Too many feral felines

PIERS FULLER
Last updated 11:47 31/01/2013
30CatL
PIERS FULLER
PLEASE PICK ME: Wairarap SPCA manager Val Ball with one of a number of cats waiting to be rehomed.

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Gareth Morgan might have put the proverbial among the pigeons calling for a ban on cats, but the cat problem has been bubbling away in Wairarapa for a long time.

Val Ball of SPCA Wairarapa says we are at a crossroads in how we need to deal with our feline friends and their feral cousins.

The SPCA struggles to desex and rehome all the cats that come through its care and yet too many cats continue to go into homes that cannot adequately look after them.

She is calling for a public meeting with local vets and council involvement to address pressing cat problems, in three particular Wairarapa towns - Masterton, Martinborough and Featherston - which all have colonies of semi- wild cats causing a nuisance.

Mrs Ball says there is a colony of cats in Martinborough that is based around Oxford St behind the Pukemanu Tavern and another in Featherston behind the video store. The colony in Masterton is based in Queen Elizabeth Park but roams from Queen St through to Lansdowne.

While it is possible to remove colonies, she says it takes a concerted effort and the co-operation of the community. One of the problems is that local people continue to feed the cats and they become reliant on this.

Mrs Ball says the SPCA can't be expected to tackle the community's cat issues single-handed. She believes people need to put up their hands and the respective councils also need to contribute.

"Councils need to take some responsibility for the situation. We don't have the resources.

"If we could get a group of people in South Wairarapa willing to work with the SPCA. Somebody needs to take responsibility in the towns where they live," she says.

Feral cats are the responsibility of the regional council and are treated as pests. Of the cats that the SPCA has had to deal with over December and January, 48 had been euthanised.

The good news is that the SPCA manages to re-home around 75 per cent of its cats, which demonstrates that there are many Wairarapa people who are keen to give these unwanted creatures a new home.

Mrs Ball believes steps to control the animals need to be improved. She agrees with the Australian concept of introducing curfews for cats so they can't hunt at night and thinks landlords should only allow desexed cats in their properties. She also believes that people should not be able to breed cats or dogs unless they are registered.

During April and May the SPCA is subsidising cat desexing. For $30 people can get a voucher and take their cat to a participating vet to get it desexed.

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