Feeding cats in Bayonne?
Bayonne has been the topic of much social media discussion. There are multiple Facebook groups dedicated to TNR and the feral cat situation in Bayonne and just as many guesses and rumors as to what programs and assistance with TNR are available. We have been researching and requesting public records from Bayonne's law department as animal control has not returned our calls or answered any questions. Here are the facts!
1. Bayonne requires cat licensing.
Here is the ordinance that describes the requirements for licensing any cat owned or held in the city for more than 10 days.
The best strategy in a "cat licensing" town is proactively fixing any cat you feed to avoid more cats outside. You are still at risk for a licensing violation, but most complaints that result in hefty fines are those made by people who are frustrated with growing numbers of unfixed cats in the area being fed by someone who does not fix. It is very difficult to retrap and relicense one feral each year, let alone multiple cats. It is equally difficult to cure a licensing violation without having to license every cat and provide proof (every year) or go to court.
2. Bayonne has requirements for owned domestic cats in addition to licensing. And yes, they want your cats fixed. Now.
5-27.2 Responsibilities of Owners of Domesticated Cats.
a. Provide appropriate and adequate food, water, and shelter for their cats, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 4:22-26;
b. Exercise reasonable care to guard against the cat creating a nuisance;
c. Not permit a sexually intact (not spayed or neutered) domesticated cat to roam unsupervised; and
d. Not abandon a domesticated cat, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 4:22-26.
Curious about how much each violation of a Bayonne ordinance can cost you? Here is all of the information regarding minimum and maximum fines as well as how they are charged per day of noncompliance.
3. Bayonne also supports TNR but requires colonies to be registered with the Health Department.
Registered cat colonies are exempted from Bayonne's cat licensing requirements. However, ordinance O-22-30 gives clear outlines of responsibilities for feral cat caregivers:
Registration of colony every year including fees
Spay/neuter/ear tip/vaccination of all cats
Providing the health department descriptions of each cat in the colonies and all proof of sterilization/vaccination
Approval of the owner of any property which feral cat caregivers access
Adequate food, shelter, medical care (also a state requirement); caregiver is responsible for prevention of suffering
Feeding is only allowed during daylight hours, all food removed after dark.
Observing colony cats at least twice per week, keeping records, and reporting any illness or unusual behavior to Animal Control Officers
Bi-annual WRITTEN reports by June 30 and December 31 to the Health Department:
Number and gender of all cats in colony
Number of dead or missing cats in colony
Number of kittens born in colony and disposition
Number of cats placed in homes as companion animals
If you are unable or unwilling to do any of the above and are feeding cats, you are legally subject to fines and penalties by the city of Bayonne. Get those numbers down--if an angry neighbor or other frustrated person complains, you face incurable violations that are exponentially worse the more cats you breed outside. Get control of the numbers and avoid conflicts that lead to visits from animal control and ordinance violations.
4. Bayonne funds TNR services provided through its animal control contractor.
Bayonne funded its TNR program through resolution 22-04-20-115, adding a $25,000 reserve for TNR with its animal control vendor, NJ Humane Society. At the time of our record request, these services have not been widely used, with 10 cats fixed at the time of our January 2023 record request using funds allotted in 2022.
Note that written protocol and procedures for the program do not yet exist, despite a resolution passed in 2022 to provide such procedures in a written public document. Bayonne's law department has informed us that the document is still being signed and finalized, but when available, we will post it.
If you are one of a few people using Bayonne's free TNR services, please be aware that there is no official procedure published by the city at this time. You are doing so at your own and the cats' risk and there is no protocol that defines what the TNR services include or how you legally obtain them. Until this document is published, there is no codified, consistent implementation of Bayonne's program, including documentation of medical procedures or even basic procedures for procuring Bayonne's TNR services.
Our suggestion is always to control TNR yourself--if you can afford the very low rates at People for Animals, by all means, get trapping and use walk-in surgery days! It's much cheaper and easier to fix one or two cats than 25. We can help you with equipment lending and the procedures are all on this site.