Anne Batley Burton: Stop the demonisation of cats

By Anne Batley Burton

OPINION: As an animal welfarist and in particular a passionate cat lover, I find the constant vilification of cats by the media extremely disturbing.

The media has a strong influence on the community and their word is often taken as gospel so those in a position of influence need to be careful how it is used.

Cats are New Zealand's and the world's most loved companion animal - you only need to look at YouTube to know that.

Prior to Gareth Morgan's well- known Cats to Go propaganda, there was never an issue regarding cats. But the huge amount of misinformation based on shaky research being spread throughout the media regarding their so-called predation on our native wildlife is putting their lives in grave danger.

The media and the public are being overly influenced by the fanatical conservationists who believe cats are wiping out millions of native birds.

Sadly in New Zealand, we already have an extremely high level of violence and inciting the killing of animals and de-sensitising people to it is extremely dangerous, particularly since this is being instilled into the brains of young susceptible children.

The indoctrination of killing into children must be stopped. Since this constant attack on cats, the cruelty towards them by members of the public has dramatically increased. These already sick people now think it's okay to go out and kill or torture a cat just because they are purported to be "killers" and "pests". Let those who are fuelling this surge of hatred towards them have the cruelty on your conscience.

Predator-free New Zealand is an impossible dream and is based on the slaughtering of hundreds of millions of so-called "pest animals" and the use of cruel, inhumane poisons that take no account of the fact they are murdering defenceless, sentient beings.

Has the New Zealand public gone completely mad? Do you people not know that the rest of the world is horrified about our treatment of animals? Apart from the cruel slaughter, we are poisoning our beautiful country in a vain attempt to bring New Zealand back to how it was before we arrived. Google Marc Bekoff, the well-known American Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Biology from Colorado University and find out.

Run kitty, run!
Run kitty, run! Photo credit: File

Cats are known as predators and some cats do hunt, but the majority of cats - as long as they are fed - are content to smooch around the house or relax in the garden. They are also nocturnal and in fact at night, if they are hunters, do their best work. Birds are asleep at night, so it's the rodents on which they predate.

Without cats it has been proven worldwide that there will be an explosion of rats. If a cat catches its prey, you always know as it brings it home, but the eggs and fledglings eaten by rats are never seen. If a cat kills a rat it's saved hundreds of birds. In urban areas such as New York and Chicago they are having to bring in crates of stray cats to control the explosion of rats that are taking over the cities.

No one is considering the well-documented 'vacuum effect' which proves that the attempt to remove any one species from an area always fails (unless on a tiny island and under very specific constraints) and only results in a couple of years with an increased population of the same species. The failed attempts to wipe out the poor possums proves that. Or the 'meso-predator' situation where the removal of the top predator (namely the cat) results in a huge explosion of the secondary predator - the rat. There are a huge number of studies showing this and so before you start wiping out cats take the time to check it out instead of being brainwashed by false propaganda.

Even more ridiculous is the fact that humans are the worst predators and destroyers of native wildlife. Loss of habitat and deforestation, electrocution from wires, plate glass windows, cars, hunters, DoC with their widespread poison drops, polluted waterways are what is destroying our wildlife - not cats.

Stop this nonsense now and get back to reality. Cats have been around for thousands of years and have lived in harmony with nature, quite apart from the love and well-documented benefits they bring that enrich our lives.

Kitten
Kittens - good, according to Anne Batley Burton. Photo credit: File

Instead of killing and wasting millions of taxpayers' money, funds need to be put into de-sexing of cats and education so children grow up to be caring responsible adults not killing machines.

It is important to note under New Zealand law we have three categories of cat - domestic, stray and feral. It is important councils under their regional pest management plans do not collapse the 'stray' into 'feral' and call them a 'pest' as it would lead to needless killing of cats who through no fault of their own have become stray. At present the 'stray' is protected.

Anne Batley Burton starred on The Real Housewives of Auckland and is the chairwoman of the New Zealand Cat Foundation. She runs Auckland cat sanctuary Pussy Palace for Pensioners.