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When do you “own” a stray cat?

When do you “own” a stray cat?

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Our question this week was:

Doctor - have you ever heard of a law that if you feed a stray for a few days, it is yours?

Sarah M - Concord NH


Hi - thanks for your email. Yes, I have heard of such as law. In fact, I recently had a conversation with Tracy Silvia, who has worked as an animal control shelter for over 11 years routinely handling feral cats. We have an article on care of feral cats and Tracy pointed out the following:

If you are caring for a stray or feral cats - “First contact your local and state animal control officials to learn what local laws/ordinances may apply. For example, in some states such as Rhode Island, if you feed a feral cat, you own it after 5 days. In addition, many municipalities have outright banned the feeding of stray cats, punishable by fines or more.

An article that might be helpful to you is Care of Feral Cats.

Best of luck!


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