An animal rescue group is calling for Tauranga to become the first city in New Zealand to require cat owners to register and microchip their pets.
Representatives from ARRC (Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre) Wildlife Trust spoke at yesterday's Tauranga City Council meeting, where elected members were also asked to consider putting a limit on the number of cats people could own.
Veterinarian and ARRC founder Liza Schneider said the city had a problem with cat colonies. The organisation had taken about 650 cats and kittens off Tauranga's streets since 2012 through their Community Cat Project but more needed to be done.
"We would like to see Tauranga city consider some form of forced cat registration and microchipping," Dr Schneider said. "And we also believe there should be a limit to the number of cats per household.
"Wellington is looking at something similar but if council moved quickly we could become the first city in New Zealand to do this."
Dr Schneider said pet owners should be allowed no more than four cats per household.
"... there are a number of cat colonies in and around Tauranga.
"These animals are not healthy, some are missing an eye, others have skin diseases."
Forcing owners to register and microchip their cats would establish a sense of ownership and keep numbers down, she said.
Avenues cat lover Michelle McDonnell microchipped her cat, Andy, and would register him if council adopted the proposal.
"He is my baby and if I ever lost him, I would want him back," Mrs McDonnell said.
However, her husband, Tauranga Vets managing director David McDonnell, questioned the proposal, asking why Tauranga would be the first to test "something as political as that."
"I would want to see the evidence that would work first," he said. "We encourage our clients to microchip but it is voluntary and until there is some really good evidence to support the need to enforce that then I do not see the point.
"I don't think council should bow to one small group putting on pressure. I think it is something council should let the public decide."
Mayor Stuart Crosby said he would be reluctant to introduce rules for registering and microchipping cats.