Is banning domestic cats feasible?

A furore has broken out on the southern tip of the South Island of New Zealand where the authorities have proposed to ban domestic cats in the village of Omaui. They state that the area is particularly rich in wildlife and it is unsuitable for domestic cats.

Omaui map

Omaui map

Human right!

Obviously having a domestic cat is not a basic human right such as freedom of speech but it’s not far from it. People have had domestic cats for almost 10,000 years. In America they have been in homes for 400 years. New Zealand has been the home of European settlers for hundreds of years.

I don’t know when the first domestic cats were imported into New Zealand but it was probably hundreds of years ago. Domestic cat ownership is part of the fabric of society of New Zealand and other countries. As I said it’s almost a human right to live with a domestic cat or dog.

Electorate would object

To try and enforce a total ban on domestic cats is going to cause real problems with the electorate. The people who decide to bang cats represent the people and I’m sure you’ll find that the majority of people in Omaui, Southland, New Zealand don’t want a total ban on domestic cats. In fact I’d expect residents of neighboring areas to enter the fray in arguing against a ban in order to avoid a precedent. A counter argument is that councilors have been negligent in not finding more acceptable plans to protect wildlife from cat predation many years ago. Their proposals are an extreme reaction.

Better alternatives

I am also sure that the cat-owning electorate are sensitive about native wildlife and they want it protected. However, they do not want to live in a “police state” were such Draconian rules are imposed on them. There are better alternatives such as obligatory microchipping, obligatory spaying and neutering, extensive TNR programs regarding feral cats, possibly confining cats to homes, possibly limiting the number of cats that a person can own and so on.


There may also be an issue with the rat population. I know cat haters will state that domestic cats do not kill rats and therefore they are no good as rat catchers. There may be some truth in this but domestic cats do keep down rat populations. They prevent rats becoming pests in and around homes.

For instance, one resident of Omaui, Nico Jarvis, says that she has three cats. She claims that it is the only way to combat the intense rodent problem in the area. It doesn’t matter how many rodents she traps and poisons more keep coming from the surrounding bush. She relies upon her three cats to keep them away. Note: poisoning rats is dangerous for outside cats as they will ingest the poison when eating dead rats.


There is also the issue of enforceability. Despite being a village, it would be difficult to enforce a total ban on domestic cats because, for instance, owners could keep their cats inside the home on a full-time basis. This would make it impossible to detect them unless law enforcement entered the home. Of course in keeping cats inside the problem of cats endangering wildlife would be resolved anyway.

At present, the Southland Regional Pest Management Plan to make Omaui cat free is the only one of its kind in the world, to the best of my knowledge. For the reasons mentioned above it won’t get past the discussion stage among legislators. It’s too politically toxic and unenforceable.

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About Michael Broad

Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!


Is banning domestic cats feasible? — 4 Comments

  1. You don’t have to pass new laws to ban all outdoor cats. Where I live everyone shoots any stray cat that they see, owned or not. Nobody lets their cats roam free anymore, going on 20 years now. All cat owners in the area finally figured out how to actually care about the lives of their pets and act like responsible adults. There are no outdoor cats for many many miles around. Common practice in most all rural areas of the USA. Why waste lawmakers’ time when all the responsible adults already know how to solve the problem permanently and legally, by teaching irresponsible cat owners what will happen to their cats if they remain irresponsible pet owners. If there are not direct and immediate irreversible consequences from their irresponsible actions then they never learn anything. All the comments on your website, and even your own comments are 100% proof positive of that. You’ll never learn until everyone kills any and all cats that anyone lets roam free.

    Just look at your reply to this, that only proves it yet again.

    • Do u have the guts to tell us your real name, where you live and provide a photo of yourself? In fact the comment rules insist that you, as a troll, must upload a photo of yourself. So no more comments until you comply with the rules.

  2. Perhaps they should ban all non native life from the area including people. I mean if it’s so biologically sensitive why is the village even there in the first place? What are they going to do when someone spots a cat sitting in a window break the door down and kill a domestic pet? The trouble with cat lovers is somewhere in the back of their minds they think this kind of thing will never affect them. Cat haters are what they are. But I don’t understand what appears to be a an outcry from cat lovers over the character assassination of their own pets.
    Aside from colony cats that are fixed and cared for people who raise a kitten or adopt one are negligent for letting them roam. You wouldn’t open your door at 10 PM and let your two year old toddler out for the night. It’s not acceptable to let your pet roam and invade other peoples property and their right to not have a cat. Plus it exposes them to the kind of trolls we see pop up here who like to think of nasty ways to hurt an innocent animal because there is something seriously wrong in their heads.

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