Waitaki District Council encourages responsible cat ownership through microchipping and de-sexing.
There are 3 main categories of cats in the Waitaki District:
Feral cats are defined as having no relationship with humans, and do not live in areas near humans. Feral cats are a major predator of wildlife in New Zealand, with negative impacts on native wildlife and biodiversity.
Unowned, semi-owned, and lost or abandoned companion cats can all be considered stray cats . The degree of socialisation with humans varies from full socialisation to none, but these cats are dependent on humans, either directly or indirectly, and live near them.
Cats that live with their owners and are solely reliant on them for their welfare.
There are about 1.2 million companion cats in 41% of households across New Zealand. Around 88% of New Zealand owners desex their cats, which is relatively high. However, there has been a downward trend from previous reports, where 93% of owners reported desexing their cats. The age at which cats are desexed, and if they had a litter of kittens before desexing, is unknown and may impact upon metapopulation numbers.
Stray and Feral cats have a big impact on native and non-native wildlife. Feral cats have been linked to the decline in numbers of lizards and invertebrates in Central Otago and McKenzie Basin areas.
We are encouraging responsible cat ownership through microchipping and de-sexing of cats.
These procedures are considered part of being a responsible pet owner.
A female cat can start reproducing from the age of five months and can have up to four litters of up to six kittens every year. In encouraging responsible cat ownership, we hope to reduce the number of unwanted cats and kittens.
What is microchipping?
A microchip is a permanent method of identification. The chip is about the same size as a grain of rice and is placed under the skin by a vet by injection. It is the same as having an injection, although the needle is slightly larger. Cats tolerate the procedure well. Each chip has a unique identification code which can be read by an electronic scanner. The code is recorded alongside the owner’s contact details on a national database – the New Zealand Companion Animal Register.
What are the benefits of de-sexing and microchipping my cat?
A female cat can start reproducing from the age of five months and have two or more litters of up to six kittens, each year.
De-sexing (neutering male cats and spaying female cats) helps reduce the number of unwanted and abandoned kittens. Cats not de-sexed are more likely to roam and be a victim of road traffic injuries. As they roam, they encounter other cats and are more likely to fight with other cats, causing injuries and infections.
Microchipping allows veterinarians, animal shelters and councils to contact the owner of a cat. It's especially important during a civil defence emergency or if the cat is sick, injured or disorientated, and increases the chance for lost cats to be reunited with their owners.
Microchips also identify cats in situations where they are causing a nuisance.
Cats are often presumed to be strays and are taken to shelters by well-meaning people but may belong to people nearby.
Do I have to microchip and de-sex my cat?
No, but Waitaki District Council strongly encourages cat owners to follow this advice to minimise the impact that stray cats have on the environment and to not become a nuisance to other property owners.
What happens to cats if they're picked up and don’t have a microchip?
Cats are not picked up by Council officers or the SPCA just because they're roaming. Usually, they are picked up because they are sick or injured. There is no difference in the way cats are treated, but it is likely microchipped cats will be reunited with their owners much sooner.
What should I do if my cat goes missing?
If your cat goes missing, it's important you try a variety of methods to bring it back home safely. We suggest the following:
- Update your details: Make sure your contact details are up to date on the microchip register. The vets and the SPCA will scan incoming animals for a microchip and get in touch.
- Check the 'found' listings or create a 'lost' listing at lostpet.co.nz. This is a national database and the key website we recommend everyone checks the 'found' listings and creates a 'lost' listing of their own.
- Check Trade Me: Look on the Trade Me Lost and Found section to see if anyone has found and listed your cat.
- Use social media: Embrace the power of social media to spread the word. There are plenty of lost and found pages on Facebook that can be used. Ask your friends to share your posts as well, this will get them seen by the maximum number of people.
- Create a flyer: Make a flyer with a clear picture and description. Distribute it locally via notice boards, neighbours, community centres etc.
- Ask around your neighbourhood: Knock on doors in your street/neighbourhood, describe or show them a photo of your missing cat. Ask them to check their garden sheds and garages or anywhere else that your cat may have decided to hide.
- Call or visit vets or the SPCA: Or drop in to see them with a flyer – many of them have lost and found boards.
- Use familiar sounds: Go out outside at night, when it's quiet and call your animal. Shaking biscuits or treats can help as well.
- Don't give up: It's important to keep trying to look for your cat. Cats often go missing for days or even weeks before they show up again out of the blue.
What do I do if I find a cat?
Do not feed it. Just ignore it and do not let it inside. Cats wander long distances and have a very good sense of direction. It might go home! If the cat is obviously sick or injured, contact your local vet.
If the cat is still hanging around after a few days and you're sure it has been there the entire time, then perhaps it is disorientated. Please try the following options:
- Ask your neighbours if the cat belongs to them of if they know where it may be from
- Go door-knocking with a photo as far and wide as possible around your area to ask people if they recognise the cat. Ask your neighbours to help with this if you are short on time or have issues with mobility
- Put a notice up in your local vet clinic and shop or supermarket
- Call your local SPCA or vet. The vets and the SPCA will scan incoming animals for a microchip and get in touch with the owner
- Advertise the cat online on Facebook, lostpet.co.nz or Trade Me. It is currently free to advertise a found cat under Trade Me's Pets and Animals (lost and found) section.
There are essentially four reasons a cat will visit your property: hunting and looking for food, looking for shelter, investigating new territory, and tomcats looking for females in heat.
There are a number of things you can do to discourage them, including desexing your own cats. Plus:
- Secure rubbish bags and bins
- Feed your pets indoors
- Mow your lawns regularly (long grass provides a habitat for mice and lizards and encourages cats to hunt)
- Use wire mesh or boards to block off areas where strays may seek shelter, like under your deck or porch
- Keep garages and sheds closed
Tips to stop cats toileting in your garden
Sprinkle eggshells, chilli flakes or pepper, citrus, tea and coffee grounds or cinnamon. You can also try laying bark and pinecones. Cats hate not having soft ground to walk on.
Once you know where they're toileting, you can spray diluted water and vinegar in the area, or leave ribbed water bottles out. The motion of the light reflecting in the water makes them nervous and might deter them.
Another good deterrent can be planting things in your garden that they don’t like. Garlic, geranium, rue, garlic and lemon thyme are all winners. Cats love catnip, so don’t plant that unless you want lots of visitors.