Faster, pussycat! Kill! Kill!

by Toby Manhire / 22 January, 2013
Gareth Morgan has sparked a firestorm of anger with his call for domestic cats to be eradicated. Will it compromise or enhance the goal of a pest-free NZ?
The bell tolls: an image from Gareth Morgan's “Cats To Go”.

Of one thing there can be no doubt: Gareth Morgan has shown a Kim-Dotcom-esque knack for  headline-grabbing (apologies for the headline above, by the way) with the launch of his “Cats To Go” campaign.

Morgan is scheduled to make his case on Campbell Live this evening, but it’s not the first time Morgan has mooted felicide, if that’s what it’s called. In August last year he wrote a post “Why I’m gunning for your cat”, explaining why “your furry friend” might have to go in the effort to rid Stewart Island of pests.

He implores readers of his site, “Before you fly into a rage, have a read of some of the facts below and get educated on why cats need to go.”

Bit late for that, Gareth. Talkback, Twitter, and all that, are already in furious overdrive. (As well as a few good gags. And lots of cat pictures.)

In the eyes of some, Morgan’s tactic had set back by 10 years the goal of “mak[ing] it socially frowned-upon to own a free-range cat”.

That may be so, but let’s hope that it instead – or also – launches a wider debate about the goal that underlies Morgan’s bellicose stance: a predator-free New Zealand.

The most famous articulation of the argument is Sir Paul Callaghan’s Zealandia lecture, delivered in February last year, not long before his death.

Here’s the Listener’s Rebecca Priestley on the idea, and an accompanying editorial on a pest-free NZ (both sub reqd).

The subject of a pest-free New Zealand was much discussed at last year’s Transit of Venus summit in Gisborne. Rebecca’s summary can be read here – and watch the video below. Kim Hill’s roundtable on the subject was fascinating. That’s below, too.

Both feature Nicola Toki, who has a thoughtful post on the cat problem here.



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