Are domestic cats allowed to roam freely in America?

In general, domestic cats are allowed to roam freely in America. However, a few states, counties or cities have specific ordinances (laws) which in effect disallow domestic cats from roaming.

I won’t go into great detail for the simple reason that the situation is a little bit messy or disjointed legally but I will mention a few situations where domestic cats are, in effect, prevented from roaming freely.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association mention the City of New Orleans which they say has an “animal confinement law” which requires that all pets be chained or confined with certain exceptions. Cats are not allowed outside unless they are neutered, licensed, vaccinated and tagged. If a person’s cat is caught outside of their property and not leashed that person can be fined or serve a jail sentence on conviction.

The website has a section in which they ask “What about Freeroaming or Feral Cats?”.

They refer to the state of Wisconsin which apparently has legislation which classifies freeroaming cats that do not have a collar as an unprotected species which allows people to kill them as pests.  I do not know whether this 2005 law is still in existence but it probably is.

They also refer to the city of Akron, Ohio which adopted an ordinance in 2002 which allows animal control to trap any freeroaming cat if a citizen of the city complains about the cat. There are probably other cities which similar laws.

There are also probably other cities or counties which have introduced ordinances which either restrict the activities of outdoor cats or which in effect confines them to the home or backyard of the owner (without actually specifying that cats are confined).  However, I have been unable to find details other than those stated above during a 20 min search on the Internet.

I can tell quickly whether something exists or does not when searching the Internet and because it is very difficult to find information about laws which confine domestic cats in the USA I have to conclude that there are no laws or very few. There are certainly no such laws in the UK or Europe. But common sense does play a big role here. 

Legislators are relying on cat owners to take common sense steps to keep their cats safe which includes keeping them inside.

Perhaps there is a hidden factor involved in this discussion. Although domestic cats are allowed to roam and wander freely outside the confines of their owner’s home what happens in practice is that not infrequently people who don’t like this either trap the cat (when it ends up at a shelter) or kill it. This behaviour might be a crime but once again in practice this sort of crime is allowed to take place by the authorities for various reasons.  Accordingly, the net result is that cats are confined to their home for practical reasons.

There are real dangers outside for domestic cat in the USA, one which of course is predators and I’m talking about animal predators like the coyote but another predator is the human animal.

I wrote this sketchy article in response to Dee’s comments under one of the other articles in which she states that domestic cats are confined to the inside in America.  I disagreed with that.  My research supports my thoughts but if I am incorrect please tell me and I’ll tear up this article 😉

The laws are quite different from dogs. Historically cats have been allowed to roam freely and the legislature in America in cities or states have thus far been unable to overcome that historical legacy.

Things are changing, however, and the country which leads the way in terms of confining or containing domestic cats is Australia.  As the human population grows in America or any other country for that matter there will be greater pressure to confine domestic cats.

84 thoughts on “Are domestic cats allowed to roam freely in America?”

  1. Marion County,Florida sucks concerning cats. Yet,when dogs run amuck and come into your yard and attack or kill your animals nothing is done. Talk about a bias. By law,dogs are also to be leashed or contained.So,I no longer play nice and try to reason with those useless dog owners.Enough said.

    • It is mandatory by law in nearly every, if not every, state to shoot any dog on sight that is seen harassing wildlife. Even during hunting season unless that dog is under the direct supervision of the hunter. This is why feral dog-packs are a rarity in most rural areas. They are SHOT before things get that bad.

      I keep a paintball-gun loaded with red-pellets for any stray dogs. Stings enough to teach a teachable dog, and leaves a nice signal on their coat. The first time they get the paintball gun (and MAYBE a 2nd time too if they seem to be a well-mannered dog). If that doesn’t teach the owner and alert them to what could have REALLY (and legally) happened to their dog, then sadly nobody is learning anything — so out comes the rifle the next time their dog is seen chasing wildlife.

      This is why you rarely hear news of feral-dog-packs in rural areas. Everyone knows to do their civic and moral duty.

      Though cats aren’t so easily forgiven. From past experience of 15 years of trying to reason with useless and demented cat-lic*ers it has been proved to me, beyond any doubt left in the known universe, that it does absolutely no good whatsoever to try to reason or educate them, so out comes the rifle on the first sighting of ANY cat. Nobody has the time to put up with a cat-lic*er’s manipulative BS, nonsense, deceptions, and lies. I most certainly learned that — the hard way (at the loss of countless thousands of native wildlife that their cats tortured to death for their cats’ play-toys).

      People who actually care about their animals in rural areas keep them supervised and confined. And as mature adults we also take full responsibility for the lives of our animals. If they die, by ANY means, then that is our own faults and our faults alone. Like any respectable adult would behave and believe about any lives in their care. If someone would shoot a dog of mine because they had to, I would even apologize to that person for putting them in that difficult situation, THEN grieve the loss of a loved pet — for it having been MY fault.

      You can tell who actually loves their pets in rural areas — their pets are still alive.

      Do you love your pets? If someone is in a situation where they feel the need to shoot it, then clearly you don’t give one damn about that 100% expendable pet of yours. Your pet then DESERVES to die — if for no other reason than to make you grow-up into a responsible and respectable adult at long-last.

        • Who taught you how to be an irresponsible and criminally-negligent child all your life? It’s ALWAYS someone else’s fault if your cat dies, isn’t it. Blame everyone but yourself. Yeah, that’s it. That’ll stop your free-roaming vermin from dying. You betcha!

    • The county is still a horror show but a little better since TNR was written into law. I haven’t been fined or harrassed almost daily since then.

  2. All and all, some interesting ideas were presented here.

    Spirited (yes, sometimes a bit mean-spirited) discussions, and a mostly civil exchange of ideas and information.

    I like this forum. Thank you, Mr. Broad!

    (don’t forget to turn the lights off!)

    • After you’ve now witnessed just how criminally negligent and irresponsible your “Mr. Broad” truly is, I suspect any fondness for this place will dry-up much like your comments. You can now clearly see that Michael really don’t care if any cat lives or dies and is convinced that he is blameless. If you want to do a study in true mental-illness — there is your subject. It’s called being a sociopath. They are incapable of knowing right from wrong. It’s what they are and cannot change that.

      • OmG, I wish you wouldn’t use pictures of frat boys spilling their milk. Let’s do fratboys with soap foaming on their genitals, instead. God, and let them be bitten by rabid raccoons…poor raccoons, dears.

    • And isn’t it a shame when humans are so easily manipulated by external appearances (that they themselves bred into cats to trigger their own nurturing instincts, caught in a trap of self-designed onanism to trigger their own instincts (not quite unlike that sci-fi story “The Terminal Man” who was wired with a device to trigger his own pleasure centers, and then eventually died in an overload of self-inflicted bliss)) that they don’t see an animal for what it truly is. In this case invasive-species, disease-ridden, pestilent man-made vermin that destroy the very ecosystem upon which your own lives depend.

      May you drown in a sea of disease infested man-made cats from which you have no conscious escape. That most certainly won’t happen where I live. I see right through “cute” and see things for how they truly are. Not how I wish they were nor will I allow them to manipulate me into how they want me to see them.

      Snap out of it, fool.

      • You need to understand that when people read your comments it is obvious to them that you have a “problem”. Some sort of mental condition. It is probably a form of conditioning trained into you by you father or parents. That is my guess. Your comments indicate that you are slightly mad. Everyone can see that. You need to recognise that sad fact.

  3. re: “At the very least, be of more benefit to humanity with your actions: Trap ‘em, and give them to the guy down at your local Vietnamese restaurant!”

    Due to all the heinous and deadly diseases that cats carry and spread today, it would be wrong to advise they be used for food or anything in this day and age (even in jest). The risk to anyone dressing them for even the use of their furs today (as they were commonly used in the past) could be deadly to the people involved.

    These are just the diseases cats have been spreading to humans, not counting the ones they spread to all wildlife. THERE ARE NO VACCINES against many of these, and are in-fact listed as bio-terrorism agents. They include: Afipia felis, Anthrax, Bartonella (Rochalimaea) henselae, Bergeyella (Weeksella) zoohelcum, Campylobacter Infection, Cat Scratch Disease, Chlamydia psittaci (feline strain), Cowpox, Coxiella burnetti Infection (Q fever), Cryptosporidium Infection, Cutaneous larva migrans, Dermatophytosis, Dipylidium Infection (tapeworm), Hookworm Infection, Leptospira Infection, Giardia, Neisseria canis, Pasteurella multocida, Plague, Poxvirus, Rabies, Rickettsia felis, Ringworm, Salmonella Infection, Scabies, Sporothrix schenckii, Toxocara Infection, Toxoplasmosis, Trichinosis, Visceral larva migrans, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. [Centers for Disease Control, July 2010] Bird-Flu, Bovine Tuberculosis, Sarcosporidiosis, Flea-borne Typhus, Tularemia, and Rat-Bite Fever can now also be added to that list.

    When ridding your lands and lives of these highly destructive man-made invasive-species vermin cats please do so in a manner where you can safely and sanitarily retrieve that useless carcass and dispose of it so no other life comes in contact with it. Your wildlife and neighbors will thank you. If using guns, I’d even advise against using a shotgun (the tool of choice in the past), too much disease-filled splatter. Make it clean as possible. Wear gloves while disposing of any cat-carcasses and even bury or burn those gloves too when the last cat in your area is finally gone. You need to dispose of that cat safely and hygienically so that wildlife won’t die from the deadly diseases cats spread even after their death. Leaving ANY cat out in nature, alive OR dead, is no better than intentionally poisoning your native wildlife to death. I know this. I fed one of the hundreds of shot-dead cats on my lands to some wildlife under my care, those animals and their offspring that they had while under my care then died from some disease in that cat-meat. Cats truly are complete and total wastes-of-flesh. They can’t even be used to feed wildlife safely.

  4. re: “The eradication of these vermin was so complete and effective that cats are non-existent from my area for FIVE years now. Not seen nor heard a single one.”

    To be perfectly truthful, I’ll have to change that to “I shot ONE cat just the other day in all this time.”

    The problem is now again back to zero cats. Lands 100% cat-free for a 1/3rd cent bullet. And with luck, I won’t see another one for 5 years.

      • When you finally guess my right name, you’ll win a kewpie doll. Until then, keep on trolling with your psychotic beliefs. I could care less. (And, to tell the truth, it actually helps for you to spread more of your psychotic misinformation, deceptions, and lies. The longer you do the longer you’ll never know who I really am. LOL Not only that, but it consistently proves every last thing that I’ve ever said about any cat-owner — you are a shining example of everything that’s bad about them! LOL)

  5. LR, glad you re-entered the fray.

    Kindly forgive my initial misstatement. I was possibly pandering to the crowd, but I believe I cleared it up later in my missive with my statements about the occasional necessity of your actions, and “I personally believe he finds it distressing…”

    As for my personal attacks and insults, you and your momma likely caught my “drift”: it was just a bit ‘o well deserved tit for tat. You cannot deny that you bait some of the folks in the forum with your colorful and descriptive language just a bit!

    I should wish you choose to observe Michael Broad’s directive about refraining from certain phraseology, as to continue being welcome and able to share here.

    Ya gotta admit, you might come across a bit like the comedian George Carlin giving, say, his diatribe on ‘Men who smoke Cigars’ to a Baptist Sunday School class.

    In this case, and in this forum, I am not sure if “shock and awe” is the necessarily the proper strategy. Your emphasis (use of quotation marks) with “cat lovers” when referring to “cat lickers”, as opposed to your mentioning (true) cat lovers sans quotation marks should suffice in the future: I promise you dear LRThomkins, that everyone who sees that term in quotations, in any future post you might make, will understand fully and exactly what you really mean!

    What I like about you already is the passion you feel for the health and safety of poor, discarded or neglected kitties (and that of the community of humans that should indeed truly care for them), and I believe your observations and opinions deserve – at the very least – consideration and discussion here.

    I must, however, draw the line at your apparent willingness to dispatch EVERY furry little ass that happens to cross through your yard! fer chrissakes RL, I let my kats roam, as does every one of my neighbors.

    (except the new girl next door. she keeps her kitties indoors all the time – she must have heard stories of guys like you!)

    At the very least, be of more benefit to humanity with your actions: Trap ’em, and give them to the guy down at your local Vietnamese restaurant!

    (Ohhhhhhhh…. that should cause a stir around here!)

    Thomkins, I really do think that if you can step away from the attacks and some of the rhetoric, you might be a valuable source of information, education and points for discussion within this forum. CNR is not always necessarily the answer, but in many instances, it is.

    (I agree with some of your “finer points”, yet I would also like to see an active CNR program in this little berg I live in!)

    Everyone – you, Michael, me, everyone else, too – needs to understand that there is NO universal answer to the question, dilemma or morality on the issue of euthanizing a kitty or kitties.

    Which is the greater pain that is felt when someone observes a cat starving, feral and sick? Is it the pain they feel in their heart for the poor kitty? or, is it the pain and suffering the poor kitty feels?

    As said: there is no universal solution, there is no answer that fits every situation 100% of the time. PETA is surely not the gawdamned answer, I think everyone agrees that healthy and adoptable kitties deserve to live, and hopefully bring joy to some human heart or family in the future.

    In the meantime, dear LRT – please do consider – instead of dispatching every ‘stray’ [strayed into your yard!] you see, to contenting yourself with sitting on your porch, angrily waving your cane at little kids that cut through your yard on the way to the playground, and yelling “Get offa my lawn, ye little bastards!!!”

    (you might find yourself quite suited for that time-honored hobby!)

    • Yes, I did notice you changed your tune about any joy in destroying cats, but with the attention-deficit-damaged twitter-heads here who read no more than the first 140-characters of any post, it had to be clarified for them.

      Here is an excerpt from a much lengthier and oft-used post that I use to educate anyone in the world on how to rid their lands of invasive species cats permanently. It will address your “take pity on the fool who might let their cat roam free” stance:

      No trapping program in the world has been able to catch-up to cats’ breeding rates, this is precisely why Trap & Kill failed as well as Trap, Neuter, Re-abandon (TNR) is an even bigger failure. Actively and aggressively hunting them down, employing “Hunted to Extinction” methods, is the ONLY way to get ahead of and stay ahead of cats’ breeding rates, their ability to out-adapt to any trapping method used, and also the rates at which criminally-irresponsible cat-lic*ers let more invasive-species vermin cats be born and dumped illegally outdoors.

      Licensing and laws do nothing to curb the problem. If cats are required to be licensed then these lying, deceitful, manipulative, and conniving cat-lic*ers just stop putting collars on their cats; as they did by me. And they won’t even bother getting them micro-chipped, especially not that. They want absolutely nothing that can hold them legally accountable for their actions and the actions of their cats. We’re not talking about the topmost responsible citizens of the world, you know. They don’t want that responsibility of what they and their cats have done coming back on them. If they had even one iota of a sense of responsibility and respect for all other lives on this planet we wouldn’t even be having these discussions.

      ANY non-native cat that is allowed to illegally hunt our native wildlife where I live then in turn gets hunted until dead. No delays, no excuses, NO EXCEPTIONS. That’s the very best way to keep these invasive species vermin from destroying any more native wildlife or spreading any more of their 3dozen+ deadly diseases to all other animals and humans. They had annihilated all the wildlife on my lands for 15 years, until on advice of the Sheriff I shot and buried every last one of hundreds of their vermin cats for them (AS-IS THE LEGAL RIGHT OF EVERY LAND-OWNER ON EARTH (aside: Yes, EVEN in the UK!)). Collared or not — for you MUST destroy ALL stray collared cats as well, they are the very source of every last feral cat. If you don’t destroy them too then you have done NOTHING to solve the feral cat problem. Guaranteed. All the cat-lic*ers by me told me for over a decade that all their “pet” cats were sterilized. But upon inspection during shooting and burying hundreds of them, NOT ONE of their cats was sterilized. When it comes to their cats, cat-owners are manipulative and deceptive LIARS — one and all.

      …. I don’t see anyone dumping cats where I live anymore. They don’t even adopt more than can be kept under lock & key 24/7/52. When driving through the area I don’t see even one cat on anyone’s doorsteps anymore. I always keep an eye-out to see if there are more free-roaming cats that will have to be shot. And if I’ll have to leave fish-oil trails on all the roadsides again, leading right to my IR surveillance system and laser-sighted rifle. (You can read the most effective methods I invented to rid my lands of hundreds of these vermin in only two seasons: americanhunter D0T org SLASH blogs/arkansas-will-trap-feral-cats The eradication of these vermin was so complete and effective that cats are non-existent from my area for FIVE years now. Not seen nor heard a single one. So much for that cat-lic*ers’ oft-spewed and manipulative “vacuum effect” deception and lie too, eh?)

      Leaving ANY of their invasive species cats outside in my area means certain death for their cat, its further existence can be counted in hours. You’d think everyone else could learn from this simple lesson. The quickest way to solve an unwanted animal and irresponsible pet-owner problem is to let everyone know that you will quickly and humanely destroy every last one of their unwanted, uncared-for, or unsupervised animals for them. They either grow up fast or, far more plausible, dump their animals elsewhere to become someone else’s problem.

      You just can’t be an enabler of criminally irresponsible spineless and heartless idiots — or they remain that way. (At least where you live, anyway.)


        • What a silly question to ask. YOU are living-proof of that.

          Do you want me to repost that lengthy treatise on all the wildlife that is dying around the world from your cats? Even killing off rare marine-mammals, even whales from your cats’ parasites? Worse than any oil-spill in history or could even be imagined.

          Really? You need a refresher course in that to show you how YOU YOURSELF are destroying countless billions of native animals around the globe with your “let cats roam free if they want” stance.

          Are you aware that is now a steep monetary fine in some locations in California if people are found illegally dumping their cat-litter anywhere but an environmentally-contained land-fill?

          At least some of them are finally catching on. When will you?

      • Let’s rewrite:


        • I hate and despise criminally-negligent and criminally-irresponsible pet-owners, but I have never hated cats. Though to be perfectly honest, I find all other animals on earth now far more worthy of my respect and admiration after what I’ve been through with cat-lic*ers and all their vermin pestilent cats. I had to legally shoot and bury literally hundreds of these invasive-species vermin to stop them from gutting-alive and skinning-alive the last of the native wildlife on my lands. Apparently gutting-alive and skinning-alive animals with everyone’s vermin cats, tortured to death just for their cats’ play-toys, no other reason, is perfectly acceptable to you. Yeah, you’re a fine upstanding “animal-lover” who respects all other lives around you and all other life on earth, aren’t you.

          Destroying cats is neither hating cats nor a fear of cats.

          Why do mentally-unbalanced and psychotic cat-advocates always presume that if someone is removing a highly destructive, deadly disease spreading, human-engineered invasive-species from the native habitat to restore it back into natural balance that they must hate that organism? Does someone who destroys Zebra Mussels, Kudzu, African Cichlids, Burmese Pythons, or any of the other myriad destructive invasive-species in the USA or elsewhere have some personal problem with that species? (Many of which are escaped PETS that don’t even spread any harmful diseases, unlike cats.) Your ignorance and blatant biases are revealed in your declaring that people who destroy cats must somehow hate or fear cats. Nothing could be further from the truth.

          It is people who let a destructive invasive-species roam free that tortures-to-death all other wildlife, wasted for their cats’ play-toys, that have zero respect for ALL life. They don’t even care about their cats dying a slow torturous death from exposure, animal attacks, diseases, starvation, dehydration, becoming road-kill, environmental poisons, etc., the way that ALL stray cats suffer to death. They don’t even respect their fellow human being. This speaks more than volumes about your disgusting character. People like you should be locked up in prison for life for your cruelty to all animals, cruelty to your own cats as well as all the native wildlife that you let your cats skin alive or disembowel alive for their and your entertainment. If you let cats roam free you are violating every animal-abandonment, animal-neglect, animal-endangerment, and invasive-species law in existence.

          If people do hate cats today, have LEARNED to hate cats today, you have nobody but yourself and everyone just like you to blame. YOU are the reason people are now realizing that all excess cats must be destroyed on-site and on-sight. You’ve done so much to make people care about cats, haven’t you. If you want to do something about it, direct your sadly and sorely misplaced energies at those that are causing the problem, not at those who are actually solving it AND HAVE SOLVED IT 100% by hunting them to extinction (or extirpation in the case of these man-made cats) — the ONLY method that works on an invasive vermin species like cats that out-breed and out-adapt to ANY trapping method known to man.

          THIS IS YOUR FAULT and THE FAULT OF EVERYONE JUST LIKE YOU. You have NOBODY but yourselves to blame.

          You can take that all the way to the very last shot-dead cat’s grave.

          You are aware too, aren’t you, that out of ALL types of pet-owners on the face of this earth, that cat-owners are directly responsible for the suffering deaths of more animals and more species of animals than any other pet-owners on the planet. Cat-owners are a triple-threat to all animal life on earth. If not having animals killed for their own consumption, then they are having animals killed and crammed into bags and cans and having a “CAT FOOD” label slapped on them for their cat’s consumption, and if they let their cats outside then they are senselessly torturing billions of native animals and countless thousands of native species to death yearly just for their cats’ play-toys. As well as the countless BILLIONS of offspring of all those animals that are either starved to death or never get born. How many animals are you going to have senselessly killed or tortured today for your entertainment and your wholly and purely self-serving “but cats make me feel good!” values?

    • Do you think it’s okay if you let your cattle or horses roam free too? How about your dogs that will run deer? Where it is the civic duty of anyone to shoot a dog that is hunting without being under the control of the owner during hunting season and any other time of the year. NO OTHER DOMESTICATED ANIMAL ON EARTH IS ALLOWED TO ROAM FREE — NEITHER ARE YOUR ECOSYSTEM-DESTROYING CATS.

      Keep them on your own land or you lose them permanently. SIMPLE as that.


        What about the human animal? 😉 We roam free. We are domesticated and we are extremely destructive of wildlife and other human animals.

        • Humans are allowed to roam free if they do not wantonly destroy all of nature around them. There are many environmental laws in place and huge agencies to stop ignorant and destructive humans from doing whatever they want to all the lands and life around them. Or haven’t you heard of that yet. Apparently not, or you wouldn’t try yet another red-herring argument to twist your mind away from your destructive pestilent cats. “Red-herring”, the favored canned-food of every last criminally irresponsible cat-li**er on earth.

          • I think you are living on a different planet. Most of the virgin forest on the planet is being cut down killing millions of animals including rare and endangered species. One example: populations of migrating birds from the UK are being decimated (70% destroyed) because the forests in central Africa are being logged for wood and to make way for palm oil plantations. In most African and Asian countries (where most wildlife still remains) there is little or no protection for wild species or their habitat. Humankind is in a different league to any other species when it comes to sheer destructiveness of life.

            America and Europe destroyed their large wildlife 200-100 years ago! Asia is following 😉

      • “Where it is the civic duty of anyone to shoot a dog that is hunting without being under the control of the owner during hunting season and any other time of the year.”

        Where I live, Jim, hunting dogs are exempt from free-roaming laws and having to be under direct control during hunting season. And, it’s not OK for them to be shot unless they pose a significant threat.
        I don’t agree that dogs shouldn’t have to be under direct control or what the dogs are used for, but that’s the law.


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