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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Mattfield

Feeding cats in Old Bridge?

Old Bridge has responded to our OPRA request this week, and my exchange with the town's record custodian represents a very common misunderstanding among New Jersey municipalities.

We're going to use shouty caps here:

A TNR Ordinance is not a TNR Program.


1. Old Bridge has a TNR Ordinance.

You can read it here. Some of the highlights to note:

  • Old Bridge's ordinance requires establishment of a "TNR Committee" defined as "Any person or entity appointed by the Chief of Police who or which will perform the duties and responsibilities as established in this section. In establishing the TNR Committee, the Chief of Police, or his/her designee, shall select the members, determine the number of members that will comprise the TNR Committee, the tenure of each member and the frequency at which the TNR Committee shall meet. The TNR Committee shall be established within 60 days of March 27, 2019, the date of adoption of this section." Note: As of 4/20/23, no documents exist naming any TNR Committee or members to date.

  • Old Bridge's TNR Committee is tasked with many items, from resolving complaints over colonies, to tracking records of all existing colonies, including semiannual reports to code officials of detailed information of each colony, even the dispositions of any cats adopted. They are to provide "semi-annual report forms" to caregivers and assist in preparation of said forms. Above all, the TNR Committee is to contract and hire the Animal Control Provider, who will provide training, resolve conflicts and "be responsible for any costs as provided in any township agreement with reference to the TNR Program." Note: No such township agreements exist. The Committee does not appear to exist. No forms exist. This is confirmed by a written OPRA response request visible on OpraMachine.

  • Old Bridge's ordinance 39-25.1 defines "TNR Program" as "a program pursuant to which feral and stray cats are trapped, neutered or spayed, vaccinated against rabies, ear tipped and returned to the location where they congregate." This program is not funded by Old Bridge. The ordinance also states that all costs and expenses associated with maintaining a feral cat colony shall be borne solely by the feral cat caregiver, and that Old Bridge shall not provide any financial resources or funds to caregivers who maintain cat colonies.

2. Anyone feeding cats is a "feral cat caregiver" in Old Bridge and must do ALL of the following:

  • Register the feral cat colony Spay/neuter/ear tip all cats in the colony

  • Maintain digital photos of each cat and copies of all TNR surgery/vacc records

  • Provide food, water, shelter to cats

  • Observe the colony and keep records of illness or unusual behavior

  • Obtain written approval of any property to which the caregiver accesses to provide colony care

  • Remove all kittens and place in foster homes or with animal shelters

  • Report 2x a year to the TNR Committee on the status of the colony, number of cats and disposition

  • Obtain medical attention for any cat needing it

  • Undergo training verified by the animal control provider

  • Feed only at regular times during daylight hours

Old Bridge has the authority to remove unfixed or fixed cats in response to a nuisance complaint if not remedied in 60 days. Also, "in the case of an emergency, the Code Official, Police Department or Township Official may remove the cat, but within 24 hours must provide the TNR Committee with notice of the cat's whereabouts and allow the TNR Committee an opportunity to retrieve the cat for treatment, return, or relocation." Remember, the TNR Committee has no record of being established or proof of its existence. It was confirmed that no documents exist.

3. Old Bridge requires all cats to be licensed, unless you are performing 100% of the feral cat caregiver duties.

See 2. above for duties of a feral cat caregiver. Note that some are impossible without forms and the TNR Committee's participation and contact information; however, our OPRA request has determined that neither the forms nor the TNR Committee exist.

Any cat that is not part of a managed feral cat colony reported to Old Bridge must be licensed.

4. Old Bridge defines nuisances related to feral cats.

Complaints requiring action by animal control and the TNR Committee include the following:

  • Habitual or continual howling, crying or screaming

  • Unreasonable destruction, desecration or soiling of property against the wishes of the owner of the property

In summary, Old Bridge like many towns touts a TNR Program, but the "program" is merely an additional set of rules for feral cats that provides no resources, written operating procedures, or oversight.

While the ordinance exempts people from having to license feral cat colonies annually, it adds many more responsibilities such as photographing, reporting, and registering the colony with a committee that does not appear to exist and no available written standard operating procedures for the program.

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.


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