Animal activists PETA back Gareth Morgan in fight against cats

Less than a week after the death of New Zealand's 'First Cat', an animal rights group has joined Gareth Morgan in questioning why Paddles was allowed outside in the first place. 

Paddles belonged to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and was hit by a car on Tuesday night.

Dr Morgan attracted criticism for asking why the cat was wandering the streets.

"Was it out and about wandering? If so does this reflect the value the PM puts on NZ wildlife?" he wrote on Twitter, sparking outrage from cat-lovers and even some within his own party.

Animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has now called for cats to be kept inside. 

While PETA passed on its sympathies to Ms Ardern for the loss of her pet, the group said all cats should be kept inside - not necessarily to stop them killing birds, but for their own good.

"PETA strongly recommends that all companion cats be 'indoor' cats. Without question, cats who spend all or most of their time indoors… are much safer than those who live outdoors or who go outdoors unattended," said press officer Laura Weyman-Jones.

"We owe it to our companion animals, who depend on us, to do all we can to keep them safe."

Dr Morgan, an economist and leader of the Opportunities Party, is best-known for his long-running campaign against cat ownership. 

He fired Opportunities Party tax spokesperson Jenny Condie on Thursday night after she questioned his response to Paddles' death, calling her a "pain in the arse".