City considers regulating feral cat owners

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 | 7:08 p.m. CST; updated 11:19 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 5, 2011

COLUMBIA — Taking care of feral cats would require a permit under proposed changes to the city's animal control ordinance.

The Columbia Board of Health will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Department of Public Health and Human Services, 1005 W. Worley St.

The proposal would require that anyone caring for feral cats be at least 18 years old, apply for a permit through the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services and meet a number of other conditions.

Gerry Worley of the health department said the board spent the past year working on upgrades to the ordinance and looked at other cities' rules regarding feral cats.

Board Chairman Nathan Voris said the proposal could help control feral cat populations.

"The changes to the ordinance are an effort to standardize the care of wild cats," Voris said. "It is, one, to make it lawful for people to do it and, two, to provide guidelines instead of just recommendations as to how it should be done."

Under current laws, it is illegal to own or harbor more than four cats in the city.

Feral cats are described in the ordinance as "any cat of any breed that is or becomes undomesticated, untamed, wild or is not a pet."

According to the proposal, a permit would last two years and cost $25. Before receiving a permit, applicants would need to:

  • Provide a detailed description of the cats in their colony.
  • Provide proof that the cats in their colony have been ear-tipped, micro-chipped, vaccinated against rabies and either spayed or neutered or provide proof that the cats in the colony were being trapped for these purposes.

The colony would need to be located on private property or the applicant would need to provide written permission from the owner of the property, the proposal stated.

After receiving a permit, feral cat caretakers would be required to regularly feed, look after and maintain records for each cat in the colony. In addition, the ordinance would require that caretakers continue to annually trap any cat more than 8 weeks old to ensure the health and well-being of the cats in the colony.

The public has been invited to submit written comments on the city's website and attend Thursday's meeting.

"It is an opportunity for people to come forward and speak their minds about the proposal," Worley said.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Sam Tyler February 10, 2011 | 7:55 a.m.

Let me get this straight; Wildcat lovers will be required to spend ~$100 on each cat, herd the cats onto the the lovers own little city lot, convince the wildcats to stay on the lot, and catch each cat each year.

Add this to the current law, and they will also have to evict all cats more than 4 from the colony.

Yeah, right.

Might as well require them to teach the cats to speak so they could testify in court.

(Report Comment)
Gregory Brown February 10, 2011 | 11:05 a.m.

I think we can be friendly toward and offer care for feral cats, but nobody "owns" them. They're not chickens, dogs, children or spouses of the female persuasion.

Why not throw in some regulations about smoking abatement in the feral clowders?

(Report Comment)
CATHY selle February 10, 2011 | 11:55 a.m.

Do these people having nothing better to do? We all know feral cats do not propose a health threat. Read the facts.

If this ordiance does go into effect then I am assuming the $25 permit means free vetting and microchipping as required? Now that is a good idea! How about arresting previous owners that move etc? They are the ones responsible for making the animal have to learn survival techniques and become feral. This is nonsense and just another way to to generate income at others expense.

(Report Comment)
Peter Wolf February 10, 2011 | 11:55 a.m.

What makes Board Chairman Nathan Voris think this proposal “could help control feral cat populations”? Can he—or anybody else—point to successful implementation of such cumbersome policies? I rather doubt it.

Even modest restrictions on Trap-Neuter-Return (e.g., a $25 permit) are likely to reduce the number of cats sterilized, thereby driving up overall population numbers. Rather than impeding TNR, Columbia should be embracing it more fully. It’s clear that “traditional” feral cat management (read: trap-and-kill) has only made matters worse.

Frankly, this sounds like more misguided policy making. We can—and must—do better.

Peter J. Wolf
Phoenix, AZ

(Report Comment)
lmno baker February 10, 2011 | 12:50 p.m.

OK...the "colony" exists. A good samaratin is trying to assist including in reported public cases trying to spay, neuter and control the population while being humane. So, we want to have a laundry list of costly regulations and requirements??? These 'caretakers' did not create the problem.

And if someone is crazy enough to 'register' this humanitarian effort, what happens if all the recording, reporting and expenses get to be too much? They get fined for not complying? Sited for abandoment? Taken to court? Please, why not support these folks in their efforts rather then punish and malign? Why can't there be partnership between the city and other agencies to assist these good folks rather then added burden as is being proposed.

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox February 10, 2011 | 1:24 p.m.

Take the money that pays for this waste of time and use it to buy snow plows so I can get to work. I'm not kidding, if there are people on the city budget thinking up this crap and have the time and manpower to enforce it, fire them all, and hire more drivers for the snow plows.

(Report Comment)
Chris Cady February 10, 2011 | 1:54 p.m.

This story lacks a key element, which is the basis for why the proposed requirements are expected to work. Instead there is a sound bite saying essentially "this will make it better." I guess I'll need to go to the city's website and hopefully find it there. No offense to the reporter, but I often wonder how stories get printed without anyone thinking about the most obvious questions that the reader would want to know.

(Report Comment)
Andrew Hansen February 10, 2011 | 1:56 p.m.

"We all know feral cats do not propose a health threat."
Pehaps not a health threat, but they are an environmental threat to native bird species and other wildlife.
IMHO the city is being far too generous. If you want to feed these verim you better be prepared to take some responsibility also.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 10, 2011 | 3:18 p.m.

"Feral cat owners" = oxymoron. In fact, just "cat owners" is an oxymoron.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock February 10, 2011 | 3:44 p.m.

Here is what the University of Neb suggest for these cats.

These cats are not a wild animal and have no business in the wild. They are damaging the natural ecosystem.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 10, 2011 | 4:37 p.m.

A person may own a dog but a person cannot own a cat. If you disbelieve this, ask any cat. :)

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 10, 2011 | 6:02 p.m.

I've got a neighbor who insists he can have me fined for not keeping one of my cats off his porch. He's a consummate animal rights activist / rescuer. I'm sure he knows the laws and he's right.

Do we really need more regulations? I just don't see how anything even remotely punitive is going to accomplish anything positive here.

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.