Using these notes

These notes:

    • have been written to be consistent with community, industry and research and teaching based animal welfare legislation
    • apply to all schools in NSW, government and non-government
    • contain standards (in a red box at the beginning of each section) and guidelines. The standards must be met by schools, in accordance with the requirements of the Animal Research Authority. The guidelines are the desirable practices to achieve desirable animal welfare outcomes
    • reflect available scientific knowledge, current practice and community expectations.

Each section of these notes lists any approved activities, with their approved categories, that are applicable to cats. A complete list of the approved activities for all species can be found in Approved activities.


When cats visit classrooms, it is inappropriate to subject them to any procedures other than observation, discussion of behaviour and limited, well-supervised handling. In general, cats are not considered suitable animals for housing at school.


Varietal range difference

Many different and distinct breeds exist. Cats can usually be divided into two groups:

    • Long hairs
    • Short hairs.


Physical characteristics

Length: 50–70 cm head to tail tip.
Weight: 3–7 kg
Gestation period: 58–65 days.
Number of offspring: 1–9
Breeding age 4–5 months old.
Weaning age 5–8 weeks.
Healthy characteristics:
    • Temperature: 37.5°C
    • Heart rate: 70–150 beats per minute.
    • Respiration rate: 20–100 per minute


Behavioural characteristics

Cats are a predator species that spend most of the daytime sleeping and are usually quite active at night. Given the opportunity they will hunt small animals like birds, rats and mice. Cats have sharp senses including smell, sight, hearing and touch which enables them to hunt their prey.

Cats will often keep to themselves and choose when they would like to be groomed and stroked and approach a handler for attention. Most breeds do not require grooming as they do this themselves and are very clean animals. Cats will learn to only eat what they need and can have access to food at all times. Kittens will be very active and should always be given a good supply of toys to keep them entertained. Cats should also be supplied with a scratching post to prevent them scratching on other furniture. Any cats used in a classroom situation should be very docile and accustomed to handling. Cats that demonstrate aggressive behaviour should not be used in the classroom. Cats use claws and teeth for defence and, if aggressive, over stimulated or threatened, they may scratch and bite. It is always recommended to desex cats at the appropriate age.

cat laying down

Cats are a predator species that spend most of the daytime sleeping and are usually quite active at night.