A zealous cat trapper has the Horowhenua SPCA stretched to its limits, with many of the captives thought to be family pets.
SPCA animal attendant Astria Gibbs says the cats had mainly come from the Horowhenua District Council animal control department, after their owners could not be located.
SPCA staff were told many were trapped in Levin, and handed in by one person.
"Sometimes [trappers] genuinely believe that they are unowned cats, but maybe sometimes people just don't like having a cat pooing in their garden and they trap it to get it off their property and because it's a nuisance.
"We've had a lot of owned cats that someone has trapped and taken to the pound, and the owner comes here [and they are reunited]."
Council regulatory services manager Mike Lepper indicated he was aware of the situation, but refused to answer some questions, and would not confirm where most of the cats handed in were from.
However he confirmed council cat traps were loaned "from time to time" when people were bothered by nuisance cats. "The traps do not endanger or cause any harm to a cat. The cat enters and the door closes behind them."
Cats that are "obviously someone's pet" are passed on to the SPCA if their owners don't come forward, he said.
Gibbs said it is difficult to curb cats' tendency to wander. However the recent high numbers has been compounded by many owners not microchipping their cats.
The SPCA base on Mako Mako Rd has 34 cats and 20 kittens. Another 10 cats are in foster care. With capacity for 32 cats, staff are having to turn animals away, and are desperately in need of cat food, Gibbs said.
"Our supplies are pretty much depleted. It's so bad that food will come in and it only lasts a few days. We're really tight."
Adoption fees have been halved for June, Gibbs said.
There is no bylaw governing cat ownership in Horowhenua, Lepper said, but one may be considered by the council this year.
"It is unlikely that this will address the activities of domestic cats, but may limit the number kept at any address, and will propose provisions relating to feral cats."
Pet food donations can be made in the SPCA bin in Countdown Levin, at the SPCA Op Shop, SH1, Levin, or at 169 Mako Mako Rd, Levin.
WHAT CAT OWNERS CAN DO
Microchip your cat. Ensure contact details are registered against the microchip number (many owners miss this step, Gibbs said). Desex all cats – male cats in particular will wander looking for mates. Care for your cat well, and ensure it doesn't go hungry. Ensure your cat is looked after if you go away. Consider putting it in a cattery. Keep cats inside at night. If your cat goes missing, check with HDC animal control, vets and the SPCA as soon as possible.
- Manawatu Standard
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