Should it be a crime to feed feral cats within the city limits?

The city council of our county seat (Urbana, Ohio) is planning to vote to on a ban to feed feral cats (and deer) within the city.

Many of my FB friends who live in Urbana are up in arms over this, saying it is cruel and inhumane. The city, OTOH, argues feral cats are a public nuisance. I suspect the city gets many calls about the destruction of private property and wildlife due to feral cats.

I can understand the city’s POV. But I question how effective a ban would really be.

I have an acquaintance who is, by even the loosest definition, a crazy cat lady in training. She leaves her backdoor ajar 24/7 so her cat can come and go as it pleases. Of course this means that other cats do the same as they smell the cat food. Oh, and raccoons… yes raccoons! She thinks it’s delightful and is blissfully unconcerned about the potential for her 2 y/o granddaughter, who she cares for on a daily basis, to contract rabies from the 'coons.

So I’m going to say that should this law be enacted the majority of those currently feeding the feral cats will indignantly ignore it while posting vids of themselves doing so on FB .

Just a guess…

I have a feral cat colony in my backyard going on four years. The current count is six. They used to live in an abandoned house, until it was torn down. They gravitated into my backyard over the course of a week or two because I offered food and water when the first one showed up thirsty. One thing led to another and they stayed. I cannot control where they go and what they do. Yet they stay in my backyard, with occasional forays into neighbors yards. They play, chase each other, and do nothing. The sun themselves in the afternoon. And they sleep, especially this time of the year. I have seen only two occasions where one of them caught a mouse or baby rabbit.

As truly wild and feral cats, they shun and hide from all human contact, except me. If you want to see them you would have to watch them from inside my house, sight unseen. If they see you through the window or sliding glass doors, they hide. Cat “experts” state you can never get close to a truly wild and feral cat. I beg to differ, if you have the time, patience, and a place where they feel safe and secure. It took me almost two years for them to trust me enough just to allow me to touch them. You wouldn’t know it now because when I show at feeding time twice a day they are all over me like flies on [del]shit[/del] honey. If you think they only do this just because of the food, you would be wrong. On days I’m home (teleworking, weekends) I go out to see then at different times, none associated with feeding time. If one or more of them are around, it’s the same flies on honey all over again. Within the past month, the alpha cat (female and very assertive, even aggressive at times) created a new ritual where she jumps atop the food shelter (three feet high) and demand we touch noses. This behavior (called head bunting) is a sign of deep trust. That I can do this with her astonishes me. But she can be annoyed at a moment’s notice, before she’s all lovey dovey again. I have a similar rapport with all of the feral cats, with varying degrees. It’s common for each of them to climb into my lap during feeding for a cuddle. Yet all are on constant alert so any perceived threat has them tense up and prepare to run and hide.

I will not stop feeding them, no matter what my city might try to enact if they ever did. And yes, all are spayed our neutered, at my own expense.

I’m gonna have a hard time getting behind a law that says it’s illegal to feed anything. But there are always extreme examples. For instance: What about bears in Yellowstone? Is it illegal to feed them, or just accepted as a bad idea?

I have wrestled with this for a long time. Feed feral animals or no?

Sure, I feel the animal’s hunger. And I hate it.

On the other hand, a well fed animal will have more frequent, and larger litters. Which equals a larger feral population.

I applaud the Duck’s efforts. And his rewards. But they are all sterile ferals.

People who feed feral animals would do well to support sterilization efforts in their area.

A better solution is for the city to partner with (or help form) a TNR program. It can be either a non profit group or a division of the municipal animal shelter. The TNR programs in my area also vaccinate and treat the cats for sicknesses before they return them, so that they don’t propagate disease. Also, institute a local PR campaign to educate the community about not loosing unwanted pets into the streets.

Not allowing people to feed them is barely even a band-aid solution. What do they expect as a result, that the colony will slowly die out from starvation? Fat chance of that happening, if the locals keep repopulating the colony with new unwanted pets!

My local animal shelter also has an innovative program: there are some feral cats out there that are too “wild” to ever become house pets, so the shelter gives them a health workover and then “adopts” them to local farmers as barn cats! I’ve been told it’s a very successful program!

That’s actually a great idea!

Yellowstone is a natural wilderness area. It’s illegal to feed any animal in the park.

Thank you.

Agreed. These programs are wonderful. If the cats return to their original home, they prevent another colony from moving in. If they are adopted out to a farmer or warehouse, they’re helping with pest control, and have safer living conditions.

In cities with rodent problems (and I don’t know whether the city in the OP does or does not), it is surprising that a measure like this would be considered.

I’m going to use this law to force my kids to find their own food if we go camping :slight_smile:

If they are 16 years old, or older, they can buy a Yellowstone fishing permit. I know of a few fishing spots where tossing in a line results in a guaranteed catch, every time. However, the spots are in known grizzly habitat in the park.

These SDMB discussions rarely take much notice of an important aspect of feral cat populations: they are an unholy disaster for wild birds - most especially those that nest on & near the ground. Encouraging outdoor cats really is deeply irresponsible.

In the real world, a feeding ban seem unlikely to be highly effective. Yet I think it’s justified.

Many sensible rules - e.g. about the use of handicapped parking spaces - are frequently violated. But that doesn’t mean they are wrong.

Be aware that the park contains a decent quantity of mother bears who go with that program.

Deer yes, cats no.

Cats are predators; they keep down other pest populations. Fix them, feed them, and point out to your neighbor with the vegetable garden that they are keeping a check on the rabbits.

Deer are truly wild and herbivores; feeding wild animal just encourages over population and possibly the spread of disease among the herd. As herbivores, they provide no service to the community. Please do not feed wild animals.

Just to add to this from The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States:

I applaud Urbana for making an attempt to address this issue, but it is an emotional one and the proposed law is unlikely to change people’s behavior. I know people who claim they are environmentalists and get all choked up over the loss of wild animals and extinction, who are offended by the thought of eating octopus because they have emotions, but they wouldn’t hesitate to feed a feral cat.

Governments that want to do something about this need to give people a reason to want to do the responsible thing for feral cats in addition to prohibiting feeding them. Possibly a bounty for every cat that is spayed and neutered might help.

I would disagree that “anthropogenic” describes the actions of un-owned cats, or other non-human animals.

Are there any studies indicating that feral cats with other food sources are more, rather that less, likely to kill other prey, such as birds and “mammals”?
Do the studies address what effect feral cats might have on the populations of other species that prey on birds?
Should we trust estimates that range over an order of magnitude?

Why are birds and “mammals” to be more prized that the cats, as the suggestion that feeding feral cats is irresponsible or otherwise reprehensible implies?

If “mammals” refers to wild rats and mice, I am on the cats’ side. I am not a cat person, but I am even less a rodent person.

It applies because the cats exist as the result of human action.

Note that it’s certain that feral cats with other food sources are more likely to produce more feral cats.

It should not be hard for anyone to give reasons why a preserving a variety of native species is preferable to allowing their destruction. Whereas the suppression of outdoor kittycats in no way threatens the survival of their species.

I look forward to reading your research in regards to the questions you raised j666.

She needs to be educated about raccoon roundworms.

*"After an animal or person swallows Baylisascaris eggs, microscopic larvae hatch in the intestines and then move into the bloodstream, causing damage to tissues as they grow. Symptoms of an infection in humans include nausea, liver enlargement, loss of coordination, loss of muscle control and blindness.

Human infections are rare, but children or those who are more likely to ingest dirt or animal waste have a higher risk of acquiring the parasite. Those diagnosed with pica disorder, which compels people to eat substances that contain no nutrition, such as ice, dirt, hair or paint, are also at risk.

Raccoons have a tendency to treat porches and stacked firewood as a restroom, Yabsley said. People can touch the firewood or children can crawl through the animal waste and become infected after putting their contaminated fingers in their mouths."*

Cat-transmitted toxoplasmosis might also be a concern.