The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which is an agency of the US Dept. of Labor has decided to remove feral cats from its list of vermin under a process of updating the rules: OSHA’s Standards Improvement Project – Phase IV final rule. The rules state that vermin infestations must be eliminated but cats won’t be on the list. Great news for cat advocates and common sense.
OSHA received over 500 comments supporting the removal of feral cats from the list of vermin. About 50% of the comments came from shipyard workers and employers who value the shipyard feral cats.
“OSHA received around 700 submissions on the proposed rulemaking, with many of the submissions containing comments on more than one of the proposed revisions. The proposed revision to the shipyards standard to remove ‘feral cats’ from the definition of ‘vermin’ received over 500 comments in support.”
“Many shipyard employers and their employees value the cats both for companionship and as a means of controlling rodent populations. Classifying shipyard cats as ‘vermin’ will likely lead to their mistreatment and interfere with the trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs used to manage their numbers and keep the cats healthy.”
The supporters of feral cats said that feral cats helped control vermin such as rodents which avoided the need for pesticides.
Feral cats have been placed in the category ‘other animals’ under OSHA’s latest Standards Improvement Project rule.
It is hoped to save $6.1 million as a result of updating workplace rules which were deemed “outdated, duplicative, unnecessary and inconsistent….”.
Comment: this is clearly excellent news for feral cat advocates and supporters particularly those involved in TNR projects. Volunteers involved in TNR understand the value of these cats and have informed this government agency of their benefits. I am pleased that they have listened.
Note: the updated rules referred to in the Standards Improvement Project were published in the May 14 Federal Register. In all, fourteen standards have been revised. They reduce the regulatory burden placed on employers while maintaining or improving safety standards.
Sources: osha.gov, Wikipedia and safetyandhealthmagazine.com
P.S. In my research on whether it is legal to shoot feral cats in the US I have never come across state law which classifies feral cats as pests or vermin. The changes referred to above are inline with general state law. One issue is that if you classify feral cats as vermin you make stray domestic cats (owned cats) vulnerable to abuse and being killed. This would be a violation of the rights of citizens of the US under the law. There would also be a clash between animal welfare laws protecting domestic cats and the laws regarding workplace standards if feral cats (sometimes stray domestics) were labelled vermin.