Rapid euthanasia of lost cats prompts calls for a change to rehoming processes

The way lost cats are dealt with has been called into question after multiple cats were put down shortly after being found.

Devonport residents were left shocked after a woman posted on the local Facebook page to say she had found a cat and then admitted to having it put down several hours later.

Under New Zealand law, animals need to be held for seven days before ownership is transferred to another organisation.

They can in some cases be euthanised, but only if they are severely ill or gravely injured.

South Waikato SPCA held Tokoroa woman Tina Hitchens' cat for eight days before putting him down but she was still heartbroken when she heard the news on Christmas Eve.

So how can this happen? Three's The Project spoke to NZ Veterinary Association's chief veterinary officer Helen Beattie about how organisations came to be euthanising people's pets.

She said you can't have somebody else's pet put down, but it's hard to tell where cats come from when they become stray.

"It's a tricky one and we don't have any constant or any system of identification of cats currently - not in the ways we do with dogs - so it is really hard to find out who their owner is," she said.

SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen advises making sure your cat is traceable. Get the cat micro-chipped and collared, and if it goes missing, ring around the area and let neighbours know.