This New Zealand Town Wants To Ban Domestic Cats


Domestic house cats may soon be banned in Omaui, a small, coastal town on the South Island of New Zealand. 

The proposed ban would impose a "sunset clause" on the house cats of Omaui, meaning that once a cat has passed, its owners would not be allowed to replace it. The ban on cats would start out by enforcing an indoor-only policy for all domestic cats. 

If the policy is approved, cat owners will have six months to register existing cats with the regional council, also having them microchipped and neutered.

According to the New York Times, Omaui is home to just 35 people and about seven or eight cats. It begs the question - why the need to completely ban cats? According to Environment Southland, the council responsible for planning in the region, the ban is sorely needed to protect native wildlife - namely its bounty of local bird and lizard species.  

Joseph Johnson

Ali Meade, the regional council’s biosecurity and biodiversity manager, said cats pose real risks to New Zealand’s unique wildlife species, which had "evolved in isolation from mammals."

Some of New Zealand's unique fauna, especially its flightless birds, are "much more vulnerable" to predation than species in other countries, according to Meade, because they evolved without the presence of mammals that hunted them.

“They grew up with strange ways of living, like birds that nest on the ground and can’t fly; really naïve behaviors,” Meade said. As an island nation, New Zealand became home to predatory mammals only after settlers arrived. 

The proposed ban has caused something of a rift in the community, namely because residents had not been "properly consulted" about the proposal, according to Terry Dean, a longtime resident. Another resident, Nico Jarvis, told Buzzfeed News that she was only informed of the potential cat ban by reporters who came to the community to ask questions. 

"I am aware of eight other residents who were also unaware that Environment Southland are attempting to impose a cat ban," she said.

She is pushing for transparency and due diligence on the council's part. "I wish to see the evidence they have regarding the impact of domestic cats in Omaui's reserves."

John Collins, chairman of the Omaui Landcare Charitable Trust, believes that with domestic cats kept from predating the natural environment and trapping programs instituted for feral cats, Omaui may be able to reintroduce some of New Zealand's rarer bird species.

"We're not cat haters, it's about being responsible," he said. "Why would you want to live in a place where you're destroying the environment?"

What do you think about this "cat ban"? Let us know in the comments! 



  • Linda Collard

    I think it is fair and just… except for one big thing; if your cat passes, you should still be able to get ANOTHER one! why the hell not? As long as it’s kept indoors and is neutered (which is stupid in it’s own way too), it’s not going to get to any birds or other wildlife, so what’s it hurting? People need pets in their lives, and for some, that pet is a cat, or two. I keep mine indoors all the time and he’s fine with it. As for the other thing; neutering indoor cats; don’t see the reason for it if you don’t care about it, just as long as you don’t have a male and female that are not for sale. Personally, I want only neutered cats, don’t like the spraying and the yowling and all the crap that goes with them when they are intact, but some people don’t care, so why should they.

  • Jennicat

    I absolutely love my 2 kitties that are always indoors. It’s not safe for them to be exposed to the many dangers of running around loose. I also love birds and hate to see them killed. I don’t think anyone should dictate if people can have cats or not. Just keep them inside your home and catio.
    I hate their cat ban idea😡🤬

  • Jane

    Having been to New Zealand, there are some interesting species there that are not found anywhere else, and the Kiwi and other flightless birds are at risk with cats. I think that sunsetting the ability to have cats is a good compromise in this particular situation. It will give the native bird population a time where they may be able to repopulate, and not deny anyone who today has a cat from having to get rid of it. They just can’t get a new cat once their current cat passes.Even if you have an indoor cat, you can’t guarantee it won’t get out, because they LOVE birds and small animals. I know I have two indoor cats, and they would be on birds and chipmunks and squirrels if they could get to them. Just watching them watch little animals through the windows tells you all you need to know…

    I support the ban!

  • Eden

    “New Zealand became home to predatory mammals only after settlers arrived. "

    Maybe all 35 people should move. I doubt it’s just the cats affecting the native environment.

  • Robin Smith

    I think the birders are nuts! These cats just need to be kept indoor or outdoor catio’s!! Screen in porches etc! How dare you tell me I can’t have a cat, communist!

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