4 Nov 2014

NZ vets against feral cat plan

7:08 am on 4 November 2014

The Veterinary Association says a move in Australia to eradicate all feral cats as a way of stopping the spread of toxoplasmosis to sheep is an extreme measure not needed in in New Zealand.

The feral cat is a wanted animal in Australia.

The feral cat is a wanted animal in Australia. Photo: AAP / Central Land Council

The parasitic disease is spread in cat faeces and a very common cause of abortion in sheep.

The eradication of feral cats has been named a priority in Australia under a 10-year plan.

Anthony Oswald is the association's president of its sheep and beef veterinarians branch. He said New Zealand has a very effective vaccine developed here that successfully protects up to 90 percent of sheep.

"The whole concept of trying to eradicate wild cats would be very, very difficult for a start and you would have to eradicate all of them to reduce the effects of toxoplasmosis. I think it seems a bit extreme when we have a very good tool in the form of the vaccine that controls the disease in the sheep."

Mr Oswald said tests to see if sheep have been exposed to toxoplasmosis show it is prevalent on most farms thanks to wild cats.