In a West Auckland street where you'd probably not loiter after dark, two women sit patiently in a van watching their traps.
They know the street well. They're there twice a week. On their own time. Out of devotion, love. Compassion offsetting tedium.
They know the neighbours, sort of. Some of them at least. Some who are even minor partners in their scheme.
Fumes of half cooked meat waft across the street, so pungent a human can easily smell it 20 metres off.
The hunted of course know it's there, but they're scared.
Dull sirens off in opposite directions wail in and out, too distinct and varied to be for the same emergency.
There's a certain tension in the winding hilly street. It's darker than it should be.
But the sparse street lights are compensated by the orange glow of State Highway 16 dipping off parallel down the hill.
The illumination from the motorway hits the street sideways and back lights the row of houses along one side.
The women don't want the Massey street named. They fear it might lead to violent reprisals.
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But amid the shadowed figures returning home from work they sit in their van and play the waiting game.
They know hunger always wins out eventually, and when the first cat is caught it's clear why - it's thin.
Cassandra Moran and Julie-Anne Luckens from the NZ Cat Foundation are doing all this to desex and microchip as many stray cats roaming suburban areas of Auckland as possible.
While they've been doing it for years, they see cats as under particular threat from the city's Regional Pest Management Strategy introduced in March this year.
The council strategy will be euthanising non-microchipped stray cats rounded up in "ecologically sensitive areas" of the Auckland region, but it insists they will not be collecting cats in urban streets.
Nonetheless, animal activists are hastening their efforts to protect Auckland stray cats under what they believe to be a more ruthless euthanising strategy compared to the previous 2007 pest management plan.
"We can sometimes be waiting a couple of hours, you know, but in five minutes we can catch a cat," Cassandra says.
"Massey is quite bad for strays. All it takes is just a couple of people in their neighbourhood not to desex their cats, that's all it takes and the numbers go up.
"A female can have at least three litters a season - every year, summer and spring.
"That cat there with those kittens will already be on heat again.
"I've seen a 4-month-old kitten have babies, it was shocking. I couldn't believe it."
Two long metal caged traps with a floor trigger are placed on opposite sides of the street with a trail of supermarket chicken and fish, cooked at home, leading inside.
On this particular August night, the cats roaming the street were initially spooked by the camera's spotlights.
It takes 20 minutes for one black-and-white kitten to eventually tread far enough into the cage for it to snap shut.
Cassandra and Julie-Anne are pleased, though, because they have never caught this one before.
"It gets a bit harder at the end but we need to trap every single cat that needs desexing," Julie-Anne says.
"We might slow it down to once a week, but then we come back regularly to see if there's any new cats on the street.
"They're all named and we take photographs of them, and we regularly check on the colonies to make sure there's no problems."
Even if they didn't know practically every cat stray cat on this street already, most by name, the recently caught kitten's confused clawing at the cage corner suggests it's new.
Many of the older cats had wandered near the entrance of the traps to nibble on the meat, before cautiously leaving.
These routine trapping missions start out with an even bigger logistical effort that Cassandra and Julie-Anne make for their silent feline dependents.
"We do surveillance of the area, under cover with black beanies, because we have to door knock. We ask quite a few people until we find the right match," Julie-Anne says.
The aim is to find a household suitable to serve as regular feeders for the cats, to whom they will deliver food paid for by NZ Cat Foundation.
Former reality TV star Anne Batley Burton is the chairperson of the foundation and has personally spent around $100,000 to desex, vaccinate, microchip hundreds of cats - as well as establishing a sanctuary for old and sick cats in Huapai.
Pointing to a large house with its kitchen window illuminated and overlooking the streetscape, Julie-Anne says: "This family was already doing that [feeding strays] and they own their own home."
"In this area it's really wonderful, these people have already been feeding for a while, they'll be here.
"Otherwise we have to travel up and feed them ourselves."
But for the cats that end up trapped, it is off to Lynfield Vets for a variation of desexing, microchipping, vaccination, teeth clean, ear snipping and any required surgery for injures.
The procedures can cost hundreds of dollars all up, with an average cost of $150.
The male cats then spend at least one night, the females longer, recuperating at the homes of NZ Cat Foundation volunteers following the desexing procedure.
"Then we return them to where they come from because they've got their territories and things," Julie-Anne says.
"Ones that are very very sick, or elderly cats, might go up to the NZ Cat Foundation sanctuary.
"Younger cats and kittens, they're street wild, and I will take them home, or Cassandra, and we will spend a lot of time taming them up and then rehoming them so they get a good life."
Auckland Council's Dr Imogen Bassett insists the new Regional Pest Management Strategy "is only about managing unowned cats in areas where threatened species are present" and strongly denies cats in urban areas are under threat from animal wardens.
But on the benefit of desexing strays, the council is on board with the NZ Cat Foundation's efforts.
"Absolutely the council recognises desexing is a win-win for cat welfare and native wildlife protection," Bassett says.
"There are several organisations doing some great work in desexing and rehoming unowned cats in Auckland. We don't want to see colonies of unowned cats in places where we have fairy terns, dotterels and other threatened species living and trying to breed."
But for Cassandra and Julie- Anne, the priorities are much more personal.
"We have a no-kill policy so we don't want the council coming along and just euthanising them," Julie-Anne says.
"That's the reason that our foundation, the NZ cat foundation, also microchips. So the theory is the council will check for that microchip.
"I'm a cat lover through and through and these cats don't deserve this sort of life out here."