Laws Regarding Feeding Feral Cats on One's Own Property or Elsewhere

Recently, since the judge's decision against the City of Los Angeles regarding the Longcore/Audubon lawsuit against LAAS embracing TNR under Boks, many ACOs, at least in the West Valley have taken it upon themselves to tell colony caretakers that feeding feral cats is illegal. They cite many laws including those whose intent was not to stop feral cat feeding and TNR. If you prohibit feeding ferals, naturally TNR is impossible because the cats would be dead. 


Simply put, the judges order only affects the degree of TNR allowed by the department of animal services. It does not affect or limit private feeding or colony maintenance at all.

One law cited at West Valley is Municipal Code 53.06.5, which prohibits feeding coyotes, skunks, opossum and raccons, the latter being the usual prey of coyotes. The intent was to stop people from attracting coyotes into inhabited areas. It is entitled, "Feeding of Non-Domesticated Mammalian Predators. Cats are not Non-Domesticated predators. Their Latin name is Catus Domesticus. They are domestic animals where housed or on the streets as strays of ferals. Feral does not equal wildlife. 

However, some ACOs have been saying that if you leave feed for street cats in colonies, wildlife could eat that food as an unintended consequence, therefore you are breaking that law. This is bull. This is not the intent of that law. They are misapplying that law to scare feeders away and squelch neighbor complaints rather than explain to those neighbors that it is not illegal to feed feral cats by private citizens or rescue groups. If banning leaving food outside were enforced under this law, they would also have to ban outdoor picknicks, back yard barbeques, or feeding homeless, or eating a snadwich in a park. All could leave food for wildlife.

The other law they use is the kennel law M.C. 53.50 that says any lot, building, enclosure or premises where four or more cats are kept or maintained for any purpose, is a cat kennel, which requires a permit and business license. Ownership is defined by M.C. 53.15.2. A as: any person harboring, keeping or providing care or sustenance to a domestic animal for 30 or more consecutive days on property he/she owns/rents/ or leases. 

Therefore this law does not apply to feeding ferals in alleys, on school grounds, sidewalks, bridges, etc., even if fed continuously for more than 30 days.

The rest of that law applies to people feeding on their own property for more than 30 consecutive days:

This definition does not apply to government agencies, animal rescue organizations, which have demonstrated to the department that they have implemented an ongoing spay/neuter program as well as an adoption program.


CONCLUSION: Feral cats are not owned by anyone until you feed them for 30 consecutive days on your own property. A citing officer can't prove you fed them for 30 consecutive days on your property or elsewhere. He can't. Photos of feeding cats on one day does not prove 30 days. The GM admitted they don't have the manpower to prove 30 days in a row.

Photos of cats with bowls is not proof you fed them for 30 days, again, on your own property.

Also, if you are practicing TNR you are exempt from the kennel violation. Just get vet and spay neuter bills together. Post a photo of a cat to be adopted on Craigslist to prove you are adopting them out or get a note from rescue or TNR group that you are aiding them adopting out street cats.

I am attaching a flyer sent to me from west Valley animal services. Check down the list for Municipal Code 53.15.2.

This talks about ownership. It also says if you are working with an animal rescue organization that practices TNR, that organization and you as its representative are exempt. Get a letter to that effect that you are practicing TNR as their agent at this site.

You are then home free. Otherwise, you can present a case that you are a private individual practicing TNR for ferals who you don't own. They are free roaming cats which you feed but not all the time, AND YOU ARE PRACTICING TNR.

Again, this only applies to those feeding on their own property, not elsewhere, such as an alley or bridge.

I RECENTLY RECEIVED AN EMAIL FROM THE NEW HEAD OF ANIMAL SERVICES, BREDNDA BARNETTE. SHE SAYS UNEQUIVOCALLY THAT PRIVATE CITIZENS CAN FEED FERAL CATS.

From Brenda Barnette (OCTOBER 3):

Hi Ed,

I agree that citizens can feed feral cats and, to that end drafted a memo to staff that I forwarded to the attorney for reviewed before I send it out.

Brenda

Blog: http://laanimalwatch.blogspot.com

9 comments:

Nikita Cat said...

Wonderful post!

Important info!

My Human, as part of our ongoing "Street Seens" Project, has photographed many Cats outdoors, mostly in Long Beach, where he worked, but also in Santa Ana, where we live, and sometimes it is unclear to us if the Cat(s) live on the property he sees them on, and even if a Cat he sees taking a stroll down the block is a stray, or just going to and from some rendevous with a boyfriend, or ladyfriend. ;-D

He once saw a beautiful Siamese come out of a yard, to the sidewalk, take one look at the, um, paparazi, walk back closer to the house, then continue, yard to yard, for a half block in the direction it needed to go, turn onto the next street, and walk on the sidewalk to another yard, and disappear into the yard....Not once did it give Dddy a 2nd glance. ;-D

Unknown said...

Three police detectives showed up at my residence and demanded (in writing) that I not provide food nor water to outside cats, or I would be cited and fined. They also took an adult cat and four kittens from the walkway to the house and killed three of them at the shelter. They had no warrant but said the Chief of Police of the City of Los Angeles himself had sent them. They took the cats in milk crates they got from my driveway. Is this legal? Please help. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

It's completely ridiculous to feed strays in my opinion. If you want a cat then go to a shelter and get one. I am a neighbor of some jackasses that are a part of a "TNR" program. I have lived in this area for 10 years and have never had a problem with cats until this neighbor came and started putting food out for animals. Well it wasn't long before the occasional cat in the area is now 30 or so cats. the neighbor admits to spaying and nuetering 14 cats, but this is f%#@ing ridiculous. My dog got scratched on the nose by one of these f$#*ers in MY OWN backyard and that was a $300.00 vet bill. My opinion is that if you want a cat then do the responsible thing and OWN a cat; Feed the cat and keep it inside, oh and get the cat vaccinated for rabies etc. My stupid ass neighbor spays and nueters but doesnt vaccinate the cats and that is why my vet bill was so much. My dog had to be treated for rabies.......SO STOP Feeding the cats and be considerate of your neighbors.

jennifer said...

Glad to know the "feeders" rights are protected. but pleas look on the other side. I have 3 cats that my 2 children and I love. The cats are all up to date on their on their shots, flea treatments, have name brand food and brushed weekly and deeply loved. The Lady on the street behind us has a HUGE bowl of food with cat beds lined up oh with a bird feeder above the feeding area. Now my cats don't hang out in our flower pots or hang around our house as much. My kids are sad and my cats are "fatter" now. My one cat got a virus and my vet gave me meds for my other 2 and stated " cats that eat out of the same bowl will contract his virus". Feeders also cause the cays to set a pecking order- da more cat fights and now my 3 cats that used to snuggled together now hiss at each other. My cats that used to run to me when I got out of the car are no longer are waiting for their mom ( ok food) The Feeder is breeding unknowingly more cats and just not thinking of others- GET YOUR OWN CAT. Oh and the Coyotes now know where their next dinner will be served.

bartee said...

the ones that complain and cause the trouble are the illegals situated in these apt houses,, as they are not like pet lovers of the usa,, they have no regard for the hardship these animals go through and it is the feeders and rescue people that spend their money and time and help out the animal control as they are in debt in calif shelters,, stop the gossiping and problems and get on with your own life

Ssummerca said...

Where I live in an apt complex, low income government funded complex the management has now put up a sign to all tenants not to feed any stray cats or animals on the property or common areas. People have been feeding them for years. They know this. A recent happening is that a raccoon that was in a yard of a house nearby was attacked and killed and the raccoon happened to die in the parking lot of the complex. Think that management thinks that the raccoon was after the cat food that people put out. It wasn't it had been in the yard of a house, knocked down fence boards and wound up dying on the parking lot. What is there that can be done so that these animals that have been put out of the apts they lived in and are the grown babies of other cats that were put out to be able to continue feeding them. There are no vacant lots nearby or safe enough to take food to for them. please respond to ssummerca@hotmail.com People don't want to get evicted for being kind to feral stray cats in keeping them fed so they don't go into the trash cans to get food. Thats one of the reasons why people have been feeding them. Please let me know so others can be informed. thank you.

Ssummerca said...

Please send a response to this to ssummerca@hotmail.com
I live in an apt complex, it is section 8 federal government funded. A recent incident happened that has prompted management to put up a sign post to all residents do not feed stray cats or animals on the property. Well cats have been being fed for years on the property and the management and owners have known about it but never said anything before. People have fed them to keep them from going into the garbage area and tear that up getting food. A raccoon was in a yard of a house nearby going after the dogs food that lived there. It broke through the fencing of those peoples home and the peoples dog chased it, killed it. It died on the apt complex parking lot. Seemingly the management thinks it was after the cat food. It was not. Had mentioned the incident to someone I know, they said that something like that recently happened to someone she knows that a raccoon was going after the peoples dogs food. What can be done, what law is there to protect in such a case as this so that people dont get evicted for being kind and feeding the cats. These cats are ones that have been abandoned by their owners to live outside or are the grown babies of cats that were abandoned to live outside. Need specific laws to protect people to let them know so that these animals can still be taken care of. Again management and owners have known they have been being fed for years.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, I am not here to get into a war
The best thing is to keep your cats indoors, for many many reasons, besides the above, they will certainly live longer.

I am sorry that you do not feel the same way about poor homeless cats, as your own, or if the cats next door, do indeed belong to this woman, she should be keeping them inside, too, getting shots, altered, etc, it is possible these are cats that someone else has dumped, and all it takes is one cat, feeding one, will bring more, it is our job as humans, to help the Community Cats, as well as the house cats.

Have you tried reasoning with your neighbor, finding out WHO in your area, pays for TNR?
There are groups everywhere that do this, I do not know the Los Angeles area, I myself, do feed, and have been doing TNR around the city I live in.

I disagree that the feeder is not thinking of others, she is , the others being hungry mammals, she sounds like she needs someone to intervene, maybe you could help her, getting the cats altered will stop the fights, and more babies.

Anonymous said...

You can't transmit rabies from a scratch.