A new review calling for bold and urgent measures to control roaming cats - including compulsory microchipping - has been criticised as flawed by Auckland SPCA's executive director.
But cat campaigner Gareth Morgan has backed the recommendations in the New Zealand Veterinary Association-commissioned review, while a researcher says a national management plan for cats would be a "step forward".
Unitec senior lecturer Mark Farnworth conducted the review, which canvassed peer-reviewed studies here and overseas on cat predation and population management, and found there was no national strategy for cat management and the economic burden of managing ownerless cats might outstrip the capacity of charitable organisations.
It found the trap-neuter-return (TNR) approach used by SPCA branches was unlikely to be a "viable" option for long-term cat populations, and that removal and adoption - the major strategy used here - might be affected by a declining number of people willing to adopt cats.
It recommended measures to establish cat ownership, including the compulsory registration and microchipping of pet cats, a restriction on ownership in "environmentally valuable areas" and keeping cats indoors all or some of the time.
Dr Heidy Kikillus, a researcher at Victoria University, said a nationwide survey, which has so far canvassed more than 2000 people, had found 70 per cent felt microchipping should be mandatory and 50 per cent supported a night-time curfew. A further 80 per cent supported a limit on the number of cats per property and 88 per cent believed desexing should be mandatory.
"[A national strategy] would be a step forward in managing cats in New Zealand and better balancing cats and conservation," Dr Kikillus said.
Dr Morgan, the economist and philanthropist, supported the review's recommendations. "[Cats] are pretty indiscriminate killers - how can we have these animals but not have all the down-sides?"
But Auckland SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge criticised the findings and the review.
"It certainly was not a comprehensive report, as I expected it should have been if we were going to make decisions based on it."
He said there was no evidence to suggest the stray cat population was growing and that the TNR approach worked.
"In terms of compulsory microchipping, I think this would be a fairly unpopular move."