Is It Illegal to Feed Stray Cats in California?

Feeding stray cats in California is not illegal in itself, but there are certain regulations and guidelines that must be followed to ensure the well-being of the cats and the community as a whole.

What are the regulations around feeding stray cats in California?

In California, there are no state-wide laws that explicitly prohibit feeding stray cats. However, some cities and counties may have their own ordinances regarding the feeding of stray animals. It is important to check with your local animal control or city government to see if there are any specific rules in your area.

Can feeding stray cats lead to legal issues?

Feeding stray cats may lead to legal issues if it is done in a way that disrupts the community or causes harm to the cats themselves. For example, if feeding the cats leads to an accumulation of waste or attracts other nuisance animals, you could be cited for violations of local ordinances.

How can I feed stray cats responsibly?

  • Ensure that you are feeding the cats in a clean and sanitary manner.
  • Do not leave out excessive amounts of food that could attract unwanted pests.
  • Consider working with a local animal rescue organization to help trap, neuter, and return (TNR) stray cats in your area.

What should I do if I encounter a colony of stray cats?

  1. Contact your local animal control or a reputable animal rescue organization for assistance.
  2. Consider setting up a feeding station with proper food and water to help care for the cats in a responsible manner.

Are there any benefits to feeding stray cats?

Feeding stray cats can help improve their health and well-being, especially if done in conjunction with a TNR program. By providing regular meals for stray cats, you can help prevent them from scavenging for food in potentially dangerous environments.

What are the risks associated with feeding stray cats?

Feeding stray cats without proper care and attention can lead to overpopulation, the spread of disease, and negative interactions with other wildlife in the area. It is important to approach feeding stray cats with caution and responsibility.

How can I help stray cats without feeding them?

If you are concerned about the well-being of stray cats in your area but do not want to feed them directly, consider supporting local animal rescue organizations, volunteering your time, or donating supplies to help care for stray cats in need.


Feeding stray cats in California is not inherently illegal, but it is important to approach the situation with care and responsibility. By following local regulations, working with reputable organizations, and being mindful of the needs of the cats and the community, you can make a positive impact on the lives of stray cats in your area.