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'I do not hate cats,' says Gareth Morgan

Economist Gareth Morgan – who caused a nationwide hue and cry over calling for the eradication of domestic cats – now says he doesn’t hate them after all.

His puzzling remarks come a week after he set up a web site called Cats to Go where he called the animals sadists and natural-born killers which destroy native wildlife.

“Cats are the only true sadists of the animal world, serial killers who torture without mercy,” he said.

But after receiving another broadside from SPCA president Bob Kerridge, who described him as a “modern-day zealot” who should “butt out of our lives”, Dr Morgan is claiming he was misunderstood.

“First, let me say I do not hate cats, how people ever reached that conclusion is only for them to know,” he told NBR ONLINE.

“What I do not like, however, is the evidenced (sic) damage cats are doing to our native fauna.

“To Bob Kerridge and his fellow travellers, I fully appreciate and respect your love for the domestic cat.

“That is not the issue and totally beside the point.”

Having got that off his chest, Dr Morgan takes up the cudgels again and drops back into attack mode.

“Cat owners have no right to allow their animals to wander across my property and slaughter wildlife.

“Incredibly from the mail I’ve received, too many cat owners do think this is their right.

Dr Morgan then takes a swipe at local councils which, he says, “have been laggards in this space and need to step up their vigilance”.

“Councils need to urgently bring down bylaws that force cat owners to register, microchip and neuter their cats, impose fines on cat owners who need to retrieve their cats from the local pound and euthanise unclaimed cats.”  

He believes New Zealanders should “cage trap” cats that wander across their property, put them in a box and deliver them to the local mayor’s office “for them to deal with”.

However, Dr Morgan saves most of his vitriol for what he describes as the SPCA’s “little-known Trap Neuter Release (TNR) policy”.

“This despicable practice means that stray cats are no longer put down by the SPCA as they once were, but instead neutered and released into colonies where they can continue to kill wildlife unabated.

“Simply neutering a cat does nothing to stop the bloodlust.

“To make matters worse, these colonies are fed, which attracts new cats and ensure their population keeps rising despite the de-sexing policy.

“In short, TNR is an expensive failure (and) I want the SPCA to dump (it).

“Not only is this practice open to legal challenge as cruelty to animals, but its violation of the Biosecurity and Wildlife Acts is well worth pursuing.

“Any lawyers out there want to give Bob Cat a run for his money on this, then join the team – sorry I couldn’t avoid the pun.

“The Society for the Protection of Cats (SPCA) needs to take a long, hard look at itself in the mirror,” he says.

For his part, Mr Kerridge has called on Dr Morgan to “put your money where your busy mouth is and support us by assisting with the funding of desexing and microchipping every domestic cat in the country”.

“That will make a positive difference and will free up SPCA funding to add to our bird rescue activities.

“If you don’t want to do that and you continue on your ridiculous resolve to be rid of all cats, I can only repeat what I have already said.

“Butt out of our lives and don’t deprive us of the beautiful relationship that a cat can provide, individually, and in our families,” he says. ">  

More by Rod Vaughan

Comments and questions

Yawn. Next issue of national significance, please.

Gareth Morgan, if you are going to insist on engaging in a puny cat fight, then at least sharpen your claws. You have become a petulant Tom kitten, too big for your Pussin Boots.

I love my cat, she is not allowed out at night, so is a proper house cat who will follow me around from room to room and sleeps on her own rug at the end of my bed at night.
When I am tending my garden during the daytime, she follows me around and is always near where I am in the garden. Being a desexed animal she does not wander away; she is microchipped.
I agree that cats should be desexed, microchipped and registered with the local council same as dogs are. I also believe that one to two cats ought to be the limit per household. And I expect that issue could raise a storm.

Study the expenditure on pet foods compared to below the poverty line in NZ !

You sir, are a moron.

There is more to this story, I'm sure.
I was not surprised top see the cat loving populace explode as I know several myself and while outwardly the food provider seems well balanced, where tabby is concerned the disease certainly addles their minds. My immediate neighbour hosts the biggest fattest Garfield on the planet and spends the day in repose, but come night time the bird life from young nesting chicks to mature of every breed litter the back porch daily. I am convinced entire colonies or even species are lost to fatty's sport.

He makes a valid point. With irresponible owners strays run rampant. My cat is speyed and have put a bell on her now makes me sad but shes deaf so she doesn't know.

Can NBR ask him how many cats has he run over with his motorbike as the answer could be very interesting.

Don't you just love the fact that someone with a qualification can stand up and say whatever they want, about any subject - and they get listened to!
I suggest that before we eradicate all cats, let's improve New Zealand's economy - let's eradicate all economists.

Wonder if he also would suggest to neuter (castrate) rapers and murderers to prevent them from being able to ever multiply (which I think is a better idea than his cat idea)?

I'm ashamed at Morgan's attitude toward the lives of animals. Cats will never be able to eradicate New Zealand's bird population. Has he ever thought what the eco-system would be like if there were NO predators for birds? Just for starters, our grape and fruit industry would slowly die out (and on and on....) Gareth Morgan has become a lunatic. I'm withdrawing all my funds from his company in protest. I urge others to do so too.

He's talking about native bird population, not introduced species. When have you ever seen a kea or a kiwi pillaging a fruit tree?

Kereru love guavas and plenty of small natives love my grapes, plums, blueberries and perssimon. You want to watch pukeko and wekas taking a garden to bits.

However, since Morgan already sold his company Southworth won't make much impact on him.

Agree on the Kiwi, but have you ever seen a kea in action?

Changing his story like a true economist...

Actually, his story's been the same. Everything he's been quoted on is much the same as when he started out on this topic. The difference seems to be the assumptions other people make about what they think he's said, and others then reply on the basis of that. The misinformation is so remarkable it would make a great PhD thesis about the difficulties of informed debate in a democracy.

If people ACTUALLY read what he writes on the subject, it's kind of difficult to argue with. Well, that is, if by argument you mean putting forward a logical progression of ideas.

It is not a secret nor can it be denied that cats kill birds. When people can value birds as much as cats a balance can be reached. Meanwhile, the bird population drops and the myna birds increase will see all kinds of environmentally destructive consequences.

Great attempt to distract from another shocker Phoenix performance.

So true. Maybe he could deal with the Pus..ies in the soccer team first.

Have to say I was surprised recently to learn of the SPCA's TNR policy. I found a wild stray hanging around my house, caught her, SPCA speyed her and returned her to me to release. What?

What about dogs? I can't stand pigeons, either.

What I don't get with his argument is why he has singled out only cats as killers? Think about it. By the law of nature technically everything is then a killer. Dogs kill cats, cats kill birds, birds kill insects, insects kill plants and so on. If we were to eradicate every "killer" out there no matter the species then guess what ... there wouldn't be anything alive on the planet any more. Nature has its own way of dealing with life, so please just let nature take its own course and not try to police it because it's just going to wind up attacking back.

Gareth speaks with no logic. Let him be. So much for being the economist who hates misunderstanding when I think cats are the most innocent and misunderstood ones!

Cats are excellent killers and, yes, they kill for fun. But to call them sadists is taking anthropromorhism to dizzying new heights. Something, oh, call it gentleman's intuition, tells me that humans may be responsible for the death of more wildlife in New Zealand than cats. Should we all be castrated? It might help me hit those out-of-reach high notes.

"Cats are excellent killers and, yes, they kill for fun. But to call them sadists is taking anthropromorhism to dizzying new heights". Yes, good call Jasper, that is a stretch too far in Gareth's argument. Nice to see more reasoned debate than the gratuitous abuse of other readers.

I am not sure that Morgan has any qualification to speak about cats. Economics perhaps, but cats, no. There are perhaps too many cats. But most cats kill few, if any, birds. The most guilty animals are the feral cats. As with firearms, banning legally kept cats is missing the point. The damage is done by illegal firearms and feral cats.

If there were no cats in the country, there would without a doubt be a massive increase in rat and mice numbers. Not to mention stoats and weasels. How will Gareth ban those?

I knew they were trapping and releasing feral cats in the US, and am frankly disappointed o learn that this practise is done here, too. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that this sort of ignorant behaviour - the allowing of these feral cats to continue their slaughter unabated for the rest of their (hopefully short) natural life is irresponsible given the value of our native wildlife. If a wild cat cannot be succesfully rehomed, then it should be quietly put to sleep.

You know it'd be nice if some of you who feel this way and seem to feel pretty cool and even minded about it went and spent some time volunteering in an animal shelter dealing with the animals as they're put down and dealt with afterwards, instead of leaving it to the animal lovers. Put your money where your mouth is, whydontcha.

What about all the buildings we have erected and the forests we have removed? We are the devastators!! We imported the animals, we made farms, removed forests, polluted our water, our sky.
WE , WE ,WE!!! Not not some cats.

“Councils need to urgently bring down bylaws that force cat owners to register, microchip and neuter their cats, impose fines on cat owners who need to retrieve their cats from the local pound and euthanise unclaimed cats.”

The laws for dog registration, control, microchipping, impounding, etc, come from acts of parliament. Local councils have no power to deal with cats, except if they present a proven risk to public health (and there's a high bar for proof). Passing bylaws is a complete waste of everyone's time.

The SPCA's policy ot trapping, neutering and releasing stay cat colonies is followed in cities - not in the bush. Take the cat colony away and you've got a rat/mouse population explosion in the area.

Now, let's move to the REAL debate - about the irresponsible owners who don't neuter their pets, abandon them when they move, or dump them in the bush because "Kitty will be happy here and we can't afford to keep her any more".

That and the debate about how to control rats, mice, weasels, stoats, ferrets, hedgehogs and possums - in the cities and the wild - all of which eat eggs, fledglings and adult birds. These should be the REAL concerns - the rest is ego and noise.

I cannot believe how people have responded to this. We need to accept that our cats are killing both native and exotic species, including rare lizards, geckos and insects as well as birds. They are doing as much damage as those other pests we eradicate (stoats, opossum, rabbits, rats, etc) in many cruel ways which people never question. NZ wildlife has not been accustomed to predators that are so good at hunting and stand little chance to them. I have two cats myself, but they (as unkind as it sometimes feels) live indoors, are neutered and were previously wild cats. They are happy, very affectionate and I love them. But I do not think it is acceptable to have them outdoors killing wildlife in the local bush. These cats I never saw with birds but the bird population has grown incredibly since I have taken the cats in.
As cat owners, I suggest that we all neuter or spey all domestic cats and in 8-15 years there will no longer be a problem for wildlife if, meanwhile, feral colonies die out in a similar way (by the SPCA neutering programme). This way no cats are euthanased unless sick (keeping the cat lovers happy) and maybe our country could lead the world in taking responsibility for the damage we have done in a humane manner and then move into a new era of pride in the native wildlife we are working to protect.
Otherwise, every year for the forseeable future there will be many cats that die trapped or sick or unwanted (that is not nice). Rats and mice do need to be controlled but cats are not the way. Why don't we get positive about this and think sensibly instead of assuming this man wants to put our beloved cat to death.
Nzers don't like to be told what to do, but this is no laughing matter as it has been made. I think Kerridge needs to consider other options and be a bit more open minded. I have always had great respect for the SPCA but was shocked by these comments. I thought the SPCA was prevention of cruelty to all animals, not just cats.
Come on NZ, let's show the world that we really do care about our country, and can also be humane.

Cats kill birds, that's for sure. Ours used to bring the dead birds on the deck of our house and leave them there. I see our cat stalking the birds around all the time, except we put a collar with bells around its neck. I agree with Morgan that the SPCA and the cat's owners need to do something about this issue.

Are you dumb, Gareth, because that's animal cruelty and that the fact that cats are the best creatures in the world.

It seems Mr Morgan doesn't appreciate some basics of rural life. For 10 years we lived on a small block just north of Auckland. When we went there it was overrun with rats, mice and rabbits - you have stockfeed around, you inevitably get the rodents, too.
Traps were useless - rats are smart and soon learned to avoid them, and even the rabbits and possums caught on eventually. I would not use poison because of the risk to non-target species, including (at the time) our small daughter.
Our two cats (neutered, chipped and belled) soon had the rodents on the run. They cleaned the rats out of the barn, the mice out of the kitchen and the rabbits out of the paddocks. They even got rid of the possums in the roof.
In all that time, I rarely saw them bother to take a bird, not even the boldest fantails. On the other hand, the protected "native" pukes (oh, wait, they're Aussies, arrived about 600 years ago) were literally death to anything with wings - I have known a family of pukes slaughter whole platoons of brown ducklings and in nesting season, often seen them ringing the foot of the trees to get the fledglings as they dropped of the nest for the first time - and then take the parent birds out of the air as they fluttered around. Pukes - stoats with wings.

I am convinced the biggest threat to endangered wildlife is not cats but the Green Party.

These eco-hypocrites are quite happy to champion the environmental cause, but this is more than cancelled out by their social policy of giving money away to breed more humans, the largest contributor to carbon emissions and No 1 cause in encroachment of wildlife habitat.

@lets be positive about this. Aren't cats already being spayed and neutered? Any cat owner will see the logic of getting them neutered; in fact, when buying a cat they say directly to you to get them to the vet for these operichtions. If we're to get rid of killers then get rid of stoats and ferrets who eat bird eggs, insects who eat our plants, birds who eat our insects, murderers who murder people, bullies who kill our children's self confidence... In fact, get rid of ourselves for cutting down trees and eating last night's chicken. Let the circle of life be.

Yes, of course, I'm concerned about our native animals but this was seriously out of his ask. Let's not squabble about an insignificant topic like this; it's obvious who will win... Talk about the problems of the most importance.

There's only one thing worse that a moron, and that's a rich moron!

Gareth Morgan should stick to what he does best - destroying the Phoenix football club

His comments are dangerous and completely irresponsible and untrue. Encouraging violence and mass murder. Does he want to be New Zealand's cat 'Hitler' actually offering paying for animals to be killed. (Complete with stupid-looking moustache!) Does he want a cat holocaust? He must have too much money and not very much to think about if this is his greatest concern. Maybe his money would be better spent on some speech therapy so he doesn't sound a litlle bit 'special' on TV!