Kiwi cat quotas?

A regional council in New Zealand has proposed banning all domestic cats in an attempt to protect native animals.

Environment Southland’s “pest plan” calls for all domestic cats in the region to be neutered, microchipped and registered. Then, when a cat dies, residents would not be permitted to have another.

“We’re not cat haters,” John Collins, of the Omaui Landcare Trust told Newshub. “But we’d like to see responsible pet ownership and this really isn’t the place for cats.”

Ali Meade, the council’s biosecurity operations manager, said that if the move was approved the improvement for the environment and bird life would be vast…

Kapiti Island’s Kotuku Parks subdivision has a no-cat rule and Auckland council is also looking at a plan to euthanise any cat caught in an “ecologically significant site” without a microchip.

Here is the full story, via Ian Bremmer.


Wes Anderson's next movie: Isle of Cats

They'd do better by prohibiting human babies.

All animals have natural birth control. The more crowded they get, the less they reproduce. In the West, IMO this is confused with "the more rich people get, the less kids they have" but what's really going on is density: more rich a country gets, more people move to city, more density, hence less kids. Somebody should do a social science paper on this, seriously, and cite me (kidding). Proof: rich people like rich Israelis have lots of kids, so birth control is not a function of wealth alone, but density (the rich can afford space, have several homes).

Bonus trivia: the rule that more density of organisms means less reproduction is observed even with bacteria: hence their growth is not pure exponential but an "S-shaped" curve.

Uhm, they have.

No, animals do not respond to density by reducing births - they respond to density by eating everything and then starving to death more often.

Humans respond to *wealth* signals that change children from a necessity to support you in your old age to a massive up-front cost with no corresponding payback - ie, rich people have children just to have children, poor people invest in children to survive.

Rich people like Israelis have a lot fewer kids than their poorer neighbors and fewer kids than they had a generation ago.

If density drove birth rate declines then you'd see countries like Bangladesh as having some of the lowest birth rates.

+1 to both, Ray and Agammamon. Good comments.

The historical Agamemnon killed a daughter, so re: leaving less offspring, he knows whereof he speaks.

What about the historical Agammamon?

Covered the wrath of Artemis by paying a fine, and then purchased a substitute for the Trojan war...

@Agammamon - look at this chart: - note Bangladesh is not that dense, 11 more dense countries ahead of it, and these high-density countries have low births, note also Taiwan, South Korea not far from Bangladesh, and finally this: the relevant metric is how dense a country was and how dense it is now, in other words, intra-country rates of change. Perhaps Bangladesh back in the days when people had 10 kids routinely was less dense than now? That is the relevant metric. Manila where I live is also very dense and people stop having kids when they live there, compared to the countryside.

For some native species and in some locations cats can be incredibly destructive. Ecologically speaking, it is possible to hold preservation AND and an anti-animal concept in the same mind. It still holds to ethics.

New Zealand is in the right here in my opinion. I know how bad invasive species have been on Australia's ecology and they are right to make moves in a direction that doesn't lead them down the same road.

cats can be incredibly destructive.

They're not, of course. They are good at smoking out assholes, though.

This is a proposal for one small town, and seems like a worthwhile experiment given the risks of unintended consequences.

Australia is ridiculous in effectively banning the commercial domestication of native substitutes for cats, but New Zealand doesn't have any obvious native candidates.

Pet possum, or pet koala? Or did you have wombats in mind? Pretty sure I wouldn't want any of them in my house....possums are introduced to NZ and people occasionally keep them as pets. Doesn't end well. Koalas can't be toilet trained and they're mostly dopey because they don't move around much. Wombats are bigger than people think.

If a wombat decides to make you its pet there's not a lot you can do about it. They are very stubborn and very tough and anti-tank rifles are now banned. I suggest using your superior, monkey like, agility to avoid them.

Wombats, given their size and propensity to dig, are probably better considered substitutes for large dogs. Quolls, i.e. "native cats", are probably the most promising substitute for actual cats, and apparently respond well to domestication. Including Tasmanian devils, quolls size in the range of kittens to house cats without any need for adjustment by selective breeding , and have conveniently cat-like toilet habits.

The prohibitions on domestication can only really be explained by public choice theory with some nasty implications about the motivations of people involved in conservation.

Magpies can also choose to be pets:

Note that this is an Australian magpie and not an American one, which is a creature so dumb it doesn't even attack humans on sight.

"it doesn't even attack humans on sight."

I thought attacking humans on sight wasn't a function of being intelligent, just, you know, being an Australian animal. Or plant. Or rock.

Some of our rocks are pretty intelligent.

Kapiti Island is well separated from the mainland, and is a bird sanctuary. There are very few houses on there, it's rat, possum and cat free. That's not new.

Talking about cat bans on the main islands is a bit different, there are always people talking about it but it's very unlikely to happen. Remember that NZ has no native land mammels, and prior to human settlement birds had few predators. Hence we have a lot of native flightless birds - cats and rats are dynamite on them. It's a relatively unique situation.

Agreed. People who live in apartments have no clue that cats mimic rats, their natural prey. A cat can breed six kittens in a litter and in five or six months their kittens can have kittens, like rabbits, solve for the equilibrium. Speaking as a cat lover myself.

Bonus trivia: domestic cats are more wild than domestic dogs; put a cat in the jungle and they will survive, unlike a dog. That's why cats are not as 'lovable' as dogs, as they haven't learned yet all the tricks dogs learned over the years to keep humans in love with them. If you were to die, it's said a cat will eat their owner before starving, unlike a dog (speculative, I think before starving a human will eat another human, as was said of Japanese officers in WWII with their subordinates).

Cats are extremely good at manipulating humans. Dogs are the oldest domesticated animal by far, but cats started living symbiotically with humans a lot farther back than we used to think.

First they came for my plastic bags...

Cat genocide/eugenics does seem like an extreme final solution. What's the basis for deciding that birds are a superior species to cats anyways?

What it comes down to is what humans find more amusing. An island with hilarious land parrots is more amusing than an island that is just the same old cats and rats.

I understand that NZ subdivision cat bans are difficult to enforce; it relies on the subdivision residents funding a lawsuit against errant owners.

I feel that the reasonable compromise is banning outdoor cats.

It is possible to breed cats that are really bad at hunting and disinclined to try. Of course it would only take one generation of breeding with a typical cat for the kitties to be pretty much back to their usual violent selves so people could be required to get a sterilized cat from a breeder. Or you take the Jurassic Park route and allow people to buy fertile cats with a heritable deficiency that requires the them to eat cat food or die. (If I recall correctly those Jurassic Park movies were very short and dull on account of how nothing went wrong.)

I was in a small town in New Zealand (Twizel) just under two years ago. There were scores of domestic-in-species-only cats roaming the streets. Their nonchalance was striking. If they had been dogs, I would have found them quite threatening. I don't expect that the local birds or mammals have the same luxury of size that I have.

Seems like a good policy.

"If they had been dogs, I would have found them quite threatening".

Imagine if they had been velociraptors.

Well in that case, he wouldn't be posting this. And on the plus side, New Zealand is an island!

Actually it's 2 big islands and a lot of small ones. :P

Somebody introduced the possum to New Zealand? Intentionally?

Yep. Introduced for food and fur in the 1850s. Note this is the Australian Common Brushtail Possum and not the North American zombie undead opossum.

I have owned only indoor cats. Are those banned too, on the same theory as banning guns because "if you have a gun you might use it"?

"Stand back or I will release this cat!"

Contra Ray Lopez, dogs will perform what is euphemistically called "post-mortem predation" on their owners. It is alleged it takes two days for cats to decide to do this, and four for dogs.

Cats are incredible hunters, Killing machines. I can see banning them but the are elegant in their efficiency at killing.

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