Council urged to consider cat control

Microchipping could be crucial for establishing better control of cats in Dunedin, city councillors have been told.

It enabled feral cats to be distinguished from wandering domestic cats and controls were positive for both biodiversity and cat welfare, Forest & Bird Dunedin branch chairwoman Kimberley Collins said.

Forest and Bird and Predator Free Dunedin support mandatory microchipping, requirements for cats to be desexed, a limit of three cats per property and rules preventing the feeding of stray cat colonies.

They have called for the Dunedin City Council to consider joining other councils in introducing cat controls within a bylaw.

"There is a strong precedent for territorial authorities to introduce cat control within their bylaws based on the nuisance created by cats and the health and safety risk they pose to both humans and wildlife," Forest & Bird said in its written submission to the council’s annual plan hearing this week.

Forest & Bird has estimated the country’s pet cats alone — about 1.4million — kill at least 1.12million native birds a year.

New Zealand has been estimated to have at least 2.4million feral cats.

Ms Collins said New Zealanders were increasingly supportive of cat controls, partly for animal welfare reasons.

Predator Free Dunedin spokesman Rhys Millar urged the council to show leadership in dealing with feral and stray cats.

They were having a major impact in pockets of Dunedin, he said.

Mr Millar said there had been growing recognition nationally of potential benefits of a proactive approach.

"Community attitudes towards this subject are shifting and it is no longer such a controversial issue," the Predator Free Dunedin submission said.

"Animal welfare groups, cat owners, conservationists and residents are aware of the nuisance caused by uncontrolled cats and there is growing support for change."

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