What Is a "Feeding Ban?"

Becky Robinson, founder of Alley Cat Allies, explains civic laws called "feeding bans."

Posted: September 3, 2010, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q. My town is considering a “feeding ban” for cats, but I don’t like the sound of it. What is a feeding ban and how does it work?

A. Feeding bans make it illegal to feed cats outdoors, and they are usually knee-jerk reactions by policymakers and elected officials attempting to address citizen concerns. The fact is, they don’t work, and here’s why.
Municipal officials often believe that if they ban citizens from feeding feral cats, the cats will simply move on; however, cats will not disappear just because compassionate people can no longer legally feed them. Instead of leaving their territory, cats will resort to scavenging in household garbage, dumpsters, and other plentiful food sources that studies have confirmed are an inevitable byproduct of urban and suburban environments. The cats will likely roam further to find food — a behavior that will actually make them more visible to the public and increase calls to animal control — but they won’t just pack up and leave town.

In fact, feeding bans are counterproductive because they interfere with Trap-Neuter-Return, the one method that can actually stabilize cat populations in a humane and effective way.

As part of the TNR process, caregivers humanely trap cats using a feeding schedule already in place to ensure success. The cats are then neutered, vaccinated, and returned to their colony, where they no longer reproduce, but their presence keeps new cats from moving in. Feeding the cats also allows caregivers to gradually move the cats’ food sources away from heavily trafficked areas to locations less intrusive to people and safer for the cats. None of this is possible with a feeding ban in place.

If your community is considering a feeding ban, you can be a voice for feral cats and make sure your elected officials know why feeding bans don’t work. You can also tell them that a feeding ban will do nothing but target the very people who are interested in improving the cats’ relationship with the community. Caregivers help keep the cat population healthy and stable; feeding bans make their valuable service to the community a crime.

Instead, suggest that your community spend its resources on subsidizing affordable spay and neuter services and Trap-Neuter-Return programs to make sure all cats are neutered and vaccinated — pet, stray, and feral. Spread the word to your neighbors that outlawing the feeding of cats won’t stop them from reproducing — neutering them will.

For more information on feeding bans, read about Alley Cat Allies’ position statement on feeding bans.


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Reader Comments

Rose    Jamesburg, NJ

6/24/2013 12:29:00 PM

This is a great article. Banning feeding cats is cruel and inhumane. TNR is a good thing. We did that for the cats at our apartment complex. Now I am being told if I feed them, my rent will be raised and I will be fined. I still the cats I fed, but we have a hilter like person here who watches every move I make and I can't afford to have my rent raised or the fine. I don't know what to do. This person just wants to kill them all. They are all fixed, he wants to gather them up and have them put down. I wonder how he would like to be out with no shelter or food.

lou    boston, MA

3/8/2012 2:04:02 PM


gg    la, CA

1/20/2012 7:43:23 PM


Adriana    Oxnard, CA

12/29/2011 9:39:42 AM

I will feed any cat that comes to my home. We need to teach our future generation on preventions and care for animals, not to "ban feeding"

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