'Your Cat Is Not Innocent': New Zealand Man Launches Campaign to Rid Country of Cats

If Gareth Morgan gets his way, the entire country of New Zealand could be cat-free within a matter of years.

The ironically self-proclaimed environmental advoCATe has launched an online campaign dedicated to eradicating the domestic cat, which he believes is single-handedly responsible for the extermination of many local bird species.

"That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer," Morgan writes on Cats to Go, which features a doctored photo of a cat with devil horns. "The fact is that cats have to go if we really care about our environment."

To help speed the process along, Morgan recommends cat owners neuter their pet, and, if they're not too attached, euthanasia is also "an option."

Morgan's push to save a few birds by doing away with all the cats is likely to be met with some resistance in New Zealand, where nearly 50% of the population owns at least one cat.

Also, some scientists are calling shenanigans on Morgan's claim that New Zealand's bird will be better off in a world without cats.

While it's fairly well-established that birds had it easy in a pre-cat New Zealand — so much so that the kiwi shed its flight — they have also benefited from having cats around.

Wildlife expert John Innes says cats help birds by chasing away other natural predators like rats and mice. (For what it's worth, Morgan is trying to eliminate them too.)

Science blogger David Winter, who partially agrees with Morgan by pointing out that cats have indeed contributed to the extinction "of at least 6 bird species in New Zealand," also notes that the removal of feral cats from Little Barrier Island "led to an outbreak in kiore (Pacific rat)" that threatened a local species of seabird.

Still, many in conservation circles are in agreement that something must be done, but maybe threatening to "take people's kittens away" is not a good way to start the conversation.

[images via 3News, Cats to Go]