Requirements for Feral Cat Colonies

Sec. 14.45 Management of feral cat colonies.

A. Definitions.

  • Caregiver means any person who provides food, water or shelter to or otherwise cares for a feral cat colony and has made application to the animal services department for management of a feral cat colony.
  • Caregiver manager means any person in charge of a caregiver program.
  • Ear tipping means straight-line cutting of the tip of the left ear of a cat while the cat is anesthetized.
  • Feral cat means a cat which currently exists in a wild or untamed state.
  • Feral cat colony means a group of cats that congregates. Although not every cat in a colony may be feral, non-feral cats routinely congregate with a colony shall be deemed to be a part of it.
  • Nuisance means disturbing the peace by (a) habitually or continually howling, crying or screaming, or (b) the habitual and significant destruction of property against the wishes of the owner of the property.
  • Suitable shelter means shelter that provides protection from rain, sun and other elements and is adequate to protect the health of the cat.
  • TNR means trap, neuter/spay and release.
  • TNA program means a program pursuant to which cats are trapped, neutered or spayed, vaccinated against rabies, ear tipped or tattooed and released to a designated location of a managed colony.

B. Feral cat colony management:

  1. Feral cat colonies shall be permitted (no fee) by the Beaufort County animal services department and caregivers shall responsible for applying for the permit for each colony and be entitled to maintain them in accordance with the terms and conditions of this section, once the permit is approved by animal services.
  2. Caregiver requirements:

a. Report bi-annually to the county animal services on the following:
i. Number of colonies in the county if the caregiver maintains more than one colony.
ii. Providing the county animal services with descriptions of each cat in the colony and copies of documents evidencing that the cats have been vaccinated and spayed/neutered.
b. Help resolve any complaints over the conduct of a colony cat within the colony.
c. Maintain records on the size and location of the colonies as well as the vaccination and spay/neuter records of cats in the colony.
d. Mandatory vaccination of the colony population for rabies and making reasonable efforts to update the five-way or equivalent vaccinations on cats that can be recaptured.
e. Mandatory spaying/neutering of all cats within the colony by a licensed veterinarian. In facilitating the spaying/neutering of cats, caregivers shall be presumed to have acted in good faith in concluding that cats routinely congregating within the feral colony.
f. Providing food, water and suitable shelter for colony cats.
g. Observe the colony cats daily and keeping a record of any illnesses or unusual behavior noticed in any colony cats.
h. Obtaining proper medical attention to any colony cat that appears to require it.
i. Obtaining written approval of the owner of any property, on which the colony resides, or to which the caregiver requires access, to provide colony care.
j. In the event that kittens are born to a colony cat, the caregiver shall remove the kittens from the colony after they have been weaned and be responsible for the placement of the kittens in homes or foster homes for the purpose of subsequent permanent placement.
k. Caregivers shall make reasonable efforts to find permanent inside homes for colony cats who exhibit the potential for acclimating to such placement.
l. Caregiver shall make reasonable effort to maintain the colony as to prevent the colony from running at large beyond the confines of the designated area.


C. Ordinance enforcement. Nothing shall interfere with the Animal Services officer’s ability to:

  1. Seize/remove a cat from a colony that is creating a nuisance as defined above if the caregiver has failed to cure the nuisance within a reasonable time frame.
  2. Seize/remove a feral cat colony when the caregiver fails to comply with the requirements of this section.