Sections in a subdivision with views of Kapiti Island are selling for up to $600,000, but buyers with cats need not apply.
The Kotuku Parks subdivision has a no-cat covenant because the land backs onto the Waikanae Estuary.
Guru Nathan, councillor and a founder the Estuary Care Group, says the covenant's necessary because the sections are cheek-by-jowl with the "ecologically significant" scientific reserve.
"It creates a buffer of regeneration that attracts insect life, lizards and birds and provides shelter. If cats got into the sanctuary the result would be devastating."
To outraged cat fans he says, as a cat owner, he understands where they're coming from, but cats are known for their killer instinct. "The idea's not to ban cats from everywhere, but to have an intelligent discussion about how you manage them."
Feline Rights NZ secretary, Pete Rose, says the subdivision sets a "concerning precedent" and doesn't want "zealot extremist environmentalists given free rein to engage in trapping".
The subdivision is opposite Kapiti Island, a nature reserve of national significance, which has a Maori community that lives on private land in the north. Nathan asks cat owners, "Do you think it would be a good idea for those people who live on the island to own cats?"
Real estate agent Stuart Whyte says the covenant is to protect both nesting and migratory birds in the sanctuary, but admits "we've lost a few sales through it".
All 21 sections in an earlier cat-free development have already been sold.
Whyte says five buyers fell through when they discovered there was a no-cat covenant, "I know that a couple of re-sales of the houses have also not gone through for that reason."
"Locals mainly support the idea but the odd person says it's ridiculous, asking how can you police it?"
He says it's simply an attempt to reduce the number of cats in the area.
As for roaming cats, "owners need to be aware that DoC periodically sets traps for feral cats in the estuary and there's a risk domestic cats could get trapped in them too."
So what if someone was to sneak a cat into the development? Whyte says the matter could potentially end up in court.
"You're likely to be dobbed in by an environmentally savvy neighbour."
Councillor Nathan says the timing is good, with public debate about a National Cat Management Strategy, "At the end of the day it's a market decision, you can buy or not buy."