Comments on and Submission to
Northland Cats In Balance - Full Submission On NZ Cat Management Strategy (PDF - 190kb)
Northland Cats In Balance - Summary of Submission On NZ Cat Management Strategy (PDF - 118kb)
"New Zealand National Cat Management Strategy" Document
Issued on 21 September 2016 by NCMSG
- Summary -
Above all: The NCMSG paper does not describe a strategy, since it does not
identify and analyze sufficiently the challenges and obstacles to be faced in the
future. For instance,
• It's envisaged strategic outcome: "There are no stray cats in New Zealand"
remains wishful thinking because there will always be dumped kittens and cats. No
education whatsoever will ever change the shortfalls of human character.
• Its suggested compulsory Micro-chipping is dangerous. Because it opens the
door to kill all lost, stray cats who are not chipped. Compulsory Micro-chipping
would be a death sentence for stray cats.
• Any companion cat – although chipped – will become more or less "stray" and
fair game for all cat haters the moment she leaves her home and property. The highly
praised chip will not protect her from being killed. In fact, any micro-chipped but
nevertheless unwelcome cat can be destroyed and disposed of without any consequences
– like now when there is no mandatory micro-chipping.
• Not all scanners are created equal. Some are better than others at reading a
wide variety of microchips. That means: A pet may get lost, found, scanned and
euthanized if the scanner comes up "empty."
• What's then the point of having your pet micro-chipped if you can't get him
• And what about the suggested curfew for cats? Just imagine farm cats: How do
they "work"? Contained and under a 24 hour or nightly curfew as often suggested? To
such an extent restricted, their help to get farms rid of vermin would certainly be
made impossible. Any farm cat has to be free roaming, which implies of course at
least a certain "stray effect". Moreover: Many farm cats are actually stray – in the
terms true sense, as they come home only for their daily milk allowance, the odd
treat and cuddling with the farmer's kids.
• Furthermore: Compulsory micro-chipping as suggested and/or night time
curfews would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to enforce.
• In Paihia/Northland a group of elderly residents had taken care of a small
colony of abandoned, former companion cats for more than 13 years. The animals were
all desexed, fed regularly at a feeding station and treated by local Veterinarians
when necessary. Although all of them were "too old to fend for themselves" as FNDC
had stated in an official media release, the feeding station was removed, two of the
cats were trapped and the rest was scattered and is now probably starving or has
become feral. Not only did the Council force the persons in charge of the poor
animals to break the Animal Welfare Act, they also acted against common sense and
public interest only because they had been lobbied by a group of self-appointed,
so-called environmentalists. How could we pursue NCMSG's strategic goal like "The
protection of our native species and ecosystems is enhanced through the humane
management of cats" or a strategic outcome like "Cat owners understand their legal
obligations" when not even our Local Governments are capable of comprehending the
basic relevant requirements?
• In New Zealand two poisons are used to control so-called pest birds:
"Avitrol" and "Alphachloralose". In the US they kill more than 200 million birds
every year, but - characteristically enough – no relevant figures are available for
NZ. But Northland Regional Council gives expert advice how to kill birds most
effectively with Alphachloralose on their website. Recently staff members of a
Kerikeri Nursery observed cats of that place bringing dying birds into the showroom.
Obviously they were shocked and angry with the cats until they found out where the
birds actually came from. The cats had picked them up from the ground around trees
of an adjacent orchard. And amongst them were not only the targeted and poisoned
nuisance birds but also Finches, Thrushes and even Tomtits, an endemic species.This
sheds some new light upon the whole matter, doesn't it? How many of these millions
of birds killed by cats every year – as claimed in the NCMSG paper - have actually to
be booked in human accounts? Like the elimination of nuisance birds on airports and
runways, on boats, on rubbish dumps, beaches, boardwalks and urban parks.
• US-researches show that daytime window collisions with low-level structures
account for one hundred million to one billion bird fatalities - of both migrant and
resident species - each year. What is more, any single, tall building could be
killing 2,000 birds a year. There are again – strangely enough - no figures
available for New Zealand, but individual experience would indicate a similar
massive problem, as there are 1,800,000 private dwellings in NZ. If we, for
instance, assume that only 2,5% of them (mainly in NZ's 15 cities) belong to the
tall category, we end up with 45,000. Multiply this figure with 2,000 and you have
90 million dead birds per year – the remainder of 1,755,000 buildings not even taken
• How many birds do actually survive the human impact? The question arises how
many of them remain for cats to be killed, doesn't it? Or are we just looking for a
scapegoat whom we can blame for our own failure? Northland Regional Council for
instance estimate that cats kill up to 100 million birds in New Zealand each year.
If we compare this figure with the above mentioned we'll find that there is a
remarkable and suspicious coincidence.
• Other human-induced threats to our native wildlife, cats can barely be
blamed for either, include: felling of native forests for timber, damming of lakes
and rivers for hydro-electric development, destruction and contamination of native
habitats by mining, roading and other construction work, clearing of native
vegetation and draining of wetlands for farmland, over-fishing and "by-catch" of
marine mammals in our oceans, run-off of fertiliser and effluent from agriculture in
• On pages 21/22 of the "Strategy-Paper" 14 points are mentioned which suggest
responsible cat-ownership. Most of them are based on pure illusion: How many people,
e.g. would think of "undertaking some advance preparation to ensure the cat's
well-being in the case of an emergency or disaster, including assembling an
evacuation kit" if they don't even think of themselves re such matter? Shouldn't we
rather remember that most people are quite reluctant to learn?
Although it has been demonstrated how much the NCMSG's "strategic" document
lacks proof of being a serious program for the intended strategy that "Cats in New
Zealand are responsibly owned and valued and humanely managed in a way that protects
their welfare and our unique environment by 2025", its main purpose should also be
seen in the context of the government's plan "to get New Zealand predator free by
New Zealand has never been a predator-free country:
• Today there are eight, perhaps even nine birds of prey : The New Zealand
Falcon, the Swamp Harrier and the Morepork Owl, which prey on other birds, lizards,
frogs, fish and insects and nobody would call them pests. Wekas eat lizards, eggs
and the young of other groundnesting birds. Kingfishers eat fish, frogs and other
amphibians, lizards, birds and nobody would call them pests either. And there are:
The native Barn Owl, the Nankeen Kestrel and the Little Owl, which all feed on small
birds, mice and insects and they neither would be called pests. The Pukekos however,
certainly are a pest, because they uproot seedlings, destroy crops and whole gardens.
They are very territorial and aggressive and they also feed on eggs, frogs, fish,
and small birds . In the past they even have been culled to protect threatened
species, but today they are - strangely enough - protected because they are native
• Freedom of predators is a hypocritical human vision which is meaningless in
an evolutionary sense. Not only do we exclude ourselves from the consideration,
although we are the worst predators, but we also ignore the fact that predators are
actually necessary to keep nature in balance.
However it can not be denied that NZ's nature has become badly balanced, but
the impact of cats is much less significant than especially the human one or the
damage unquestionable pests do to it. Of course, cats also do kill birds and
lizards, but if cats vanished, some bird populations would actually take a nosedive.
Rats and other vermin love to eat bird eggs and baby birds, and it is an outright
lie that man could ever control rat populations by himself.
"The lofty goal of making the country pest-free by 2050 is based on
unsubstantiated claims, not science," NZ First outdoor recreation spokesman Richard
Prosser said correctly. The bottom line is that cats are an easy target. Seemingly
there are no reliable figures available about the overall damage cats in general do
to New Zealand's wildlife. There are only unqualified estimates and claims. But
there is scientifically well-found evidence for the corresponding behaviour of
Companion and Stray cats.
The study "Seventeen years of predation by one suburban cat in NZ", in: New
Zealand Journal of Zoology, 2007, Vol.34: 289-296 looked at just that and found that
the 63 rats and 2 weasels this single cat caught outnumber by far the 54 native
birds, especially when one considers that 10 killed rats stand for literally
hundreds of saved birds. Dr. Flux also quotes a number of other studies to support
his contention that keeping cats indoors at night is the completely wrong thing to
do if we want to protect birdlife in our towns and cities. Cats catch rodents rather
than birds at night and rodents are a much bigger threat to birds.
Dr John Bradshaw (BA, PhD, University of Bristol), an anthrozoologist
"Rats abound in towns and cities worldwide and are far-worse vectors of human
disease than cats ever were or will be. Moreover, rats are predators themselves, and
given their numbers are more of a threat to wildlife than are cats. Cats were
domesticated primarily to keep mice and rats — manmade pests — at bay, and I have
few qualms about allowing them to continue to do this where they can be
On the other hand, feral cats doubtless have become a threat to New Zealand
wildlife. Thus, the real issue is how best to manage feral cats, not whether to
restrict pet cats indoors.
So, couldn't this be the better, since logical approach to solve the
Towns and their surrounding environment are not endangered by cats but by
humans who have begun to displace most native wildlife long ago. These areas will
never become a natural habitat again. So let's do the obvious and let's rather save
nature where the exertions are still worthwhile and money can be spent with some hope
Feline Rights New Zealand fully endorses this documentation from Northland Cats In
Balance. The other content of the Feline Rights website does not necessarily reflect
the position of Northland Cats In Balance.