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New Zealand's Gareth Morgan Criticized for His Anti-Cat Stance

The super-rich eco-activist deals with the blowback over his campaign to ban cats.

 |  Jan 28th 2013  |   25 Contributions


When zillionaire and eco-activist Gareth Morgan launched his Cats to Go campaign earlier this month, he may not have known just what a whirlwind of reaction his one-man crusade against cats would cause.

But now that so much media space has been dedicated to the ridiculousness of his campaign, Morgan has decided it’s time to set the record straight.

In a 1,200-word ramble consisting primarily of name-calling, bad science, and mansplaining, Morgan insists that what he said really wasn’t what he said, and anyone who thinks that what he said is what he said is just crazy.

“To be clear, I have never and will never advocate killing people's pets or placing outright bans,” Morgan says. Except that he does –- and this screen shot from his very own Cats to Go website proves it.

Then he goes on to imply that native birds are such an economic cash cow that allowing cats to prey on them may detract the so-called job creators from immigrating to the country.

Furthermore, he says that “the quality of people's input [on the cats vs. birds debate] seems to depend on whether they have taken the time to actually read the website to take in the facts and proposals.” I read some of the counter-arguments that Morgan dismissed as “lightweight” and “dim-witted,” and the only thing that seems to qualify the writers of those counter-arguments for Morgan’s scorn is that they disagree with him.

Morgan goes on to provide us some scientific-sounding non-science to “prove” that native birds have no defenses against cats because cats are an introduced species and birds don’t know to fear them. He cites a study of birds’ reaction to a stuffed-toy cat, which revealed that the birds had no fear of said stuffed toy at all, and therefore “the only way [birds] know to fear a cat is by watching one of their kin get torn apart in front of their eyes.”

In his op-ed, Morgan cites a Campbell Live poll stating that 40% of New Zealanders would choose not to get another cat in order to save native birds. Maybe he needed to cite that poll since the one at his own website is so clearly not what he wants to hear.

Here’s the problem with that thesis: Cats have been in New Zealand ever since Europeans immigrated there. Therefore, native birds have been dealing with feline predation for hundreds and hundreds of generations. Animals evolve pretty quickly to survive their changing environment, so it’s mind-boggling to think that New Zealand's birds haven’t yet managed to grok the fact that they should avoid cats. Also, stuffed-toy cats don’t move or display any type of body language that a bird would be conditioned to view as predatory.

Morgan also brushes off human habitat destruction as a reason for birds’ troubles, and he criticizes people who say that cats are not the biggest problem faced by New Zealand or its wildlife, saying that's “a convenient way of dodging the issue.”

He closes his rant with an explanation of why he’s not going to pay for spay/neuter services: “But sorry, cat owners, I am not going to fork out for your personal indulgences. The owners should pay for neutering. If you can't afford it, maybe you shouldn't have a cat at all -- think of all the money you will save on cat food!”

Morgan's op-ed was 1,200 words long, but it basically boiled down to this. Toddler having tantrum by Shutterstock

Don’t even get me started on the “poor people shouldn’t have cats” business. And why not support trap-neuter-return? It would ultimately have the effect he wants: a decrease in stray and feral cat populations due to natural attrition.

Mr. Morgan, please wake up and do some more research. And this time, try to look at sources whose conclusions aren’t necessarily what you want to hear. You might learn something.

Source: Morgan’s guest column in the New Zealand Herald

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