Like cats? You’ll love this: L.A. City Council moves closer to letting Angelenos keep more cats

Petopia Animal Rescue in Woodland Hills

A cat up for adoption last week at Petopia Animal Rescue in Woodland Hills.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Good mews, cat lovers.

The Los Angeles City Council has moved one step closer to raising the number of cats Angelenos can legally keep indoors, from three to five per household.

In a quick procedural vote Tuesday that was not nearly as entertaining as an online cat video, the council without discussion approved a motion asking the city attorney to draft the law, which will be brought back to the council for another vote.

Officials are pushing the change in the city code to encourage Los Angeles residents to adopt more cats and help reduce the number of animals euthanized. It is currently illegal to keep more than three cats without a kennel permit.


In September, the city’s Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee unanimously approved a proposal raising the limit of pet or foster cats that each household can keep to five. 

Under that proposal, if a household has one to three cats, the cats would be allowed to live indoors or outdoors. Any owner with more than three cats would be required to keep all of them inside.

All cats would have to be spayed or neutered unless they qualified for a legal exemption, the proposal states.

The city has received feedback from some people concerned about cat hoarding and about frisky alleycats out on the town.


In a letter sent to the council this week, Judy Cairns, a San Pedro resident, said she vehemently opposed the ordinance, saying it would not fix the cat overpopulation problem.

Cats are not required to be licensed in the city, and without licenses or microchipping, it is “virtually IMPOSSIBLE to determine who is responsible for a particular cat,” Cairns wrote.

“Please don’t contribute to the pain and suffering that cats might be forced to endure that is a direct result of this blatantly ill-conceived ordinance,” she said.

City officials point to cities with no cap on cat ownership, such as San Diego and Santa Monica, as proof that the plan would work. Both the county and city of San Diego have no limit, or very liberal limits, on how many cats can be kept in a residence, according to the Department of Animal Services. Santa Monica does not limit the number of indoor cats residents may keep, according to the department.

On Tuesday, L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz, chairman of the Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee, said cats were more likely than dogs to be euthanized and that a solution was to get people to adopt more to “reduce the burden on shelters and save the lives of cats.”

The change would not encourage more people to become cat ladies, officials said. People determined to keep too many cats probably aren’t deterred by the current limits, Koretz said.

“People that follow the law are going to follow the law, and people that aren’t might hoard cats,” Koretz said. “But they’re also not the people that would follow laws. This has nothing to do with cat hoarding.”

Twitter: @haileybranson | Google+


Get our Essential California newsletter