Cats are nuisances. But cats are also cute and fuzzy and make quite nice pets, so we tend to mostly ignore their bad habits. You know, their innate need to murder smaller animals for fun. Anyone who owns a cat who goes outside will have been greeted with a dead mouse, bird, rabbit or vole on their doorstep at some point. You'll grimace, laugh, dispose of the carcass and call little Tiger a naughty little bugger and forget all about it. Well, until they do it again a few days later.
One village in New Zealand has had enough of this. Omaui, on New Zealand's South Island has proposed a plan to ban cats entirely from its community. Any residents who currently have cats can keep them, providing they're spayed/neutered, microchipped and registered – but when they die, that's it. There won't be any more.
It seems like an extreme measure, but it's to protect the native wildlife in the area. "They're preying on native birds, they're taking insects, they're taking reptiles - all sorts of things," Ali Meade, a biosecurity operations manager in the area is quoted to have said on the matter. Another, John Collins, the village's Landcare Trust leader, assured that the decision makers weren't cat haters, but just wanted to enforce more responsible pet ownership. "This really isn't the place for cats," he'd said.
Naturally, cat owners in the area have been very upset at the decision. One resident claimed that mice and rats were a big problem near her house, and owning a cat was the only way to keep them at bay.
True, banning cats from an entire village seems like an extreme – and somewhat difficult – measure to enforce, but their damage to ecosystems is a real problem. The cute fuzzballs are ranked in the top 100 worst non-native invasive species in the world. The sensible option seems to be to allow people to keep cats, but keep them inside the safety of their own home. It isn't cruel; cats are very adaptable. In fact, my own house cat is very happily snoozing on the windowsill right now. As long as he gets to exercise his hunting instincts on numerous toys and the odd house spider, he's fine and dandy. And I'm happy in the knowledge that he's not going to murder small creatures in my neighbours' gardens. Everyone's a winner. [Telegraph]