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.
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.
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.