Alley Cat Allies works to educate decisionmakers and communities about policies that save cats and benefit the community. We’re helping communities abolish dangerous laws and pass humane ordinances with progressive language that protects cats.

Both local ordinances and state or regional laws have profound impacts on cats, and on the people caring for them. Alley Cat Allies advocates for lifesaving legislation at every level of government.

How do I know the laws in my area? How do I make them better? Alley Cat Allies can help you locate your local ordinances and state or regional laws, and make recommendations on what changes would protect cats. Follow the steps in our Advocacy Toolkit and see our guide to model ordinances.

Don’t be afraid to speak up! Talk to your legislators to let them know cats and animal shelters with nonlethal, evidence-based policies for animals are important to you.

Local Laws and Ordinances

The first step toward advocating for cats is to understand your local laws, such as local animal control ordinances, which are part of a city and/or county code. These ordinances often include sections on animal cruelty, ownership, at-large regulations, mandatory spay/neuter, and cat licensing. For community cats, the inclusion or omission of just a few words in these laws can be the difference between life and death. Many local laws are punitive. We seek to change them into positive laws that save animals and meet the needs of cats, caregivers, owners, and the community at large.

Alley Cat Allies’ ongoing survey of cities and counties reveals that by January 2017, more than 600 local governments have implemented TNR ordinances and policies. From 2003 to 2013 the number increased tenfold, and that number continues to increase, showing that communities are embracing the humane, effective approach to community cats.

State Laws

States provide the framework that local governments must keep in mind when crafting ordinances. Some states have laws that govern animal shelters, although many have little or no shelter registration, recordkeeping, or reporting requirements.

State laws also include animal cruelty and abandonment language. In some cases, these laws can affect how cities and counties can participate in Trap-Neuter-Return. Some states have a state-level spay/neuter fund; in a few instances, these funds can be used for community cats.