The issue of controlling stray and feral cats in New Zealand has been gaining considerable media coverage in the last couple of years. In the Tararua District, attempts to deal with large numbers of stray cats in Woodville through volunteer trapping were abandoned after negative publicity. Following this, a number of local residents and organisations have requested that Council becomes more formally involved in controlling stray cats - including actions such as trapping, de-sexing and public education.
Without specific funding from rates, Council has previously referred stray and feral cat enquiries to Horizons Regional Council and/or the SPCA. Resources available are very limited:
Horizons Regional Council offers a limited loan system for traps, but property owners are left to deal with the cats that are caught.
SPCA will care for injured cats - if they have room – and will seek to rehouse them as healthy pets. However, over the last few years, the SPCA has become overloaded with the demand for their services.
Feral cats are normally euthanised. The majority of stray cats in urban areas are unwanted domestic cats, particularly young cats. There are legal obligations on anyone who traps these cats to attempt to find their owners. If a cat is injured or abused, the SPCA will accept it.
The Dannevirke SPCA recently undertook a campaign to de-sex cats, with funding granted from the Dannevirke Community Board, Woodville Districts' Vision and Pahiatua On Track. Their contact person is Laura Phillips, Animal Shelter Manager, phone 06 374 9849.
A bylaw under the Local Government Act could provide some basis for regulatory action, such as where the number of cats kept is more than allowed under limits set in the bylaw. However, unlike the Dog Control Act, there is no legislation enabling all owners of cats to be charged for non-compliance, which means any funding for enforcement would be through property rates.
There are also a number of legal issues around care of animals and identification of domestic pets and owners.
As part of the review of all Council bylaws during 2016-17, Tararua District Council is considering whether such a bylaw - covering nuisance and public health provisions - would be justified.
Animal Welfare (Companion Cats) Code of Welfare 2007
The Animal Welfare Act 1999 (the Act) imposes obligations on every person who owns (or is in charge of) a companion cat.
Codes and Guidelines may be obtained from:
Executive Co-Ordinator Animal Welfare
Group Biosecurity New Zealand
Phone: 04 894 0366