A Whanganui cat rescuer has her claws out for the SPCA, saying hundreds of stray and abandoned cats in the city are being left to starve.
Robyn Dandy blames changes at the Whanganui SPCA which she says have made it difficult for people to help strays.
"They always used to take in strays but now it has become really difficult to get their help," Ms Dandy said.
Ms Dandy rescued cats and kittens for six years before moving out of Whanganui temporarily six months ago.
"I ran Kitten Rescue for about six years but had to stop for health reasons. Now I'm back in Whanganui and I wasn't going to do it again. But people are ringing me constantly."
Ms Dandy said people have told her the SPCA won't help. "Either they say they are full up, or they want to put collars on the cats for several days first.
"It's a cruelty issue to leave them starving like that. I've taken in many starving cats and kittens that have either died or had to be euthanised because they have been without food for too long. I think the SPCA needs to do more."
Ngarie Mahoney is another confused about who to call about stray cats.
She said her neighbour moved to Wellington three weeks ago and left behind several cats, one of which had since had kittens.
"I ended up looking after one of the cats but I use a walking stick and it gets under my feet. It's very cute but I can't have it live with me."
She said she rang the SPCA to have the cat re-homed and was told they needed to put a collar on it for several days.
"I really don't understand why. It has been abandoned. The owners have been gone three weeks. If I wasn't feeding it, it would starve."
Mrs Mahoney eventually gave the cat to Ms Dandy who "took it away in a cage on the back of her bicycle."
Ms Dandy also uplifted the mother cat with kittens but several other abandoned cats remain at the neighbouring property. She feeds them daily "I can't have them all at my house."
Meanwhile she has found homes for three of the four kittens and welcomes enquiries from would-be adopters for the remaining kitten, plus two young cats she has in her care. Her contact number is 021 209 7028.
RNZSPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen said the society would take in sick or injured cats if the cats were taken to the centre. "If you find a sick or injured cat please take it straight to the SPCA centre so our team can get the cat the help it needs," Ms Midgen said.
The society would come out if the cats were hard to catch, or people had no transport. "It's a case by case basis. We are a charity and don't have unlimited resources. So we ask our communities to help us where they can."
She explained the use of paper collars and said they were used to prevent pets being mistaken as strays.
"If the cat is healthy, our staff will give the cat a paper collar and ask the people who found the cat to take it back for seven days. The paper collars have a note to ask whoever owns the cat to contact the finders, so they know if the cat is being cared for.
"We do this because in many cases people mistake a cat for being stray when it actually has a family who are caring for it. Cats are opportunists and will keep visiting homes if there is food around."
Ms Midgen said in more than 80 per cent of cases where a paper collar is used, the cat's owner gets in touch - "so the programme is very successful". After seven days if there has been no contact, the society will take the cat into its care "as long as there is room for it at the shelter".
Since the Whanganui SPCA merged with Manawatu SPCA there had been an increase in animals being adopted, she said.