Trust & Safety

Trade Me's blog on Trust and Safety issues.

Why are there cat skins listed on Trade Me?

We have had a few questions about our position on selling animal skins on the site, and taxidermied cat skins in particular.

We thought it was worth setting out our thinking.

Trade Me is not a free-for-all for members to list anything and everything.

The law is ever present and Trade Me has a bunch of rules in place to help ensure activity on the site is legal and safe, and that sellers are aware of their responsibilities.

We have a comprehensive list of banned and restricted items and we update it from time-to-time and as new situations crop up.

There's often a legal basis for banning or restricting items, such as illegal dog breeds or vet medicines.

For animal skins, there's no legal restriction on their sale in New Zealand.

We see skins for deer, sheep, cows, possums and all sorts of other things listed on the site.

We also see all manner of taxidermy listed and most is generally fine.

However, it's clear cat skins are a little more controversial.

We're not animal skin experts so we’ve taken a temperature check from our community and there is a wide spectrum of views. Some members are all for it, some are totally against it and a bunch of people don't care either way.

Where there's no legal line we often take a "wait and see" approach, and let the community help us navigate whether it is OK or not.

Given the wide range of views, and that the law is pretty clear in this area, we have asked the SPCA to produce some guidance for  sellers considering listing an animal skin. 

We have a close working relationship with the SPCA and our Trust & Safety Team is regularly in touch with their Animal Welfare Inspectors as we work together to identify any listings or sellers that could be breaching the Animal Welfare Act in particular. 

Bob Kerridge from the SPCA has provided us the following advice:

“There are three distinct categories of cats as detailed in the following approved definitions featured in the Code of Welfare for Cats published by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) as approved by the Minister,

They are :

COMPANION CAT – Common domestic cat that lives with humans as a companion and is dependent on humans for its welfare.

STRAY CAT – A companion cat which is lost or abandoned and which is living as an individual or in a group (colony).   Stray cats have many of their needs indirectly supplied by humans, and live around centres of human habitation. 

FERAL CAT – A cat which is not a stray cat and which has none of its needs provided by humans.  Feral cats do not live around centres of human habitation.

(for more info see www.nzcac.org.nz )

Both companion and stray cats are protected under the Animal Welfare Act (1999) where as Feral cats are designated pests and are subject to controls under the Biosecurity Act.

The term ‘feral’ cannot be applied to stray cats which reside in areas where humans coexist and it is critical to note this distinction.

As a result it is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act to ill-treat any animal or inflict any pain, suffering or distress to that animal, and accordingly both companion and stray cats are protected by this Act.

Accordingly inspectors enforcing this Act will take appropriate action against any offender who contravenes the Act.

Cats have a natural instinct to hunt, however both Companion and Stray cats, whose sustenance is provided by humans, have little instinct for hunting for food, and research clearly illustrates that prey is generally limited to ground animals including vermin”.

From Trade Me's perspective, we’ll continue to work with the SPCA to ensure that animals listed on the site are healthy and well. 

To that end, members should read our listing advice about animals. 

And yes, that cat hand bag was OK to sell.

Update: Read our Code of Animal Welfare.