Categories: feral cats

Icelandic government proposes changes to the law regarding feral cats

CAT NEWS AND VIEWS: Changes to Icelandic law regarding the status of feral cats on the island has been proposed by the government, as I understand it. I have added the caveat because I’m reliant upon a Google translation of the Icelandic text which is not always 100% reliable.

Icelandic feral cat. Notice the thick covering of fur against the chilly elements in Iceland.The picture, in my opinion, is in the public domain.

It is reported on Icelandic websites that at present, under TNR programs, a percentage of feral cats are not “ear tipped“. This is the process whereby about a quarter of the ear flap is removed after a feral cat has been spayed or neutered. It allows people involved in managing feral cat colonies to identify cats who have passed through the process of vaccination, sterilising and checking for health issues, under TNR programs.

Because, in Iceland, some feral cats are not ear tipped, the TNR programs appear to be less efficient. The new regulations allow or perhaps insist that ear tipping is carried out by NGOs involved in managing feral cat colonies. The proposed regulations will also allow volunteers involved in TNR to keep feral cats in their custody for a short time without being considered to be the owners of those cats. This is an interesting aspect of TNR work in Iceland. There is an argument that if a person looks after a feral cat even for a short while that they become de facto owners of the cat. Clearly this can cause complications. Propese new regulations will apparently preclude this possibility occuring.

The new law will make the work of NGOs easier and it will have the effect, I’m told, of ensuring that all feral cats will be spayed and neutered. As in any other country, the objective is to treat feral cats humanely, to manage their numbers, and ultimately to reduce the population size.

It is also reported that at the moment in Iceland feral cats can be legally trapped and killed (probably euthanised). Charities involved in TNR find this unacceptable for the usual reasons. Feral cats have been in Iceland the centuries and appear to have been imported into the country as utility animals to keep down the rodent population as in other parts of the world. It is unfair to now kill them because they have become a nuisance.

It is pleasant to read this kind of feral cats story. It demonstrates to me that the authorities in Iceland have a progressive attitude towards the humane treatment of stray and feral cats which is a moral obligation.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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