by Michael
(London, UK)

Beverely Hills - photo by Orange County Girl

Beverely Hills - photo by Orange County Girl

I have overwritten the last submission entitled, HELP FIGHT BEVERLY HILLS MUNICIPAL CODE, with what follows as some of the comments were too personal and hurtful, although one was particularly constructive. The last submission contained the story of a lady who practiced the TNR program for stray cats, in Beverly Hills, and while doing so fed them in an alley. Her name is Katherine Varjian.

This post is entirely mine and there has been no input from any source (other than provision of links to reference material). We all like good honest discussion, even arguments that progress the subject, me particularly, but not at the expense, in this case, of upsetting the person who made the contribution and the person who she wrote about. For me the bottom line is how we can fairly and humanely redress a wrong that we (people generally) have committed, namely, to enter into an "domestication agreement" with the wildcat some 10,000 year ago and then in large numbers renege on the agreement to leave millions of feral cats to scavenge for a living. It is then about dealing with the problem of feral cats humanely and fairly and if someone is doing this and is being prosecuted by the state and criticized by some neighbors, something is surely wrong.

Dealing with feral cats is an emotive subject and opinions are widely polarized. Some people simply want to exterminate them. These are ignorant people. Kind people see the problem and try and help as best they can in a generally uncaring society (although there are some great people out there doing the right thing).

Beverly Hills sign
Photo by chotda

The Beverly Hills Municipal Code in respect of feral cats and in relation to the earlier post is as follows (I have reproduced it verbatim in the expectation that this is not breach of copyright for the sake of accuracy. In the UK, legislation is in the public domain for copyright purposes).:

A. No person shall feed or in any manner provide food for any nondomesticated mammalian predator which is not under the ownership or legal possession of such person, including, but not limited to, coyotes, raccoons, foxes, and opossums.

B. No person shall feed or in any manner provide or place food for any domesticated animal which is not under the ownership or legal possession of such person, including, but not limited to, dogs and cats, on any public property, or on any property open to the public, or on any private property where the providing or placement of such food is in an area not completely enclosed by a secured wall or fence of at least six feet (6') in height.

C. No person shall feed or in any manner provide or place food for any feral or stray cat that is not under the ownership or legal possession of such person. (1962 Code § 5-1.102.1; amd. Ord. 05-O-2486, eff. 11-25-2005)

The major complaint from neighbors to someone who practices TNR is that in sustaining the cats whilst neutering and/or rehoming them the food attracts wild animals. However in rehoming and neutering feral cats a person conducting TNR whilst feeding them is probably making a positive net contribution because the population size of feral cats in the area should be reduced. However, it seems that some people simply don't want any animals in their area.

On the face of it a person feeding a stray cat while conducting TNR is in breach of clause C. However, clause C is possibly defective or unworkable for these reasons (on the basis of what is stated above):

Professional rescue center staff trap feral cats before doing a medical inspection and then neutering the cat or if the cat is too ill they might euthanize or re-home whatever is most suitable. Food bait is invariably used to entice the cat into the trap. That procedure would, it seems, be in breach of clause C of the above code. If that is the case then all properly conducted professional feral cat TNR programs are unlawful. Following through on that it would be necessary to abandon TNR programs, which would mean the proliferation of the feral cat to unheard of numbers. In consequence the municipal code would operate in the exact opposite manner than as intended.

If a lady feeding cats is prosecuted for doing more or less what professionals do then the law is being exercised in an inequitable manner. To redress that I suggest that if a person acting alone in feeding cats while conducting TNR is then prosecuted and convicted, the punishment should be heavily mitigated and a compromise found that resolves the issue for the benefit of the cats (the first priority for me), the neighbors and the defendant. A judge would find a solution that fitted this objective.

Then there is the issue of what is a feral cat or a stray cat and for that matter the construction of the terms, "ownership" and "legal possession". A feral cat may be a stray cat and a stray cat may be a domestic cat that is neither stray nor feral  and that is just visiting the area (e.g. a time share cat). Can the court differentiate one from the other? Will the cats give evidence? In respect of "ownership", cats are "chattels" in legal parlance. That is they are treated in the same way as inanimate objects. If someone throws something out of the house, say an old, broken, cat feeding bowl and declares to that they don't own it anymore and a person likes it and picks it up and takes possession of it, the object becomes theirs. Ownership has been transferred by inference deduced through the people's actions.

If it is decided that the cats are in fact stray cats, I would have thought the same transfer of ownership has happened in respect of a person feeding stray cats while practicing TNR. In feeding cats and caring for them it could quite easily be inferred that the person has become the guardian and owner of these cats pending re-homing.

Clause B is not infringed because it could be successfully argued that it cannot be established under the criminal standard that the cats are domesticated or not or that they are owned or not.

Rather than prosecuting a caring lady who is trying to resolve a problem on her own, it would be better for all concerned if she was involved in a dialogue say organized by the local authority with neighbors with the intention of finding an amicable solution as a community. It is certainly far better than criminalising a caring lady.

This must be within the bounds of possibility, surely. Perhaps the answer lies in clause B; in the building of a simple enclosure. In any case an agreement would be far more suitable than heavy handed criminal proceedings. For the reasons above I say, please help fight Beverly Hills municipal code.

Any comments on the subject of, "HELP FIGHT BEVERLY HILLS MUNICIPAL CODE", should please be in general terms and not personalized.


California is terminally broke. If it was a company it would have filed for insolvency some time ago. There is a shortage of money. Public services will be cut. There is talk of removing the statutory 3 day period before stray animals are euthanized. Laws may well change. Stray animals are at the bottom of the ladder. What will happen? All the more reason to support individuals who are keen to help but perhaps need a bit of guidance and support.

Update 24-6-09:

I am pleased to say that there are people who support other people who care for feral cats and try an d gently and humanely reduce their numbers. After all we owe it to feral cats to help because we put them there. I understand that the the City of Beverly Hills have deleted the legislation under which they had or were charging Katherine Varjian, the lady I refer to above who was carrying out TNR work to the annoyance of some of her neighbours. The legislators have passed No. 2560 and section 3 states 5-2-104 "deleted." A motion to dismiss the case against this woman has been made as a result.

The fact is that she is doing good work and perhaps the best solution is not to fight her but to work with her to make her work better. It is not in the public interest to prosecute her and perhaps they have realised that the legislation is probably unenforceable.

Update 22-7-09: Meeting on 18th August 2009 to decide way forward - please read more.

This site has published an article in support: (this link became broken so this is the URL only - it won't work but it may help find the article). If this progresses now as it seems then I would hope that the neighbours will unite to help solve the feral cat problem constructively.

From Help Fight Beverly Hills Municipal Code to Feral Cats

HELP FIGHT BEVERLY HILLS MUNICIPAL CODE - Photos: published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License -- this site is for charitable purposes in funding cat rescue.

Comments for

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Oct 13, 2011 The Evil Rich
by: Anonymous

Although I do not live in Beverly Hills I have reason to be there occasionally to attend screenings at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater (I am in the film industry, but very much middle class). Usually my friends and I will then go to local restaurants and such afterward. However, reading about all this makes me think I do not want to patronize or visit Beverly Hills at all. If anything, I want to get the word out to my friends all over the country who wish to come visit the famous "Beverly Hills" that they should not waste their time or money on a place full of cruel, ignorant, selfish people. Shame on the citizens of Beverly Hills -- but hooray for Ms. Varjian. She deserves commendation for her bravery and dedication.

Feb 03, 2011 Are We Humans?
by: Poochu (India)

5-2-104, clause C is illogical.

I simply cannot understand as a Human, how can such laws be made with a prejudice against free living cats!

Do these absurd lawmakers want cats to be leashed like dogs?

Arresting a woman who is my Mother's age with all the experiences of life on the pretext of violating clause C, is a Human Right Violation.

Oct 01, 2009 Update
by: Michael (PoC Admin)

Here is a link to another page updating this story. The link goes to a page where I briefly look at the new Beverly Hills Feral Cat TNR Regualtions:

Beverly Hills Feral Cat TNR Regualtions

Aug 24, 2009 Update
by: Michael (PoC Admin)

Tina kindly pointed me in the direction of an update. And it seems to me that Beverly Hills are moving steadily in the right direction, which is fantastic. Something good is gradually emerging out of this.

The new ordinance being prepared before voting on it (I guess it is a Bill) is based on the concept of issuing licenses to volunteer workers to conduct trap, neuter and return programs on behalf of the city (and of course on behalf of the cats and people).

The Beverly Hills Courier starts their article by saying, "Woe is the feral cat that steps a paw into Beverly Hills? at least for now" Not sure what that means as for the feral cat things are going to get better if the matter stays on track.

I like it and I think we should all cautiously praise the city's administrators for taking an enlightened approach. I can't think of the last time I was pleased with politicians! They nearly always disappoint me. But not this time.

Aug 10, 2009 Update from Tina...
by: Michael (PoC Admin)

The case was dismissed Friday August 7th. It was Katherine Varjian's birthday!

Because the July 7th city council meeting did not re-enact to old law (feeding ban) the court looked to the prosecutor and asked him what is your position considering that no urgency ordinance was passed on July 7th by Beverly Hills City Council... prosecutor's response was since the urgency ordinance did not pass - the People dismiss the case.

Prosecutor appeared very angry and perturbed... that he had to speak those words...

Now we await the 8/18 city council meeting to see what new ordinance embracing TNR will be proposed for consideration.

~Tina Varjian

Aug 08, 2009 stray cats in Beverly Hills
by: sunshine

I am so sad that these feral or stray cats went to Beverly Hills, the mean city, because the people who are complaining there about these poor animals are heartless and do not care anymore about the beauty of nature created by God and all they think is to complain because they live in Beverly Hills. These cats made a wrong turn in staying there but there is one nice beautiful person who is very kind and compassionate and who cares for these poor cats and that is Ms. Katherine Varijian who is very caring. I can't believe what these people who live in Beverly Hills did nothing but complain. Thanks to Ms Katherine Varijian and the cats were cared for and they survived. If only cats would know and can speak maybe they will leave right away to look for a better place but the animals don't know and again thank you Ms. Katherine for your very nice and big heart for the animals. And lastly, I will never ever live in Beverly Hills never.

Aug 08, 2009 Really pleased
by: Michael (PoC Admin)

This is fantastic news. I'd like to learn more. This might be the beginning of a more sensible approach to the feral cat problem on a national level. I hope so. It is time for real change and a more humane and sensible approach to feral cats.

Aug 07, 2009 Charges Dismissed
by: Anonymous

I attend the noticed trial of Katherine Varjian today (8/7/2009). The prosecutor dismissed the charges, although he attempted to have Ms. Varjian admonished by her attorney that her conduct violates "other provisons" of the Beverly Hills Municipal Court. The judge declined to direct such admonishment.

Jul 14, 2009 Beverly Hills should work together
by: Anonymous

If Beverly Hills works together as a community in using humane techniques, consistently over a period of time the desired result for all parties should be attainable:

Jul 14, 2009 Rallying Cry From Stray Cat Alliance
by: Anonymous

Please click on this link to read a rallying cry from the Stray Cat Alliance on this matter:

All caring people of Beverly Hills are asked to contribute and support to the defense of Katherine Varjian against the city council's intention to prosecute her for feeding and practicing TNR on feral cats.

Jul 10, 2009 Update
by: Michael (PoC Admin)

Update 10th July 2009:

Tina has kindly updated me. The court case is on hold for a short while pending a possible sensible resolution to the problem. The vast majority of the people who attended a city council meeting were against the ordinance and for a more humane and sensible approach to feral cats (fantastic). I think that is is being recognised that this is a time to address the wider issues and not to criminalise the actions of a kind and decent lady doing good work. But we shouldn't become overly optimistic as the prosecution could go on and the deleted ordinance reinstated.

Here are some links:

Beverly Hills can lead on the feral cat problem (new window) - a post by me on a blogger site.

A summary of what happened at the council meeting by a first hand witness! (new window)

News article on the story - broken link.

Further news article on the story - broken link.

Jul 03, 2009 trap neuter release
by: c castro

I am very disturbed but not surprised by the neighbor's reactions to the feral cats. since i have also used tnr to reduce the numbers and suffering of these poor little souls, i am well aware that there are people and cities who demonstrate both zero tolerance and less than zero compassion for even those humans who are homeless and much less these little animals. we live in a society who feel that even "some human" life is disposable, hence the throw away populations of homeless, elderly and deplorably all the little animals feral, wild and even pets! what an extremely sad commentary on us as human beings. feral cat colonies reduce, to a large extent, in areas where they are maintained, the number of rodents and pests of all sorts. the colonies numbers diminish over time with tnr however new members come in due to our "citizens" dumping of non feral "pets". cities like Beverly Hills, who are among the richest communities in our country, tend to be the least tolerant to homeless, hungry and misplaced beings. in the area where i live there are large colonies of maintained ferals, and yes racoons, opposums and birds come to feed with them, but this keeps them out of peoples' homes and yards. these wild animals were here before us. we moved into their homes and built our homes in their yards. we all can live peaceably together if we just remember that "all" life is precious. education and compassion is of the utmost importance. if we are not part of a solution people, then we are part of the problem. shame on the neighbors who complained. instead they could have offered suggestions for a solution. shame on the city council of beverly hills for even considering prosecution of the compassionate lady who was trying to remedy hunger, homelessness and suffering. to the people who seem so concerned about coyotes you should have moved to a town where there are no hills, trees and mostly pavement, but then that would not be a desirable area to live in right? you chose the area for its wooded beauty, well coyotes are a part of that beauty. perhaps you think that coyotes should be eliminated, like wolves are being eliminated in Alaska? if you eliminate any species then you have upset the balance of nature and another species gets out of control. predator species are here for a reason, they keep other populations from growing out of control. let us all work together to promote education, compassion and solutions to these problems, that we helped to create. animal lovers form a huge group of people and organizations with tremendous buying power which is something the city of Beverly Hills should consider before they move forward on this issue. there is room for us all here on our beautiful earth, we do not have to extinguish any species. we can work together to feed shelter and provide for those less fortunate humans and animals. we can control the reproduction of our pets and ferals by spay/neuter and tnr programs. come on people lets get it together.

Jul 02, 2009 Comment of Carrie Davis
by: Anonymous

Love the comment of Carrie Davis. So right. The human race can be very selfish, arrogant and self centered. The arrogant, ignorant and selfish tend to criticize and persecute the kind and gentle. The human race is in a deep malaise, I feel.

Jun 30, 2009 Feral Cats
by: Carrie Davis

I have to say I am very disturbed by Darian Bojeaux's comment. The logic simply does not exist. It is a nice attempt at logic, but it is an empty attempt.

I lived in Hancock Park, a very nice neighborhood in close proximity to Beverly Hills, for over 5 years. During which time I personally witnessed a feral cat colony being tended to. The cats did not disturb anyone, and there was certainly not an over abundance of "wild animals" such as coyotes, foxes, etc. coming into the neighborhood as a result of feral cats being fed. As I said, the logic is simply ridiculous.

It is no secret that Beverly Hills has huge wooded areas, parks, etc. If foxes and coyotes are being spotted it is because they ALREADY live in these areas. The idea that foxes, coyotes, etc. come into Beverly Hills because a small feral cat colony is being tended to is absolutely ludicrous.

Furthermore, it is my understanding that for many years Katherine Varjian has tended to a colony, reduced it's size, found homes for several cats, Trapped Neutered and Released - all at her own expense AND as a HUMANE ACT AND FAVOR to her neighbors as well as the poor cats who desperately need to be fed and cared for.

What on earth is the world coming to if we now begin to punish people for actually doing something kind and selfless that is NOT HARMING ANYONE? The residents of Beverly Hills need to stand behind their long-term neighbor and friend rather than ganging up on her like a bunch of high school bullies.

I am appalled and sickened by this behavior. Much of the country already has a dim view of Beverly Hills categorizing many of its residents as unkind, uncaring and out of touch with the rest of society. By prosecuting and punishing Katherine Varjian for a humane act and, as a result, the animals she cares for all that results is the stigma attached to Beverly Hills is proven correct. And that is just sad and sick.

Jun 30, 2009 feeding ferals
by: Anonymous

I admire Catherine for her efforts in helping to control the feral cat population in her area through is so sad that her "neighbors" are causing such grief for the process that obviously has kept these poor "strays" from reproducing and causing the entire neighborhood to be over taken by ferals...i manage two feral cat colonies in Huntington beach...before i implemented the TNR program i had over 20 kittens each that all the cats have been spayed/neutered and fed, i might see a few kittens each season, but these are from strays that have been dumped...the last two momma's i trapped ended up being as sweet and friendly as you could imagine...these poor things didn't ask to be in this situation...people need to be educated on this problem...perhaps Catherine's neighbor's will have a bit more understanding on her efforts after this is all said and done and will be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem...unfortunately there are people that just don't like cats period! - shame on them!

Jun 23, 2009 Response to last comment
by: Michael (PoC Admin)

The reason why I deleted and rewrote the page was because the person who made the original submission was very upset by the reaction and by some of the comments. It is the first time I have deleted a page but if a person contributes to this site (my site) and then is "flamed" (to use a current word) relentlessly and her submission is used against her in unexpected and serious ways I feel I have an obligation to comply with a request to change the page.

Note: the person who made the last comment is now insulting me! I don't mind. But it does show the nature of some of the people in the area. It does not support your argument to insult people and make personal statements in public. It shows a lack of decent argument and good behavior.

Although I respect the truth and always seek it, I must act decently towards visitors to this site particularly those who contribute to it.

That is not to say that I do not welcome comments and open debate. I love it. It is just that this situation was exceptional and demanded action.

The best way to discuss the matter is not by reference to individuals but in a general way. Lets discuss the code and whether it works well or not and whether it will change or not (due to California being insolvent). Are there other states that deal with the matter in a better way etc.? These wider and non-personal issues are more important.

Jun 22, 2009 New Website Text
by: Darian Bojeaux

The Londoner in his new text, had not addressed all of our opposing sentiments, comments, and all of the reasons people we do not want Katherine Varjian to continue to feed cats in the alley. He simply ignores all of these things.

His justification is that the comments are personal, and that is ridiculous. He may as well be the queen in Alice in Wonderland.

About ten days ago, my husband and I saw a coyote eating out of one of the food containers left in the alley by Varjian. Why shouldn't the coyote come to our area and threaten/attack our pets--it knows that there will be food in the alley.

Darian Bojeaux

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