Camden County introduces community cat ordinance

The ordinance is meant to serve as a model for municipalities hoping to reduce the growth of the stray and feral cat population.

The Camden County Freeholder Board is hoping to help municipalities control their local stray and feral cat populations.

The freeholder board recently introduced a community cat ordinance. The ordinance is meant to serve as a model for municipalities dealing with stray and feral cats.

“The Community Cat Ordinance is based on the principles of trap, neuter and return (TNR), which we feel is the most effective method of managing the stray and feral cat population,” said Freeholder Jeff Nash. “TNR is a non-lethal population control technique utilized to humanely capture, vaccinate, identify and spay or neuter cats.”

The long-term goal of the county community cat ordinance is to reduce the growth of stray and feral cat populations, stop the spread of diseases and reduce the numbers of feral cats through natural attrition.

“Cats are domestic animals that are better suited to living in a home that provides shelter, a nutritious diet, appropriate exercise and protection from other animals,” Nash said. “Stray kittens and cats that are tame enough to be socialized can then be adopted by local families.”

Adult cats that cannot be socialized are returned to where they were trapped. With proper management and oversight, they can live out their lives under the supervision of a community cat caregiver. Cats will need to be periodically re-trapped to update their vaccinations and receive medical care.

“These cats can be found in industrial areas, open spaces and neighborhoods. While some find their way into homes and shelters, many of them are left to fend for themselves or are cared for by concerned citizens,” Nash said.

There are estimated to be more than 123,000 cats in Camden County, with up to 20 percent of them being considered stray or feral.