Can cats be fed in the condominium and do all freeroaming cats have to be rescued? Written by Dr. Cecília Kajó, lawyer

Dr. Kajó Cecília

2022. April 28 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

We've been getting a lot of emails from our Legal Helpdesk lately about cat ownership. The problems seem to be very well categorised, and they are not primarily legal problems.


One type of problem is that someone is feeding cats in or around a condominium, which bothers the owners. Often they cannot name what is disturbing, if the cats are not sick (at least by external inspection) and feeding does not involve dirt. As a lawyer, I am of course aware of the frivolousness of the statement “it does not seem sick”, including the a FIV / FELV risk, but also the fact that many livestock keepers are not aware of the risk factors for infection or risk of infection of the species they keep.

Not a legal issue

In such cases, when we ask for help, we usually say that this is not primarily a question of law. You can of course check what the condominium documents say about the use of common property. It is debatable whether or not regular evening cat-feeding is part of the definition of pet ownership. It is possible to fine feeders on the basis of unlawful municipal regulations (feeding is not prohibited, only the pollution of public space, but the hierarchy of legislation still does not bother many municipalities), but that does not mean that certain livestock will stay there and wait for their dinner. It is possible to order cat trapping services for tens of thousands of dollars per cat from notorious companies, which have been proven to have failed to account for the cats they have trapped (if you have the conscience to do so, feel free to order it).


The solution here is mainly TNR: trap-neuter-replace. Until there is enough capacity in animal welfare organisations to take in and manage all stray cats, it is possible to ensure that an unneutered herd dominates a territory, displacing other herds and not increasing the number of cats in that territory after neutering.

Unfortunately, it is a well-known fact that street cats die prematurely because they are exposed to many dangers. Thus, a controlled population on a human scale will unfortunately disappear early from a given living environment. When they hear TNR, many people who ask for advice sigh, “don’t let them spend any more money on strays”. The truth is that if they don’t spend this year, next year there will be twice as many, then three times as many… Spending on a given stock is no guarantee that new stocks will not appear as it dies out. At such times, we should always thank our fellow humans with the “I don’t spay or neuter because it’s mutilation”, “let the animal enjoy motherhood”, “why should I mind my cat being neutered, I can always give the kittens away to the right place” mentality, who are the cause of these condominium problems (too).

Do you have to catch a cat on the loose?

The other type of request for advice is the fate of a stray cat taken in by animal welfare organisations. Note that the Animal Welfare Act requires the keeper of the animal to prevent it from escaping into public areas. The outdoor cat is in a lot of danger, being hit, poisoned, etc. But unfortunately they also poses a threat: they are destroying protected and non-protected birds, small game, and massively killing baby birds and rabbit pups during this period. Animal welfare officers regularly trap stray animals, spay and neuter them and test them for FELV, FIV and other infectious diseases. Ownership is primarily microchip, vaccination book, passport, recent photo, video, veterinary declaration. The animal welfare organisation may also report the animal to the notary, who may impose an animal welfare fine on the animal for straying. But. Which we don’t understand either, along with the fact that we don’t agree with the freeroaming, of course.

There are some animal shelters who specialise in picking up cats that have been found, and whatever evidence the owner presents to the finder when they advertise the animal they have found, they will not return it to its original owner. Sometimes they even tell you that it’s because it’s freeroaming. Is the capacity really so great that you can use freeroaming cats to occupy spaces where an accident victim, a tortured animal or other animals in much worse condition could go? It is incomprehensible to us.

In such cases, of course, we advise that if the organisation or individual rescuing the animal does not accept the evidence shown, you can use a lawyer to send a letter of formal notice or take civil action to reclaim the animal. Who has the will and the financial means to pay for it? Few people, I’m sure. That’s the luck of anyone who specialises in this…

animal protection cat on the loose cat strays Dr. Cecília Kajó freeroaming cat lawyer lawyer replies Life roaming stray cat

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