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Rehoming wild cats at Rosedale Park

An initiative is underway to remove a small group of wild or unhomed cats from land in and around Rosedale Park.

One humane, live cat trap has been put on private land bordering the park to catch the two to four cats that have been spotted in the area.

The trap is only set Monday to Friday so that any cats caught can be transferred immediately Albany Veterinary Hospital where a vet will do a health assessment for free, check for microchips, and undertake any urgent treatment needed prior to transferring the animal to a local cat rehoming programme or the SPCA.

One cat has been caught and transferred to the vet to date.

Wild or unhomed cats are a big problem in our reserves and parks, Dan says.

“They are natural hunters and instinctively track and kill wild birds, wētā, skinks and geckos. In Rosedale Park, the successful trapping of rats will mean fewer rats so non-domestic cats will be more likely to consider the nests and birds themselves as prey.”

Dan suspects at least one of the cats living around the restoration site has kittens and if they are left, the animals will continue to breed with any un-fixed cats in the area, creating a larger problem.

Prior to setting up the trap, the team looking after the project informed local neighbours about the intention to humanely trap the wild cats at the restoration site to ensure cat owners could keep their pets safe.

Tips for being a responsible cat owner

Here are some of the things cat owners can do to keep their pet safe and limit the negative impact it has on our natural environment:

· De-sex kittens before they reach puberty. Older cats that were not de-sexed as kittens should be de-sexed as soon as practically possible. This reduces the number of unplanned litters in our community and should mean fewer cats living in the wild. In male cats it changes unwanted behaviours such as fighting, marking or roaming in search of a mate. Female cats are at less risk of infections and cancers of the uterus, ovaries and mammary glands, or complications from pregnancy and birthing.

· Get your pet microchipped and registered on the Companion Animal Register so it can be returned safely to you if anything goes wrong.

· Put a bell on your cat’s collar. A bright scrunchy collar is even more effective than a bell at warning birds or you might want to try one with a reflective strip— collars should always have a safety release to keep your cat safe.

· Keep your cat inside or at home on your property. There are products available such as 'catios' or cat-proof fencing that allow your cat access to the outdoors while keeping it on your section.

· Make sure your cat has plenty of toys to play with and interactive games to keep them entertained. This will help reduce their natural hunting instincts.

· Train your cat to come when called. If you notice them starting to stalk a bird, call them back to you immediately.

· Feed them a high protein meat diet - this reduces their desire to kill.

· If you find that you can no longer care for your cat, you need to find someone to rehome it to who is prepared to undertake the commitment of ownership. Alternatively, relinquished your pet to an animal welfare shelter (such as the SPCA) for adoption. The worst thing you can do is release it into the wild – that’s not kind to your cat, or native wildlife.

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