Cats: Leash Laws, Licenses, Regulated Feeding Outside, Government Funded TNR

To regulate, through laws, cat ownership or not. That is the question.

This is a radical change in policy on how cat owners should keep cats. Whereas in most places there is little or no regulation in the form of local laws as to how people should keep their cats and deal with feral cats, the Borough of Northumberland, Pennsylvania, USA, has turned that concept upside down and proposes an ordinance (local legislation) that tightly regulates the keeping of animals in general, which includes the domestic cat and other domestic animals.

I have presented pictures of the actual ordinance below (Ordinance 2013-3). It is quite readable so please don’t be put off by that. I have done this for clarity. I have been selective in reproducing sections that are relevant to cat owners and/or the most important to us. You can read the entire ordinance here (opens a new window).

WIth respect to cats, in outline, this borough proposes that cats that are outside should be on a leash. Unlicensed cats cannot be fed outside unless under their own funded trap-neuter-return scheme or if an application is successfully made to the local authority. There are strict conditions for feeding cats outdoors. The proposed law obliterates the concept of free moving indoor/outdoor cats.

All cats are to be registered (licensed) and the cost of the TNR scheme is to be funded by fines imposed by offenders and fees for late registration as far as I am aware.

Here are two key sections:


Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats


The reason for the law is to protect the health, welfare and amenity of the inhabitants of the Borough of Northumberland:


Alley Cat Allies have complained about this ordinance. They argue that making it obligatory for an outside cat to be on a leash is (a) impractical, as cats are not dogs and (b) it will lead to many more cat deaths at shelters because cats will get out and be trapped and taken to shelters where most are euthanised (killed in truth). Alley Cat Allies say that feral cat caregivers will be baned from feeding and caring for the cats. I not sure that is completely true because (a) a license can be sought and (b) they can probably get involved with the government run TNR program.

Alley Cat Allies did not refer to the local government funded TNR programme which is good…..


I am not supporting this ordinance but it is not all bad.

This is part of the section on restrictions regarding feeding outdoors:



This is more that a leash law proposed by a local government. It goes much wider. The concept is to regulate companion animal ownership for the benefit of the community at large. It is a two sided law (a) regulate pet ownership and (b) formally manage feral cat colonies under government controlled TNR programmes to reduce stray cat populations. The objective: to get owned and non-owned cats of streets.

There have been various attempts in American and particularly Australia to regulate companion animal ownership. The reasons given, in this instance, make no mention of protecting wildlife (thankfully). It is all about amenity and people’s health.

Some parts are good (TNR). Some parts are impractical (leash for cats). They have overlooked the benefits of outdoor cats (keeping down rodent numbers). There may be unforeseen consquences. People don’t like to be over regulated. Is this law the way we are heading with respect to cat ownership?

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

18 thoughts on “Cats: Leash Laws, Licenses, Regulated Feeding Outside, Government Funded TNR”

  1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

    How about dogs? I’ve got nothing against them, in fact I love dogs, but I hate some of their owners.
    No shutting outside to bark day and night and drive neighbours to drink.
    No running free to attack cats.
    No leaving their mess behind for people to trample around.
    No long leash in the vets waiting room to intimidate cats in cat baskets.

    1. You are so right.
      Dogs shouldn’t be exempt from these idiot laws. No outside feeding or housing either.
      I love dogs too and don’t really HATE kids.
      But, I believe in fair laws across the board.

      1. Dogs are included and lots of domestic animals. The cat has been caught up in this blanket legislation.

        I don’t hate kids either. I just find them irritating sometimes particularly when they are noisy and annoying 😉

        1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

          The thing is that most parents expect those of us who chose not to have kids, to put up with their kids pesky ways and noise and footballs bashing off cars and into gardens and they jump over the walls and trample the flowers, yet we must not say a word to or against them!
          Why should cats always be targeted as a nuisance when kids and dogs are more so!



    All minor children will wear collars and tags around their necks that validate that their
    vaccinations are current, thereby not endangering others.


    No child shall be allowed to consume foodstuff outdoors. They lack proper etiquette and manners.
    It is further unlawful for mothers to expose their breasts in an effort to nurse their offspring.
    Chikdren are prohibited from attending outdoor barbeques.


    CHILDREN: Leash Laws, Licenses, Regulated Feeding Outside

    It shall be unlawful for the parent(s) of any child or children to allow or permit
    such to run at large.
    No child shall be outside unattended or unleashed.

    Any police officer may seize a child found unattended or unleashed outside. They are to
    be transported and confined in a facility deemed appropriate by Children and Family

    In the effort to preserve the health, safety, and welfare of residents be advised that children:

    1. may be diseased or inflicted with an infectious, contagious malady that could compromise the
    health of other humans or animals

    2. may cause damage to the property of others

    3. may disturb the peace by emitting noises such as laughter, yelling, screaming, crying

    4. may urinate on bushes or shrubbery

    5. may chase, torment, or harm animals

    6. may arm themselves with sticks, bats, slingshots

    7, may demonstrate disgusting behavior such as picking their nose

    1. There is plenty of passion in this comment. Good point. Children are more of a problem that outdoor cats. That is the argument.

      I don’t agree with legislation that is this wide and restrictive but I think there may be an argument for some sort of legislation to force irresponsible cat owners to be more responsible. Irresponsible cat owners cause a real problem for the image of the cat.

      1. Plenty of passion, yes. I have no problem with strong guidelines that encourage pet owners to be responsible. I just want to see fairness across the board, ie. dogs, cats, ferrets, birds, rabbits, snakes, etc.
        I hate seeing cat ordinances enacted by people who have no knowledge of cats and don’t encourage or get input from people who are knowledgeable before signing things into law.

        1. Is pooping in the flower bed against the law and is what law? Please quote it verbatim. It’s no point moaning unless you have a grasp of the legalities.

  4. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

    This is ridiculous!
    Have the idiots who make these laws any thought to the cats quality of life? Cats were living wild and free long before humans came along and took their lives over, taking more and more these from animals born to be free, condemning them to only going out on a leash like a dog.
    What life is that for a cat who has had the freedom of outdoors until this harsh law!
    I’d hate to think any law like that came to the UK because the lives of our cats used to their freedom and our lives who love them too, would be sheer misery seeing their frustration and unhappiness.
    The only part I agree with is that cats should be registered and licensed so that no one can dump them or abandon them as easily as they do now.
    The world has gone mad! It’s supposed to be shared by all living beings, live and let live.
    Well I just hope the human race DO wipe themselves out and the world returns to the animals, the sooner the better too.

    1. I agree – it’s totally bonkers and clearly written by people who have dogs.

      If cat’s couldn’t wander free outdoors then I think most of the indoors they would have to live in would be awful – life not worth living.

      This would never happen in other parts of the developed world. This is backwards in a few ways. Why the hell can’t people wherever this is just be RESPONSIBLE with their cats and get them neutered. What the hell – so humans bring the cats, then they can’t be bothered to keep them responsibly and now the way they deal with that is by making all cats dissappear basically. I hate humans. I hate these backwards people who are so self centered they actually don’t think they should have to tackle any problem at the source. You know what – how bout a law that says you get a hefty fine for having an un neutered cat. How bout a law that made TNR a full solution to cats. How bout assholes who get a cat for xmas and then want a dog for new year not be allowed animals. How bout the bloody human race just euthanize itself. Great solution to the problem eh. Imagine there were too many frogs around. Oh well then they should have to be indoors and out of sight like objects with no needs. Whatever man – I don’t know where this place is but they are going to have alot of fun seeing how their laws don’t result in anything good or workable.

      ….also sometimes I get a little flustered by the pigeons at Trafalgar square. I think the best solution is that they be put in a glass box over by the national gallery. Thats fine – they won’t mind.

    2. Let’s see now….my neighbors cat daily defecates in our flower bed….this doesn’t fertilize the soil as most believe but rather taints it…right now there is 5 piles in my flower bed. The neighbors say we should move or put up a fence to keep animals away. Why is this my responsibility when this goes against the Ohio/County laws? …Now they feed feral cats I have multiple cats defecating on my property…..My response is take your opinions and shove it…..

      1. Mark Idiot could you quote the law of Ohio on whether the domestic cat can legally trespass on someone’s property. If not then there has been no wrong doing. What law has been broken? Do you know?

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