Domestic cats dumped at the Waimak

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Sep 08, 2023 |

Karen Wilkes from Kitty Kingdom with one of the cats trapped at the Waimakariri River.

Three domestic cats within three days have been trapped at the Waimakariri River by a North Canterbury cat rescue centre.

Karen Wilkes from Kitty Kingdom said she knows they are all pets because of the distinct difference between tame and wild cats.

“It’s all in their behaviour. Ferals will remain quiet. They never meow at you. They’ll sit in the back of the cage and when you put your hand in there — if they go for you, they’re a feral cat,” Wilkes said.

This is the third kitten season the Rangiora-based rescue has been helping a business near the Old Waimakariri Bridge trap cats they have seen hanging around their premises — trapping about 10 in total.

“We’re not sure if it’s owners dumping them or p…ed off neighbours catching and dumping them. Cats can’t fend for themselves, that’s why they gravitate towards where people are,” she said.

The majority of the cats Wilkes traps are unneutered males.

“People will get the boys as kittens, and don’t desex them because they won’t get pregnant. But when they get to around the one to two-year mark, that’s when they start spraying or fighting, getting into trouble. And that’s when they get dumped,” explains Wilkes.

One of the pet cats dumped at the Waimak River.

Wilkes’ message to any owners who are having issues and feel that their only option is to dump their pet cats — “Please seek help. Ring a rescue.”

Kitty Kingdom rescues and traps cats wherever they are needed throughout the region.

“We first check them for a microchip. Then we take them for a full health check. The big Tom males we also test for FIV [Feline Immunodeficiency Virus],” she said.

Legally, the rescue is obligated to advertise the cats as being found for seven days which they do so on their website and Facebook page. After the week, the cats will often go into foster homes for socialisation, and then the ones that want to live with people will be rehomed, otherwise they are put into Kitty Kingdom’s barn cat programme.

The third cat trapped at the Waimakariri River.

Kitty Kingdom currently has 102 cats and kittens in their care. Sixty-three on the property, and the rest in foster homes.

Wilkes said she would “be lost without volunteers,” of which she has 10 cleaners and three cat socialisers helping out several times each week.

Kitty Kingdom is currently working with the Waimakariri District Council on a bylaw, like the one in place in the Selwyn District which requires desexing and microchipping of cats — which can be done at 10 weeks old or one kg in weight.

A spokesman from the WDC said, “This can help with returning strays to their owners as well as the benefits of a wider desexing programme in keeping the feral cat population down.”

He said that the council has no responsibility for stray or dumped cats and “we encourage people who find a stray cat to contact the SPCA or to take them to a local vet”.

“Community organisations like Kitty Kingdom do great work in looking after stray and unwanted animals. We’d encourage anyone who feels like they need to dump an animal to contact organisations like Kitty Kingdom that specialise in rehoming instead as a more humane option,” he said.

Kitty Kingdom is having a garage sale on Saturday 9 September to raise funds for their cat rescue efforts. Find out more on their Facebook page.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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