Cats a commitment for life

Government Media Release

1 March 2007

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of cat ownership in the world – an estimated 900,000 to 1,500,000. And those cat lovers have now got some good guidance on how best to care for these loved and loving companions.

Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton and the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) have released today the Animal Welfare Companion Cats Code of Welfare 2007.

" Cats are the most commonly owned companion animals and most owners want their moggies to be happy and well," said Jim Anderton. "The Companion Cats Code outlines minimum standards of care and recommended best practice. It offers lots of practical advice."

The Code applies to anyone responsible for the welfare of cats, including breeders, boarding catteries, animal welfare shelters and pet shops. It offers practical information and twelve minimum standards, covering food and feeding, body condition, water, caged cats, hygiene, signs of ill health, injured cats, use of collars, transportation and euthanasia.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, it is the legal responsibility of all animal owners to ensure that the physical, health and behavioural needs of their cat(s) are met and that they receive high standards of care.

“Ownership of a cat should be a commitment for the entire life of the animal. The Companion Cat Code is intended to encourage all those responsible for the welfare of cats to exceed the 12 minimum standards and adopt recommended best practice care and handling,” Jim Anderton said.

The Companion Cats Code was drafted by a group appointed through the New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) and reviewed by representatives of animal welfare organisations, cat colony management groups, breeders, local councils and veterinarians. NAWAC undertook public consultation before finalising its recommendations to the Minister.

Jim Anderton acknowledged the extensive effort by all those involved in drafting the Code. “The NZCAC and the Auckland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) have extensive knowledge of good practice in the management of companion cats. They have put considerable effort into the development of a comprehensive, practical and reasonable Code and deserve the thanks of all New Zealanders who concern themselves with issues of animal welfare."

The Companion Cats Code of Welfare will be available at or by email from:


Jim Anderton on 021 777 680 Or Liz Grant (Press Secretary) on 04 4719172, Mobile: 021 2279172

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