A Tauranga animal lover who nursed a stray cat before calling Tauranga SPCA was disgusted to be told her actions meant the cat was now her responsibility.
Pam Andresen had seen the fluffy cat walking the neighbourhood for a few days prior to finding it on her back doorstep on Sunday, meowing and in poor condition.
"I know where it came from. We've had neighbours move out of our street two to three weeks ago and they left her behind," she said.
Ms Andresen said she presumed another neighbour had been feeding the cat since but when she picked it up "you could feel every bone in her spine".
The "beautiful" moggy was in poor condition and very hungry, she said.
Ms Andresen fed the cat and treated it for worms and fleas before calling the SPCA yesterday.
"But I didn't get the reaction I thought I would. I was told that because I de-fleaed her and de-wormed her and fed her, that she was my responsibility. They did not want her.
"I'm classed as her new owner because I had her for more than 72 hours."
Ms Andresen said she only wanted to ensure the cat was in good condition before handing her over for potential adoption. She could not afford to keep the cat as she already had three other cats and two dogs.
"I'm an animal lover, I saw the poor condition she was in. I couldn't not do anything. I thought I was doing the cat a favour, doing a good thing."
Ms Andresen said she had always been a keen SPCA supporter, donating whenever the charity was collecting and dropping off food at local drop boxes.
"They won't get a cent out of me now."
Tauranga SPCA manager Margaret Rawiri said they had no such 72-hour policy and apologised for any inconvenience Ms Andresen might have experienced.
"The staff member is part-time and relatively new. She has been spoken with," Ms Rawiri said.
While there was no 72-hour policy, one was in place for strays kept for longer than a month.
Because no contact details were taken, Ms Rawiri was unable to contact Ms Andresen to rectify the information she was given. Ms Rawiri said the SPCA was interested in helping Ms Andresen and invited her to contact them again.
Stray cats were usually put on a collar and tag programme, where the cat was given a collar to wear with a tag on it asking possible owners to call the SPCA. If the SPCA did not receive a call in seven days, they took the cat in.
This programme helped eliminate any doubt that the cat could still belong to someone, Ms Rawiri said.
If you come across a stray cat, Tauranga SPCA advise you to contact them immediately to begin the collar and tag programme. The sooner they are on it, the more chance the cat will find its owners.