In October of 2018, the state of New Delaware implemented a new law called HB 235, which should have a beneficial effect on both stray cats and feral cats. First, it lets interested individuals take care of both stray cats and feral cats without actually going as far as to assume ownership over them so long as the animals have been properly vaccinated as well as either spayed and neutered. Second, the new law extends the protection of animal cruelty laws to all of the cats in the state, whether they are owned by someone or they are free-roman in nature.
How Does the New Law Help Stray Cats and Feral Cats?
It remains to be seen what the exact effect that the new law will have on both stray cats and feral cats in the state of New Delaware because predicting such things is either impossible or the next thing to it. However, there are solid reasons to believe that it will be positive in nature.
First, it isn’t uncommon for people to want to provide some help to stray cats and feral cats. Sure, there are some that are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, meaning that they are relatively well-off by the standards of free-roaming cats. However, there are other cats that are suffering for various reasons, whether because there is serious over-crowding in the local environment that had made it difficult for them to get access to the necessary resources or because they never learned the strategies needed to survive on their own because they were once someone’s pet. Previously, the need to assume ownership over cats before being permitted to take care of them was a huge hurdle because while someone might want to help out, they might be either unable or unwilling to go as far as that. Something that is particularly true because feral cats are famously unsuited for becoming household cats. As a result, there was presumably a fair amount of goodwill that went unexpressed because interested individuals decided to follow the law even if it meant ignoring the suffering of the cats that they saw.
Second, the requirement that the stray cats and feral cats be either spayed or neuterered is an important one. There are those who think that such practices are cruel, but they are very much necessary for the well-being of cats as a whole. Simply put, cats can breed at a rapid pace, seeing as how a single female cat can produce multiple litters of multiple kittens in a single year. More cats mean more demand on local resources, thus making it that much more difficult for the individual members of the cat population to get by. Moreover, it means an increased number of cats that will wind up in the hands of animal welfare organizations, which do not have unlimited resources on hand. There are such organizations with no-kill policies, but there are many more that will euthanize excessive cats when they run out of space because they simply do have the resources needed to provide an adequate level of food and medical care to so many cats. As such, spaying and neutering is critical for keeping cat populations at a more manageable level, particularly since their implementation over the course of decades has been proven to have a positive effect in this regard.
Third, the extension of animal cruelty laws should provide free-roaming cats with an increased measure of protection by deterring those who would mistreat them. The protection won’t be perfect, not least because enforcing animal cruelty laws requires the authorities being able to find out who did it. Something that won’t always be true in cases of animal cruelty. However, the knowledge that there is punishment combined with the understanding that the authorities plus the rest of society find such behavior unacceptable should nonetheless serve as deterrence.
Why Is This So Important?
On the whole, the state of New Delaware’s new law seems like it will be a positive step forward for free-roaming cats in said region. It is an interesting reminder that while society has come very far, there is always room for further improvements in a wide range of subjects.