Prime Minister John Key has calmed fears his government could enforce a strict two-cat-per-household limit, amid fears the popular pets are killing off the nation’s wildlife – including their iconic kiwi bird.
Mr Key, a cat lover himself, also poured cold water on the suggestion that New Zealand, which has the highest rate of cat ownership in the world, would kill all feral cats.
…The government’s Conservation Minister, Maggie Barry, had called for extreme measures to protect New Zealand’s precious wildlife.
Forty per cent of New Zealand’s native land-bird species are extinct and 37 per cent of the remaining species are endangered.
And Ms Barry warned an excessive number of cats were putting the nation’s symbol, the flightless kiwi, at risk.
It is feared the endangered animal, which has become synonymous with the country, risks extinction within two generations.
…Mr Key waded into the row, claiming his administration weren’t “going to limit the number of cats people can own.”He added that Ms Barry suggestion was a personal view rather than official policy.
Mr Key’s own cat, Moonbeam, has even been dragged into the debate, with Ms Barry commending the Prime Minister for locking up his cat.
Mr Key, who previously mentioned that his cat loved him “unconditionally”, said he would be advising Moonbeam “to stay away from [animal charity] SPCA if they were to follow Ms Barry’s instructions.”