Cat registration, microchips proposed

Seamus the cat may be one of many affected by proposed cat control legislation. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Seamus the cat may be one of many affected by proposed cat control legislation. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
A Dunedin proposal that could result in the registration of cats in New Zealand will be discussed nationally.

The proposal from the Dunedin City Council, in consultation with seven other councils, will next month go to a Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) vote.

If it is successful, LGNZ would make it a policy, and begin lobbying the Government to have it made law.

The proposal could see the Government called upon to develop legislation for cats similar to the Dog Control Act.

It already has the support of the Otago Regional Council, one of 78 councils which will vote on the idea.

The proposal came after a series of submissions to the Dunedin City Council, the most recent from the Landscape Connections Trust.

The trust earlier this year made a submission to the council asking for cats to be microchipped.

The call came after the trust developed the Halo Project, a community-run predator control programme surrounding the Orokonui Ecosanctuary.

Some residents within the area were concerned about the ecological and public nuisance issue with feral cats.

The submission said there was a ''vacuum of cat management policy and services in Dunedin''.

It called for a bylaw similar to one in Wellington, where cats over 12 weeks old have to be microchipped.

They could then be returned to owners if lost or caught in cage traps.

Trust spokeswoman Jinty MacTavish said the trust wanted the council to consider the Wellington bylaw, both for the safety of cats and ''what is a not insubstantial ecological issue''.

But the remit to LGNZ said district council powers for cats concentrated on minimising the impact on people's health and wellbeing, while regional council's powers were restricted to destruction of feral cats as pests.

''There are no statutory powers available for the district council to implement an alternative solution such as requiring companion cat owners to control their cats to avoid or minimise the harm of companion cats on urban or rural wildlife. ''

Cr Kate Wilson said yesterday she did not want to prejudge what any legislation would look like, but she imagined any cat registration introduced would be a one-off cost at the time of microchipping and desexing.

''Once it's done, it's done.''

The legislation may give the council the power to destroy cats that were not chipped.

''At the moment it is the only animal that is not legislated for, and it's peculiar.''

Cr Wilson said people who were concerned about the proposal ''should be weighing up the concerns they have if you don't have it''.

''If you get rid of the stoats and rats and weasels, what are the cats going to live on if you don't manage them?''

LGNZ chief executive Malcolm Alexander said the remit would go before the organisation's general meeting on July 25.

LGNZ represents the national interests of councils in New Zealand.

Mr Alexander said the remit would be debated at the meeting before a vote by members.

The remit was a direct way of members setting policy positions for the organisation.

''A remit becomes official policy of LGNZ if it's passed.''

ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said his council discussed the remit yesterday and was ''very supportive''.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

Comments

Most cats steer clear of stoats and weasel and many even rats. Mouse however are favoured. Any argument of controlling cats has to be put against evidence that more harm than good as in rodent control. Many native birds are too much for cats to take on.

'Hep' Cat.

Oh, no, here comes that cat vacuum again.
Outta here!

What a great windfall of $$$ that will be for cash hungry DCC...

Is 'Local Govt. NZ' unaware of the NZ National Cat Management Strategy?
Perhaps they hope to 'dispose' of abandoned strays cheaply rather than implement TNR (trap-neuter-release) proposed as a humane and effective management strategy? Of course T-N-R would require funding for veterinary costs and some ratepayers may baulk at paying to manage a problem that their ancestors created (in order to protect food stores from rodents).
Hand in pocket guys, it's time to pay for a solution that has been thoroughly researched and proven to work, after all, you only have to neuter a cat once. Well managed cat colonies also work with good folk managing them until the cats die of natural causes. After 12 years or so there are few cats left except properly managed house cats. Wild cats are another thing all together and are best dealt with a well placed bullet.
Local Government appears to be rushing through the cheap option in order to dodge the properly researched humane option proposed in the NZ National Cat Management Strategy document (161 pages) being put to Government.
http://www.rnzspca.org.nz/images/Documents/NCMSG-Strategy-Implementation...

I fully support any programme that in the future will benefit the cat species.I would love to see cats cared more by their owners. Registration and microchipping will be welcomed by those of us who really love our pets. But it saddens me greatly to learn that many poor cats, trapped by the council and found not to be registered etc,will be euthanized. So it's the poor animals which will suffer because of the non-caring and lazy owners who won't bother to do the right and proper thing. But I would wish that those unregistered moggies were desexed and released,that way they would be allowed to live and the numbers would begin to reduce greatly. Lastly the human factor needs to be addressed,as it's not the fault of the cats that their numbers are uncontrolled. The majority of owners have been allowed always to ignore the problem and do nothing. So if councils are to discuss the whole issue, I sincerely hope they have the courage to enact by-laws that levy meaningful penalties on those who disregard any new lawful provisions brought in to once and for all combat the huge excess in numbers of cats. It would be wonderful in the end if it meant less suffering for the lovely animals.