One town in New Zealand is really hoping cats don’t actually have nine lives.
Environment Southland, the regional council for the village of Omaui on South Island, has proposed banning all domestic cats to protect native wildlife.
Thankfully, that wouldn’t mean a cull. All domestic cats in the area would be spayed or neutered, microchipped, and registered. When a cat dies, its owner would not be allowed to replace it.
“We’re not cat haters,” John Collins, of the Omaui Landcare Trust, told Newshub. “But we’d like to see responsible pet ownership. And this really isn’t the place for cats.”
The problem is that domestic cats are proving a threat to the birds, reptiles, insects, and small animals that call the region home. The group calling for the ban insists it will have a significant positive impact for the environment.
Many locals do not support the proposal. “You’re just told one day that your cats, your treasured little possessions… really, that’s it,” said long-time resident Terry Dean. “Either they get trapped in the traps, or those that survive can’t be replaced.”
Residents have until the end of October to register their views on the proposed ban.
It comes as part of a plan for New Zealand to completely remove all introduced predators – such as rats, stoats, and possums – by 2050. The government estimates that introduced species costs the national economy £1.76 billion every year.
That might mean New Zealand eventually becomes a cat-free country.