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Is It Illegal to Relocate Feral Cats? Dangers, Legalities & FAQs

Although feral cats may be a nuisance, relocating them can be an illegal act in many cases. In this conversation, we uncover the legality of transferring these felines and what to do beforehand if you choose to proceed with relocation.

Feral cats have obtained notoriety for being detrimental—they can attack other creatures and property as well as spread diseases. Thus, some people might feel that removal is their only option.

Nevertheless, it’s important to stay aware of your local laws concerning such matters before making any final decisions.

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Understanding Feral Cats

Feral cats are the descendants of formerly domesticated felines that were deliberately or inadvertently let go and have since adapted to wildlife.1 It is important to differentiate them from stray cats, which may be lost or abandoned but still friendly toward humans.

As feral cats are often unaccustomed to human contact, they can behave aggressively and therefore make for difficult handling.

feral cats resting outdoor
Image Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay

Relocating Feral Cats: Legal or Illegal?

In most cases, it is not illegal to relocate feral cats if their lives are in danger. But generally, moving feral cats is against the law.

The reason for this is the negative consequences of relocating feral cats. Feral cats are territorial and may see the relocation as an invasion. This could lead to them fighting with other animals in their new home.

If not vaccinated, feral cats can spread dangerous illnesses, such as rabies, toxoplasmosis1, and bartonellosis, to their new surroundings. Additionally, when relocated, these felines may cause the disintegration of entire colonies, leaving behind helpless young kittens in the process.

Additionally, it is essential to recognize that relocating a feral cat without the appropriate socialization and training can be inhumane. In certain instances, humane euthanasia may be the only viable choice regarding feral cats.

stray cats
Image Credit: Lea Rae, Shutterstock

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Relocating a Feral Cat in Danger

In situations where you fear for the health and safety of a feral cat, you may be permitted to relocate it. However, you need to be aware of the following before acting:

Local Laws and Regulations

Before attempting to relocate a feral cat, it is important to understand the local laws and regulations that are in place for their protection. Many states and towns have implemented rules that guarantee these animals’ welfare.

These laws are put in place to ensure these animals don’t endure any unnecessary harm or suffering when trapped and released. So make sure you contact the proper authorities to ensure you have permission.

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Humane Trapping and Relocation

If you decide to relocate feral cats, it is important to do so humanely. Humane trapping is the preferred method of capturing feral cats.

The trap should be baited with food and placed in a location where the cats are known to frequent. Once the cat is trapped, it should be transported in a safe and secure manner to the relocation site.

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Relocation Site

When choosing a relocation site, it is important to select a location that is suitable for the cat’s needs. The site should have adequate shelter, food, and water sources and be free from potential hazards such as predators or traffic.

To avoid unwanted disturbances in the area, it’s critical to ensure that relocating cats does not pose any issues for the local community.

stray cats lying on the ground
Image Credit: Pixabay

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If relocation of feral cats is your only feasible option, ensure that you comply with all local laws and regulations with respect to humane trapping methods. Similarly, be judicious when selecting an appropriate relocation site for the felines.

Additionally, if you are considering relocating feral cats for any other reason, consider euthanasia instead. This may be the kindest and most humane option for feral cats.

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Featured Image Credit: Murat An, Shutterstock