Whanganui District Council looks set to impose a three-cat limit on households.
It proposed to introduce a limit on cats per household as part of a review of its Keeping of Animals, Poultry and Bees Bylaw earlier this year.
There is currently no cap and a four-cat limit was proposed in the draft bylaw.
But following Thursday's public submissions councillor Helen Craig proposed dropping that to three cats per household which got the backing of most of her colleagues.
Craig said she loved cats - and had two herself - but they did a lot of damage in the urban and rural environment and she said council needed to show leadership.
Imposing a limit would get people thinking about the consequences of their "cute, fluffy pussy cat", Craig said.
Deputy mayor Jenny Duncan agreed.
She owns a block of native forest where large, feral cats endanger the survival of kiwi chicks.
"In this country we are evolving in the way we treat our native environment," she said.
Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall - an owner of three cats - voted against the motion.
"They keep our place rat-free and our place has a fecundity of native birds enjoying our trees," he said.
He supports a limit of four.
Craig's motion to reduce four to three got majority support.
Exemptions would be made for people who breed cats or rehome them and the limit still needs to get past a full council meeting.
Of the public submissions 48 per cent preferred a limit of two or fewer cats per household, while 35 per cent supported a four-cat limit.
People who own cats were more likely to prefer the higher limit.
Most of the animal complaints in the past 12 months were about cats, council's policy analyst, Justin Walters, said.
They can annoy neighbours and kill wildlife, and the district has many stray and feral cats.
Having a per household limit would be useful when the council got complaints, compliance manager Warwick Zander said.
Limits would only be enforced if there was a complaint and lower limits could lead to more complaints.
Submitter Jo Meiklejohn said a limit would be hard to enforce, because cats wander and can be on any property. Some people complain about cats just because they don't like them, she said, and a limit will set officers up to fail.
She said the limit should be four, as it is for dogs.
Cats kill native birds, lizards and insects and carry diseases that can infect other animals, Forest & Bird regional manager Amelia Geary said in her submission. She wanted a limit of three - the same as the Carterton, Rangitīkei, Masterton, Palmerston North, South Wairarapa and Tararua councils.