Ten Alternative Cat Management Headlines for the Herald

Gareth MorganEnvironment

Last week the Morgan Foundation submitted to Wellington City Council with the idea of managing cats in sensitive wildlife areas. This would involve micro-chipping, so that owned cats could be returned to their owners. We think it isn’t actually that controversial as far as ideas go, however this sensational headline appeared in the Herald on Friday:

Gareth Morgan: Euthanasia for cats in wildlife areas

This resulted in tweets like this:

The Dom Post/ Stuff reporter opted for this more sedate version:

Curfew urged for killer cats

In the quest for clicks and the all-important advertising dollar, attention-grabbing headlines are increasingly becoming the norm. But when do they cross the line of being plainly inaccurate? Here’s ten more accurate headlines they could have used instead:

1. Morgan suggests managing cats like dogs

Probably the most accurate headline, as we are suggesting nothing different from how we deal with dogs already: owned cats would be micro-chipped and registered. Then any cats found wandering in sensitive wildlife areas could be returned to their owners if they have a microchip. If they don’t, they could be rehomed or humanely euthanised. That’s exactly how we deal with dogs right now, right across the nation.

2. Morgan suggests innovative way to stop owned cats being killed in wildlife areas

Not only is the Herald headline misleading, but the first paragraph of the article is just wrong:

Lock up your moggies if you live near a sensitive wildlife area, or they could be put down – that’s the latest suggestion from Gareth Morgan’s environmental group in its bid to stop cats harming native birds.

Actually, cats are already killed in sensitive wildlife areas, such as on DOC and Council land. Usually these are feral cats, but as we have seen in Auckland lately, occasionally owned cats are killed too. If micro-chipping was the norm, then owned cats could be returned to their owners safe and sound.

3. Morgan suggests ground breaking way to protect birds

Ultimately this is what the plan is about, protecting our native wildlife.

4. Morgan’s plan to cat-ch up with Australia

We love to compare ourselves with our cousins across the ditch, and lament how far behind we are in living standards. Well, cat management is another example where we lag behind. Micro-chipping and registering cats is the norm in Australia, feeding strays is discouraged and in sensitive wildlife areas nighttime or 24hr curfews are common. In other words – cats have to stay on their owner’s property.

5. Morgan finds way to save lizards and end the housing crisis

Over the weekend Duncan Garner lamented how concern over lizards had held up building a new house. Anything that gets in the way of building houses is a sure fire headline – so why don’t we manage cats instead of stopping building houses?

Cats are a particularly voracious predator of skinks and geckos. Recent evidence suggests that the damage is far bigger than previously thought as cats tend to eat lizards rather than bringing them home to show their owner. During a pilot video study in Wellington, the cats involved killed an average of one lizard each per day.

Cats do far more damage to our lizard population than new houses, so managing cats as we are suggesting would do a better job of protecting lizards than stopping new houses being built. Housing and cats – that has to be the ultimate headline for the Herald to run.

6. Morgan cat plan to create thousands of new jobs

Cat management would create thousands of new jobs. Dog control is now a strong part of council services, whereas cat control is left to do-good volunteers operating on the smell of an oily rag. And if owners were encouraged to keep their cats on their property, this would spur a huge investment in indoor cat toys, cat proof fencing, outdoor cat enclosures, and, of course, kitty litter.

7. Morgan’s cunning plan to combat mental illness

Unlike any other owned animal, cats are free to roam, damage property and spread diseases like toxoplasmosis. Cat management would reduce this risk.

8. Morgan likes cats after all

Micro-chipping cats and stopping them from wandering is actually better for the welfare of cats. That is why some vets and cat protection groups submitted to Wellington City Council with similar ideas to those we put forward.

9. Morgan suggests simple way to stop squandering taxpayer and ratepayer millions

Through DOC and Regional Councils, New Zealand is spending millions of dollars managing three of the predators that threaten native wildlife – stoats, rats and possums. Yet we do nothing at all about the fourth – cats. Quite simply all the money we spend on conservation is a waste – particularly near cities – if we don’t manage cats. Just look at the recent example of one cat slaughtering 18 tui in Miramar. Stories like this will become more common as native wildlife returns to our cities.

10. Morgan suggests way to end scourge of feral cats

People have problems with stray and feral cats destroying their property, spreading disease and injuring their pet cats. Without a way to identify owned cats, it is impossible to do anything about this problem. Micro-chipping and registering owned cats would allow Councils to deal with the stray and feral cat problem where it exists, without the risk of accidentally knocking off anyone’s pet moggie.


Ten Alternative Cat Management Headlines for the Herald was last modified: December 15th, 2015 by Gareth Morgan
About the Author

Gareth Morgan

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Gareth Morgan is a New Zealand economist and commentator on public policy who in previous lives has been in business as an economic consultant, funds manager, and professional company director. He is also a motorcycle adventurer and philanthropist. Gareth and his wife Joanne have a charitable foundation, the Morgan Foundation, which has three main stands of philanthropic endeavour – public interest research, conservation and social investment.