Code of Animal Welfare

The focus of Trade Me’s Code of Animal Welfare (the Trade Me Code) is to promote a high standard of welfare for cats and dogs sold on the site.

This code has been prepared in consultation with the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) and the RNZSPCA.

Animal is in good health and are fully independent

The Animal Welfare Codes for Cats and Dogs show that good health is closely associated with welfare. [1]

To meet the Trade Me Code we require the seller to upload an image of a written veterinary report for each animal or litter listed.[2] A veterinary record is an assessment and confirmation by an independent professional that the animal is in good health and fit to be sold.    

By fully independent we mean that the animal is properly weaned from its mother.

Animal has been raised in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and the Animal Welfare (Cats 2007) or (Dogs 2010) Codes of Welfare.

The Animal Welfare Act 1999 (the Act) imposes obligations on every person who owns or is in charge of a companion cat or dog. The Animal Welfare Codes of Welfare (the Animal Welfare Codes) have been issued under section 75 of the Act and provide minimum standards which state how to comply with the Act and provide for the physical, health and behavioural needs of the animals. 

Animal is a minimum of 8 weeks old

This is a minimum standard specified in the Animal Welfare Codes for both cats and dogs that require that the animal needs to be properly weaned and be able to survive independently from the mother prior to rehoming. [3]

This is also a mandatory requirement for anyone listing a cat or dog on Trade Me and forms part of our site listing policies as well as this Code.

Animal has received the required vaccinations for their age

Vaccinations are important to protect against parvo, distemper, canine cough and leptospirosis[4] in puppies, and feline enteritis and upper respiratory viruses in kittens. We require all code complaint sellers to maintain records of vaccinations for the new owner along with the due date for any repeat vaccinations.

Animal is up to date with treatments for parasites (worms and fleas)

Regular flea treatment and de-worming is important for all companion animals to ensure that they are in good health.[5] We require all code compliant sellers to maintain records of flea and parasite control for the new owner.

The animal is well socialised.

The Animal Welfare Act 1999 places strict requirements that the behavioural needs of an animal are met in a manner that is in accordance with both good practice and scientific knowledge. It is therefore imperative that the animal being sold is well socialised. This includes any ex-breeding mothers. Animals that have had lots of positive experiences with different types of people are less likely to be wary when approached or handled.[6]

The NZVA recommends that kittens and puppies should interact with humans and be socialised from three weeks of age. In puppies that are not fully vaccinated, socialisation needs to be managed to reduce the risk of infectious disease.

Animals that are aggressive, antisocial or pregnant, and animals with known vices such as excessive barking or fence jumping, should not be made available for sale or rehoming.

If the animal is a puppy or kitten we require a few more things to be confirmed.

The mother has been cared for in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare (Cats 2007) or (Dogs 2010) Codes of Welfare

The Act imposes obligations on every person who owns or is in charge of a companion cat or dog. The Animal Welfare Codes have been issued under section 75 of the Act and provide guidance on how to comply with the Act.

The Codes provide a number of minium standards and recommended best practices on the health of the mother whilst breeding. This includes, amongst other things, ensuring that the good health of the mother is paramount.[7]

If selling a puppy the mother has been microchipped.

Under the Dog Control Act 1996 all dogs over 3 months must be registered with their local council every year. All registered dogs must also be microchipped (except farm dogs used for stock control). This applies mainly to puppies when they are first registered at three months. [8]

At the time of breeding the mother was in good health and physical condition and had a favourable temperament

Only queens and bitches that are in good health and physical condition and have a favourable temperament should be used for breeding. At all times the health and welfare of the mother should be paramount. [9]

The mother must be in good body condition and have any required health care provided to her. The seller’s veterinary record must confirm this. However, to avoid any extra visits to the seller it is satisfactory for this to be confirmed by a veterinary record at the time the offspring are given their veterinary health check.

The mother (dogs) was between 1 and 6 years, or (cats) 9 months and 7 years  at age of conception, has had no more than (dogs) 3 litters or (cats) 6 litters in her lifetime and has not had more than two cesarean sections

Pregnancy, birth and rearing puppies require a lot of energy from the mother and place her under a lot of stress.  Only mothers with good body condition scores should be bred. Mothers that have had numerous litters may not be in ideal health which may have a direct result on the health of her offspring and should not be bred. [10]

The NZVA strongly recommends that for optimum welfare that bitches are fed and cared for well so that they have a good body condition score and are bred each season from the their second season to a maximum of  three litters then desexed.

The ideal age for a breeding queen to begin mating is 12 months. However, if a queen begins cycling before the age of 12 months and there is a risk of uterine disease developing due to repeated unmated heats, she may be mated from the age of 9 months with the proviso that it is not her first cycle and that she is in excellent physical health and body condition.

Trade Me has set a cap limit on litters at six per breeding queen. We accept that breeding cats are capable of having more than six litters in their lifetime, however we believe that allowing cats to breed to their full reproductive capacity makes them vulnerable to exploitation from those who do not hold the breeding animal’s welfare as their primary concern, but instead use them as a biological factory to make products to sell.

Please note that for optimum welfare, breeding queens should be in good physical health and body condition before breeding. Overbreeding can have severe health consequences and the welfare of the breeding cat must be the primary concern. 

A caesarean section may be required in situations where a mother is unable to give birth to her offspring naturally. It is a major operation for the mother and her offspring. [11]The NZVA therefore recommends that in order to maintain optimum health, the mother is not subjected to any more than two caesarean sections in her breeding lifetime.

The mother has been kept up to date with de-worming and other parasitic treatments during pregnancy

It is important that the mother is at full health and up to date with de-worming and other parasitic treatments in order for her offspring to not be infected with worms. 

Genetic disorders and general responsible selling practices

Any breed specific inherited disorders are disclosed

It is important that any breed specific potential hereditary problems are disclosed to new owners, along with any results from any tests that may have been undertaken on the mother and father to screen for inherited disorders prior to breeding.

Disclosure of any surgical correction of parents’ features that are heritable.

Breeders may have had eyelids and skin folds altered surgically on the parents to correct heritable problems. Where this, or any other surgical correction has been performed on an animal, this must be disclosed in the listing body.

Disclosure of any relationship between the offspring’s parents.

Sometimes in breeding situations can occur which are a result of a mating of two individuals related within two generations. It is important to disclose this information prior to any purchase as there are increased risks of health issues in inbreed offspring.

New owners are provided with information on the care of the animal

For example; diet, desexing, parasite control, health, housing and information on the animal’s familiar environment including toileting substrate for puppies and kittens should be provided to the new owner at the point of sale.

Confidence that new owner is suitable

Animals should not be released for sale or rehoming if there is any doubt about the ability of the potential owner to care for them appropriately. Concerns of this nature should be reported to Trade Me in the first instance.


* The veterinary record is no longer required to be displayed in the listing. However, we continue to encourage members to do this. Puppies and kittens are often listed soon after they are born, but aren’t vaccinated until 6 weeks, so usually wouldn’t see a vet until this time. This meant that many members complied with the code at the time the puppy or kitten was released, however they were unable to tick the compliance box until the puppy or kitten had been assessed by a vet at 6 weeks. This change allows animals that are well looked after to come under the Code. 


[1] Good health as described in the Animal Welfare Codes for Cats and Dogs includes up to date flea treatment and worming, treatment for any parasitic disease, eating and drinking regularly, urinating, defecating and behaving normally. Animal Codes: Cats & Dogs pp. 22 &23.

[2] Animal Welfare Codes for Cats and Dogs p. 21.

[3] RSPCA Puppy Information Pack, Guidance Notes p. 2.

[4] RSPCA Guidelines p. 2

[5] RSPCA Guidelines p. 3

[6] Codes p. 20 Cats, p. 18 Dogs.


[8] Codes p. 20 Cats, p. 18 Dogs.

[9] RSPCA Guidelines p. 4

[10] RSPCA Guidelines p. 2

[11] RSPCA Guidelines p. 4

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