Lonely Planet Writer

Cat crisis in New Zealand as feral felines top 14m

New Zealand is facing a cat crisis and a management group is proposing that all feral cats  – estimated to number 14 million –  should be eradicated by 2025.

Domestic cats require responsible ownership so that they do not add to the feral cat population problem
Domestic cats require responsible ownership so that they do not add to the feral cat population problem Image by Moyan Brenn / CC BY 2.0

Geoff Simmons, of the Morgan Foundation, emphasised that the sheer numbers of cats that groups like the SPCA have to deal with is increasingly worrying as is its impact on the country’s wildlife. He said that cats need to be responsibly owned for the good of the environment. Part of the plan could see the de-sexing of domestic pets with a further insistence that they are kept indoors at night. Mr Simmons  told newshub.co.nz that feral cats could be shot, poisoned or trapped with the techniques used by the Department of Conservation.

Two years ago, the National Cat Management Strategy Group (NCMSG) was formed to counter the growing cat problem and one of its strategies is to promote responsible cat ownership, humane management and also wildlife protection. Feral cats normally live in the wild and have little or no contact with humans, whereas stray cats are usually located nearer human settlements and often get fed by people.

Mr Simmons said there is unanimity about getting rid of feral cats and he stressed that his foundation isn’t talking about people’s pets. However, he added that when those cats aren’t properly attended, they add to the feral cat population problem. The group now plans to develop an action plan after finding common ground with its partners.