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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) ? Gareth Morgan has a simple dream: a New Zealand free of pet cats that threaten native birds. But the environmental advocate has triggered a claws-out backlash with his anti-feline campaign.

Morgan called on his countrymen Tuesday to make their current cat their last in order to save the nation's unique bird species. He set up a website, called Cats To Go, depicting a tiny kitten with red devil's horns. The opening line: "That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer."

He doesn't recommended people euthanize their current cats ? "Not necessarily but that is an option" are the site's exact words ? but rather neuter them and not replace them when they die. Morgan, an economist and well-known businessman, also suggests people keep cats indoors and that local governments make registration mandatory.

Morgan's campaign is not sitting well in a country that boasts one of the highest cat ownership rates in the world.

"I say to Gareth Morgan, butt out of our lives," Bob Kerridge, the president of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the current affairs television show Campbell Live. "Don't deprive us of the beautiful companionship that a cat can provide individually and as a family."

For thousands of years, New Zealand's native birds had no predators and flourished. Some species, like the kiwi, became flightless. But the arrival of mankind and its introduction of predators like cats, dogs and rodents have wiped out some native bird species altogether and endangered many others.

"Imagine a New Zealand teeming with native wildlife, penguins on the beach, kiwis roaming about in your garden," Morgan writes on his website. "Imagine hearing birdsong in our cities."

But many New Zealanders are against the campaign. Even on Morgan's website, about 70 percent of respondents were voting against making their current cat their last.

And the science remains unclear. Some argue that cats may actually help native birds by reducing the population of rodents, which sometimes feed on bird eggs.

Morgan's separate personal blog, in fact, has a separate campaign to raise $1 million to eradicate mice from the remote Antipodes Islands, where rodents are the only predators.

A 2011 survey by the New Zealand Companion Animal Council found that 48 percent of households in New Zealand owned at least one cat, a significantly higher rate than in other developed nations. The survey put the total cat population at 1.4 million.

In the U.S., 33 percent of households own at least one cat for a total of 86 million domestic cats, according to a 2012 survey by the American Pet Products Association.

Scientist David Winter said cats are indeed a problem in New Zealand, having contributed to the extinction of at least half a dozen New Zealand bird species. Writing on his blog "The Atavism," Winter said Morgan's campaign appeared designed to "start conversations."

Still, he added, "What hope is there for environmentalists in conversation where our side wants to take people's kittens away?"

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Birds can freaking fly! If they can't get away from a pet cat (a domesticated cat), then they deserve to die.

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Birds can freaking fly! If they can't get away from a pet cat (a domesticated cat), then they deserve to die.

Quick, tell the Dodo

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i would not want to give up my cat especially if it meant more birds :p

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I love it when extremists get called out on their ridiculous "ideas" they turn it around and suddenly claim it was really about "starting a conversation" when it's blatantly obvious what their real intent is, which in this case is getting rid of fluffy

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There would be a rise in the rodent population.

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They'll get my kitty when they pry it out of my cold dead hands. :woot:

Where I live, birds far outnumber cats.

I rarely see a dead bird at all.

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Birds can freaking fly! If they can't get away from a pet cat (a domesticated cat), then they deserve to die.

There are a few species of flightless birds in NZ, and they got that way because there was no predators there till humans brought them

Maybe someone should bring and release lions and tigers all around the US, adding a new predator to the eco-system, or is it because

it's a small predator and doesn't affect humans that it's ok with you.

PS: Cats a little murder machines, awesome little murder machines mind you, if I could have a lion as a pet I totally would.

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^ Few domestic cats will kill -- as long as they are fed and well cared for.

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Birds can freaking fly! If they can't get away from a pet cat (a domesticated cat), then they deserve to die.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiwi

The first sentence ought to plug the gap in your education.

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^ Few domestic cats will kill -- as long as they are fed and well cared for.

That's not true, they kill for fun, they're little serial killers, the only way they wont is if they're locked inside all day and night, never seeing the outside world

But the second you put them outside, they'll go on little murderous rampages, true story.

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^ Must be something wrong with my cats -- they get excited and chase after a bird, but they never kill any.

You must live in an alternate reality.

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^ Must be something wrong with my cats -- they get excited and chase after a bird, but they never kill any.

You must live in an alternate reality.

They've lulled you into a false sense of security, they're up to something, keep an eye on those sneaky little devils.

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i never see domestic cats trying to chase a turkey though.....

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Feral cats do wreck havoc on native species and domesticated cats which are allowed to roam freely usually do end up attacking local wildlife.

Comes down to lazy, ****-for-brains owners. It's generally the same with dog attacks: people don't secure rover properly, he gets out and bites someone.

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What a purrfect idiot. There are too many birds to start with.

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He should also consider eradicating birds so we can save the worms.

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This is as moronic as the U.S. proposed gun ban.

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Won't happen. It's a retarded idea.

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There are too many birds to start with.

According to whom?

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According to whom?

Me. :p

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Me. :p

Oh. I thought there was some study that said birds were over-breeding or something. Haha. :p

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you guys understand most of the birds in question at risk are endangered and critically endangered right? as well as flightless

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Uh oh, RemixedCat isn't in NZ is she. :cry:

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Uh oh, RemixedCat isn't in NZ is she. :cry:

LOL! Good one.

Back to the subject, no I don't think any country should have the right to ban any animal. My mom's cat Checkers catches mice in her house and kills them. Without a cat, the rodent population will increase and have the potential to damage the house's interiors.

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