New Zealand’s junior school kids love to shoot cats for prize money

NEWS AND COMMENT (Opinion): Will you be as disgusted as I am having read this article? I hope so as it is a failure in child care and inherently cruel. It is about asking kids to engage in potentially criminal activity. It is that bad.

The North Canterbury Hunting Competition of New Zealand has been raising funds for Rotherham School in a “beloved community event and fundraiser” for quite some time. In 2022 there were 900 participants of which 250 were in the junior category (below the age of 14).

Grim and grisly shooting competition with sentient beings as the targets

It is a shooting competition. The participants can be young kids. They shoot all kinds of animals including feral cats. They have to shoot as many as they can. The child who kills the most feral cats is awarded a NZ$250 cash prize. They also shoot possums, ducks, hares, rabbits, rats, foxes and geese.

New Zealand kids shooting feral cats for prize money
New Zealand kids shooting feral cats for prize money. Image: MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Immoral thought processes

The organisers were unconcerned about shooting animals except feral cats. They are not concerned about shooting feral cats for humane reasons. They are not concerned about young kids shooting feral cats for prize money because they are going to cause sentient beings lots of pain. No, they are concerned because the kids might end up shooting someone’s pet because at a distance you can’t tell the difference between a feral cat and a domestic cat. That should have occurred to them before they started the competition but no.

So, the organisers of the annual North Canterbury Hunting Competition have announced that the category for the most feral cat kills will be withdrawn following a backlash on social media. Yes, the backlash upset them as it included “vile and inappropriate emails and messages sent to the school and others involved”. That’s another reason why they stopped the feral cat shoot. Not a good reason really as they should have realised the problem from the get-go.

Indoctrinating kids and a potential crime

The organisers don’t see anything wrong with indoctrinating children below the age of 14 with the idea that shooting animals for fun is bad. They see this as completely normal, natural and acceptable. They have withdrawn feral cat victims from the competition because they are worried about being sued, I suspect. It’s probably a purely commercial decision. And to shoot a domestic cat in New Zealand would also be a crime under their animal cruelty laws.

This is how they treat feral cats in NZ
This is how they treat feral cats in NZ. I think it is cruel and degrading. Image: The Press.

Animal welfare charity ‘Safe’

This charity told a media outlet iNews:

We should be teaching our tamariki [children] empathy towards animals, not handing them the tools to kill them.

Air rifles

Some of the kids will be using air rifles. Therefore, the chance of a domestic cat being injured by an air rifle but surviving is almost certain. In fact, a North Canterbury cat died from sepsis after being shot with an air rifle presumably fired by a child.

Although it’s unclear whether that death was linked to the competition it doesn’t make a difference to me because once you encourage kids to shoot at feral cats you’ve gone down a very dark path from which it is very hard to turn back because kids are learning that it is okay to shoot animals for fun.

The cat that got sepsis was handed in by a member of the public but the owner is yet to be located. The cat was micro-chipped and desexed.

A spokesperson said that the shooting demonstrated that the use of an air rifle can cause unnecessary pain and distress. But what about a .22 rifle at a distance injuring a cat severely? That also causes pain and distress before death. The arguments by the organisers simply do not stand up to scrutiny.

When the feral cat category was introduced, the local people accepted it completely. In fact, they praised it. Since then, some have changed their mind.

SPCA concerned

An SPCA spokesperson said that the charity was “extremely concerned” about the competition (the shooting of feral cats part, not the rest of it). How many domestic cats have been shot by kids in the past in this competition?

Reactive – just not workable

Rather cynically I would stay, the organisers of the junior competition tried to circumvent the problem of shooting feral cats by stating that if anyone turned up with a shot feral cat which had been micro-chipped, they would be eliminated from the competition. Great. How does that work? A child has shot a domestic cat. The damage has been done. You can’t take reactive measures on something this important. But clearly the organisers thought it was okay to be reactive.


Both New Zealand and Australia have a terrible relationship with feral cats. They regard them as pests and vermin and they demand that they are eliminated anyway possible. They don’t mind being cruel and they don’t mind conveniently brushing under the carpet the fact that the feral cats have been put there by people through their negligence. That is an inconvenient truth which is never mentioned by these people.

The organisers

The organisers said this:

We are disappointed and apologise for those who were excited to be involved in something that is about protecting our native birds and other vulnerable species.

Comment: this is speciesism and killing one species in a cruel way causing immense pain and distress to protect another. Can’t be moral. The kids were ‘excited’ to be shooting at animals.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

35 thoughts on “New Zealand’s junior school kids love to shoot cats for prize money”

  1. The same goes for passive smoking and smoke pollution. The actual radius of pollution is up to five times what can be seen, even without wind

  2. How sad teaching children to kill…What could go wrong? It is a fact domestic abusers and serial killer started with little animals. I’m glad they canceled the event but still to think adults thought the contest was a good idea!

    1. Animal welfare charity ‘Safe’

      This charity told a media outlet iNews:

      We should be teaching our tamariki [children] empathy towards animals, not handing them the tools to kill them.

    (I believe SKY News reported this earlier today)

      1. Yes, it had been axed at the time I wrote the article. The point of the article is that the authorities believed and still believe that it was a good idea. They are disappointed that they had to axe it. And it only concerns feral cats. They’ll keep on shooting at the other animals with glee and happiness to protect their native species.

        1. Hunting is simply cruel, evil, sickening disgusting and there are others ways to keep animal populations under control (and species tend to self-regulate numbers anyway – Nature finds a way.)

          1. I actually gave a presentation at a Hunting Symposium a number of years ago. No hunters showed up to speak or be in the audience. They even told the public the event had been cancelled!

              1. They all know what they are doing is cruel and evil, but they simply don’t care enough because they enjoy hunting so much and the comradery with their fellow hunters. Nearly all hunters are men, or highly vain women (often very good-looking, strangely.) The worst thing about many hunters, beyond their abject cruelty, is how the try to show young children what a lovely and fun thing it is. To that degree, children and young teenagers can be indoctrinated and desensitized to the horror and cruelty of hunting animals.

                1. Yes, it always hurts me to see boys and girls proudly looking up to dad as he teaches them how to kill animals. Their minds are tainted and they’ll harbour those thoughts and beliefs all their lives. The cycle really needs to be broken. But I think some sport hunters are blind to their cruelty because they do not see animals as sentient beings. It is a biblical thing: human dominion over animals. Speciesism.

                  1. In reality, animals were allegedly created before mankind. Both the Bible and Evolution teach this in different ways

              2. No, I don’t think it was embarrassment. They are too selfish, insensitive and arrogant for that. It’s mostly a Conservative and farming tradition.

                    1. Not all South Afrikaans! Their culture blinds them to the fact animals also feel pain and bereavement and, as a fallback, they excuse their evil, vile behaviour as “necessary” for either food or income

          1. Indeed. Modern life. I have the same problem with my website. Everyone is so distracted and busy these days

              1. I know. Getting people to sign Petitions online nearly always need something sensational or extremely provoking to get large numbers to sign them. Even with my tragic loss of Felix, very few people have signed my Petition.

                Maybe the lesson is to make things clearer or to have one site for the dumb dumbs and another for the more intelligent, thoughtful, activist types.

                    1. Animal testing is horrific for me. But it does not get people excited probably because it is out of sight. Out of sight out of mind. If things are not stuffed into people’s faces and if they can’t see the negative impact on them immediately, they are often disinterested.

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