Feeding Feral Cats Is Legal With A Few Exceptions

The video relates to the legality of feeding feral cats in one county in the USA: Alachua County. However, there is an interesting snippet of information during the video. The Board of County Commissioners sought and received the legal advice of the County Attorney. He implied in his advice that feeding feral cats is likely to be legal under state and federal law as well in Alachua County.

He had to make a decision on all three levels of law otherwise they might clash. The laws appear to be in harmony. There have been discussions in some municipalities across the United States about prohibiting the feeding of feral cats. Some administrators have enacted laws banning feral cat feeding. In which case there will be a problem with TNR programs as well. Feeding feral cats is part of TNR work. For instance the Fort Oglethorpe City ordinance makes it a crime to feed feral cats. There are other examples e.g Augusta, Kansas.

In these earlier cases there is never any question of interference from state or federal law except for Hawaii which has banned feeding the cats at ports. The state has a particularly pressing bird conservation issue. It is legal to feed ferals in Florida by the way. Florida has seabirds.

Other than Hawaii, it seems all the anti-feral cat feeding ordinances are at county or city level unless someone can correct me. I would be pleased if they could. Here is the video from the wcjb.com website:

Useful links
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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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5 Responses

  1. Cat's Meow says:

    Not feeding feral cats in an attempt to preserve birds is a little idiotic, in my opinion. The starving cats are more likely to attack the birds. Cat’s with full bellies rarely hunt because there is no need for it. Now either the Hawaiian cats will either starve or eat birds.

    • Michael Broad says:

      Good point Cat’s Meow. Happy New Year by the way. I hope 2018 goes well for you and yours.

      • Reality-101 says:

        Unfortunately this is completely untrue, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from still spreading that lie.

        Two studies–Crookes & Soule (Nature, 1999) and Loyd, Hernandes et al (Biological Conservation, 2013) demonstrated that 85 WELL-FED unconfined cats (both studies combined) destroyed 64 native mammals, 57 native birds and 68 native reptiles per cat/per year. Loyd/Hernandez’ study used collar-mounted “kitty cameras” to document this, so we’re not extrapolating from estimates here.

        Here’s an explanation from veterinarians of why this is so. http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/good-bad-and-ugly-feline-food-and-foraging

        Different parts of their brains control the desire to hunt or feed today (unlike their native wild-cat counterparts from which they were selectively bred). We created the domesticated Felis catus species to be this way by killing any with traits where they wouldn’t hunt even after being fed. After centuries of humans destroying any cats that wouldn’t do their jobs killing mice you have the domesticated “house-cat” that you see before you today. We got rid of all cats that wouldn’t kill when still fed. This is why your cat still leaps at and attacks that string or feather being dangled in front of them even right after a hearty meal. Your cat is the remaining product of killing any cats that wouldn’t kill other animals when not hungry.

      • Cat's Meow says:

        Thank you, hope 2018 goes well for you too.

  2. Reality-101 says:

    Yes, where they haven’t passed laws against it it is still legal. Just as it is legal to trap and dispose of feral or stray cats or kill them where they haven’t passed laws against it.

    Keeping in mind that if it is legal to feed a feral cat this means it is legal to feed them anything by anyone. Most people give them a one-time diet of lead today. This is why people keep the locations of their TNR colonies hidden. Once the location is known other people come by and greatly speed-up their rate of TNR attrition by “feeding them”.

    The law works both ways.

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