Dozens of unwanted cats are being abandoned in mainly rural areas throughout the Nelson region, with local residents often left to pick up the pieces, the SPCA says.
Nelson SPCA general manager Donna Walz said the number of cats that were either abandoned or the offspring of abandoned cats was "astronomical".
The organisation had received 291 animals since the start of the year, she said, including 36 stray cats and 27 stray kittens.
A further 20 cats and 68 kittens were "unwanted", meaning they came from families whose cats had given birth to a litter that was not wanted.
The SPCA also had 18 wild cats and two wild kittens brought in, along with one abandoned cat and one abandoned kitten.
Particular problem areas for abandoned cats included Eves Valley, Enner Glynn, the Wairoa Gorge and Tahunanui Beach, she said.
"Gareth Morgan would be happier if those cats weren't out there, because I do believe that they are the problem cats. They've got to eat something, don't they?
"Whether they eat rodents or birds is a debatable subject, but it's certainly something to be considered.
"They're not companions when they're living out like that."
She said some rural residents arrived at the SPCA with cats that had been dumped on or near their properties, and many were sick of it.
"Some of the people who live in these rural areas are very keen on birdlife, too, and they don't want hundreds of cats roaming free."
The frequent dumping made the organisation out to be "baddies", she said.
"People don't want the SPCA to be killing things, and yet they want us to deal with the problem. It's a real hard place to be in."
Waimea West resident Margaret King said she regularly came across abandoned cats, which "nine times out of 10" had not been desexed, or had an illness or other ailment.
Often, the cats were used to being around people, which suggested they were pet cats that had been abandoned, she said.
"We take them in and love them. It's a big problem - we get plenty of stick from the neighbours."
SPCA's view, Voices, p17.
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