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Angelenos Could Own More Than 3 Cats Under City Proposal

A decision on whether to increase the number of cats that Los Angeles residents are allowed to own -- from three to five or more -- was postponed today by the City Council's Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee.
A decision on whether to increase the number of cats that Los Angeles residents are allowed to own -- from three to five or more -- was postponed today by the City Council's Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee. | Photo: Maggie Osterberg/Flickr/Creative Commons

A decision on whether to increase the number of cats that Los Angeles residents are allowed to own -- from three to five or more -- was postponed Tuesday by the City Council's Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee.

The proposal to revise the city's three-cat limit, which city officials said is aimed at getting more people to rescue cats from overcrowded shelters, was rescheduled for consideration in two weeks.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who chairs the committee, said he delayed the vote to give city officials more time to look into issues that they "have not had a chance to look at carefully."

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Some members of the public who spoke at today's meeting raised concerns that the city may be skipping  environmental impact studies on the plan to remove the cap on cat ownership.

Koretz, who first suggested raising the limit, said people who already own cats are the most likely to adopt more, "and we want to find a way to get more people to adopt out of our shelters rather than kill them."

Brenda Barnette, general manager of the Animal Services Department, said cats are at higher risk of being euthanized than dogs and other animals.

In a recent year, the shelter took in 19,938 felines, but just 54 percent were adopted, Barnette said. By contrast, 30,318 dogs were brought into shelters and 80 percent were saved.

"You can see the disparity for our feline companions," Barnette told the committee.

Animal Services officials are recommending that residents be allowed to keep up to five pet cats, either indoor or outdoor, without having to pay licensing fees.

Under the proposal, residents could own more if they pay for licenses, keep the additional felines indoors and agree to annual inspections.

Residents would have the ability to keep up to three outdoor cats, but those cats would need to be spayed or neutered.

City officials say based on experiences in San Diego and Santa Monica, where there are no caps on cat ownership, hoarding would likely not become a problem.

Removing the three-cat limit in Los Angeles would also allow residents to temporarily foster cats in their homes when the shelters run out of space, Barnette said.

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