SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Is a cat the right companion animal for you?

Cats can make delightful pets, but before you decide to take on this new responsibility, please look into and consider carefully the needs of cats and remember that these animals will rely on you to meet their needs every day of the year.

The average life-span of cats is around 15 years but can be much longer.

Cats need companionship but the right kind depends on the cat. Some cats love human companionship and need a lot of time and attention from their humans. Other cats like the companionship of other cats and some even like to have companions of other species, such as dogs.

Cats should be desexed. Cats are prolific breeders, so it is essential for your cat to be desexed to prevent pregnancies and unwanted cats. There are not enough homes for all the companion cats already in New Zealand, so please do not breed any more and remember that cats can reproduce from a very early age (as early at 4 months of age!).“Desexing also brings a range of health and behavioural benefits.

Cats need a secure living environment with lots of enrichment. Cats are generally active (particularly when young) and need opportunities daily to run, jump, scratch, stretch, chase, pounce, and climb.

Responsible animal ownership is more than just having the right equipment. Cats need daily care, good nutrition, lots of attention, and regular veterinary care. The time and money involved in looking after cats is an important commitment that should be carefully considered prior to taking on the responsibility.

If you do decide to bring a cat into your home, please consider rehoming a cat from the SPCA or another animal welfare organisation. There are more companion cats without permanent homes in New Zealand than there are homes available, and breeding irresponsibly or for profit makes the situation worse.

Your legal obligations to care for your cat

Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, you are legally required to provide the following:

  • Proper and sufficient food and water
  • Adequate shelter
  • The opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour
  • Protection from, and rapid diagnosis of, any significant injury or distress
  • Protection from distress and pain

It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act to abandon a cat.

For detailed information on legal obligations, please refer to the Code of Welfare for Cats. The code is accessible for download on the Ministry for Primary Industries website.

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