A major focus on controlling Hawke's Bay's feral cat population is on the horizon as the animal's annual breeding cycle begins this month, producing more wild felines roaming riverbanks and rural land.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council's environmental services and biosecurity committee chairman Kevin Rose said he understood the river corridors in the region had "significant numbers" of wild cats.
"Cats are sophisticated killing machines on four legs and they are hugely damaging to bird life and are of a particular concern to our endangered species."
He said feral cats could also be carriers of disease which could affect farm animals but more research was needed to "absolutely be sure of this".
"Currently in the council's regional pest management strategy, feral cats are deemed to be site specific pests and can be controlled in areas of biodiversity significance."
The council was due to review the strategy next year and it was keen to hear from the public on how it could deal with the problem.
"We ask that people do not dump unwanted cats at all, but seek advice from animal agencies that offer assistance, and where possible control cat numbers by having a veterinarian neuter or spay young cats.
"Because it is natural for a cat to hunt, they always will, but if they are well-fed it does lessen the desire to hunt birds."
Female cats come on heat in July or August when the males wander extensively. Gestation normally takes about 58 days and two to four kittens are born in September and October. A second litter may be born later in the year.
Kittens grow into adults cats in 10 months. Juveniles may move up to 10km from where they were born. Females can reproduce at about one year old and males slightly older.
Hastings District Council said the Dog Control Act and Stock Control Act guided how it could deal with dogs and stock but there was no similar legislation for the control of cats.
Community safety manager Phil Evans said people who brought cats into the council's pound were generally referred to the SPCA in the first instance.
"Some people do feed feral cats around their homes but we consider that practice to be ill-advised."
Mr Evans said the council's environmental health officers could become involved in an event where feral cats had generated health problems.
"They can take action under the Health Act if problems caused by the cats impact on human health."