New rules for cat owners


On March 1, 2022, changes to the Cat Management Legislation came into effect. If you own a cat or are considering getting one, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the new rules.

A key rule change is that all cats over the age of four months must now be microchipped and desexed. Exemptions to microchipping and desexing can only be given if a vet certifies that it may adversely affect the health and welfare of a cat. Cats owned by registered breeders for the purpose of breeding are exempt from desexing.

Cats don’t need to stay contained to their owner’s property, however, it’s greatly encouraged. Outdoor cats are at risk of car accidents, dog attacks, and injuries from cat fights. Cats also pose a threat to native wildlife.

Households can no longer keep more than four cats over the age of four months, unless an exemption is granted. There are a few reasons you can get an exemption, for example if a person holds a Multiple Cat Permit, is a registered cat breeder or holds a Cat Breeding Permit, is operating a cat boarding facility or veterinary establishment, is fostering a cat for a cat management facility
or an approved organisation or is minding someone else’s cat for less than six months (and the owner of the cat doesn’t reside on the property, and no payment is made for keeping the cat).

To get a Multiple Cat Permit, you need to microchip your cats, desex them, and keep them contained to your property. The living conditions at the property must not cause or be likely to cause harm to the health and safety of cats or people. Anyone wishing to breed cats is required to be a member of a recognised cat organisation or to apply for a conditional permit. Under the Act, it’s an offence to abandon a cat. If you do need to rehome a cat, you can sell it or give it away if the cat is at least eight weeks old, microchipped, desexed, vaccinated, wormed, and has been checked by a vet. Alternatively, it can be taken to a cat management facility.

For more information, visit the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) website