Feral cats: ‘At some point they were loved’


Lit­ter­box eti­quette takes on a whole new mean­ing when you’re liv­ing with 48 cats, but Vic­to­ria Skin­ner wouldn’t have it any other way.

‘‘It’s a whole lot of mess but the con­stant snug­gles makes it worth it,’’ she said.

Skin­ner and her part­ner, Hamish Martin, cur­rently share their home with 26 cats oth­ers don’t want.

The Whitby cou­ple have opened their home to raise awareness of the plight of feral cats.

Skin­ner said a Welling­ton City Coun­cil pro­posal to limit the num­ber of cats peo­ple can own would cre­ate more feral cats as own­ers dumped their pets.

‘‘I just hope the Porirua coun­cil doesn’t fol­low suit.’’

The cou­ple have formed The Out­pawed Res­cue Trust, a non­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion to tame and re­home feral cats in the Welling­ton area.

Skin­ner said the plight of feral fe­lines was of­ten over­looked.

‘‘It’s not hard to love feral cats. They play by their own rules.’’

With so many cats un­der one roof, the cou­ple’s 12 per­ma­nent fe­line res­i­dents were used to other cats, Martin said.

The char­ity was formed seven weeks ago to ad­vo­cate for the adop­tion of feral fe­lines.

Skin­ner said when feral cats couldn’t be re­ha­bil­i­tated they could be de­sexed, vac­ci­nated and re­leased into man­aged colonies, where they will be fed by vol­un­teers, a prac­tice known as Trap, Neuter and Re­lease.

She said Gareth Mor­gan’s war on cats had the right idea but he went about it the wrong way.

‘‘We don’t deny feral cats are pests, but they’re pests that were pets. Peo­ple have done it and they need to clean up their mess.’’

Skin­ner and Martin hope to work with Porirua City Coun­cil to set up shel­ters and feed­ing sta­tions for feral cat colonies.

‘‘One or two gen­er­a­tions ago these were house pets. At some point they were loved.’’

Welling­ton coun­cil’s pro­posed an­i­mal by­law is would re­quire any­one want­ing to keep more than three cats aged over six months to seek per­mis­sion from the coun­cil.


Hamish Martin and Vikki Skin­ner live with up to 40 cats, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

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