Are cats destroying the environment?

One economist is pushing for a cat ban, saying the animal is killing wildlife in his native New Zealand. Should more countries consider the idea?

By Aimee Picchi Jan 25, 2013 5:19PM

Cat on a couch (mother image/The Image Bank/Getty Images)Economist Gareth Morgan is on a mission against one of America's favorite pets: the domesticated cat. 

Morgan wants ban cats from his native New Zealand, arguing that Fluffy and her feline cohorts are killing the country's native wildlife. His proposal is to neuter all the country's cats, then convince Kiwis to give up on buying or breeding replacement pets. That would mean no more kittens for New Zealand. 

To be sure, cats are a big threat to the native wildlife of New Zealand, Australia and other island countries. According to Morgan's campaign -- Cats to Go -- cats have contributed to the extinction of nine New Zealand bird species. 

"Like the parent of a bully saying that their little Johnny would not behave like that, if you’re a cat owner reading this, you are probably thinking that the above statistics don’t apply to your cat," Morgan wrote on his site. "The fact is that your furry friend is actually a friendly neighborhood serial killer."

While that might seem like overkill to Americans, the fact is that domestic cats have caused fur to fly in the states as well.

A 2011 study in the Journal of Ornithology found that cats were the leading killer of baby gray catbirds in the Washington suburbs, according to the New York Times

The killings were so bad that the catbirds, in some areas, couldn't reproduce enough to replace themselves with a new generation of birds.

"Cats are way up there in terms of threats to birds -- they are a formidable force in driving out native species,” an author of the study told the Times. 

The American Bird Conservancy has its own campaign to keep cats from preying on our native animals. Rather than focusing on eliminating felines, the group urges cat owners to keep their pets indoors. 

"[I]n the United States alone, cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, and more than a billion small mammals, including rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks" every year, the group states. 

Some bird lovers have taken matters into their own hands, such as one National Zoo employee who was convicted of attempted cruelty to animals in 2011. The employee, who was accused of poisoning stray cats, was working at the zoo's Migratory Bird Center. 

A few U.S. communities have laws that ban cats from roaming free. Aurora, Colo., for one, requires cats to be "restrained" when outside of their homes. (Whether that means on a leash or in a kitty carrier, the law doesn't specify.)

Regardless of what happens in Morgan's battle in New Zealand, one thing's for sure: Americans aren't likely to give up their cats anytime soon. With about a third of all U.S. homes owning at least one cat, kitties are our favorite domestic animal.

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Jan 28, 2013 6:57PM
More moronic nonsense from New Zealand's version of an American Liberal Democrat.  They're worse than roaches and harder to get rid of, these leftists.
Jan 28, 2013 6:35PM
The birds in my area are good for nothing but crapping on my car after it's washed. Lucky the cat gets them before I do.
Jan 28, 2013 6:15PM
If the cats only killed starlings and sparrows, nobody would care. However, songbirds, nuthatches, cardinals, bug eaters like swallows and martins, and gamebirds like pheasants and grouse---birds that are desireable, are savaged by uncontrolled and feral domestic cats by the millions.
If little fluffy is out in the woods looking for some poultry during hunting season, the chances are excellent that Fluffy is going to be eating hot lead instead.

Jan 28, 2013 6:09PM
Just get rid of Mr. Morgan. T downs can Go **** themselves!

Jan 28, 2013 6:04PM

I think what New Zealand needs to get rid of is Gareth Morgan.  When some idiotic politician in the US reads his story and wants to make a name for himself, he will propose the same thing here.  First, they get your guns, then they get your cats, then your dogs, then your home, then your bank account if there is anything in it, then you and you have no defense against any of it.  Cats are a-okay!! Politicians and Gareth Morgan are like a pile of donkey dookey..

Jan 28, 2013 5:52PM
What about the pitbull that malled my cat and I had to put him down, so what will we do with viscious dogs then?????
Jan 28, 2013 5:12PM

Latvians worship cats, they stopped the plague

Jan 28, 2013 5:08PM
I think I've seen situations where there are hugh numbers of ferrel cats on the loose, but a families cat not a threat. 
Jan 28, 2013 4:59PM
We must try and maintain an eco balance. You cannot eliminate a species. You are asking for trouble.Let nature work.
Jan 28, 2013 4:48PM

Hello Gareth Morgan, you moron, your parents should have aborted the mission on bringing your stupid butt into the world. Do the world a favor step out in front of a bus.

Jan 28, 2013 4:44PM
Neuter is the answer along with being responsible pet owners. Dumb people by me have 2 cats outside, no claws,short haired running around all the time and it's winter. They are in my yard tearing into my flower beds and using them as a liter box. They are Stupid
Jan 28, 2013 4:23PM
I wish there were more cats in the streets of Chicago. We are overrun with RATS. The do-gooders have messed up the ballance here.
Jan 28, 2013 4:23PM
Hello black plague!  Nice to meet you since there are no more cats! 
Jan 28, 2013 4:21PM
Cats DO kill millions of birds per year and so do buildings. Cats DO need to be controled. NO ONE loves cats more then i do. I have one i love dearly but the fact remains that it is natural for cats to be in touch with their wild side. They absolutely DO KILL millions of birds. My cat has never been outside. She is afraid to go outside. People need to be more responsible pet owners over all.People are becoming less responsible in all areas. Man is the worst animal on the planet. Man destroys practically everything it touches. I said practically.
Jan 28, 2013 4:18PM
I'm sorry but I just don't need any more advice on how to live, what to do, how to think by another bird brain like this-especially one from some other country.  We have quite enough of our own home grown wanna be dictators.
Jan 28, 2013 4:10PM
Quit trying to play God you stupid jackass
Jan 28, 2013 4:07PM
Actually depending on what they eat, they don't taste all that bad and they are self-sustaining and serve multiple roles in a modern household;  vermin control, pet and protein. Next best thing to the security, scrap recycling, pet, protein canines.... 
Jan 28, 2013 4:07PM
Bobcats keep the kitties in control in my neighborhood
Jan 28, 2013 4:02PM
Stupid people are killing the environment. The one who came up with this idea is an example.
Jan 28, 2013 3:38PM
There are valid points here but I have cats and care for them. Anyone poisoned one of my cats they had better hope I don't find out who they are.
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