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.


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.




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 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
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.

Anonymous said...

An earlier poster said that the complainers about feeding ferals were "illegals" because they don't have the same regard for animals. It is not just them. It's also negroes who complain a lot, because they also don't have the same sense of regard for animals, and are often afraid of harmless animals like cats, squirrels etc. Ironic since a disproportionate number of them live on handouts themselves.

Anonymous said...

I am an animal rights advocate. I do not take kindly to hearing the animal haters spreading their hatred of cats and other animals. If you don't like them, stay away from them, don't harm them and let the animal lovers take care of them in peace. We give our all to caring for and loving these creatures and it really hurts when people dislike them so that they want us to stop feeding them or they want to harm them in some way. Please have compassion towards God's little creatures and not hate so much.

anonymous said...

I have a neighbor who actively feeds the neighborhood stray cat and feral population and no she is not in a tnr program. All of the animals are unaltered and non vaccinated. In the last year they have destroyed a pool, a full sized one not the kiddie ones my garden and my pond. I have talked to her about joining a tnr program but she believes they should be free to be themselves, in other words does not believe in altering. This year and last we have been getting a serious amount of wild animals in the neighborhood. raccoons, possum, skunks and foxes. a few monthes ago a mountain lion was spotted just two doors down from my house. One of these predators also killed my rabbits and a few of her cats. she now is down to forty. The point I am trying to make is that you may think you are helping them but in the long run you are actually making it worse.

Anonymous said...

trump is right ..get rid of these trouble maker illegals who hate animals and wont help them and complain ..we americans love animals and will help in any way we can ..that is fact of life ..poor cecil .. that is good example

Anonymous said...

trump is right ..get rid of these trouble maker illegals who hate animals and wont help them and complain ..we americans love animals and will help in any way we can ..that is fact of life ..poor cecil .. that is good example

Anonymous said...

Really? Negroes & illegals don't have a he same respect for animals? You're a bunch of racist assholes that are feeding a bunch of feral cats that carry DISEASES!!! Perhaps the negroes & illegals respect the lives of their HUMAN children & don't want them catching typhus or any other disease from these stupid cats!!!!

Anonymous said...

You're all a bunch of cat loving, human hating ignorant racists!!! You are as disgusting as the stupid cats you're protecting! IDIOTS!!!!

Anonymous said...

When you are too lazy to take proper care for an animal like spaying, neutering and vaccinating, you are responsible for the overpopulation and eventual suffering of the new who wouldn't be there to go hungry or diseased hadn't you been there. It is you casual feeder people who aren't cleaning up the feces, urine, hair and dead kittens from the surrounding properties.

Anonymous said...

TNR (trap/neuter/return)can be very effective if it's done right. It means you have to fix all the cats in the colony so, they do not multiply and over years there will be less and less cats. The fixed cats in the colony if they are fed try to keep their territory and hardly any new cat will come in(if there is one-two new you have to fix it immediately). But you have to manage the colony which means you have to feed to see if any new cat came in. The cats can be fed daytime and only as much food should be left as they eat daytime (you have to know the number of cats in the colony). The other thing: why you complainers about feral and stray cats do not fight for a mandatory spay/neuter law for all owned animals (cats, dogs, etc.). If you spay/neuter your own pet cat there would not be cat colonies on the streets and in your neighborhood.

Charles Winners said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Winners said...

Just get a live trap from Home Depot $50. Trap the cats and take them to the humane society. They're put down after a few days if nobody claims them, at the least they'll probably be fixed. If you aren't willing to throw down the cash then just forget about it.

Anonymous said...

They will be killed at a shelter because they are unadoptable. These are God's creatures, don't you have a conscience?

Anonymous said...

What a racist respond. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU IGNORANT RACISTS that called themselves animal lovers yet have little or no regard towards those that aren't as fortunate and "privileged" as you are. You are doing exactly what this people do to the cats. Regarding immigrants that you do not know their legal status because you are TOO RACIST to even consider that some people may very well be documented individuals but your racist mind stereotype them as such. And I'm not going to even comment on the stupid racist person that is describing "The Negroes" WOW!! You want tolerance for the cats; START WITH YOURSELVES!!

Tony Perez said...

In my apartment bldg we have 4-5 wild cats that keep breeding having kittens in car bumpers or in water drains from the bldg it has become pretty crazy because we have a problem with outsiders that do not even live in the bldg keep feeding these cats every day so inturn the food left for the cats has brought out possums raccoons and coyotes then in become a fight for the food left or the smaller animals become food for the coyotes,i have tried to ask these people to stop feeding the cats but they refuse to stop they have even gotten on to the property and left flyers on cars warning us not to try to stop them!and left 15pd bags of cat food etc one of them even claimed to be a veterinarian and claimed these cats are not feral cats, smh