Council forcing woman to remove cats

The Invercargill City Council has pounced on a woman with more than 30 cats, using a new bylaw for the first time.

The woman, who the council says has about 35 cats will have to reduce her clowder to three and has been the subject of numerous complaints.

Invercargill City Council environmental health manager John Youngson said the council had handed her a notice on Thursday, requiring her to reduce the number of cats on her property within 14 days.

The action means the end is in sight for neighbours who have been dealing with the woman's cats for the past three years.

The woman, whose front lawn had more than a dozen cats on it when The Southland Times visited, refused to comment.

Mr Youngson said the woman would face court action if she failed to reduce the number of cats at her house.

The council had issued her with a series of notices in recent months, and set out tasks for her to complete to ensure the cats were contained on her property, but the time frames she had been given to complete those actions had not been met, Mr Youngson said. The council had no option but to enforce the bylaw, he said.

"Obviously she's got to reduce the cat number."

While the bylaw states that each household can have three cats, Mr Youngson said in this situation, three was the target and the council would not take away all her cats at once. "We will be working with her to reduce her cat numbers and we will be monitoring it.

"We are taking a pretty cautious approach; this is the first time using this bylaw."

Mr Youngson said if the council seized the cats, it would have to consider what it would do with them.

"That's the difficult question. What will happen to these cats? The bylaw says we can prosecute her."

The council would hold a meeting with the SPCA next week to ensure all agencies that needed to be involved were aware of the situation. "We will be working with the SPCA catching the cats."

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said he had been in favour of the bylaw being passed and it was positive to see that action was being taken.

Neighbours of the woman shared the sentiment.

One neighbour said the council action resolved three "very stressful years".

The number of cats had not only disrupted the neighbours but their pets as well, she said.

Another neighbour said she was glad to hear the "matter is being resolved".

The Southland Times