DNA test the cat

September 20th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A social media sensation, a purebred moggy and a broken-hearted owner have become engaged in an online catfight.

Auckland woman Joyce Quah believes her much-loved chinchilla persian Chloe has ended up in the care of 18-year-old internet sensation Caitlin Davidson.

But Davidson – known as “Caito Potatoe” to her 457,829 followers – says she found the cat walking the streets of Auckland and is refusing to give it back. …

In Quah’s quest to identify Chloe she has also requested a sample of Darling’s fur so she can get the two follicles DNA tested. But she said Davidson had refused.

Why would you refuse? If I found a stray cat and someone a few months later claimed to be the owner, I’d absolutely agree to identify the cat.

Davison wouldn’t comment to the Herald on Sunday, instead referring inquiries to her father, Tom.

He confirmed his family had “made several complaints” to police yesterday.

He did not know if Darling was Chloe, and would not comment on why a DNA test had not been done.

“We’re meeting police on Monday and hopefully we’ll know more by then and can make a statement,” he said.

He said “a lot of hate” had been directed his daughter’s way.

“I’d love to have our side of the story on this, but it’s not the right time,” he said.

“Quite frankly, it’s a cat. Is it really worth all this palaver? I don’t think so. It’s a cat.”

That suggests he almost concedes that cat is Chloe, but that the original owner should just give up as it is not worth it. If he thinks it isn’t important, then why not DNA test the cat?

It’s not the first time someone has claimed “Darling” was a different cat.

In January, Davidson posted on her page that someone had accused her of stealing their cat Brutus from Glenfield, which she strongly denied.

“Darling has been a stray cat for a very long time and we have saved her and now she has actually been fed properly.

“Apparently she’s been on the streets for a very long time so now she’s in a happy home and we’re looking after her and we love her to bits,” Davidson said in a video post.

Sure the claim may be wrong, but that is why you agree to identification. And it is great you cared for the cat, but if the original owner did not abandon her (and indeed she searched everywhere for her) it is not finders keepers.

Maggie vs Moonbeam!

June 5th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key went in to bat for his cat Moonbeam after Conservation Minister Maggie Barry’s call to put down stray cats and limit pet cats to one or two per household.

Ms Barry proposed the limit while launching a $11.2 million fund for kiwi conservation at the Zealandia bird sanctuary. She said the SPCA policy of neutering and releasing stray cats was “one of the most foolish and counterproductive techniques and practices I have ever heard”.

“I would like the SPCA to stop … because if you capture a cat, spay it and release it, often what happens is they find a little supermarket for cats, which are the bird sanctuaries.”

She said that instead, strays should be put down or rehomed as pets.

Mr Key was quick to knock back her proposals, saying they were her personal views, rather than the Government’s.

“Some people are going to have lots of cats and some people are going to have few.

The Government isn’t going to limit the number of cats people can own.”

He said he would nonetheless advise Moonbeam to steer clear of the SPCA if it did decide to go ahead with Ms Barry’s instructions.

When the PM says he’d want his cat to avoid the SPCA, if a Minister’s proposal is accepted, well that’s a pretty good sign it isn’t going anywhere!

A cat curfew

March 21st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A curfew on pet cats has been proposed for Wellington suburbs to protect native wildlife.

The idea was floated by Geoff Simmons, of the Morgan Foundation, to Wellington City Council’s environment committee at a meeting on Thursday.

It would mirror measures in several suburbs of Canberra and Sydney where, ironically, they were introduced to protect possums. Cat owners pay a hefty fine if their animal is caught off their property between set hours.

This would mean basically locking your cat in at night, as a cat can get over pretty much any fence they want to.

Cats needed to be managed in a similar way to dogs, and the pest-management strategy should reflect that, he said. “All we want is responsible pet ownership.”

Dogs generally can not get out of a fenced section. Cats can. And having your cat locked in means you need a permanent indoor litter box for them. Also what if your cat doesn’t turn up to dinner by curfew – you then get fined. It’s a daft idea.

12 reasons cats suck

August 18th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I love cats but Elite Daily gives you 12 reasons to join the Gareth Morgan camp:

  1. The reason you even like cats in the first place is because of a parasite in your brain
  2. Cats who cuddle with you don’t actually love you
  3. The way cats do show their love is really creepy
  4. If you are alone with your cat and you die, he will eat you immediately
  5. Cats don’t like sweet things, which means they don’t like dessert, and everyone knows you can’t trust a dessert-hater
  6. Cats kill a hell of a lot of innocent animals for literally no reason
  7. Cats are irritating show-offs
  8. Cat poop could give you a fatal disease
  9. Cats’ purrs are manipulative
  10. Cats are f*cking stupid losers
  11. You know how when you like someone, you’re attracted to his scent? Well, cats hate your scent.
  12. Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Mussolini and Hitler were all afraid of cats

No 4 is the one that worries me!

A cat cafe

April 5th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

WOULD you like some kitten with your coffee?

Feline company is exactly what one of London’s newest cafes is offering — and stressed-out city-dwellers are lapping it up.

“People do want to have pets and in tiny flats, you can’t,” said cafe owner Lauren Pears, who opened Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium last month in an area east of the city’s financial district.

“There’s not many places in London you can just curl up with a book and chill out with a cat or two on your lap,” she said on Friday. “I think that’s what our success is down to.” …

The cozy English tea room, named after Alice’s cat in Alice in Wonderland, charges customers 5 pounds ($9) for two hours of kitty company. Coffee and afternoon tea — sandwiches, cakes and scones — are on the menu at an additional cost.

Lady Dinah’s opened on March 1, and is fully booked until the end of June.

Ms Pears raised more than 109,000 pounds through a crowd-funding campaign to get the cafe up and running. Despite more than a year of planning permission delays and figuring out how to maintain health and safety standards, she says the hard work has been worth it.

The 11 resident kitties were donated by people leaving the country who could no longer look after them. Kitty welfare is paramount: the cats get regular breaks away from people, and staff have been trained by animal behaviourists to care for them.

That’s a great idea. No surprise they are booked up for three months. I love in an apartment block that bans pets, and miss not having a cat. I’d definitely go to a cafe with cats.

Morgan advocates all cats on Wellington to be on leashes

March 26th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Zealandia will become little more than a “cat food factory” unless something is done about wandering felines, the Wellington City Council has been told.

Hearings began today for submissions into the council’s draft annual plan, with philanthropist and anti-cat campaigner Gareth Morgan among the first to address councillors.

He advocated councils making micro-chipping mandatory for cats to determine ownership, so un-owned cats could be “zipped” and any pets caught wandering could be returned for a fee. There should also be a 24-hour curfew on cats, with them only allowed out on leashes.

Yes, cats only allowed outside on leashes. I can see that happening – not.

Guest Post: Bryant on Morgan and cats

March 22nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post by Nick Bryant:

Container loads of parachuting cats – Gareth Morgan’s worst nightmare

The other day in a TV3 news story about Gareth Morgan offering beer to students who front up with the carcasses of dead rats, Mr Morgan said “there’s no evidence whatsoever” for claims that a successful campaign to rid the nation of cats might lead to a plague of rats.  He went on to say that “at most 20 per cent of rats end up as a victim of cats.”

I don’t know if that final point is true or not – though my guess is it’s light.  But he’s quite wrong that there’s no evidence that wiping out cats doesn’t result in a plague of rats.  He probably reckoned he was on safe ground making the claim, given his hoped for decimation of domestic and wild cats could seldom have occurred.  After all, how would you wipe them all out?

Well, it has occurred, in the Bario Highlands in Sarawak, Borneo, and sure enough, the result was a plague of rats – and other nasty creepy crawlies.

I’d read about this in the biography of Tom Harrison, an early anthropologist and the founding father of Mass Observation.  Quite the fearless pioneer, Mr Harrisson did ground-breaking anthropological research amongst cannibal tribes in the South Pacific, and parachuted into wartime Borneo to lead headhunting guerrilla fighters against the Japanese.

David Attenborough describes him as “arrogant, choleric, swashbuckling, often drunk and nearly always deliberately outrageous.  In spite of these contradictions, he became a key figure in every enterprise he undertook.”

The title of his biography is The Most Offending Soul Alive.  I suspect Mr Morgan would have liked him.

What follows is a remarkable account of what happens when you disrupt the ecological balance as Mr Morgan has campaigned to do.  What’s clear is that if Mr Morgan gets backing to kill the nation’s cats, we’re going to have to deal with the rats at exactly the same time.  And even then, what impact that will have on the population of other animals, good or bad from a human perspective, is quite another matter.

 From pages 328 and 329, Tom Harrisson and his Remarkable Life – The Most Offending Soul Alive, 1997 Aurum Press …

 Thanks to an antimalaria program by the World Health Organization, there were no almost no mosquitoes or cockroaches.  But, as Tom discovered, there were no also no cats; they had been poisoned by eating the spray-killed cockroaches.  With the cats gone, there was an explosion in the number of rats.  Without cockroaches, bed bugs, which had never been a serious problem before, proliferated.  One conclusion Tom drew was that although “the benefits of malarial spraying so far are tremendous … there are anxious nights ahead” from the possible danger of typhus, cholera, and plague from the rats, bed bugs and other parasites.  Tom’s moral was “All who wish the ulu well should daily repeat this motto: Do good carefully.”

Meanwhile, he came up with his own method for righting the ecological imbalance.  In a wireless message of November 23, 1959, to Borneo Airways, Tom asked the pilot to “bring some hungry cats to tackle the plague of rats.  I guarantee immediate payment [for] all.”  The plea went out to all Kuching.  Ong Kee Hui and many other old friends contributed kittens for Bario.  Barbara had the thankless job of caring for them until a plane could fly to Bario and deliver the cats and, she hoped, collect Tom.  According to an account that Tom published later, “in all the coast towns … the WHO opened special centres” for donations of “surplus cats.”

The project hit a snag when no plane could be made available that could land on Bario’s short strip, but, as Tom wrote, with the help of the RAF from Singapore “special containers were devised” in which to pack the cats.  One clear day, an RAF aircraft from Singapore collected the cats in Kuching and flew inland.  Then, “into the interior uplands suddenly cascaded parachute-borne containers bulging with cats of every degree of age and race.”  This may have solved the problem of the rats, if not the bed bugs.

I love it – parachuting cats in to kill the rats!

Google on David Cunliffe

February 21st, 2014 at 3:13 pm by David Farrar

Radio Live reports:

Do try this at home: Google search ‘David Cunliffe’.

One of the images that Google is pulling to create its little rich bio on the right there is not of David Cunliffe, but is actually of a cat that looks like David Cunliffe, off of the popular tumblr site Cats That Look Like David Cunliffe.

That’s very funny.



I presume Google picks the images that are most commonly clicked on or something. Such fame for the tumblr site.

A reader submits more Cunliffe cat photos

October 22nd, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar





That last one is brilliantly done. Thanks to “An Occasional Reader” for sending these in.

Cunliffe on cats

October 17th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A hilarious interview by Salient co-editors with David Cunliffe:

Are you aware of the ‘Cats That Look Like David Cunliffe’ blog?

I am.

Why do so many cats look like you?

I think people have trawled the internet to find lots of cat photos that do, and it’s pretty funny.

So it’s misrepresentative of the wider cat population?

Yeah I think it’s unfair to cats.


The cats are back!

September 19th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar



The Cats that look like David Cunliffe tumblr page is back in action again, with two new entries. This one is superb.

Cat war comes to Northland

April 21st, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The SST reports:

Extremists “inspired by millionaire Gareth Morgan” are accused of deliberately killing cats in Northland, sparking a bitter fight between conservationists and cat-lovers.

Images of cats caught in traps – described by cat supporters as “horrifying” – have been posted on a Far North conservation group’s Facebook page.

But cat-lovers are accused of extremism too – sending abusive and threatening emails to community board members considering the fate of a controversial cat colony, sparking complaints to police.

The ugly spat centres on a colony of about 10 strays being fed on a council reserve in Paihia in the Bay of Islands.

Morgan labels the colony “vile” and a threat to wildlife. But its supporters describe themselves on Facebook as “soldiers” in the “Battle of Paihia”. Their “war” is against conservation group Bay Bush which seemed to revel in posting photos of dead cats on Facebook, and a community board that last week voted to remove the stray cats permanently.

Their hate figure is Morgan, the businessman and philanthropist turned anti-cat crusader. Auckland Cat Coalition member Anne Batley-Burton squarely blames him for the trouble.

“Gareth Morgan is inciting the conservationists and getting them all worked up about the cats going out and killing all the birds. It’s causing so much trouble between people in communities.”

Another Cat Coalition member, Diane O’Connor, believed Morgan’s crusade had encouraged “radicals” to harm cats. “There are extreme people who now think, ‘yay, we’ve got the green light to hurt, maim and make animals suffer’.”

She said some of the cats were caught in possum traps that had been converted especially to lure them.

The Bay Bush Action Facebook page featured images of trapped cats, including one graphic picture of a black tom hanging by its mouth.

Several people commented on the page that the pictures were like something

from a horror movie and were inappropriate, but others cheered on the killers. “Well done . . . I wonder how many baby kiwi that evil cat killed,” one post said. The images have since been removed, the group conceding they were inflammatory.

Sticking up photos of cats killed in traps is pretty sick.

Meanwhile, two members of the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board have complained to police after a Facebook group called Cats to Stay – set up in opposition to Morgan’s website Cats to Go – encouraged cat lovers from around the world to email councillors and Far North Mayor Wayne Brown ahead of a meeting last Wednesday to decide the fate of the Paihia strays.

“It was severe harassment,” said deputy chair Belinda Ward. “I’m a ‘terminator’, a ‘murderer’, a ‘cat killer’. I had three days of bombardment. It educated me that cyber bullying by extremists is alive and well.”

Extremism on the other side is equally unhelpful.

UMR on the cats poll

March 8th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Gavin White from UMR blogs:

Some of you may have seen some of our research commented on in the media earlier in the week. The research has been interpreted as supporting Gareth Morgan’s campaign on cats, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near as clear cut as that. 

In other words, don’t believe the spin of a campaign that selectively quoted the results.

The media reports focussed on one statistic: the fact that 54% of New Zealanders supported some form of controls that would reduce the future population of cats, once told that an Otago University study estimates 1.12 million native birds are killed by domestic cats each year in New Zealand. The question cannot, however, be treated in isolation: the other questions in the survey make clear that the sorts of controls people are actually prepared to have are actually pretty mild.

So what were the full results.

  • 62% believe that all cats should be neutered or spayed.
  • 57% think that cats should be banned from areas near wildlife reserves, forests and national parks
  • 53% believe that all cats should be registered and microchipped
  • 42% consider that all cats should wear bells
  • Just 12% believe that cat owners should not replace their cats when they die
  • Only 7% think that cats should be kept indoors at all times of the day.

This reflects I think the common sense approach of New Zealanders. Only 7% agree with the more extreme proposals from Morgan, but a bit over half agree with some of the more moderate stuff.

Gavin also points out:

In the question on banning cats from near wildlife reserves, forests and national parks, I suspect that many people would have used a reasonably narrow definition of the word ‘near’ (e.g. within a few streets of the park boundary).  It would be stretching the case to say that the poll supports banning cats from whole suburbs or towns (like Karori, which is adjacent to the Zealandia wildlife reserve, or Ohakune, which is near the boundary of Tongariro National Park).

A very good point also. It’s good to have pollsters commenting on their own research publicly – they are often the one best placed to know what limits there are in interpreting what it means.

Views on cat measures

March 6th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Backhouse at the Herald reports:

The philanthropist’s Cats To Go website was initially met with outrage from cat lovers, but responses to questions in UMR Research’s monthly online survey show the public may be coming around to his views.

Not really. The survey showed that the moderate proposals have support – as they should. But there is total rejection for his more extreme proposals.

The survey of about 1000 people found more than half supported neutering all cats, registering and microchipping all cats, and banning cats from areas near wildlife reserves, forests and national parks.

This is not surprising. And if Morgan had campaigned on those issues solely, then I’d say he would have got a far better reception.

But two of the measures Dr Morgan advocates were met with far less support, with only 12 per cent agreeing cat owners should not replace them when they die and 7 per cent agreeing cats should be kept indoors at all times.

And these measures were at the core of his campaign. His website is called Cats To Go – not Cats To Be Registered.  The top infographic on his site says “Make this cat your last”.

Far from endorsing his views, this poll is a total rejection of his extremism.

More from the buffoon

February 22nd, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Shane Cowlishaw at Stuff reports:

Gareth Morgan has shown his claws in a public catfight with an SPCA board member.

The philanthropist and economist held a public meeting in the Wellington suburb if Karori last night, where he put his case for creating the first “confined cat” suburb, to protect native birds in the Zealandia sanctuary.

As part of his presentation, he produced a “Wanted” poster naming Wellington SPCA board members, accusing them of being ill-equipped to deal with the cat catastrophe.

But one of the wanted men was in the audience, and took issue with Dr Morgan.

Emanuel Kalafatelis said he had been prepared to listen until things got personal. He pleaded: “For God’s sake, let’s not jump into this. Let’s at least get all the facts. Let’s get New Zealand-based facts. Not global facts.”

Dr Morgan responded: “I’m not going to support any organisation which in effect is attacking New Zealand’s wildlife . . . these people have no ethical compass.

Pathetic and puerile. Also a degree of bullying.

He stressed he was not campaigning for the eradication of all cats, but simply restrictions on where they could roam.

“This is not an assault on indoor cats. I don’t care how many confined cats you have – what I care about is where they wander.”

But that is not true. His website is called “Cats to Go“. It has a section on how nice NZ would be with no cats at all. He advocates no one has a cat at all, rather than just keep them inside.

There is room to debate the SPCA policy on cat colonies. There is also room to have an education campaign on keeping cats indoor, putting a bell on them etc. A debate on those issues would be good.

But you can’t both have a sober sensible debate on that, and also be the hysterical person launching websites calling for all cats to go, and personally vilifying SPCA board members.

You can choose the option that gets lots of publicity for yourself, and achieves nothing but pisses people off. Or you can choose the harder option of trying to have a sensible sober debate on responsible cat ownership. It is a shame Morgan has chosen the former and goes for headlines over effectiveness.


January 29th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

No this isn’t a post on Graham Capill. It is back on the issue of cats. A reader e-mailed to say:

If Gareth Morgan had done anything sensible, like say putting “removing apex predators” in scholar.google.com, he would have found that it is well understood that removing a species such as cats (apex predator) from an ecosystem causes an explosion of smaller predators (meso predators).   In NZ that would be all the Mustelidae (Weasals, Stoats, Ferrets) and Rats.  It would also lead to an explosion in the numbers of mice who compete for food and possibly an increase in Hedgehogs (who also predate our birds).   Here’s an example of what he might have found http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01347.x/full   He could also have talked to some actual NZ ecologists, but hey.

Sci Blogs have had some good balanced posts on this also.

More on cats

January 24th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

As the story on Gareth Morgan’s call for a cat genocide is staying topical, I thought I’d elaborate on why it is such a near sociopathically bad idea.

First of all, I think most would agree that yes cats eats birds. And as far as I know you can not train a cat to only eat exotic birds and leave native birds alone, so cats eat native birds and it is bad for biodiversity if a species is wiped out.

I would certainly dispute that non-feral cats alone have killed any species, as do experts.. As almost all cats live in urban areas, any impact from domestic cats is geographically limited. It is estimated 25 million birds are killed annually by predators (possums, stoats, cats feral and domestic). It is also estimated that 1 million birds are killed annually by power lines, so maybe someone will advocate we get rid of electricity to help native birds. And wind turbines are a massive killer of birds overseas – around 1,000 per wind turbine.

Now most would agree it is beneficial to not have native birds killed. But do we as a country ban wind turbines and ban electricity lines, to protect birds? Of course we don’t. Why? Because the benefits from wind turbines and power lines exceed the detrimental impact on birds.

So the question is do we get benefits from domesticated cats? Now I absolutely accept not everyone likes cats. But that is not the issue. The issue is whether people should be allowed to have a cat as a pet because they do want one.

And this is where I think Gareth Morgan and others who advocate NZ should rid itself of domestic cats have something wrong with them, and are lacking in some basic human empathy. Cats can and do play a huge role in quality of life for many New Zealanders, especially more elderly New Zealanders. The companionship they get from cats is incredibly powerful, and the bond a human can have with a pet can be incredibly strong. If you are a elderly New Zealander living by yourself (and a dog is not an option as they need exercise), a cat can make a huge difference to quality of life. And to be honest anyone who thinks a few birds are more important than the happiness so many people get from their cats, has a warped sense of priorities.

Cat owners should of course be responsible. Stick a bell on your cat and get it spayed. But  advocating that NZ become the only country (except maybe Antarctica  in the world that has no cats is just bonkers, and anyone who seriously advocates it has what I regard as very warped values.  Nothing wrong with not liking cats yourself, but something very wrong in advocating no one should have a cat.

Morgan hates pussy

January 22nd, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Amelia Wade at NZ Herald reports:

Top New Zealand economist Gareth Morgan is launching a campaign to eradicate domestic cats.

Dr Morgan has set up a website calledCats to Go, where he calls the animals sadists and natural-born killers that destroy native wildlife.

SPCA chief executive Bob Kerridge called the scheme “hare-brained” and offensive.

He understood Dr Morgan wanted people to stop buying new cats and to not replace pets when they die.

“People consider cats to be a member of the family. So he’s trying to, quite frankly, take away the civil liberties we all have to choose who we want in our home.”

What a fruitcake campaign. Absolute nuts. Why not also offer a toaster to every family who has one child only, as children are also bad for nature.

You should read the site – it is hilarious. Chapters include “Your domestic cat is not innocent” and he imagines a world without cats:

Imagine a New Zealand teeming with native wildlife, penguins on the beach, Kiwis roaming about in your garden.

Yes getting rid of cats will lead to kiwis in every garden, and penguins on every beach!

This is so nutty, I’d withdraw any funds I have in his KiwiSaver scheme, if I I had any there. I also like this FAQ:

So are you suggesting that I just go out and have my cat euthanised?

 Not necessarily but that is an option.

So Morgan isn’t saying you must exterminate your pussy – just that he would like you to.

Cats that look like David Cunliffe

November 20th, 2012 at 4:31 pm by David Farrar

UPDATE: As expected David Cunliffe has been sacked from the shadow cabinet, being removed from the front bench and his portfolios. David Shearer was unanimously backed in caucus and optimistically claims Labour is now totally united behind him. Never mind so many of his colleagues are keeping their position reserved for the real vote in February.

In tribute to the wonderful pre-election Cats that look like David Cunliffe page, here is the updated cat that looks like David Cunliffe following today’s caucus meeting.

We also have these photos taken just before the caucus meeting.

And the final photo was taken during the caucus meeting!