A cat management programme run by Hastings SPCA has removed more than 300 stray cats from the streets in six months – many of these were of breeding age and so the bonus is a reduction of numerous future kittens.
About half the cats had to be euthanised due to illness, temperament (feral) or severe injury, with the rest vet-checked, vaccinated, microchipped and neutered, and offered for re-homing.
Fifty per cent of the cats were female which meant there would be an estimated 1300 fewer unwanted kittens born.
Hastings District Council is again supporting the service, granting $30,000 from this year’s Contestable Grants Fund. The fund is distributed annually to groups developing or delivering a community service or project which fits with Council’s aim of “building a safe, liveable, sustainable community”. Council is profiling successful applicants from this year’s grants round.
The stray cat programme deals with wild and stray cats – both by trapping and by accepting cats with no obvious owner handed in by the public.
The problem is huge however and there is a long way to go, says said SPCA manager Kristine Jones. “We have to run a waiting list and at the moment it is about 30 names long. There are just so many cats that we do have ask people to be patient and understand that we are getting to them as fast as possible.”
SPCA Hastings chairwoman Sharon Arcus said it was hoped that over time the problem would become more manageable as the programme prevented future generations of stray cats being born. “This has been the experience with a similar program in Napier. However, as long as people continue to abandon cats as they move house, or refuse to responsibly neuter their pets, there will always be a problem needing this sort of program.”
At the start of the programme the SPCA had a target of dealing with 10 cats a week. In the first 12 months it had exceeded that number by 40 per cent and could not handle more without enlarging its buildings.
“It is important to have an effective and humane way to deal with these dumped and wild cats,” said Mrs Jones.
“Over time we expect that the work we are doing will without doubt lead to less wild cats on the streets as we remove the wild breeding population. We will be able to measure our success by the reduction in the number of calls from the public reporting problem cat populations.”
Getting stray cats off the street would also lessen health issues in the tame population such as fighting wounds or infectious diseases. “Some cats arrive in a terrible state with advanced illnesses; this is not good for the suffering cat, nor for the rest of the cat population.”
This is a very important service, says Hastings District Council’s community grants subcommittee chairman Malcolm Dixon. “Wild cats are a problem across New Zealand and it is very pleasing that the SPCA has been able to come up with a programme that is already making a real difference. We are delighted to be able to support it.”
For more information on Hastings District Council Annual Contestable Grants see: www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/contestable-grants-fund
24 October 2017
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