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What are the implications if you don't know if a cat is feral?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
We've got one male cat that looks fat enough to be a house cat, but he's got no collar, etc... He's trying to mate with our remaining uncaught feral females. He's not afraid of humans (at all) and I'm thinking he's well on his way to getting caught and snipped.

How do you handle those situations? Can you get sued if someone claims it was their house cat later on?
post #2 of 13
I may get bashed for this,but here is what I would do.
Take the kitty to the vet to see if it is microchipped and if not I would get him snipped,keep him up a few days,then let him back out.And keep my mouth shut about doing it.
post #3 of 13
I have actually neutered a couple of cats that I knew belonged to someone else! But, they never confronted me about it, and so I say go for it. Unless it looks like a pricy cat, then I wouldn't dare. But a stray that is mating with your cats- definitely it's "Neuter Time!"
post #4 of 13
I figure that if they are in my yard and eating my food, I have the right to take them in for neutering. I would be a bit more hesitant if it were a female because it would be pretty obvious that surgery has taken place. But, with neutering the little jewels will probably never be missed by their humans.

I remember that Anne once said she was going to get a sign that said "All tresspassers will be neutered!" That is my motto!
post #5 of 13
I've caught them and neutered them in that situation, no questions asked.
post #6 of 13
We TNR in a nearby park and we fix any cat that gets in the trap! If he/she belonged to someone, they just got a free neuter/spay!!
post #7 of 13
How do you handle those situations? Can you get sued if someone claims it was their house cat later on?
Be very careful. You will absolutely need to check your local laws. In some areas of the US this can be considered a felony - and you WILL be prosecuted if the owner presses the issue. Even in areas where it is a misdemeanor there are still legal issues, and potential civil actions that can be quite ugly (and expensive!)

Check with your local animal control or sheriff's office to determine what is appropriate in your area.

post #8 of 13
George, that is sound advice. But we use the same theory as everyone else who has posted. If they're here and we're feeding them, they get spayed or neutered (unless they are obviously pure bred. Though that has never happened yet, we would make an effort to find the owner first via pics and posters).
post #9 of 13
I'm aware of quite a few variations in laws, and they do vary here in the US from state to state, and even from county to county.

As an example, here in central NC:

In the county I live in (Durham) it is illegal to trap ANY animal on any public land, and only the owner can approve trapping on private land. Even then a permit is required from animal control. Any domestic animal trapped must be turned in to the animal shelter, no other options are legal. Wild animals require a separate permit and can only be relocated or, if certain species are captured, must also be turned in to the animal shelter (foxes, racoons, bats.) Trapping an animal without a permit is a misdemeanor and is also subject to civil penalties. Keeping a dog or cat or having one altered without the owner's approval may be considered theft of a domestic animal (depending on the circumstances) which is a felony in this state. We are currently in the process of changing the animal control laws but the protections for animal owners will not change.

In the neighboring two counties the laws are similar, but one does allow for certain approved TSR (Trap/Sterilize/Release) programs in specific areas. The other county does not.

In the county to the south of us and the two to the north there are essentially no restrictions except for the state's humane trapping regulations. The state protections against theft of a domestic animal still apply.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

...and not surprising from a legal standpoint. It's ironic that you could get taken to court, considering you're actually reducing the cat population (thereby reducing the possibility of disease, overpopulation, damage to the environment, etc..)

From a practicality standpoint - if I can't catch all of these cats (and I live here 24/7), then I doubt animal control is going to manage the same, shy of baiting a bunch of traps and leaving them for 3 weeks (which is cruel). And if a cat isn't collared, how are you supposed to be sure it's a house cat (which I'm not) a stray or a feral? I suppose you could put signs up all over town, but it seems like you'd be opening up a can of worms in that scenario too. Too bad we live in a world where people poison ferals and you have to worry about your level of visibility in the community.

Of course municipalities want to manage control. If there's one person that comes down with rabies, they don't want people screaming about why local residents are having to take matters into their own hands for what should be a civil service responsibility.

Now, if the state system worked, and if people in the community would $#&%$*&@#@ spay and neuter their pets, that would be a different story... (we had one neighbor recently tell us, "but it's so expensive" - well, so are your nice pants. Spay the frickin' cat).

I'd be interested to know what happens when some TNR person gets arrested for trying to reduce the cat population.

The first thing I'd do is hand the court a $3,000 invoice for all of the vet bills and hours spent resolving an issue the community failed to address. It seems fair that community taxes should be spent on taking care of what the community failed to.

It's always fun to talk to people about ferals and have them say, "yeah, somebody should do something about that." Yeah, SOMEBODY should. I can't wait to meet Somebody.
post #11 of 13
You Can Fight
City Hall
by Steve Hockensmith,
ALDF Communications Manager
Not many people hate horses. Not
many people hate chickens or gold-fish.
Yet for some inexplicable reason, certain
people hate cats.
Just why is a mystery. But one thing’s clear:
Cat haters have a new capital city—Akron, Ohio.
In 2002, the Akron city council declared war
on cats by passing an ordinance that made any
feline caught outdoors illegal—and subject to
summary execution. At the time, Councilman
Michael Williams told his fellow council mem-bers
he’d “sleep fine†if 20,000 cats died as a
result. Sadly, it looks like Williams is getting his
wish. More than 2,000 cats and kittens have
been killed since the ordinance was passed, and
dozens more are dying each week.
“What’s happening in Akron is both a
tragedy and a travesty,†says ALDF Executive
Director Joyce Tischler. “There are more com-passionate—
and effective—ways to control the
feral and stray cat populations. But rather than
explore these options, Akron’s leaders have
gone on an indiscriminate killing spree.â€
Fortunately, animal advocates in Akron are
fighting back—and ALDF’s backing them up.
(To find out what you can do, read to the end
of this article.)
With the support of an ALDF grant, attor-ney
(and longtime ALDF member) J. Jeffrey
Holland has filed suit on behalf of six Akron res-idents
with cats. Holland and his clients say the
city left them with no other choice.
“We did everything we could to seek com-promise
and common ground,†Holland says,
pointing out that local activists presented the
city with a variety of alternative plans that would
use trap-neuter-return strategies to reduce the
number of free-roaming cats. Though these
models were based on successful programs in
other Ohio towns, the council ignored them,
instead passing an ordinance that essentially
sentences outdoor cats to death.
“The council wasn’t interested in alterna-tives,â€
says Deanne Christman-Resch, co-chair
of Citizens for Humane Practices (CHAP),
www.saveourcats.org, which was formed to
round up cats because they consider them a
nuisance. They claimed cats are a big health
concern because of rabies, but that’s bogus.
There hasn’t been a case of cat or dog rabies
in this county for decades.â€
It’s not just the city’s motives that have been
called into question. So have its methods. The
city hands out cat-traps to anyone who asks
for them. As long as a trap is “activeâ€â€”i.e.,
capturing cats on a regular basis—the individ-ual
is allowed to keep it.
“The city shouldn’t encourage any person
to trap cats,†says Holland. “Abuse and neg-lect
are inevitable.â€
Not just inevitable—already all too common,
according to Christman-Resch.
“We know that people are trapping cats to
get back at neighbors because of personal
feuds,†she says. “People who are in organ-ized
dog-fighting are trapping cats because
they can use them to train their dogs. We’ve
got animal dealers here who sell cats to re-search.
A lot of these animals are never even
making it to the pound.â€
Even if a cat is actually picked up by the city,
Under the ordinance, cats are supposed to be
held for three days before being killed, thus giv-ing
their guardians a chance (albeit an exceed-ingly
short-lived one) to claim them. But CHAP
has found case after case in which captured cats
were put to death immediately because they were
deemed “sick,†“flea-infested,†or “feral.â€
“Eighty percent are killed the same day
they’re brought in,†Christman-Resch says.
“More than 2,500 cats have been trapped since
this started, and of those only three or four dozen
went home with their guardians. And when-ever
anyone does actually manage to rescue a
cat, they’re hit with all kinds of fees and fines.â€
Of course, anyone who cares for an out-door
cat would be more than willing to pay a
few fines in order to get their friend back. Sadly,
however, by the time they find out their cat’s
been captured, it’s probably too late.
That’s exactly what happened to Sue
Richardson. She befriended a feral kitten last
year, feeding the young cat after she was aban-doned
in Richardson’s neighborhood.
“I couldn’t bring her inside. I tried once, but
my other cats had a fit and so did my neighbor downstairs,†says Richardson, one of the
plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed by Holland. “Still,
I was trying to work with her to domesticate
her. She got comfortable enough to sit with
me in the yard in the evenings. Everyone in the
neighborhood knew she was mine.â€
Unfortunately, being outside made the cat—
whom Richardson had named “Kittyâ€â€”fair
game. Unbeknownst to Richardson, a neigh-bor
set out cat traps, and eventually Kitty dis-appeared.
When Richardson checked with the
city, she found that a cat matching Kitty’s de-scription
had been brought to the pound and
killed the same day.
“She wasn’t a danger. She wasn’t hurting
anyone or damaging anything,†says
Richardson. “The city had no right to do what
it did. Granted, she wasn’t inside my apart-ment,
but she was no less my cat.â€
That’s how Rachel Neuwirth felt about
Mikey, the indoor/outdoor cat she lost to the
city’s traps. Mikey was neutered, vaccinated,
Neuwirth found his collar tossed in the street
near her house. Mikey she never saw again. A
cat matching his description was killed due to
an unexplained “injury†mentioned in the
pound’s logbook.
“I’m really angry with the city,†says
Neuwirth, who’s also a plaintiff in the suit
against the city. “There’s definitely a better so-lution
than just picking up cats and killing them.
It’s cruel. It’s not the cats’ fault people are too
ignorant to spay and neuter their animals.â€
So whose fault is it? Certainly the city has
done nothing to deal with the problem hu-manely—
it doesn’t even have a spay/neuter pro-gram,
despite studies (presented to the city coun-cil
by CHAP) that demonstrate that such efforts
are cheaper and more cost-effective than killing.
“What does it say about a community’s gov-ernment
when both public sentiment and hard
facts are ignored and numerous offers of ex-pertise
and assistance are rebuffed?†asks Becky
Robinson, national director of Alley Cat Allies,
ci.akron.oh.us/e-mail.html and let the Akron
city council know you don’t approve of its ac-tions.
You can also support ALDF and CHAP as
they take the battle against the ordinance to
the courts.
“You don’t need to be a lawyer to appreci-ate
the time and resources it takes to fight city
hall,†says Holland. “The city will use the full
weight of its resources to win. We need every-one’s
help today.â€
This article is reprinted with permission from ALDF
(Animal Legal Defense Fund). ALDF is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit organization that has been pushing the
U.S. legal system to end the suffering of abused an-imals
for nearly a quarter-century. Founded by at-torneys
active in shaping the emerging field of ani-mal
law, ALDF has blazed the trail for stronger
enforcement of anti-cruelty laws and more humane
treatment of animals in every corner of American life.
Today, ALDF’s groundbreaking efforts are supported
by hundreds of dedicated attorneys and more than
100,000 members. For more information on ALDF,
go to www.aldf.org.
post #12 of 13
OMG!!!!! Katie - you're always so full of such great news. But THANK YOU for bringing our attention to these outrageous laws, practices and policies. Geez - I'm shaking with anger!!!!!
post #13 of 13
To be fair, I have to add that you do bring us encouraging news too, Katie. Please keep both practices up!
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