Trapping Domestic Cats
In the United States, can someone who is not officially authorised to trap cats, do it without any consequences? It seems that the answer is, yes, if the cat is on their property. The SPCA say that people can set traps on their property. If the trap is not rented from the SPCA and has been bought by the homeowner, they don’t have to tell anyone. They can just put the trap down, catch a fully domesticated cat that happens to be outside, take him or her to the SPCA center, whereupon the cat will be killed if the human caretaker does not turn up to collect him within a certain time. This sounds odd and dangerous because of the following reason.
If there are a group of people living in a large complex, in say flats and houses and all the properties are leasehold, then the common parts include the grounds, the gardens around the properties. The grounds can be quite extensive and the grounds are owned by the leaseholders (homeowners) communally. Under these circumstances a cat guardian who lets their cat out to the communal grounds risks losing their cat to “euthanasia” at a rescue centre. That must be wrong. On a common sense basis it looks like criminal damage to me. A person who traps a cat and takes the cat to a place where he may be killed is participating in an act of criminal damage (on the basis that the cat is a possession under the law) if no notice is given that traps will be put down. It may also be an act of theft although theft requires that the person intends to permanently deprive the owner of the item and that would appear not to apply here.
It would seem that the law needs to be tightened up and made more specific. The scenario outlined above occurred at the gated Cobblestone Estates I housing development in Visalia, California, USA. Charlene Johnson let her tabby cat, Mickey, out and he was trapped and taken to the SPCA centre. Charlene says that there are only domestic cats on the estate. Charlene admits that she didn’t license or microchip her cat (perhaps that is a requirement at the place where she lives).
Charlene and Mickey were luckily reunited because Charlene got to Mickey before he was killed.
The SPCA manager says that of the 7,215 feral and domestic cats and kittens brought to the SCPA shelter in 2010, 672 were adopted “but most of the rest were euthanized”. It is a killing establishment and the manager seems to have an unsuitable attitude towards cats. Feral cats are killed in two days and domestic cats are killed within 6-8 days unless someone turns up to claim them. This though is commonplace.
Yes, there are lots of cats and yes better cat caretaking needs to be enforced but this seems an inappropriate way of dealing with the problem because decent people and domestic cats get hurt.
Trapping domestic cats needs to be carefully managed. Common sense dictates that if a neighbour traps another neighbours cat (which is the case here), a greater effort should be made to tell the cat’s “owner” about the trapping and to reunite the two. It would appear that there is a bit of warfare going on at this estate between people who like and keep cats and those who dislike them. Was it not always thus?
Map showing Visalia: