A PLAGUE of cats infesting some gutters in South Grafton seems almost untouchable for the local authorities.
The absence of laws requiring cats to be kept at home means the animals are allowed to wander and anti-cruelty laws inhibits the ability to trap them.
Clarence Valley Council environment, planning and community director Des Schroder said the council recognised controlling feral cats was a difficult issue.
He said councils in NSW had a responsibility to regulate companion animals, but under the regulation, a companion animal must be registered as such.
"Until then, council has no jurisdiction," he said.
"It is against the law for us to set and leave traps unattended to catch feral animals, but we do allow residents to hire traps so they can catch them on their own property.
"If they catch an animal they think might be feral, they can contact our rangers, who can scan it to see if it is microchipped," he said.
"If it is not registered, we will first try to re-home the animal or, if that is unsuccessful, have it euthanised."
He encouraged people to have their cats de-sexed as it often made them better pets and discouraged them from roaming.
He reminded people it was an offence to dump pets.
The council works with local vets and runs discounted de-sexing programs a few times a year.
He said the council was in the process of reviewing its companion animals policy and might do what some neighbouring councils had done and restrict the number of animals people could keep in urban areas, but no formal proposals had been drafted.
Mr Schroder said that in Queensland, cat owners were required to prevent their cats from wandering at night.
"There are no such regulations in NSW," he said.
Outside town boundaries, feral cats seem to lead charmed lives.
North Coast Local Land Services team leader Dean Chamberlain said there was no legislation dealing with cats.
"There's plenty of legislation for dogs, foxes and pigs, but nothing specifically for cats," he said.
"They're one of the worst of the feral animals for wildlife and they can also be responsible for spreading diseases like toxoplasmosis."
Mr Chamberlain said cats were incredibly difficult to control, which might account for the lack of legislation.
"They're the perfect hunter," he said.
"They're also very fussy about what they eat, so it makes control measures difficult."
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