Feral Cat Colony Caretaker Permit Information

Find out more about Feral Cat Colony permits

Feral Cat Colony Caretaker Permit Information
City of Omaha Ordinance 6-161
City of Bellevue Ordinance 6-57

The Feral Cat Colony Caretaker Permit was designed to allow those individuals who wish to feed and maintain a feral cat colony with the goal of reducing the number of feral cats by trapping, neutering and releasing on a property. 

If you would like to apply for a Feral Cat Colony Caretaker permit for the city of Omaha/Bellevue, you must:

1.  Be 18 years of age or older and submit an application online here, or in person or by e-mail here

2.  Pay a biennial (every 2 years) fee of $25 (due at time of application)

3.  Schedule the inspection when contacted by the Animal Control Officer  This could take as long as 4 weeks depending on demand. 

4.  Meet the requirements of the inspection and comply with all city ordinances relating to the animals (see standards below)

5.  On the annual biennial anniversary of your permit, it is your responsibility to pay the annual renewal fee of $25 **You will receive a notification postcard annually**

While you hold a feral cat colony caretaker permit, should you be found guilty of any violation of Chapter 6, the permit will be revoked.  Permit premises shall be maintained with clean and safe conditions at all times.  The Nebraska Humane Society has the right to inspect such premises and all the animals therein at reasonable hours to ascertain that the premises are kept in the aforementioned condition and meet prescribed standards. 

Standards for a Feral Cat Colony Caretaker permit:

  • Colonies cannot have more than 20 adult feral cats at an address that is zoned residential, provided that if such a colony is composed of more than 10 adult feral cats, the permit holder must reduce the number of such cats to 10 prior to the renewal of the permit. 
  • There can be no more than 30 adult feral cats at an address zoned commercial, provided that if such colony is composed of more than 15 adult cats, the permit holder must reduce the number of cats to 15 prior to the renewal of the permit. 
  • Feral Cat Colony Caretakers must have the ability and desire to actively work toward decreasing the number of feral cats in a colony through humane trap/neuter/return (TNR)
  • Colony caretakers must provide daily care for the animals by providing fresh food and water.
  • Failure to reduce numbers of cats within the colony via trap/neuter/return (TNR) can result in the revocation of your permit.

Apply online for a Feral Cat Colony Caretaker permit here

Questions?  E-mail our helpful permit staff here, or call 402-444-7800 ext. 2213

Feral Cat Colony Information

Please note:  The NHS Spay & Neuter Center (SNC) has been temporarily closed due to a shortage of Veterinary Technicians for staffing  -- we are so sorry for the inconvenience and are diligently working to fill positions and reopen. At this time we are not booking any   appointments for cat or dog sterilization. 

   Should you decide to bring your feral cat(s) to NHS Spay & Neuter Center (SNC) to be sterilized, please note the following information:

  • Pricing for feral cat sterilization is free is they are a colony cat.  Non-colony cats are $50. See price outline here. 
  • One of two feral cats may be dropped off between 7:30am and 9:00am on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.  No appointment is necessary.  If this is your first time utilizing the Nebraska Humane Societie's Spay and Neuter Center, please call ahead so that we may give you additional instruction and information.  Call 402-905-3490 Monday to Thursday between 7:15 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. If you call and receive a voice message, please leave your name and phone number and your call will be returned as soon as possible.
  • All feral cats brought in for surgery MUST be in individual raccoon size traps.  No feral cats will be accepted in carriers, kennels, boxes, etc.  Only one cat per trap. 
  • Cover the trap with a towel or sheet to minimize the cat's stress level/view of it's surroundings. 
  • If you pick the cat up the morning after surgery, it should be ready to released.  If you pick it up the same day (occasionally Mon.-Wed. if we call you) please keep the cat in an area protected from the elements while they recover from the anesthesia.  The cat may be returned to the colony in the morning. 
  • Cats that stayed at the NHS SNC overnight must be picked up between 7:15am and 9:00am the morning after surgery. 
  • *New Option:  Permit holders can have one authorized "secondary" person on file who will be allowed to drop off and pick up cats from the colony in the event the permit holder cannot. If you currently have a permit but do not have a designee, please provide a name, address and phone number as soon as possible. Once added to your file, this person will be able to pick up and drop off cats from your colony for surgery for a period of 30 days. Should this person become the primary contact for your colony, the permit status must be reviewed. In the unfortunate event that you are no longer able to care for or maintain your colony--your permit is not transferrable. If your secondary person wishes to take over the colony, they will need to submit an application for a permit with written authorization from the property owner to maintain the colony. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What happens after I submit my application?
A:  Our permit staff will review your application and complete an inspection of the property.  If your permit is approved, we will send you the permit.

Q: What is expected for the inspection of the colony property?
A: The property must have fresh food, water and adequate shelter.  The shelter must be a physical item(s) such as: a dog house, barn, large stable or protected kennel, etc.  Straw used as bedding should be available during winter months at or below freezing temperatures. 

Q:  Where can I obtain live traps?
A: NHS does not provide/currently rent traps.  Live traps (raccoon size - anything smaller is not acceptable) may be purchased from most farm supply stores and will last several years. 

Q: What if I am not sure the cat I trap is spayed/neutered?
A:  If a cat has a clean "cut" on their ear, it means they are possibly ear tipped, which means they are spayed/neutered.  See photo example of a tipped cat here.  If you are unsure if the cat has been sterilized, still bring the cat in for surgery.  The  NHS SNC veterinary staff will determine if the animal is already altered or not. 

Q:  What is an ear tip?
A:  ear tipping is a consistent way to show cats that have been sterilized.  A left ear tip is given to both females and males.  Feral cats may interact with a variety of caretakers, vets, and animal control officers during their lives.  Cats can live more than 15 years, and if someone new takes over the care of the colony, it's an easy way to identify altered/unaltered cats.  The ear tipping is performed under anesthesia at the same time as the spay/neuter. 

Q:  Why not use tattoo or microchip to identify feral cats?
A:  Tattoos are virtually unreadable on feral cats unless they are anesthetized, and microchips often fail to be detected if the cat is in a metal trap.  Feral cats sterilized at NHS SNC will also receive a small tattoo.  The presence of the tattoo helps discern a frost-bitten ear from a true ear tip when the animal is anesthetized. 

Q:  How do I sterilize the cats in my colony?
A:  Caretakers may take their cats to any veterinary clinic to have them altered (spayed/neutered) at their own cost.  The NHS Spay and Neuter Center (SNC) is located on the NHS campus and offers spay and neuter services (including the eartip and rabies vaccination), or feral cats, for free, provided the cat is cared for by a colony caretaker with a valid permit.  Please call the clinic for additional information at 402-905-3490.  Non-colony feral cat surgeries cost $50, see the price outline here. 

Q:  I have kittens on the property.  When can they be brought in for surgery?
A:  Kittens must be at least 2 pounds and 8 weeks old in order to qualify for surgery. 

Q:  I don't know if the cats on the property are actually "feral".  What classifies a "feral" cat?
A:  Just how feral a cat is depends on several factors, including age, time lived outdoors, amount of human contact, and personality.  Sometimes outdoor cats that are accustomed to living outside but are social towards humans are known as "community cats". 

Apply online for a Feral Cat Colony Caretaker permit here

Questions?  E-mail our helpful permit staff here, or call 402-444-7800 ext. 2213

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