Microchipping and desexing your cat

In Palmerston North, it is mandatory to microchip your cat, and register the microchip with the New Zealand Companion Animal Register. It is also mandatory to desex cats older than six months. These procedures are considered part of being a responsible pet owner.

These requirements only apply to cats born after 1 July 2018, when a new city bylaw was introduced. Cat owners are responsible for the cost of these procedures.

If you're a registered cat breeder you are exempt from having to desex cats kept for breeding purposes.

Why should I microchip and desex my cat?

You might be surprised to learn a female cat can start reproducing from the age of five months and can have up to four litters of up to six kittens every year. In introducing compulsory desexing for cats, we hope to reduce the number of unwanted cats and kittens.

Cats not desexed are more likely to roam and be a victim of road traffic injuries. As they roam, they encounter other cats and are more likely to fight with other cats, causing injuries and infections.

Microchipping allows veterinarians, animal shelters and councils to contact the owner of a cat. It's especially important during a civil defence emergency or if the cat is sick, injured or disorientated, and increases the chance for lost cats to be reunited with their owners.

Microchips also identify cats in situations where they are causing a nuisance.

Cats are often presumed to be strays and are taken to shelters by well-meaning people, but may belong to people nearby.

What is microchipping?

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 is the same as 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 alongside the owner's contact details on a national database, the New Zealand Companion Animal Register, operated by Companion Animals New Zealand.

There's a one-off fee to register your cat. The paperwork and registration are carried out by your vet at the time of microchipping. In addition to the microchipping costs the registration fee is approximately $15 to $25. It is a lifetime registration. There are no recurring annual fees. Owners are able to access the database and update their personal details in the event that their phone numbers or address change.

What is the minimum age to get my cat microchipped or desexed?

Council's bylaw requires all cats born after 1 July 2018 to be microchipped and desexed before six months of age. Your vet will be able to provide advice on the optimum time for your cat to be de-sexed and microchipped.

How much will it cost me to microchip and desex my cat?

Vets determine their charges, so costs will vary. Generally, the cost of desexing a male cat ranges from $70 to $86, while females range from $120 to $145.

It's also good to check in with SPCA if you are on a low income to see what help they may be able to give towards desexing.

How will Council be able to tell if cats are microchipped and/or desexed?

Cats can be scanned by Council officers for the presence of 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, we'll write to remind you of the requirement to desex and microchip your cat.

An owner who repeatedly refuses to microchip their cat may be prosecuted for breach of the bylaw.

There are provisions in the Local Government Act 2002 if your cat is found to be causing a serious nuisance or health and safety issue.