'I feel hoodwinked': Southlanders in 'absolute shock' over cat ban

The claws are out in the small Southland village of Omaui amid plans to ban all new domestic cats.

Environment Southland wants to shut the door on furry felines in the small settlement, in an effort to protect native bird life as part of its Pest Management Plan.

Off the beaten track between Invercargill and Bluff, Omaui is home to native bush and nature reserves which biosecurity operations manager Ali Meade says must be protected.

"There's cats getting into the native bush; they're preying on native birds, they're taking insects, they're taking reptiles - all sorts of things. They're doing quite a bit of damage."

There's already been a lot of work on rodent and possum control near Omaui, which Omaui Landcare Trust leader John Collins says has enhanced the area for native birds and lizards.

The group approached the council, asking for ways of dealing with cats.

"We're not cat haters, but we'd like to see responsible pet ownership," Mr Collins says. "And this really isn't the place for cats."

Residents will have to desex, microchip, and register their cats with Environment Southland and won't be allowed to get any new moggies.

"So your cat can live out its natural life at Omaui happily doing what it's doing," Ms Meade explains. "But then when it dies, you wouldn't be able to replace it."

Conservationists say having native birds and insects in your back garden will more than make up for not having a pet cat, but not everyone agrees.

"It was an absolute shock to me," Omaui resident Nico Jarvis told Newshub. "I feel a bit hoodwinked to be honest."

Longtime resident Terry Dean agrees the news has come out of the blue.

"You're just told one day that your cats, your treasured little possessions... really, that's it. Either they get trapped in the traps, or those that survive can't be replaced."

Residents have two months to register their views on the feline ban.