Carmel City Council have passed an ordinance (a law) which recognises the status of feral cat colony caretakers and seeks to regulate how they carry out their work. It also prevents other people being involved in feeding feral cats.
Feral cat colonies need to be identified by a designee to ensure that the colony caretaker is doing the job properly. Colony caretakers need to be registered with the Carmel Police Department.
The ordinance ensures that feral cat colony caretakers do not have a conviction for animal cruelty and are able to ensure that the cats do not become a public nuisance. The Carmel Police Department reserves the right to trap feral cats, sterilise them and return them to colonies. This would appear to be a rule which allows the authorities to step in when necessary.
It seems that the ordinance provides a definition for a feral cat which is:
“Any cat that has no apparent owner or identification and is wild, untamed, and unsocialised, unmanageable and unable to be approached or handled.”
Feral cat colonies must be maintained properly using established TNR methods.
The ordinance provides for the city to assist volunteers involved in feral cat colony caretaking by paying for the costs of trapping, neutering and vaccinating.
The ordinance insists that the cats of a manage colonies need to be vaccinated against rabies and sterilised.
The law insists that there should be a licensed veterinarian retained by the colony caretakers to evaluate the health of all feral cats in their charge. Cats with no reasonable prognosis for humane rehabilitation or survival outdoors must be humanely euthanised.
Cats who are not feral should be adopted through the Humane Society for Hamilton County.
Feral kittens of less than eight weeks of age should be domesticated by being removed from the colony and placed in a home through the Humane Society.
The law places an obligation to follow these rules and if they don’t they may be subject to a fine of up to $100.
It would seem that this new ordinance simply puts some structure and regulation into the voluntary work carried out by feral cat colony caretakers. I think that it is a good idea partly because it recognises the feral cat colony as a group of cats which need to be cared for by the community but in a way which prevents nuisance and which gradually reduces the population size. It formally recognises TNR programs which I think is always a good step because there is still an argument about TNR and whether cities should adopt this methodology formally and support it.