A Rotorua businesswoman is calling for action to help deal with a colony of up to 40 stray cats in the city's industrial area.
Emma Stanley-Clarke, owner of Little Angels Dog Washing & Grooming, said each night cats of all sizes could be seen in the street wanting to be fed. Mrs Stanley-Clarke said they had been previously fed for years by an elderly local woman who she believed has since stopped.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council contacted Mrs Stanley-Clarke to talk to her about the issue. Mrs Stanley-Clarke has adopted two of the cats, which have been spayed and microchipped and fed early in the afternoon before the colony emerges.
"[The regional council] pretty much asked if I could feed the cats and I just can't afford to. My main concern is animal welfare, these cats are not going to be fed and no one will take responsibility for them," she said.
"You come after hours and they're everywhere. Their sizes are all across the board but at the moment a lot of kittens."
"[Regional] Council said they won't touch them because they're a domestic cat now because they've been fed. If this was a residential area, this would not be allowed to be happening. I think people turn a blind eye because they're not here at night."
Bay of Plenty Regional Council land management officer Dale Williams said he approached Mrs Stanley-Clarke to ask if she could help the local resident already feeding the cats.
"As far as I know [the woman] is still feeding the cats, supported by her daughter, and the SPCA has offered to supply some cat food," he said.
"I got in touch with Emma because the SPCA said that she was also involved with caring for some stray cats near her business in White Street. I thought there might be a 'double up' and I was wondering if she could help, but I did not ask her to take over."
"The Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) has recently received a proposal from the SPCA for financial support to help resolve the situation with stray cats which we are considering as part of the Long Term Plan deliberations.
"The current Regional Pest Management Plan identifies 'feral cats; as a 'restricted pest" and defines them as: 'Any cat that is living without direct or indirect (sheltering under buildings, scavenging food) assistance from humans'.
"[The regional council] will support biodiversity programmes that include feral cat control and we offer advice to the public about managing Feral cats but we currently have no mandate to spend rate payers money on 'stray cats' living in an Urban or Industrial setting.
Mrs Stanley-Clarke said she was also in contact with the Rotorua Lakes Council who were sympathetic to the issue but were restricted in the action they could take.
Rotorua Lakes Council's Compliance Solutions manager, Neven Hill said they shared her concerns about the stray cats and understood how they could become a real nuisance.
"Unfortunately Government regulations don't give councils any legal powers to deal with cats, which is particularly frustrating for us," he said.
"Despite the best of intentions, feeding stray or wild cats usually makes the problem worse. It tends to encourage larger numbers to accumulate, so we'd urge people not to feed strays.
But Mrs Stanley-Clarke said the cats will just keep on breeding if something doesn't happen soon.
"Animal control, is animal control - what are we paying our rates for? It's a real issue.," she said.
"I think the population needs to be drastically reduced. I'm a cat lover, but I think it needs to be drastically reduced in a humane way, obviously euthanised. I would be happy to continue feeding a very small population, a handful of cats. The cats in a way are useful, they get rid of the vermin but I'm talking about a very small amount.
"These cats are a threat to our native wildlife, it's not only an animal welfare issue, they're going to cross over to the forest looking for food."
The Rotorua SPCA did not respond to inquiries made by the Rotorua Daily Post.