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Experts Publish Definitive Cat Care Guide


For release: 11 July 2008

Experts Publish Definitive Cat Care Guide

Minimum legal standards and best practice defined in readable form


Be they cuddly smoochers or perky cats-about-town, felines across the country will soon be benefiting from the publication of a definitive new guide to their needs and to the responsibilities of owners and carers.

The New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) has just released an attractively illustrated, user-friendly booklet summarising the contents of the Code of Welfare for Companion Cats.

The new publication is intended as a free give-away to everyone adopting a cat from an SPCA, or purchasing one from a pet shop or breeder.

In addition, the booklet will be circulated through schools, public libraries, veterinary practices, local authorities and other organisations, and will appear on selected animal welfare websites, in a bid to achieve as wide a readership as possible.

The Code of Welfare for Cats was announced last year by the Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Jim Anderton, following approval by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Council.

The Code requires owners and others in charge of cats to meet certain minimum standards or risk prosecution under the 1999 Animal Welfare Act. The new booklet sets these standards out in easy-to-read form.

In equally accessible form, the booklet includes best practice recommendations concerning food and feeding, body condition, hygiene, care of claws and coat, use of collars, microchipping, cat behaviour problems and issues relating to mating, pregnancy, birthing and lactation.

Amongst other topics broached are what to do when adopting or purchasing a cat, circumstances in which the cat is best kept indoors, the need for desexing and appropriate care for sick, injured or older cats.

"More than half of New Zealand's households have at least one feline member. So it's important that people have clear, readable and authoritative information about their responsibilities to their cats. The new booklet provides precisely that," says NZCAC Chairman, Bob Kerridge.

"Education is a key factor in promoting animal welfare and reducing cruelty. Most cases of cruelty investigated by the SPCA are actually the result of people not fully understanding their responsibilities and not knowing how to fulfil them. For this reason, our new publication will play a significant role in reducing abusive behaviour towards cats, whilst also turning good cat owners into even better ones.

"Last year's announcement of the Welfare Code for Cats was a landmark event in how we treat one of the most common and best loved of companion animals. To the best of our knowledge, it is the first such code for cats developed anywhere in the world. Our new booklet will ensure that the knowledge incorporated in the code becomes widely known amongst New Zealanders," he adds.

Mr Kerridge describes the booklet as the work of a diverse and expert group of people, linked together through the NZCAC.

Their number includes representatives of the New Zealand Veterinary Association, the Companion Animal Society, the New Zealand Cat Fancy, the New Zealand Veterinary Nursing Association, the SPCA and other cat rescue organisations, as well as individual vets specialising in feline issues.

"A Code of Welfare for Dogs has also been drafted with substantial input from NZCAC members. This code is currently at the public submissions stage and should be officially announced later this year, with a similar easy-to-read summary following shortly thereafter," he says.


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