Shauni James is a Rotorua Daily Post reporter

Rotorua locals share their thoughts on National Cat Management Strategy Group's proposal

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Some Rotorua locals are supporting a move to desex and microchip all cats, but one cat owner believes a feline curfew is taking it a whisker too far.

The National Cat Management Strategy Group (NCMSG), which is made up of eight national organisations including the SPCA, the Department of Conservation and the Morgan Foundation, met at a conference in Wellington on Wednesday.

The group has called for nationwide mandatory microchipping and de-sexing of domestic cats when ownership is transferred as part of an increased focus on responsible pet ownership.

It also raised the possibility of cat curfews in ecologically sensitive areas and proposed ways to manage strays.

Rotorua SPCA centre manager Sue Kennedy said she believed microchipping and desexing should be made mandatory for domestic cats.

She said they had been running a project around managing strays in partnership with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council in the past 11 months as part of a two-year project.

This is the Bay of Plenty Community Cat Project, and in the past 11 months it had closed 36 cat colonies and taken 450 cats off the street in the Bay of Plenty, though 95 per cent of the work was done in Rotorua, Ms Kennedy said.

However, there were still 178 reported cat colonies in Rotorua that needed to be assessed, she said.

"It's a massive problem in Rotorua."

She said majority of the cats which had been taken off the street were micro chipped and de sexed, then re homed to their original carers or out into the public.

Ms Kennedy said they were always looking for volunteers to help with the community cat project.

Rotorua Lakes Council's compliance solutions manager Neven Hill said "although the council supports this initiative because it aims to deal with issues such as feline aids by better managing cat colony numbers, which significantly kill wildlife including native birds, the council has no legal authorisation to impose the recommendations because there is no current legislation."

Rotorua's Katie Hickey owns three cats named Thomas, Miffy and Bugsy.

Mrs Hickey said she thought cats should be microchipped and desexed.

"We have a lot of strays around this area and desexing would help that problem.

"My cats get beaten up quite a bit by strays."

She said six months ago her cat Thomas went missing, and would come home occasionally for an afternoon before leaving again.

He finally came home again about two weeks ago and had a band around his neck from being taken to the SPCA by a neighbouring family saying "If this is your cat please call ..." with the number of the family.

She said if he had been microchipped it would have been easier to find Thomas.

Mrs Hickey said she thought a cat curfew was not realistic.

"Without shutting them in full time, how do you put a curfew on a cat?"

Facts and Figures:
- In the past 10 months the Bay of Plenty Community Cat Project has closed 36 cat colonies and taken 450 cats off the street in the Bay of Plenty.
- There are still 178 reported cat colonies that need to be assessed in Rotorua.
- Adult cats can reproduce three times a year, with an average of five to six kittens in a litter.
- For more information on the Bay of Plenty Community Cat Project visit www.bopcats.co.nz.

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