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Success! New Zealand Domestic Cats Won’t Be Trapped and Killed

Success! New Zealand Domestic Cats Won’t Be Trapped and Killed

Trapping and killing: that’s what Richard King, the executive of the Invercargill City Council in southern New Zealand, told residents concerned about domesticated neighborhood cats to do back in March. A woman in Invercargill had 37 cats who, according to neighbors, were said to “swarm” in the streets.

King’sanswer to their concerns? Residents could pick up traps from the City Council and provided they returned them with nocat inside (because the animal had been killed), use them.

Outraged, Care2 member Paula Jones started a petition telling King that the City Council’s plan was a wrong-headed idea and must be dropped.

Care2 Member Starts a Campaign to Save Invercargill’s Cats

Under Invercargill’s “keeping animals bylaw,” people are allowed to have no more than three cats on their property. When the City Council attempted to enforce this on the woman with 37 cats, it “faced resistance” and found itself having to go to court to get rid of all but three of her cats. It was then that Kingtold residents they were “welcome to pick up traps from the city council to catch and then dispose of the felines.”

Paula quickly took action. The cats who were to be cruelly killed were not, she emphasized, feral cats, but domestic ones.

As she also pointed out:

This is an exceptionally irresponsible statement to promote. We are going to have crazy cat haters killing cats at will; they will be tortured, injured and left to die painful deaths. Everybody’s cat/bestfriend/companion animal will effectively be fair game to the sick members of society. The perpetrators will never be punished.

More than 19,000 Care2 members signed Paula’s petition. Dozens of Care2 members also sent emails to the Invercargill City Council to express their shock and disgust and hundreds took to social media to criticize King’s “inflammatory comments” which, as one person said, “would be the most stupidest statement to come out of the mouth of someone in his position.” SPCA Southland said their phone was ringing “nonstop with people wanting to know how to help the woman.”

On April 1, Paula presented her Care2 petition with its call for King (who was not present at the meeting) to publicly retract his comments to the Invercargill City Council.

The issue had attracted so much attention that Paula found herself doing interviews for newspapers, radio and television.

Paula’s advocacy and that of so many Care2 members paid off. One day after the petition signatures were delivered, King and the City Council not only retracted their initial statement but also made an apology. King himself admitted that he had made an “error of judgment.”

Noting that the City Council had not had a petition “of that size come into council before,” Invercargill Mayor Shadbolt said that King’s comments about disposing of cats were “inappropriate.” He described his own distress when his family’s cat, Monty, went missing for days.

It took a lot of work by Paula and Care2 members for King to retract his statement about trapping and killing cats. While certainly pleased about King’s apology, she alsocomments that it was “probably damage control and not a genuine I didn’t mean it.’”

Not everyone, and certainly not everyone in positions of power, understands why animals (domesticated and feral cats as well as many others) must be treated with humanity. Start your own Care2 petition to let people know why we need to do this. Care2 member Maureen Gibbons started a petition to ban the trapping and killing of stray cats in Ireland. Paula’s successful campaign shows how, when we all take action, we can save many, many lives.

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230 comments

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5:41PM PST on Dec 18, 2014

:)

2:23AM PST on Nov 24, 2014

Thank you and kudos to you, Paula!!

4:16AM PST on Nov 13, 2014

University of Wisconsin studies on predation by cats found they are one of the major predators of wildlife in and throughout the United States. The study's purpose was to determine the impact of "free ranging" domestic cats on rural wildlife. The UW scientists radio-collared 60 free ranging cats and studied their movements and identified what cats preyed on by looking at the critters they brought back home and performing scat (fecal droppings) analysis. They estimated on average, that each cat can kill up to 200 birds and small mammals each year. 

According to Wisconsin wildlife biologists, "Many cat owners believe that because they keep their cat well fed it doesn't need to kill, however, research studies have shown that well fed cats kill at a rate equal to hungry ones. Domestic and feral cats kill for play, not out of necessity". Feral cat colonies, whether fed or not, play a major role in the further decline of our native species already severely tested by loss of habitat due to urban sprawl, pollution, and illegally introduced species. Finally, who are we to determine that each feral cat, fed or not, is worth more than the 200 or so lives they will take each year?

6:33PM PST on Nov 7, 2014

richard king of the city council should be removed from office His tactless harsh comments to kill animals is an example of the kind of person he is How does he treat his own cat at home? kick it? beat it/starve it? how can people just accept this moron and not do anything about his deplorable behavior? what happened to the remaining cats taken from that owner??

11:33PM PDT on Oct 16, 2014

Well done! So glad to see common sense and compassion prevailed here! You rock! xxxx

11:16AM PDT on Sep 30, 2014

Thank you Paula and everyone else who signed this important petition to
save the domestic cats of New Zealand. Meowza

8:53PM PDT on Sep 23, 2014

It is again humans' doings. Thus it will be sinful to make the innocent cats suffer the consequences. Surely there are better solutions to resolve this woman’s problem and no animal's life should be put down at the end of the day. We should in fact save a life NOT kill. In the eyes of God, an animal's life is just as important as that of a human.

6:04PM PDT on Sep 15, 2014

People have also introduced animals that damage the bush:
Possums feed mainly on leaves, from tree tops to the forest floor.
Possums and rats sometimes consume complete crops of forest fruits and berries (including seeds, which prevents regeneration).
Deer and goats eat most plants within their reach, including seedlings and saplings.
Pig rooting damages the forest floor.
In South Island beech forests, introduced wasps take up to 90% of honeydew, a vital winter food for many native animals.
By comparison, cats are in the minor league of threat to wildlife.

Rather than listen to thoughtless local authority idiots, anyone who keeps non native species such as cats should act responsibly and not neglect spaying/Neutering their cats. In the last analysis it is humans who carry the responsibility for cats, both domestic pets and feral or any other species which may pose a threat to wildlife.

6:03PM PDT on Sep 15, 2014

As with any species of non-human, if cats become a problem one can almost always trace the source of the problem to human negligence. People are thought to be the most damaging animal pest od all. When we left New Zealand we also brought our adopted female tabby with us. Four years earlier she had wandered out of the native bush one day, weak and grossly under weight with a badly damaged eye, We gave her a home and she in-turn, gave us love and devotion for 12 years. Cats who are loved and controlled, both in numbers and behaviour are wonderful companions. The greatest devastation to NZ bird life started when the Maori people (whom I admire greatly) arrived and released their own non native species. The Europeans arrived later and the goats, rats and other species they brought were allowed to spread and hunt the rare flightless birds, found only in New Zealand. The humans too contributed to New Zealand holding the unenviable record for the greatest loss of rare bird species by hunting and (as Victorians did) mounting their trophies in a glass case.

6:02PM PDT on Sep 15, 2014

I suspect that many people writing to this thread do not live in New Zealand. Having lived in a rural area outside Wellington before coming to the UK I have years of experience as a volunteer working to protect both the native wildlife and introduced creatures. My own brother was a conservation officer for the Royal Forest & Bird Society.

The greatest predator and exterminator of native species in NZ is human ..... The first European settlers brought many new species to the islands, including rats which abandoned ship and have spread throughout all three main islands, For this reason, many rare species of birds are now being raised on off-shore islands free of rats and other species such as goats which destroy the natural habitat. Cats of course, also came on the ships. The introduction of sheep by the European settlers, was a primary source of Hydatids, a tapeworm parasite disease which can be fatal (in 1959, up to 80% of sheep from certain parts of New Zealand were found to have hydatid cysts at slaughter). This once deadly, now largely forgotten disease, was responsible for the deaths of 142 people between 1946 and 1956. Many more people underwent repeated surgical operations to remove hydatids cysts from internal organs. Dogs were often fed on sheep offal and as a result became carriers of Hydatids spread in their faeces. As a consequence, for most New Zealanders (other than farmers) cats are the preferred domestic animal.

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