The SPCA is calling for pet shops to stop selling un-desexed animals to prevent unwanted litters, as its own shelters fill up with unwanted cats and kittens.
Summer is breeding season for cats and as a result thousands of unwanted and stray kittens have ended up at the SPCA, the association says.
SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen said when people buy unneutered kittens they often did not follow though and get them fixed.
An unneutered kitten sold in a pet shop today could have a litter - possibly two - by the end of the season, she said.
"There is certainly not a shortage of cats and kittens looking for homes in New Zealand," Ms Midgen said.
The SPCA spent hundreds of thousands of dollars every year running free or low-cost desexing but it was pointless if pet stores continued to sell unneutered kittens.
"The SPCA believes every animal sold in a pet shop should be desexed - there is absolutely no need for them to breed when there are already so many animals that need good homes," she said.
Manawatu SPCA was dealing with the fall-out of breeding season in that area - and had been flooded with unneutered cats and kittens bought from pet shops.
Area general manager Danny Auger said he had heard reports of pet shops in the district selling hundreds of unneutered and unvaccinated cats and kittens every year.
"Our SPCA is full of kittens - we've had to enlist the help of a record number of foster families to care for them."