Call for help to prevent cataclysm

 SPCA Otago animal manager Grace Hepburn with two of the 20 cats removed from a Dunedin home. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.The cat population in Dunedin is booming and the Dunedin City Council needs to help before the situation becomes uncontrollable, SPCA Otago executive officer Sophie McSkimming says.

The shelter was under-resourced to deal with expanding cat numbers in Dunedin.

The population boom was a mix of domestic, abandoned and feral cats, she said.

She had approached the council and it had not acted on her plea for help.

''This is a massive problem and no-one will help.''

The council needed to support the organisations trying to tackle issue, she said.

''One organisation is not going to be able to do it on their own and it's only going to get worse and the cat population is going to grow and grow.''

SPCA Otago animal manager Grace Hepburn said she wanted a Dunedin City Council bylaw restricting the number of cats a person could have.

Otago SPCA inspectors were called last week to trap and remove 20 cats from a Dunedin woman, Ms Hepburn said.

The woman had not given the cats any attention so they were not used to people, she said.

The shelter was looking for volunteers to come to the shelter to spend time with the ''scared'' cats to try to make them adoptable.

''They're nice and they're not going to hurt anyone but they need that human interaction.''

Ms McSkimming said 20 cats was a small number compared with some cases reported to the shelter.

A Hampden man called the shelter recently panicking he could not control his growing clowder of 40 cats.

Council environmental health manager Ros MacGill said there were no council bylaws relating to cats and no bylaw was planned.

But if a cat was deemed a ''health nuisance'' the council could take action under the Health Act.

Killing for snacks and pranking

Te Jackle, the native birds around home are fed carefully in places cats can't reach so they get through winter in good condition.  This nutritional advantage and perhaps unfortunate fates that befell slow or unobservant ones in the past, seem to have created a population of smart native birds where they were rare visitors 30 years ago.

As for diet and motivation, this morning the back half of a large mouse trailing intestines was placed where my naked foot might be predicted to fall on it, close to the loo door.  I guessed, but have no proof, that the rodent had not arrived there by itself after having eaten its own head and chest. Years of observation have taught me to wear footwear and look at the floor so this morning it was one point to me, cats nil.  Life with other creatures is always a struggle.  Balance is not easy to achieve.

Registration of cats would achieve nothing unless all ownerless cats were eliminated, and given NZ's success at getting rid of possums and rabbits I wouldn't bet a cut-price Easter egg on it.


Call to register cats

This plight should serve as further proof that the DCC should introduce cat registration and limit their ownership, with penalities for people who dump and abandon these animals. Such as with the stoat problem we face, cats are as effective at killing our native fauna as these pests and usually only kill for the joy of it then return home for a feed, not to mention the fouling of neighbouring properties, free roaming cats must be treated like other pests and be trapped and eradicated.

Answer this call for help please

Visiting the shelter facility is a pleasure and I will be coming to answer the call for help. I urge others to do the same.

The DCC needs to step up, they've already significantly reduced funds that this organization desperately needs. Step up! Change the law or make one if necessary, and re-fund this group - they represent the humane side of tour citizenry, and do an amazing and hard job with few resources.

When they ask for help, it is serious situation and should be addressed by one and all.

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