Jane Newman monitors, feeds and traps lost and feral cats in Christchurch's abandoned red zone, and she says she has learnt important new information about the ability to tame feral cats.
Mrs Newman started out three years ago, when she took over feeding a stray cat from a woman who was moving out of the area.
She ended up setting up 12 more feeding stations and putting in motion-activated cameras to track how many cats were turning up.
The cameras revealed half a dozen cats were regularly at each station.
"There were some very desperate cats who had had homes, and probably were lost at the times of the quakes.
"Sometimes it was because the owners had had to move subsequently and cats don't move very well.
"Once we'd got into there, it was kind of unstoppable at that point."
With her family's help she started trapping selected cats and, via adverts on Petsonthenet and Trade Me, returning them to their owners, or finding them new homes.
Mrs Newman said after the first year they believed they had recovered any cats which had previously had a home - one was returned to its elderly owners after being missing for three months - and all the breeding females.
She has trapped a total of 115 cats and rehomed about 90 - the rest had to be euthanised due to feline AIDs.
Mrs Newman, a geologist by profession, said it was important to keep good data on what they discovered, and for her the most fascinating finding was that almost all the feral cats had been able to be socialised - and so could be rehomed.
She brings them into her home, initially keeping them in a large cage with a smaller pod inside, which the cat can sleep or hide out in. The cat is then gently introduced to life with people and other cats.
Mrs Newman said the idea that unsocialised strays and feral cats could be tamed conflicted with the view of organisations like the SPCA and Cats Protection League - and she hoped her information could be used by the National Cat Management Strategy Group.
The group, made up of seven organisations including the New Zealand Veterinary Association, the SPCA , Local Government New Zealand and the Morgan Foundation, is working on plan for the management of cats .
This includes getting rid of the estimated 2.5 million stray and feral cats by 2025.
Veterinary Association head of veterinary services Callum Irvine, said its proposals would be released in a couple of months.
"Our hope is that once we have refined that to the point where we are comfortable with it that we can take it out to New Zealand.
"Whether to Government, to the community, to the people working in the space already - because there are a number of people already doing great things out there - and say 'this is what we believe collectively is the way forward and here is all the detail. Now we have to decide how we go about approaching that'."
Red Zone Cats has received $15,000 in funding from the Companion Animal Trust, but Mrs Newman has also spent tens of thousands of her own money for the project.
She estimates the current food bill, for four feeding stations and the 14 cats being socialised at her house, comes to $280 a week.
But Mrs Newman said she would continue her work as long as there was a need, and is looking at moving into nearby green zone areas. The cat which started it all, now called Bilbo, still lives happily in her Hoon Hay home.