A Dunedin proposal that could lead to compulsory microchipping and some form of registration for cats has clawed its way over the line to become official policy for Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ).
The proposal, put forward by the Dunedin City Council, yesterday passed with 51% of a vote at an annual meeting of the body that represents local government.
The move has the support of SPCA in Otago, which says it could help increase the numbers of cats reunited with owners after they turn up at its facilities.
The council put forward the remit at the Auckland meeting of LGNZ, asking it to lobby the Government to implement the national cat management strategy.
The remit said councils had limited powers to enact bylaws, and needed regulatory powers for cat control, including cat identification, cat de-sexing and responsible cat ownership.
The strategy recommends desexing initiatives, restrictions on the number of cats allowed on a property and mandatory microchipping.
It also discusses the importance of ''cat containment'', especially in areas of high conservation value.
The proposal came after a series of submissions to the Dunedin City Council.
Now it is the official policy of LGNZ, the organisation will lobby the Government to develop legislation to allow them to control cats, in a similar way the Dog Control Act allows them to control dogs.
SPCA Otago animal welfare director Helen Beattie has been involved in developing the national cat management strategy, something she said had taken close to three years.
Dr Beattie said yesterday the sort of outcomes she expected would result if the strategy was taken up by the Government were microchipping and registration on a national database, which would be ''mandatory in some fashion''.
That would allow organisations like the SPCA to identify if a cat was owned, and who owned it, so the cat could be returned.
''Only 2% to 3% of cats that end up in shelter organisations are actually re-homed.
''It's incredibly low.''
Dr Beattie said a significant number of animals that came to the SPCA were owned, not strays.
''They have had an owner, and we don't hear from them, and we don't know where to send the cat.''
For those who opposed rules regarding cat ownership, she said the strategy and remit were ''about cultural change of how we engage and have cats in our lives and our environment''.
''Over a period of time we need to think about changing people's perspectives around that, and having a higher degree of accountability and responsibility around having a cat, owning a cat, and what that means.''