WDV seeks tougher cat bylaw
Kittens exempt as new regulations include limit on how many cats can be kept if neighbours complain
Woodville Districts Vision is pleased with the Tararua District Council’s decision to bring in a new cat bylaw, but it wants it to have more teeth.
“We’re applauding the council, but we’d encourage them to also consider microchipping, desexing and further regulating domestic ownership of cats in our towns,” WDV chairwoman Robin Winter said.
Winter would like to see a programme similar to that which operates at Pukaha Mt Bruce to deal with the unwanted cats.
“Many wild and feral cats are trapped and euthanised on a regular basis at Pukaha Mt Bruce, to protect the wildlife in the reserve.
“This is just the same for the wild birds and lizards in our community, they also need to be protected from a growing population of feral cats. Desexing such cats, which is the SPCA’s answer to the issue, doesn’t remove the threat to our wildlife.”
In a rewrite of its bylaws, the council has included controls for those who own more than three cats where complaints are received, or if they are offensive to the occupiers of a neighbouring property, a threat to public health, an endangerment to neighbouring animals, or if they may become a nuisance, injurious or hazardous.
Young kittens aren’t included as part of the cat numbers in the bylaw.
“The major issue is around the health of cats and if the size of a property is small for the number of cats then they tend to migrate more than normal,” Peter Wimsett, council’s manager of strategy and district development, said.
“Cats do wander and that doesn’t make them a nuisance. But microchipping would add a great deal of cost.”
In 2015, as Woodville struggled to cope with an invasion of stray cats, a trapping and culling programme was put in place by WDV after reports of moggies fighting, stealing food and spreading disease.
With no one able to get near the strays they weren’t able to be desexed and were reproducing in great numbers.
However, within weeks a halt was called to capturing the nuisance cats and having them euthanised as volunteers carrying out the trapping became the target of abuse.
“They were being talked about as if they were murderers and there was no need for it,” Winter said at the time.
Last May, fed up with feral and abandoned cats in the area, district councillor Peter Johns, who lives in Woodville, insisted the council “stop mucking around” and bring in a bylaw to deal to the feral and abandoned cats plaguing his town. Norsewood cat lover Lyn McConchie said she believed the council’s bylaw was fair. “However, I also think the council need to add a permissible variance, something along the lines of, ‘should all neighbours agree to a larger number of cats in the case of a breeder, or a rescue person having the animals on a temporary basis, that should be considered by the council on a one-off basis’. “If there is agreement by all concerned, this should be permitted, subject to permission being withdrawn on 48 hours’ notice if there are verifiable complaints,” she said.
Wimsett said it had taken the council two years to get its bylaw in place.
“Bylaws are difficult to introduce for councils trying to control cats, as owners aren’t registered,” he said.
“There’s also the definition between stray cats which have no home and wandering cats who are doing just what cats do.
“Cats are important to people and controlling stray and feral cats is the key.”
Wimsett said people needed to be aware there were also legal obligations when trapping cats to find the legal owner.
Norsewood’s Lyn McConchie with Thunder, her ocicat. McConchie believes the new bylaw is fair, but would like some variance to the rules.
Robin Winter, Woodville Districts Vision’s chairwoman, is asking the Tararua District Council to strengthen its recently introduced cat bylaw.