Policy: Responsible companion cat ownership

Policy type: Policy
Reference: 9h
Status: Current
Date ratified: May 2018


The NZVA supports principles of cat ownership and management that contribute to a harmonious relationship between people, cats and the environment.

Animal welfare standards and guidelines for cat ownership set out in the NZ Animal Welfare Code (Companion Cats) (2018) should be followed and enforced.


Having a companion cat is a privilege that provides benefits such as stress reduction and minimization of allergy development , however owning a cat comes with responsibilities to both the animal and the environment around them that must be upheld. Veterinarians have knowledge and expertise on the principles of responsible animal ownership and the welfare needs of cats. This knowledge can assist cat owners to meet their responsibilities, ensure their cat has “a good life”, and retain the benefits that society enjoys from living with cats.


  • Factors including time, cost, lifestyle and living environment should be considered before acquisition of a cat.
  • Adequate quantities of nutritious food and clean water, and appropriate shelter must be provided for the cat over its lifespan.
  • Preventative healthcare measures and regular health checkups for the cat should occur.
  • Permanent identification including registration and microchipping for the cat should be undertaken by owners.
  • Cats not intended for breeding should be de-sexed; pre-pubertal de-sexing is recommended.
  • Emergency action planning and alternate care arrangements should be made with the cat in mind, should unforeseen circumstances arise.
  • It is imperative that the environmental impact of the cat is minimized, especially pertaining to native birds and other wildlife. Measures to avoid predation should be taken including not letting a cat stray too far from its property.

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