Caring for cats

Cute cat face.

Cats are a popular choice of companion pet for Wellingtonians. WCC supports responsible pet ownership. Cats are not commonly confined to their owners’ properties and this raises the potential for nuisance behaviours and conflict with people and other animals including wildlife. To ensure the happy lives of Wellington’s pets, factors such as nutrition, a safe home, health, activities and play and ensuring a positive mental state are vital.

Getting a cat

Before obtaining a cat you may want to consider ethically sourcing a cat from a rescue centre. In most cases they will already be desexed and microchipped and there are many unwanted cats and kittens in need of a home.

Lost cats

In the unfortunate event of your cat going missing, there are a number of steps you can take to find your cat:

  • report your microchipped pet as missing to the NZCAR and check that your contact details are up to date.
  • produce flyers and distribute them around your neighbourhood. You can find a free poster template on the NZCAR website.
  • search locally, check with your neighbours and ask them to check their properties.
  • place an ad on Petsonthenet, Neighbourly, Trademe Lost and Found section and other social media sites.
  • contact your local veterinarians, SPCA's and animal shelters.
  • if you have recently moved check your previous property. 

Found cats

If you find a cat you suspect is lost, there are numerous avenues that you can use to find the cats owner:

  • put a paper collar around the cat’s neck and see if anyone responds to it. The NZCAR in association with Wellington SPCA, have created a downloadable template for the collar.
  • take the cat to your local SPCA or veterinary clinic to have them checked for a microchip. If registered on the NZCAR this will allow them to quickly be returned home.
  • notify your local veterinary clinic, SPCA and rescue centres.
  • list the found cat on missing pet sites such as Petsonthenet, Neighbourly, Trademe lost and Found section and other social media sites.
  • produce flyers and distribute them around your neighbourhood

Stray and feral cats in Wellington

There are three recognised groupings of cats: domestic, stray and feral cats.

Domestic cats live with people as companions and are dependent on humans for their welfare. It is recognised that domestic cats are important companions to many Wellingtonians.

Stray cats are companion cats which are lost or abandoned and living as an individual or in a group (colony). They have many of their needs indirectly supplied by people. They live around centres of human habitation, either individually or in a colony. Stray cats can also breed with undesexed domestic cats. Stray cat populations can provide unsuitable living conditions for cats due to the lack of care cats receive. The Council supports the gradual reduction of stray cats through humane management practices. 

Feral cats have none of their needs provided by people and do not live around centres of human habitation. Feral cat management in Wellington is covered by the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Regional Pest Management Strategy. For detailed information about feral cat management, contact Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The Council supports the gradual reduction of stray cats through humane management practices.

Love your cat and love your wildlife

Wellingtonians care about our native wildlife, and we are living in a city rich with it. Cats can hunt native wildlife – even well fed cats will hunt. If you own a cat, here are some things you can do to reduce its impact on our native birds and lizards:

  • containing your cat inside or to a safe enclosed area, away from sensitive wildlife
  • cat curfew - keeping your cat indoors at night means great cuddles and reducing its chances of hunting
  • monitored outdoor time 
  • anti-predation collars or attaching a bell to a quick release collar can help reduce predation.
  • avoid feeding birds in your backyard.

If containing your cat, it is important that your cat is provided with entertainment and fun mental stimulation. Enrichment may include, providing places to hide and scratch, puzzle feeders and human interaction through playtime. Cats naturally want to climb upwards so provision of vertical space is beneficial, such as a cat tower. Time outside in a contained environment can also be achieved through an enclosed deck or garden area, a screened window or catio.

If your cat does catch any native wildlife please contact the DOC hotline 0800 362 468 in the first instance for advice. Free available veterinary care could save the animal’s life.

If you live close to an ecologically sensitive area you are encouraged to take greater steps to protect local wildlife from predation.


Cats need your care and attention. Owning a cat is rewarding but there are costs that come with ownership. In 2015, the New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) estimated that caring for a cat costs around $670 a year. Costs include food, veterinary care, flea and worming treatments and care of your cat while you are travelling.

Pet insurance can also be beneficial when it comes to paying for veterinary treatments in the event a cat becomes ill or has an injury For more information see this information about owning a cat.

Unwanted cats

Never abandon or harm unwanted cats. SPCA provides advice on rehoming your pet.