Inside the Cat Eradication Campaign That's Tearing New Zealand Apart

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Okay, maybe economist Gareth Morgan doesn't really want to exterminate cats. But he does want owners to keep their felines indoors for the rest of their lives and not replace them they die, because he believes cats will kill off New Zealand's native wildlife. Just a hunch, but we think he'd get his message across better if he didn't photoshop kittens into hell spawn.

Gareth, a very rich economist, is the founder of the Cats to Go eradication movement which minces no words when it comes to cats and their environmental impact. Here's Exhibit A, from the Gareth's cat eradication campaign website: 

And yes, we think this kitten is Photoshopped: 

And one more PSA:

And we can see Morgan's point—hey, we don't agree with it (fully), but we can see where it's coming from (and we appreciate that someone had the audacity and photoshop skills to turn a cute kitten into demon). Gareth obviously has sided with New Zealand's native birds, who could use some help. As he points out, "Around 40% of New Zealand’s native land-birds are already extinct, and of the ones remaining 37% are endangered." 

But, cats like corgis, and koalas and whatnot, are well-loved. And well, Morgan's campaign isn't going over well. (We don't want to be the ones to tell the folks at ICanHasCheezburger about this plan).  Here are some of the comments on following one of New Zealand's news stories about Gareth's movement: 

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And in New Zealand's National Business Review, Morgan is being called an "animal racist." NBR's Brian Edwards explains his logic behind animal racism: 

Gareth Morgan’s desire to eliminate domestic cats from New Zealand (and presumably everywhere else) involves a further refinement of the ‘cats bad’, ‘birds good’ argument. Not all birds, it transpires, are created equal. The killing of an immigrant bird may be regrettable, but the killing of a native bird is an absolute tragedy. I have trouble with this argument on two grounds.

The first I’ve already advanced: one species may be more attractive than another, but its degree of attractiveness, let alone its nationality, ought not to confer on it a greater right to survive and breed. That is akin to animal racism.

And perhaps the biggest piece of evidence is this poll on Morgan's website where cat lovers have spoken:

Photo of cute kitten by Gelpi: via Shutterstock

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.