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In the New Zealand farming community of Canterbury (Waitaha in Māori), homeless cats eke out a meager survival. Now, under the guise of ‘conservation,’ children as young as 14 are being encouraged to take part in a bloodthirsty hunt to slaughter these cats, whose only crime was to be born without a home.


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The North Canterbury Hunting Competition is an annual event that offers prizes to hunters who slaughter wild pigs, deer, rabbits, ferrets, goats, ducks and geese…

… and now, helpless cats.

In 2023, the hunt introduced cats for the first time, offering cash prizes to the most prolific cat-killer, and this year, cats were back on the target list for the hunt.

The weigh-in for the competition produced a truly revolting sight. Blood-covered hunters piled cat carcasses in crude cages, or hung them from poles with meathooks forced through their jaws.


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The horrors didn’t end there. Thousands of dead animals were on display – so many, in fact, that they used earthmovers to shift some of the corpses. Children as young as 14 were encouraged to join the hunt, and one man killed 65 cats alone.

Hundreds of cats were trapped in cages, then casually shot by the hunters. 
Some reports say that the animals are not killed outright, being left to suffer in agony before slowly succumbing to their wounds.

Can you imagine the complete lack of empathy you must feel to look into a caged cat’s eyes and pull the trigger?

The General Secretary of the Animal Justice Party, Danette Wereta, protested the event last year, and told us of hunters taunting protestors with dead kittens and decapitating animals in an attempt to shock and intimidate them.

“They were throwing around dead cats in my direction, and also ensuring animals' bodies, or parts of their bodies were displayed right in front of me,” she said. “I assume by the way it was done, it was to frighten or upset me.”

Animal Justice Party also uncovered a sickening video of a young child dragging a dead cat through an obstacle course as part of the recent hunt’s ‘festivities.’

Image3_credit_Peter Meecham_The Press

Credit: Peter Meecham/The Press

Shockingly, the government allows the hunt to continue unchecked, as it considers cats an invasive species that threatens native birds. 

At Network for Animals, we take the conservation of native species seriously – but we also know that senselessly shooting cats is a cruel and highly ineffective method of population control that does little for conservation efforts.

New Zealand has one of the highest numbers of domestic cats per capita in the world. But a fierce disinformation campaign has convinced locals that there is some kind of distinction between domestic and stray cats, who at least partly rely on humans for survival, and feral cats, who have been abandoned to fend for themselves. 

Let’s be clear – there is none. The only difference is that feral cats were unlucky enough to be born without a home, forced to struggle for survival every day.

Image4_credit_Peter Meecham_The Press

Credit: Peter Meecham/The Press

According to law, domestic and stray cats must be given food, shelter and medical care, with fines for mistreatment and abuse – yet feral cats must be trapped, shot and poisoned. With this arbitrary distinction, hunters can strip countless cats of their right to life and well-being by simply deciding that a stray is in fact ‘feral.’ Naturally, with hunters incentivized to increase their kill count, many cats were quickly classified as feral.

We are dedicated to working with local partners to roll out sterilization and relocation campaigns, while putting pressure on the government to repeal barbaric laws targeting cats.

This is no small task, but we are committed to making a difference. Will you help us save innocent lives?

Even outside of the hunting competition, cats aren’t safe. Locals and the government alike routinely shoot feral cats – and the ones who die by bullet are the lucky ones. A preferred and much more brutal method of murdering cats is through a poison nicknamed 1080, which is endorsed by the Department of Conservation

1080 is a slow-kill poison that causes vomiting, difficulty breathing, uncontrolled seizures and, after as many as 18 hours of suffering, death. 

It gets worse. The government often disperses 1080 via aerial methods, frequently leaving many unintended animal victims – including the endangered species they are allegedly trying to protect – dead.


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At Network for Animals, we truly cannot understand how a first-world country who is leading the globe in so many ways could have such a cruel, backwards approach to animal welfare. If the government refuses to even contemplate humane methods of controlling their feral cat population, it is up to us – and kind-hearted supporters like you – to step up and save these defenseless animals from horrific pain, suffering and death.

If we are to find a humane solution to feral cat population control before the next hunt, we need to raise as much as we can so we can start NOW! 

Please donate as generously as you can today!

For the animals,

Gloria Signature

P.S. A sick hunting competition in New Zealand is encouraging children as young as 14 to hunt, shoot and slaughter helpless, terrified cats in Canterbury, under the guise of ‘conservation.’ Please help us collaborate with our partners on humane cat population control measures, while lobbying the government to STOP this cruel slaughter. Sweet, homeless cats do NOT deserve to be tortured! Please donate to support our efforts now.

P.P.S. If you’re as outraged about this needless cruelty as we are, you can also sign our petition calling on Mayor Mary Black of the Hurunui District, where the hunt takes place, to ban the slaughter of cats in this barbaric competition, while demanding relevant national ministers implement humane, sustainable solutions to control the cat population and protect the nation's native species. Sign the petition here. 

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