League City is getting set to restart its community cat program after changes to the policy were approved by the animal advisory committee at a meeting in June.

The revision focused on the trap-neuter-release, or TNR, policy for the city’s community cat program.

The overview

The purpose of the policy, which was approved June 12, “is to outline pathways for all cats that come to League City Animal Shelter, and shelter staff roles and responsibilities,” according to the revised policy.

The revised policy states adult cats will need to fit the following requirements to “return to home,” in which cats will be released where they were originally trapped:
  • Minimum 4 pounds in weight or 4 months old
  • A body condition score not less than 4, or lean, and no more than 6, or slightly overweight
  • No injury, illness or other medical concerns prohibiting release, unless approved by management
  • Not declawed
  • Not microchipped or wearing identification
“It’s not a release to the wild; it’s not anything that is scary,” said Amelia Nusbaum, League City Animal Shelter manager, at the meeting. “These cats already have their homes, and we are helping them get back to where they are comfortable.”

The revisions come after League City City Council asked staff to place the community cat program on hold until the program's policy could be reassessed and reviewed, according to a June 26 news release from the city.

The newly revised policy was created with the input of animal welfare agency American Pets Alive, as well as citizen feedback gathered over a series of months through online surveys, focus groups, workshops and other engagement activities, according to the news release.

The policy was also reviewed by animal welfare agency Best Friends Animal Society, according to the news release. In addition, national research on TNR programs was reviewed and considered.

What else?

According to the news release, these revisions will also include:
  • Shortening the policy to increase understanding, reduce errors and enhance transparency with the League City community
  • Creating a more comprehensive and engaging intake finder questionnaire to be used by staff and volunteers
  • The shelter communicating during intake the benefits of the community cat program and providing informational brochures; questions have been added to help determine if a cat has been genuinely abandoned/lost
  • Addressing concerns on cats being healthy enough to return home by researching body score conditions and improving the physical exam upon intake to the shelter
  • Addressing concerns about the community’s ability to reclaim personal pets by holding all found cats for three days, not including intake day, to provide citizens a chance to find their lost pets; after three days, and meeting specific criteria, the cat will be neutered and returned home
  • Creating additional educational and marketing materials to communicate the goals of the program to the community
Stay tuned

City officials said in a July 2 email the program could start back up as soon as the week of July 8 once training on the program’s changes wraps up.