Cat-control proposal mixed reaction

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A proposal by the Dunedin City Council that legislation similar to the Dog Control Act be developed for cats has the backing of the Gore and Districts SPCA, but Mayor Tracy Hicks is still undecided.

The proposal by the Dunedin City Council, in consultation with seven other councils, will go to a Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) vote next week.

If the vote is passed, LGNZ will make it a policy and begin lobbying the Government to have it made law.

Mr Hicks said similar legislation had not proved to be feasible in places such as Australia, but he was willing to listen to the debate on the issue at the LGNZ conference next week.

Before attending the conference he intended to gauge the opinion of councillors on the subject, he said.

Gore district councillors had not discussed the issue around the table.

He believed the DCC was keen to have legislation to regulate how feral cats were managed.

The Gore district had its fair share of feral cats, he said.

“To be fair, they have become more of a problem,

“There certainly was evidence of more wild cats. There’s lots of feral cats that probably started out as domesticated cats.”

But Mr Hicks also acknowledged there were many responsible cat owners in the district.

The proposal has the backing of Gore and Districts SPCA shelter manager Cath McDowall.

“I think every cat should be microchipped,” Mrs McDowall said.

Microchipping made the SPCA’s job easier when a cat was brought into the shelter because it could be returned to the owner quickly.

Mrs McDowall said she would like any new legislation to specify how many cats one owner was allowed to have and to make the desexing of cats mandatory.

The owner of two rescue cats, Robert (Caveman) McKenzie, of Gore, said he believed the feral cat population was a problem and could see the merit in introducing legislation.

“They breed like rabbits if they are left to their own devices,” Mr McKenzie said.

Feral cat colonies also picked up diseases such as feline Aids and spread them.

As a result of disease, feral cats could have a lifetime of suffering, he said.

He also thought limiting the number of cats per household was a good idea.

He suggested philanthropist Gareth Morgan could make a financial donation to be used to subsidise registration fees for cats, thus lessening the financial burden on people.

Mr Morgan is well known for his strict stance on the management of cats.

While feral cats could be domesticated, they had to be brought into a home when they were kittens, Mr McKenzie said.