Cat Management Working Party

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

The Cat Management Working Party has been set up to work with the community on finding solutions to the problems caused by cats – both domestic and feral – in the Gore District.


You can keep up to date with what's happening by reading our press releases below.


The working party's aim is to:

• identify the extent of the problems and risks posed to the environment and community,

• look at initiatives and policies elsewhere to control cats and evaluate their effectiveness, and

• make recommendations to the Council to solve the problems and risks, regulatory and/or incentive based.

To achieve these goals, the working party will be gathering feedback from the community. There will be opportunities for community conversations digitally and in person. If you are not already registered with Let's Talk, just click on the SignUp banner to the right.

The working party is made up of three councillors – Cr Glenys Dickson (chair), Cr Cliff Bolger and Cr Neville Phillips – a representative from the Hokonui Runanga and four community representatives.


Are cats a problem in the District?

The short answer is Yes. There are colonies of feral cats living in Gore, most of the animals being in poor health. It’s believed many of these cats were either lost pets and / or have been dumped.

Animal welfare is a major issue among colony cats. Stray cats get so hungry they’re forced to eat slugs, which carry lungworm larvae. As a result, many strays have lungworm, which can cause severe respiratory disease.

Cats are highly efficient predators. The kittens and mature cats that survive being dumped in the countryside are a significant threat to our indigenous wildlife. Pet cats are also a threat – it’s estimated New Zealand's pet cats kill more the 1.1 million native birds each year.

Iwi and community groups seeking to establish havens for indigenous wildlife are struggling to achieve safe habitats due to predation by cats


What are the issues?

Anecdotal evidence, including correspondence we received following the announcement of the working party's formation, suggests the perceived problems include:

  • Public health concerns, such as toileting in neighbour's gardens, getting into rubbish, and spreading toxoplasmosis
  • Predation of wildlife
  • Nuisance behaviours, such as fighting, running across roads, entering other houses and stealing other pets’ food, and uncontrolled breeding resulting in unwanted kittens
  • Cat welfare issues associated with hoarding, poor owners and stray cat colonies
  • Distinguishing owned and unowned cats when carrying out pest control activities
  • Financial and emotional impacts on people who find and try to rehome the unwanted kittens
  • Burden upon agencies and individuals who deal with abandoned and mistreated kittens and cats when owners cannot be identified


What is being done at present locally?

Some working party community members have been spending time and their own money on caring for feral cats. Collectively, they have helped over 100 cats and kittens in the last three and a half years.

Their focus has been to:

  • Control numbers by desexing
  • Trap, socialize and rehome
  • Provide food and veterinary treatment


What is being done nationally?

Cats are New Zealand’s most popular pet. There’s close to 1.5 million domestic cats and as many feral cats across the country.

Four councils have introduced mandatory microchipping and desexing of cats, while there are calls for central government to make nationwide rules around regulating cats.


The desexing debate

Desexing is essential if we want to control feral populations and reduce the number of unwanted cats dumped each year. A female cat can get pregnant from about six months, and she can have about two litters a year. Each litter averages five to six kittens. It doesn't take long for a population explosion in a colony.

So, what are the barriers to desexing?

This is a question we want to hear from you about. Please check out our ideas forum (see below) and let us know your thoughts about desexing. Anecdotal some of the barriers include:

  • Desexing cats is not natural
  • A female cat needs to go into heat before she’s desexed
  • A female cat should have a litter before being desexed
  • De-sexing cats, especially at a young age, leads to behavioural problems
  • Desexing will change my cat’s nature
  • Desexing will make my cat gain weight
  • Indoor cats do not need to be desexed
  • I can make money by selling the offspring
  • Desexing is a risky procedure; I am not willing to risk my cat’s life / health
  • Desexing is expensive, I cannot afford the procedure

The Cat Management Working Party has been set up to work with the community on finding solutions to the problems caused by cats – both domestic and feral – in the Gore District.


You can keep up to date with what's happening by reading our press releases below.


The working party's aim is to:

• identify the extent of the problems and risks posed to the environment and community,

• look at initiatives and policies elsewhere to control cats and evaluate their effectiveness, and

• make recommendations to the Council to solve the problems and risks, regulatory and/or incentive based.

To achieve these goals, the working party will be gathering feedback from the community. There will be opportunities for community conversations digitally and in person. If you are not already registered with Let's Talk, just click on the SignUp banner to the right.

The working party is made up of three councillors – Cr Glenys Dickson (chair), Cr Cliff Bolger and Cr Neville Phillips – a representative from the Hokonui Runanga and four community representatives.


Are cats a problem in the District?

The short answer is Yes. There are colonies of feral cats living in Gore, most of the animals being in poor health. It’s believed many of these cats were either lost pets and / or have been dumped.

Animal welfare is a major issue among colony cats. Stray cats get so hungry they’re forced to eat slugs, which carry lungworm larvae. As a result, many strays have lungworm, which can cause severe respiratory disease.

Cats are highly efficient predators. The kittens and mature cats that survive being dumped in the countryside are a significant threat to our indigenous wildlife. Pet cats are also a threat – it’s estimated New Zealand's pet cats kill more the 1.1 million native birds each year.

Iwi and community groups seeking to establish havens for indigenous wildlife are struggling to achieve safe habitats due to predation by cats


What are the issues?

Anecdotal evidence, including correspondence we received following the announcement of the working party's formation, suggests the perceived problems include:

  • Public health concerns, such as toileting in neighbour's gardens, getting into rubbish, and spreading toxoplasmosis
  • Predation of wildlife
  • Nuisance behaviours, such as fighting, running across roads, entering other houses and stealing other pets’ food, and uncontrolled breeding resulting in unwanted kittens
  • Cat welfare issues associated with hoarding, poor owners and stray cat colonies
  • Distinguishing owned and unowned cats when carrying out pest control activities
  • Financial and emotional impacts on people who find and try to rehome the unwanted kittens
  • Burden upon agencies and individuals who deal with abandoned and mistreated kittens and cats when owners cannot be identified


What is being done at present locally?

Some working party community members have been spending time and their own money on caring for feral cats. Collectively, they have helped over 100 cats and kittens in the last three and a half years.

Their focus has been to:

  • Control numbers by desexing
  • Trap, socialize and rehome
  • Provide food and veterinary treatment


What is being done nationally?

Cats are New Zealand’s most popular pet. There’s close to 1.5 million domestic cats and as many feral cats across the country.

Four councils have introduced mandatory microchipping and desexing of cats, while there are calls for central government to make nationwide rules around regulating cats.


The desexing debate

Desexing is essential if we want to control feral populations and reduce the number of unwanted cats dumped each year. A female cat can get pregnant from about six months, and she can have about two litters a year. Each litter averages five to six kittens. It doesn't take long for a population explosion in a colony.

So, what are the barriers to desexing?

This is a question we want to hear from you about. Please check out our ideas forum (see below) and let us know your thoughts about desexing. Anecdotal some of the barriers include:

  • Desexing cats is not natural
  • A female cat needs to go into heat before she’s desexed
  • A female cat should have a litter before being desexed
  • De-sexing cats, especially at a young age, leads to behavioural problems
  • Desexing will change my cat’s nature
  • Desexing will make my cat gain weight
  • Indoor cats do not need to be desexed
  • I can make money by selling the offspring
  • Desexing is a risky procedure; I am not willing to risk my cat’s life / health
  • Desexing is expensive, I cannot afford the procedure
  • Working Party Update

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Since July, the Working Party has met monthly. Through July and August, the group consulted with the community, asking for ideas to deal with stray and feral cats


    The Working Party has received presentations from the:

    • SPCA
    • Forest and Bird
    • Feline Rights
    • Stray Cats New Zealand Trust


    The Working Party has also been briefed regarding:

    • The regulatory environment, including legislation concerning animal welfare and nuisance
    • The Southland Region Pest Management Plan
    • The National Cat Management Strategy
    • Various local government regulatory and non-regulatory initiatives, including providing public information in New Zealand and overseas.


    In general, residents of Gore do not formally complain to the Council about cats. This is because the Council does not have a policy regarding cats.

    In common with the rest of New Zealand, very little is known about the situation regarding stray and feral cats in Gore. Prior to the closure of the Gore SPCA facility, it was reported the facility dealt with around 200 animals annually.

    The formation of the Cat Management Working Party and the associated media coverage saw comments from the Gore community, which indicated a problem with stray and feral cats in the District similar to experiences elsewhere in the country.

    The working party has identified several risks to the environment and community posed by stray cats. These include killing indigenous birds, fouling in neighbouring gardens and lawns, and spreading disease. There are also welfare issues for the cats themselves.

    Over the next three months, the Cat Management Working Party will consider the information gathered to identify priority issues and the means the Council may deploy to manage them appropriately.

    The Working Party expects to make recommendations to Council early in the New Year. Any recommendations the Council may agree to will be the subject of public consultation as part of the 2023-24 Annual Plan and budget.

    If Council agrees to adopt any new or changed bylaws, these will also be the subject of specific public consultation.

  • Strong community representation on working party

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Cat welfare, community education and protecting indigenous wildlife are all on the Gore District Council’s Cat Management Working Party agenda.

    The working party, comprised of councillors and four community representatives, held its first meeting last week, and members are keen to get on with the job.

    Working party chair Cr Glenys Dickson said she had been amazed at the extent of the problem with stray cats. It was not only about cat welfare but also the impact cats had on the environment.

    “On one hand, there’s a focus on removing rats, possums and other pests from our indigenous forests, while on the other, people are dumping unwanted litters of kittens and cats. Those that survive become feral and a real threat to our wildlife.”

    The working party was also aware of problems in urban areas. Anecdotal evidence suggests the perceived issues include:

    • Public health concerns, such as toileting in neighbours’ gardens, getting into rubbish and spreading toxoplasmosis

    • Nuisance behaviours, such as fighting, running across roads, entering other houses and stealing other pets’ food, and uncontrolled breeding resulting in unwanted kittens

    • Cat welfare issues associated with hoarding, poor owners and stray cat colonies

    • Financial and emotional impacts on people who find and try to rehome the unwanted kittens

    “We know people spending their own money on feeding and desexing stray cats,” Cr Dickson said.

    She said the four community members on the working party brought a lot of experience and knowledge to the table. They have been involved in caring for and desexing feral cats at their own cost for a number of years.

    The working party wants to also take the conversation to the community to help quantify the extent of problems with cats and how can people work together to manage these.

    “Among the questions, we will be asking is ‘what barriers are there, real or perceived, to desexing cats?”.

    The Council was not the only local authority in New Zealand tackling the cat question. Eight councils were calling on central government to make nationwide rules around regulating cats, Cr Dickson said.

    “Some councils have already introduced mandatory microchipping and desexing of cats.”

    Cr Dickson believes community education will play an important role – “our work is about finding solutions with our community, not just imposing regulations”.


Page last updated: 09 Sep 2022, 04:08 PM