For some, cats are the best of the company – a gentle little man to cuddle with while avoiding the world.
For others, cats – even domestic – priceless killers, are looking for valuable local fauna.
That way of thinking has inspired an initiative to eradicate all cats in the small New Zealand town of Omaui. Local residents hope to ban the acquisition of new domestic cats and to euthanize stray dogs.
"Cats eat the birds, they eat the lizards and the insects," said John Collins, who stands up for Omaui's proposed cat ban: "Cats are predators."
Collins spoke with As it happens guest guest Helen Mann about the initiative.
Why would you phase out the cats in your village?
Omaui is a small village with 30 to 35 houses with a similar number of people. And behind the village is a relatively large area of approximately 240 hectares of pristine native forests. So Omaui is a protected area of high value, it is rich in animals. And we want the animal kingdom to be richer. High-quality nature reserve where people can live.
But no cats?
Well cats are predators. Cats eat the birds they eat, the lizards and the insects. And we are not cat-hates. It is about responsible property and Omaui is a place where pets are not allowed to be taken.
So what is your proposal to deal with the cat?
Our proposal is to have existing domestic cats microchipped and de-sexed. And after death they can not be replaced and new cats can not be brought in. So we're not trying to take people's cats from them, we just want them to be gradually phased out.
You are not now a member of the board that made this decision, but you had to persuade them. Was it a difficult process?
Environment Southland every 10 years [does] what they call a "pest control strategy". Any member of the public can hang up an idea or something for pest control and the working group will look at it and if they think it is reasonable, they will accept it for consideration. So that's what happened to us.
And cats are defined as teasing in the strategy?
In this case they are "predators", yes. So it is now ready for public consultation.
You talk about it as a small community. Do you know how many house cats there are?
Possibly seven or eight. Could not be sure. Maybe one or two more.
Do you want them micro-chipped, sterilized or castrated and you do not want them replaced?
That's correct. The reason we want the micro-chip is because we have a problem with people who dump unwanted cats, unwanted cats and cats, and there is also a population of wild cats. Which are actually only domesticated that no one cares for. When we catch wild cats when we catch someone's house cat, we do not want to kill it – we would return it to them.
If it had not been chipped, would it be euthanized?
Euthanasia in a humane way.
Have your friends been lost? Do you have problems in the community?
I have not lost any friends, no. I think that most people, at least a substantial number, support us. They are one or two who are against us, but I certainly would not have an idea with my good friends.
Many people around the world love their cat. They get a lot of affection from them. It is a comfort to them.
That's right, many people do that. Many of us also get a lot of comfort by allowing native birds to swarm around us.
Have you ever had a cat?
Yes. Almost every household in New Zealand has had a cat. I grew up with a cat in the house.
How would you feel if someone had thought of this rule when you had your cat?
I do not know, it would depend on the reasons.
What do you hope the outcome will be for indigenous nature in your area?
I hope that there will be more and more native flora and fauna. I want to hear more birds singing in the morning.
This segment was produced by Ashley Mak. V & A has been shortened for clarity and length.