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Cats are in the firing line

Recently the humble moggie has been having a bad press. This was highlighted by recent articles in the NZ Listener by Jane Clifton.

Researchers have been counting up the native wildlife that pussy kills (and often brings home for recognition) and the figures are astounding. But this has brought cat lovers out in force (like Bob Kerridge of Auckland SPCA) to point out the benefits that cats bring to our lives. Look for a big advertising campaign coming soon from Auckland SPCA to promote the cat’s case.

So you can rest assured this argument/debate will increase in the months ahead so it would be a good idea to sort out where you and your cat stand.

There are 814,000 cats in New Zealand apparently, and 50% of households have a cat compared to 25% with a dog.

Australia have brought in quite stringent restrictions on cats because of the risk to their wildlife, so moggies can’t wander from their penned section or caged in verandah. The anti-cat lobby say we need similar restrictions here.

In March 2000, Mr Bob Kerridge of Auckland SPCA prepared a very valuable position paper of some 61 pages, in defence of the cat. One of the most useful sections in this paper is a recommendation on terminology:

  • Domestic cats. They live entirely with humans as companion cats being completely dependent on humans to provide their food, water and shelter, as well as their social structure and mortality through disease control and reproduction by desexing.
  • Stray/unowned cats. They have many of their needs indirectly supplied by human activities (such as shelter in residential, industrial and agricultural sites) acquiring much of their food from scraps or through carers who attend to their colonies. They are likely to live in and around human habitation and interbreed with the domestic cat population.
  • Feral cats. They have none of their needs provided by humans. By definition feral cats do not live around centres of human habitation, their population fluctuating independently of humans neither needing input from the domestic cat population to maintain themselves.

The key argument is that the domestic cat if properly cared for (and kept inside at nights) should be no threat to the environment. The feral cats are clearly a threat and should be removed. The strays are somewhere in-between. If strays are fed, then their killing tally will not be great, but if they are in sensitive environmental areas they should be culled.

But note the key points. Your domestic moggie must be kept in at nights and not let out when you go to bed! So no more “putting the cat out” before you go to bed. You need to make sure it’s locked up before you go to bed.

Well-fed cats of whatever category will still kill wildlife - because they are cats!

It’s a good time to have a word with your cat and lay down some new rules before bureaucrats impose them on us as in Australia. And it’s very important that all cats are desexed.

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