Cats seen as major threat

Stray, feral and domesticated cats are a major threat to many endangered species and more work needs to be done by ''everyone'' to protect biodiversity, New Zealand Veterinary Association spokeswoman Dr Catherine Watson says.

NZVA supported the eradication of true feral cat populations because of the risks posed by such cats.

''Not only will this protect native wildlife, but most feral cats harbour disease and are inadequately fed, so there are significant animal welfare implications for these domestic pets that have gone wild,'' Dr Watson said.

A good example of the problems caused by feral cats was the issue the Department of Conservation was facing with its birdlife recovery programme in Central Otago. The programme had been set up to protect ''highly endangered'' birdlife. The main threat to these bird colonies was feral cats, according to data collected by Doc, she said.

Cat owners, rural and urban, must do their bit to support the country's native species. Some simple measures included cats indoors at night, attaching a collar and bell, ensuring cats were microchipped and neutered.

Regular health checks, adequate feeding, and access to fresh water would ''go a long way to keeping cats at home and out of trouble'', she said.