Walk into Mary Lou Nation's garage and you'll hear a chorus of meows, a spattering of hisses, and maybe a paw scraping around in a litter box.

With roughly 50 cats and kittens taking up space in Ms Nation's home-run cat rescue, that has been the soundtrack of her life for the past year and a bit.

Naming her rescue Precious Paws Paradise, she began taking in stray and abandoned felines in October 2014, and offering them up for adoption once they'd been desexed.

"Sometimes I sit there and cry because I just think ... if you're telling people 'you've got to desex your cats and kittens', they come down on you, they attack you. They don't flea them, they don't worm them, they don't desex them. I just think: when's it going to end?"


Ms Nation's home is full to the brim with kitties in the peak of kitten season. One cat, who already had four kittens, took on four more that were brought in.

Another group of kittens were found in a taped-up cardboard box on the Whanganui River Road.

"I'm a great animal lover," Ms Nation said.

"I didn't realise it was such a big problem here in Whanganui."

Ms Nation said the food alone costs her at least $400 a week. On average she receives $100 a week in donations, but the rest comes out of her own pocket.

She also desexes the animals, at a discounted price from a local vet.

She said personal savings helped fund her cat rescue, but these were "slowly disappearing".

"I've adopted out 83 kittens this season," she said. Of those, 77 were adopted by people out of Whanganui.

Over her time running the rescue, Ms Nation said she has adopted out about 800 cats and kittens. She does not put down the cats when she runs out of space.

She had some adult cats which had been there for more than a year, but most were able to be adopted out.

Ms Nation recalled crying recently when one of the longer-term residents was adopted.

"You do form a bond with them."

Ms Nation also encouraged elderly people to adopt cats for companionship, and said if something were to happen to the owner the pets could be brought back to her.

Anyone who adopted a pet from Ms Nation was welcome to bring it back if they changed their minds, she said.

She hopes to eventually make a difference to Whanganui's stray cat problem, although she knows it may take some years.

Ms Nation can be reached through the Precious Paws Paradise Facebook page or on 027 473 7710.

The rescue is not a registered charity, but anyone wanting to donate can put money through to 11-6901-0078443-59.

"I sustain the rescue out of my own pocket. I need to stress that I need more donations from the community to carry on helping the community's cat/kitten problem.

"Please donate, even just a $1 a week."