Cat Confinement in Marion County, FL, USA

Rules on outdoor cats in Marion County, Florida, USA
Rules on outdoor cats in Marion County, Florida, USA
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Can domestic cats go outside the home in Marion County, FL, USA? The answer is yes but under tight restrictions which more or less state in a roundabout way that cats should be on a leash when outside and under the control of the person holding the leash.

The applicable ordinance is reproduced below the article on this page. I have highlighted what I see as relevant sections. Virtually all of the animal control law of Marion County is to do with dogs.

Summary of the cat confinement laws of Marion County

It is not stated in the ordinance that cats are to be confined or contained within the home or the back yard. However, the restrictions to outside activity are so tight so that they effectively contain cats to the home.

The conclusion I have come to is that cats are allowed outside provided they are supervised 100% – someone must be in attendance. That might mean the owner being in close proximity to their cat at all times provided the cat is docile and won’t run off (and therefore the person has control over the cat) or the cat is kept on a leash (preferred).

The companion animal adoption forms from Marion County animal shelters imply that cats must be on a leash when outside but as I read the ordinance this is not strictly correct. The cat must be under the control of the owner or someone employed by the owner. It is possible for a cat to be under the control of the owner without a leash if the cat is trained and compliant. That is unlikely, I agree, but technically possible.

The first paragraph of the ordinance highlighted below sums it up.

The Law


Sec. 4-10. – Control of animals.

(a) It shall be the duty of every animal owner or responsible person to ensure that the animal is kept under direct humane control. Reasonable care and precaution shall be taken to prevent the animal from leaving, while unattended, the real property limits of its owner or responsible person; and the animal is:

(1) Securely and humanely confined within a house, building, fence, pen, or other enclosure with sufficient ventilation; or

(2) Except as provided herein, the unsupervised, unattended outdoor tethering of a dog is prohibited, whether or not the dog is otherwise inside a fenced or enclosed outdoor area. Where the dog is being held or kept outdoors a tether may be used as a means of direct control of the dog, only if all of the following conditions are met:

a. The dog is in visible range of the owner or responsible party, which person must also be outside with the dog at all times. There is authorized the following narrow exception to this condition: The dog owner or responsible person may leave a dog tethered outdoors on the property for a reasonable period while such owner or responsible person performs a temporary task indoors. In no event may the owner or responsible person leave the premises while a dog is left tethered, unattended, outdoors. A dog may never be left tethered and unattended on vacant or abandoned property.

b. Any tether must be of sufficient strength to prevent escape.

c. The tether must be attached to the animal by a properly applied, buckle-type nylon or leather collar, or halter or harness, with a swivel hook, and configured so as to protect the animal from injury and prevent entanglement with other objects and/or animals.

d. The tether shall not be attached to a stationary object or trolley at a point or location that would allow the animal to extend the tether over a fence or other object or edge in such manner that could result in the strangulation of or injury to the animal.

e. The foregoing provisions regarding tethering do not apply to a lawful animal event, veterinarian treatment, grooming, training, or law enforcement.

f. The provisions of subsection (2), and subsection (2)a., above, do not apply to dogs that are kept or used on lands being used for a bona fide farm operation on lands classified as agricultural pursuant to F.S. § 193.461 [cf. sections 163.3162(3)(a), and F.S. § 823.14(6); see, definitions of “farm,” “farm operation,” and “farm product” at F.S. § 823.14(3)(a), (b), and (c)].

(3) A dangerous dog may only be kept on a tether according to the foregoing requirements if it is otherwise secured within a proper enclosure for a dangerous dog, as defined herein.

(4) Leashed under direct control by an owner or responsible person at any time it is not secured as provided in [subsections] (a)(1) or (2) of this section.

(b) It shall be the duty of every animal owner or responsible person to ensure that the animal is kept under direct control at all times while the animal is off the real property limits of the owner or responsible person.

(c) This section shall not apply to dogs during any time in which they are engaged in hunting, or training, law enforcement work, performing field trials, participating in dog shows organized events, or in locations designated by the board as pet play areas, dog parks or exercise areas.

(d) Animal control or enforcement officers shall have the authority to take up, confine, hold and impound any animal and which is found to be running at large or straying. The owner of such animal shall be responsible for the costs of impoundment.

(e) It shall be unlawful for the owner of an animal or responsible person to:

(1) Fail to maintain direct control of an animal resulting in a bite or injury to a human being, unless such animal was reacting to a person unlawfully on its owner’s property or protecting itself, its owner or keeper from an unjustified attack or assault; or

(2) Fail to maintain direct control of an animal resulting in an attack on another domestic animal while off the owner’s or keeper’s property; or

(3) Fail to humanely confine a female dog or cat in heat (estrus) in a properly ventilated building or secure enclosure with a top so as to make it inaccessible to any male dog or cat, except for controlled and intentional breeding purposes. The animal may not be walked off the owner or responsible person’s property or leasehold during this time.

(f) All livestock shall be controlled by utilizing fencing or enclosures which shall meet the livestock fencing minimum requirements.

(Ord. No. 11-55, § 1, 10-18-11; Ord. No. 14-06, § 1, 4-1-14)
Sec. 4-11. – Domestic animals creating a nuisance.

(a) Without regard to knowledge, intent, or culpability, an owner shall prevent a domestic animal from becoming a nuisance. The department of animal services may impound a domestic animal creating a nuisance. A nuisance includes but is not limited to:

(1) A domestic animal that trespasses on public or private property;

(2) A domestic animal that causes damage to another person’s property;

(3) A domestic animal that creates a danger to the public health or safety;

(4) A domestic animal that disturbs or turns over garbage containers;

(5) A domestic animal that chases or molests vehicles, bicycles, persons, or animals;

(6) A domestic animal that displays a menacing or threatening behavior; or

(7) A domestic animal that defecates on public or private property other than the owner’s property.

(b) Domestic animals creating noise disturbances.

(1) Any animal barking, whining, howling or making objectionable noises that can be clearly heard beyond the boundaries of the owner’s property and that continues for a minimum continuous period of fifteen (15) minutes may be considered a nuisance. In making a determination whether to cite an animal owner for a nuisance based on a noise-related disturbance, the animal control officer shall exercise his or her sound discretion, based on the totality of the circumstances and upon the standard of a “reasonable objective complainant” in such circumstances.

(2) The prohibition against barking, whining, howling and making objectionable noises shall not apply between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. to commercial boarding kennels which are in compliance with the Marion County Land Development Code.

(3) This subsection shall not apply to domestic animals on land zoned for agricultural purposes.

(c) An owner of any animal, upon the death of such animal, shall dispose of the carcass by burying the carcass at a sufficient depth, of at least two (2) feet below the surface to prevent predators from exhuming the carcass, or by recognized alternate methods of disposal such as cremation, or rendering. An owner shall not dispose of the carcass of any animal by dumping such carcass on any public or private property.

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39 thoughts on “Cat Confinement in Marion County, FL, USA”

  1. They hunt the raccoons for “sport”,not food. I live in the Ocala National Forest,so yes,I’m out there.And there is a lot of poaching all year.

    1. Sad, Geri.
      I remember the time when living in the forest was wonderful. It still is in some parts. But, I think the hardcore hunters have ruined a lot.

  2. Speaking of your beloved, rare, and endangered Florida Panther:

    remainder deleted…..

    You can’t be polite Woody so you’re banned again.

  3. These dogs are used to hunt deer and raccoons.The panther is protected and cannot be hunted.I once had a 12×12 mini house built to keep the feral/strays in,shingled roof and all.I’m on an acre and they came out and told me I could not do that unless I had a farm or atleast 17 acres. They want them contained,but then give abunch of BS when you do.The AC changes the rules to suit themselves.

    1. Thanks Geri. The Florida panther is protected because it is highly endangered and inbred but in other states it is hunted with dogs. Looks like AC are not very good at customer relations and unpopular in FL.

      Do people hunt raccoons with dogs for fun and food?

      1. Not Geri, but I have never known anyone to hunt raccoons for food, only for fur. That may not hold true for Geri’s area of the county though.
        She must live in or very near our national forest, so know more firsthand than me.

        I know that, long ago, native Americans (Indians) consumed raccoons. But, today, they are near the top of the list for being rabid, so that may be a deterrent to people who are hunting for meat.

        But, I would have to say that there really isn’t a lot of hunting for sport/fun here. It’s most about eats although some “eats” I’ve never experience in my life when I ate meat like opossum, squirrel, rabbit, rattlesnake, etc.

  4. Yes,dogs do no wrong, even when they attack a human.It is appalling and just boils my blood. When I see an AC truck I get sick to my stomach.22 hunting dogs got away from their pens and attacked the cats and me. They got a free pass.4 Great Danes that broke out a window to escape after being left alone for 5 days,tried to rip my infant son from my arms upon returning from grocery shopping.I made it to the house and came back out and shot one dog,they ran back to their house.I called AC,they wanted to know if anyone was bleeding.They would not come out. I called sheriff,he was attacked,they refused to come out for him.The next day a mentally impaired young woman was walking to church on corner,the dogs attacked her,I tried to get them to attack me,but they wouldn’t,I called for ambulance and sheriff.Girl had minor damage,and AC would not come out. Finally a County Commishioner was called,he,the sheriffs,and Fish and Game hunted down the dogs and killed them. Owners were never fined or anything,two weeks later they had more dogs.I will not continue,I think you get the point.

        1. Perhaps I can clarify, Jim, because I hate hunters also.
          When I say “hunter”, I am referring to an entity that requires some cowardly equipment in conjunction with their own strength, agility, and ingenuity to capture prey, such as guns, bows and arrows, and knives.
          Only human animals have to equip themselves to hunt.

      1. And don’t try to clarify by saying “human hunters”, or are you guilty of “speciesism and animal racism” too? Humans were designed (through evolution) by their very DNA to be a hunter/gatherer omnivore species.

        I guess what you are trying to tell the world is that you hate all humans, including yourself. That would explain everything about you and what you do — 100%.

      2. No, in Florida, the dogs are mostly used to facilitate hunters in capturing edible game such as deer, turkey, quail, squirrel, hog, gator (though mostly illegal), rabbit, oppossum.

        If it walks, crawls, or slithers they want to eat it.

        Dogs and guns are a hunters “crutches” because they aren’t able and are too cowardly to go “toe-to-toe” with an animal in the wild.

          1. If bushmeat means to capture, kill, gut, and dismantle wild game to take home to consume, then that’s what it is.
            All very barbaric to me; but, a common practice all over.
            The argument against would be something like, “Well, how do you think that turkey got to the grocery store or how do you think you were able to buy that chicken for Charlie?”

  5. The problem is they do not enforce the law for dogs. Of course I am way out in the woods,22 miles east of Ocala. The times the ferals were attacked,even with eyewitnesses,nothing was done.And we knew who the owner was and where the dogs lived w/him.

    I was told they did not see the attack therefore there was nothing they could do. Yet the law states dogs are to be leashed/confined.Confined can mean as long as they are not off the property.

    My grievance is the dog owners are never held responsible. But,if someone complains about a cat,they come out like Nazi Storm Troopers.And the people have no special training for animals,an 8 hour course at the college,valid driver’s license and the job is yours.

    They have little to no knowledge about animals,handle the animals in a very rough manner,and will bait traps a foot off your property to trap the ferals or strays.I met one good worker many years ago,she knew about animals,was fair,and helpful,but I do not believe she is there anymore.

    I find the majority very vile people.They have a seek and destroy agenda concerning cats. They spread the lies about cats being an invasive species destroying birds,spreading disease,etc.They create the hostility towards cats.I cannot condone their actions or respect them.AC in Marion County needs an overhaul and the war on cats must end.

    1. Geri, you are saying there is what is called “speciesism” within the authorities. Speciesism is animal racism. And the authorities favour dogs. I agree that. It follows logically because leaders of the community and the police etc. tend to be alpha types and these types prefer dogs.

    2. Everything you’re saying is absolutely correct, Geri.
      Animal Control was my worse nightmare until TNR came to be. They harrassed me almost daily and, like you, they would set traps around the perimeter of my property, just waiting for a cat to step off.
      They did nothing about a dog running loose and killing cats here either.

      They are still my arch enemy, but the harrassment and fining has ceased. But, I still see them cruising by my house a couple times per month.

      1. The harrassment Dee and Geri have experienced at the hands of AC and the authorities is disgusting. Shame these organisations not so proactive when it comes to protecting animals from abuse and neglect.

        If my local council were to introduce and enforce confinement laws with the same vigour as those in the US, I would definitely invest in cat-proof fencing for my garden.

        For some reason cats are often considered second class animals compared to dogs. Maybe that’s due to the old adage about them being man’s best friend, whereas cats are often still considered to be aloof.

  6. I don’t see any other way for a cat and caretaker to comply except to have the cat restrained in some manner when outside.

    Most dogs can be trained to obey voice commands; but, it’s pretty impossible to train a cat to “come” when they see a squirrel to chase. That is not irresponsible caretaking. That is cat nature that no one can control without force.

    The ordinances and “implied” rules are enacted by humans who are uneducated about the differences between dogs and cats.

    1. This Control of Animals document is rather ambiguous in it’s wording. Rabbits, horses, cattle, chickens are all “domestic animals”, so in theory the rules would affect them too. The only specific reference to cats, is to say that they should be confined indoors when in heat.

      I’m sure these controls refer predominatly to dogs. When did you last see a cat “chasing/molesting vehicles & bicycles” 😉

      Perhaps it was deliberately drafted using the term “domestic animals” so as to encompass a wider range of pet as and when they want to?

      1. Before TNR was made law here (when I incurred huge fines), the ordinances were more specific for cats.

        But, they had to rewrite them to exclude feeding bans for outside cats and made the free-roaming law more “implied” for domesticated, so colony caretakers could freely caretake. But, it’s still enforced for domesticated, which makes me mad too.

        I have a real problem with “implied” laws. Give me a law or no law… but don’t drag me into court over an “implied” one.

        1. Dee, if I understand you correctly, pet cats must be confined, but feral and strays have the feedom to roam?

          Wow that is so confusing. How do they tell pets from homeless cats? Do they look for a neutered ear notch or something to identify those allowed to roam freely?

          1. Yes, good point. The law relates to domestic cats but as you say what about feral cats and how do you tell the difference between a friendly feral and a wandering domestic cat? It is not always clear. Sometimes there are notched ears on ferals but not always. Microchipping too is a way of IDing domestics but not everyone microchips.

          2. The ferals from registered colonies (the key is “registered”) are allowed to free-roam. They are identified by the ear tip and are microchipped.
            There is rarely a complaint about a registered feral, because they are allowed to be well taken care of, ie. they’re not searching for food in peoples’ trash. They’re satisfied and stay away from humans for the most part.
            Unregistered ferals, strays, even someone’s lost cat are subject to being taken to the kill shelter.

  7. These rules apply to irresponsible cat owners. If we all trained our cats properly these rules would not be so strictly enforced because the cats would learn to stay within their own boundaries. Stray dogs and cats-unsupervised and untrained cause many problems affecting all pets and their owners.
    But-this is not the responsible world we live in is it. And there are a multitude of reasons why an animal runs away.Abuse is at the top of the list___And there are different forms of abuse; both physical and verbal. Then there is a total lack of love and compassion for the pet.You get the picture?

    1. If we all trained our cats properly these rules would not be so strictly enforced

      Absolutely, if all cat and dog owners where responsible and considerate of others this ordinance wouldn’t be required. It is the irresponsible minority who spoil it for the responsible majority.

    2. Curious…
      Do your cats come to you when you say “Come”, like a dog does? Most of mine will unless something like a bird, butterfly, lizard, etc. draws their attention. Then, they become what they are, a cat.

      1. My cats come to me by name, However there are exceptions-like if they are being chased by a neighbors unleashed dog* I would prefer to have a fence but can’t afford one, so when I started taking them outside as kittens we would walk the boundary [ invisible ] border of our yard. They do not go past the line-ever. But this took a lot of work and patience. My maine coons are great cats, but will not take to a leash. Good luck.

      2. I think the authorities have a problem interpreting the word “control”. How does one define this in the ordinance? I suppose it means tight control to the point where the cat comes on command. I sense that the authorities want cats on leashes and as that is rare they are demanding cats stay inside.

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