The Hutt City Council said it was surprised to learn how many unwanted cats there were in Lower Hutt, and was considering ways of tackling the problem.
A local cat rescue centre, the Kitten Inn, has asked the council for funding and premises to help manage the itinerant feline population.
Last year, the centre desexed more than 2000 cats, and in the past six months has found homes for another 460.
The council's animal services manager, Les Dalton, said the problem was far greater than expected, and ways of helping the centre are being explored.
"It appears to be probably bigger than I thought it was, and certainly than my team thought: we weren't aware of large colonies of stray and wild cats, we knew of a couple of pockets in Hutt Valley and we've always had cage traps where we are able to assist residents that are having problems."
He said any proposal requiring cats to be registered and microchipped would go out for public consultation.