Caring for your cat
In Whangārei, all cats must be desexed and microchipped by six months of age.
This helps keep your furry friend safe:
- Desexed cats are less likely to stray, get in fights, suffer road injury or testicular or mammary cancer
- Microchipping and linking the chip and your contact details on the NZ Companion Animal Register helps reunite lost pets quickly
This is required by our Animal Bylaw and follows NZ Veterinary Association Guidelines and the NZ Code of Welfare for Companion Cats.
What age should I desex my cat?
The NZ Veterinary Association recommends desexing cats before puberty (around four months) to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Female cats can start reproducing from this age and can have up to four litters of six kittens every year.
What is microchipping and how do I link my contact details to the national register?
A microchip is a permanent method of identification. The chip is about the same size as a grain of rice and is placed under the skin by a vet by injection. It's like having an injection, although the needle is slightly larger. Cats tolerate the procedure well.
Each chip has a unique identification code which can be read by an electronic scanner.
The code is recorded along with your contact details on a national database, the New Zealand Companion Animal Register, operated by Companion Animals New Zealand, a registered charity.
Usually your vet will do this for you, at the time of microchipping. In addition to microchipping costs there is a one-off registration fee of $15 when you register pets online yourself.
Remember to update your contact details on the register if you move so you can be reunited with your cat.
New Zealand Companion Animal Register (animalregister.co.nz)
Are there exemptions for cat breeders?
If you're a registered cat breeder you will not have to desex your cat.
How much will it cost me to microchip and desex my cat?
Desexing cats in Whangārei costs from $60 for male cats and $80 for female cats.
Microchipping costs around $60, and the one-off registration fee with Companion Animals NZ currently costs $15.
Vets determine their charges, so costs will vary. Whangārei also has a desexing clinic that offers desexing and microchipping.
It's also good to check in with local cat welfare organisations or the SPCA if you are on a low income to see what help they can give.
How will Council be able to tell if cats are microchipped and desexed?
Cats can be scanned to see if they have a microchip.
Vets can provide a desexing certificate to owners if they've completed the surgery.
Will Council fine me if I don't follow the rules?
There are currently no fines.
However, if we find out you have a cat that isn't desexed and microchipped, we'll contact you to remind you of the requirement as well as provide guidance on how to achieve that.
An owner who repeatedly refuses to microchip and / or desex their cat may be prosecuted for breach of the Animals Bylaw.
Why has Council introduced mandatory desexing and microchipping?
During the review of our Animals Bylaw the public told us they wanted greater controls for cats. We received 1304 submissions about cats and there was strong support for cat microchipping and desexing.
Along with mandatory desexing and microchipping we’re also establishing a new role for an Animal Compliance Education Officer focusing on cats and $15,000 per year to support the SPCA’s ‘Snip and Chip’ programme, for the first three years of Council’s 2021-2031 Long Term Plan, providing discounted microchipping and desexing for cats.
What if my cat is too old to have the desexing surgery?
If your vet deems your cat is too old or sick to undergo desexing surgery then you will need to supply a vet certificate and your cat will be given an exemption.
What else can I do to minimise the harm my cat has on other animals?
Here are some suggestions for reducing your cat’s harm on native species:
- use a deterrent collar to reduce your cat’s ability to catch native birds.
- give your cat a curfew to avoid night-time hunting.
- cat aviaries are gaining popularity as a way to keep cats safe and confined but give them some outdoor exercise.