bird species becoming endangered.
The problem is that New Zealanders are cat lovers with a capital “C” and a capital “L.” They own 1.4 million cats, more per capita than most other parts of the world. They will be hard-pressed to give up their kitties. But are they willing to give up the unique fauna that populate their island? Morgan suggests that if one really has to have a cat, she can take the following actions to minimize the death and destruction.
Get a bell for your cat. They may be less than 50 percent effective but every bit counts
Get your cat neutered if it has not been already
If you have a cat, keep it inside
Overcome your denial, domestic cats are an environmental threat, don’t replace your cat
Sign a petition lobbying local governments to require registration and micro-chipping of cats, to provide eradication facilities for unregistered cats, and encourage people to trap and turn in unwanted cats on their property