In Ireland, there is no legal responsibility attached to feeding stray companion animals. However, it’s worth knowing that some countries and municipalities consider anyone who feeds a stray cat for a certain amount of time to be the cat’s owner, and legally responsible for it.
Even if it isn’t law in Ireland, it’s worth thinking about – there is a responsibility involved in feeding a stray regardless of the legalities.
If nothing else, the caregivers are increasing the cats’ health by feeding them – a good thing, you might say. But for a male this means more energy to wander and spray, mate, yowl and fight, resulting in irritated neighbours and the spread of feline diseases – all preventable by neutering nine times out of time. And for a female increased health also increases the likelihood of her breeding and producing more, healthier offspring. As one female cat and her offspring can be responsible for 30 cats in an area in just one year, it’s hardly surprising that the caregivers will have a colony of cats on their hands in next to no time. They’ll probably feel a bit overwhelmed, give inadequate food for the numbers (or stop feeding them altogether) and end up with an unhealthy, inbred colony of sickly animals with a high mortality rate.
And who’s responsible? They are – they fed the cats in the first place and didn’t have them neutered.
Be aware, there’s no government scheme available for stray and feral cats – if you don’t ensure community cats that wander your way are neutered, no one else will.
And that’s why many areas attach legal responsibility to those who feed strays. Ireland should too.