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Responsible pet ownership
Responsible pet ownership is about protecting and enjoying your pet and the wildlife of Tāmaki Makaurau at the same time. Let’s take a look at responsible pet ownership for different pets.
If we let our cats out to roam, they can get run over, encounter a pest control trap, or get into fights with other cats or dogs. Cats are happiest and healthiest at home.
While beloved, our pets can also pose a threat to our native wildlife. Reducing this impact through responsible pet management is vital to preserve our native birds, bats, lizards, frogs and insects.
There are some great ways to keep your pet safe and wildlife-friendly:
- desexing to prevent overpopulation
- keeping cats indoors at night at a minimum, or at home on your property as much as you can.
- playing with your cat lots to keep it happy at home and reduce its hunting instinct
- using a bell or even better a bird-safe collar so the birds can see your cat coming
- feeding a high meat diet if allowing your cat outside, to reduce its urge to hunt
- When you go on holiday, leave your cat at home with a cat-sitter, or take it to a cattery. Never take your cat on holiday, especially if you’re visiting offshore islands, parks, reserves or coastal areas.
Every year hundreds of pet birds, mostly parrots, are reported missing. This is especially common during the summer, when we like to have our doors and windows open.
Escaped parrots can compete with native species for food and nesting sites and spread diseases to our vulnerable native parrots.
- Before choosing to have a pet bird, do your research and make sure you will be able to look after it properly long term.
- If you have a pet bird, make sure it is securely contained at all times so that it can't escape, and give it enough space and quality food that all its behavioural needs are being met.
- Never free-fly your pet parrot.
- If you are no longer able to look after your pet bird, never release it in the wild. Make sure you find someone else who can give it a long-term home or look for a bird rescue centre.
Turtles and other reptiles
Baby turtles are often purchased when they are small and cute. However, as adults they can outgrow many home aquariums, and live for several decades. Many people find they are no longer able to look after them properly. Turtles are also great escape artists if kept in outdoor ponds.
Our native waterways are already under pressure – the last thing they need are invasive turtles too. Yet red-eared slider turtles are one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species, going feral in many countries. They can eat our native plants and animals, frighten nesting waterbirds, and stir up sediment.
- Before choosing to have a pet turtle, do your research and make sure you will be able to look after it properly long term.
- If you have a pet turtle, make sure it is securely contained so that it can't escape, and give it enough space and quality food that all its behavioural needs are met.
- If you are no longer able to look after your pet turtle, never dump it in the wild. Make sure you find someone else who can give it a long-term home or look for a turtle rescue centre.
Dogs are our best friends, but it takes some work to look after them properly, so that they’re safe and healthy, and don’t pose a danger or nuisance to other people or wildlife.
- Before you choose a pet dog, do your research. Make sure you're able to look after it properly long-term and choose a breed that will be suited to your home and lifestyle.
- Desex your dog, to avoid contributing to too many dogs without forever homes.
- Microchip and register your dog so that it can be identified and reunited with you if it gets lost.
- Keep your dog under control at all times
- Be aware of rules in your local area or places you visit with your dog. Make sure that you always follow these rules, for example by keeping your dog on leash at all times in on-leash areas, or leaving your dog at home if you're going to a place where dogs are prohibited, such as offshore islands
- Keep your dog on leash and well away from native wildlife
- Get your dog kiwi aversion training, so that it is less likely to kill if it encounters a kiwi
- Immediately remove and appropriately dispose of your dog's faeces
Find out more
SPCA Keeping your cat safe and happy at home
Whether you’ve just adopted a new cat or kitten, or are considering how best to care for your existing cat, this guide can help you keep your cat at home in a way that works best for you and your cat.
Enrichment tips for cats
Just like people, cats like to explore, appreciate nice smells, admire views, and observe interesting objects.
Cat Tracker NZ
Some of the mysteries of cats relate to where they go and what they do; this is especially true of cats that go outdoors. We open our doors. They leave. Just where they go, we can’t be sure. Or rather we couldn’t be sure, until now.
Make a bird-safe collar for your cat
This tutorial video will show you how to make a simple bird-safe collar for your cat
Responsible companion cat ownership policy
The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) support principles of cat ownership and cat management that contribute to a harmonious relationship between people, cats and the environment.
Kity Cat Lockdown
Seven Sharps video segment on the growing number of outdoor options to keep your cat contained.
When pets become pests - kiwi kids news
Turtles that grow too big for their tanks that can be troublesome. Kiwi kids find out about the red eared slider turtle.
Red eared slider turtle
RNZ's Jesse Mulligan talks to Dr Imogen Bassett about the red eared slider turtle and how it threat to our native wildlife and ecosystems.
The threat of introduced pet parrots
An article by Stuff discussing the probability of introduced pet parrots becoming established in Tāmaki Makaurau.
Dr Margaret Stanley discusses the threat of introduced Parrots
Owning a parrot is surprisingly popular in New Zealand, with around 330 pet birds getting lost every year. BFM talk to Dr Margaret Stanely on why lost and escaped domesticated parrots posde a problem to native bird species.
A guide for dog owners
Rules, responsiblilities and recommendations for dog owners in Tāmaki Makaurau.