Let's Keep it Legal
A huge part of successful cat caretaking is communication with neighbors and property owners. Good intentions will not protect you or the cats from consequences of entering property without permission.
By feeding and trapping cats without permission of property owners, the groundwork has been laid for an adversarial relationship that will not end well for you or the cats when the owner ultimately becomes aware of your activities.
If we all agree that the end game is humane management and care of feral cats, we must start by being respectful of property owners, polite to neighbors, and aware that access to their property is a privilege and not a right.
The best course of action upon seeing cats that you wish to help is to first contact the owner of the property upon which you will be feeding. There is no such thing as "unowned" property in New Jersey - even empty lots are owned by developers, banks, or municipalities, including counties and the state. In the age of information, the owner's information can easily be found by contacting the municipality's tax assessor or by searching on NJ Parcels. If you need help finding it, contact us!
The best way to encourage positive treatment of our community cats is by offering the property owner your commitment to responsibly manage and fix the cat population in exchange for providing you access to the property.
This has been our approach to trapping and TNR for decades and when politely offered the solution of fixing the cats, property owners have nearly always granted access. We have approached both business owners and residents in this manner with great success and to this day, maintain relationships with many of them.
In more densely populated areas, you may encounter a less than cooperative individual who refuses to fix cats on the property or allow you access to trap and fix them. In this case, you should contact the municipality's HLEO (Humane Law Enforcement Officer) to report an individual refusing to allow state-mandated vaccination and medical attention for domestic cats. HLEOs work as part of enforcement (police) and are usually contacted through the non-emergency police phone number of the municipality.
The Golden Rule could not be any more applicable than it is to TNR. Treat others as you want to be treated.
For further information, please check out our website's resources and keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming blog on how to navigate the Garden State's ordinances, laws, and offices. How to help cats on other peoples' property