News Story

Bill Authorizes Herding Cats — Literally

Legislation authorizes ‘community cat’ programs for ‘community cat caretakers’

A Democratic state representative who the House Democratic caucus website describes as living in Livonia with her rescue pets has introduced a bill that would authorize local “community cat programs” for colonies of outdoor cats that “congregate together.”

Laurie Pohutsky, D-Livonia, introduced House Bill 4596 on May 15, with eight other Democrats and one Republican as co-sponsors.

A community cat program would authorize people or organizations to capture cats and then get them sterilized, vaccinated against rabies, ear-tipped and returned to the location where they were found.

The bill provides definitions for several of the terms-of-art it introduces:

  • “Community cat colony” means a group of cats that congregate together.
  • “Community cat caretaker” means a person that provides care to a community cat in the form of food, water, shelter, and veterinary care.
  • “Cat” means a member of the species Felis catus.
  • “Community cat” means a free-roaming cat that does not have a visibly discernable, or microchip, identification.
  • “Ear-tipped” means clipping approximately 1/4 inch off the tip of a cat’s left ear in a straight line to indicate that the animal has been sterilized and vaccinated against rabies.

“The proper care and treatment of community cats ensures that they’re healthier, safer additions to our communities,” Pohutsky said in a press release published on the official website of House Democrats. “If passed, I’m confident that my bill would benefit community cats and caretakers throughout the state.”

Some wildlife organizations may have a different take, as they oppose the practice of cat owners allowing their pets to go outside, due to their predation on wild birds and small mammals. A blog post on the National Wildlife Foundation website includes the following:

“As a wildlife conservation organization, the National Wildlife Federation doesn’t support Trap, Neuter, Release/Return programs simply because they don’t work to minimize the negative impact of feral cats on wildlife populations. Feral cats are primarily responsible for the 1.3-4 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion mammals killed annually by domesticated cats in the United States and perpetuating feral cat colonies is incompatible with sound, science-based wildlife conservation.”