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New York State Stray Cat Laws

| Updated September 26, 2017

Stray or feral cats are cats who commonly live with little to no human contact or care. Many cats who are stray often revert back to their natural wild life behaviors, having been abandoned by their owners. These cats overpopulate many big cities where they have learned to live without close human care. Most states and bigger cities such as New York have laws regarding stray cats.

Animal Cruelty Laws

In New York state there are several laws which prohibit cruelty, negligence or violence against stray cats and animals. The laws created in New York are to deter violence and cruelty against animals and impose a penalty upon persons found guilty of breaking these laws; penalty is usually in the form of a large fine or jail sentence. In particular, a person living in New York who commits aggravated cruelty against a stray cat or animal can receive a fine of up to $5,000 dollars and five years of imprisonment.

Animal Abandonment Laws

Pet cats abandoned by their owners sometimes become stray or feral if without any human intervention to prevent such a scenario. According to New York state law, a cat or animal becomes abandoned when placed in the care of a veterinarian, veterinary clinic or any other authorized facility that maintains care for the animal. If the cat is found abandoned with neglect such as leaving the animal to die in a public place, the owner is guilty of a misdemeanor and will receive punishment in the form of a fine, possible imprisonment or both.

Cat Spaying and Neutering Laws

Stray cats are widely known to breed uncontrollably without proper precautions or care. Overpopulation of stray cats in states with large cities such as New York attribute the issue to strays who have not been neutered or spayed. New York law states that no animal shelter, cat protective agency or any authorized facility who cares for cats and animals can release an animal without proper spaying or neutering.

Trap Neuter Return

Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) is a method used by animal associations and people who care for stray cats. The goal is to humanely trap the animal, neuter, vaccinate and return it safely to the wild. This method controls the cat population levels, often in cat colonies where many stray cats gather together. Some associations offer training for people who want to learn TNR and also may set adoptions for friendly, healthy cats after treatment which includes spaying or neutering, rabies vaccination and ear tipping to identify sterilized cats.