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New Zealand village might ban cats

No kitten around: A town in New Zealand might ban cats.

A regional council has proposed a plan that would eventually phase out felines from the small coastal village of Omaui to help protect its native animals.

"We're not cat haters, but we'd like to see responsible pet ownership," John Collins, the Omaui Landcare Trust leader who supports the ban, told New Zealand's Newshub news service. "But we'd like to see responsible pet ownership and this really isn't the place for cats."

Under the Environment Southland council's "pest plan," all domestic cats around Omaui would have to be neutered, microchipped and registered within six months. Residents will be banned from getting new cats when the ones in the village die. The government would also have the right to remove or seize cats from owners resisting the new rules.

All of this for a town that, according to The New York Times, has only 35 people and seven or eight cats. 

The council said this would help save vulnerable species in the area, since cats there are allegedly preying on birds, insects and reptiles. The removal plan would also target other non-native animals such as weasels, feral pigs and house mice.

The proposal is already getting clawed by locals, who call it an overreach of government power.

"It's like a police state," resident Nico Jarvis told the Otago Daily Times, adding that her three cats have helped her fight an "intense" rodent problem. She said she and other residents would petition against the plan. 

The council gave Omaui residents until Oct. 23 to weigh in on the potential ban. Environment Southland did not immediately return messages left by CBS News.

A 2016 report by the New Zealand Companion Animal Council said that New Zealand has more pets per household than any country in the world except for the United States. The most popular companion animal in the country, according to the report, is cats, with 44 percent of households having at least one.

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