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Cat Owners Will Have To Microchip And Spay Or Neuter Their Felines Soon

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A new mandate now requires L.A. County cat owners to "fix" their felines and microchip them.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors just passed a long-anticipated measure that requires pet owners to neuter or spay their cats and have a microchip embedded to help identify them, reports the L.A. Times. The effort is aimed at helping to reduce unwanted breeding and the number of unidentified cats that wind up in county shelters, which—in many cases—are ultimately euthanized. Officials say they will allow for three months to get the word out on the ordinance before they begin enforcing it, reports the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Initially, the county will offer $50 vouchers to help offset the cost of the surgery, the county's Department of Animal Care and Control Director Marcia Mayeda tells the Times. The vouchers will be available until the first $125,000 of allotted funding is used. After that, they will still be offered to low-income residents. Exemptions to the mandate will be made for cat owners that can show a medical reason for not performing the surgery and for show cats.

The mandate also limits breeding for female cats to one litter each year and no more than five in the cat's lifetime.

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"There's too many cats going into the shelter, and there's no chance of a home," Joey Herrick, founder of Lucy Pet Foundation—which operates mobile spay and neuter clinics—tells the Times. According to the Department of Animal Care and Control, 28,911 cats were impounded last year alone, while 21,055 of those cats were euthanized.

Enforcement of the mandate will be based on complaints, and cat owners will be issued a warning and an opportunity to comply before being cited. Owners that fail to comply may be issued a fine not to exceed $250, according to the Press-Telegram.

Dogs in the county are already required to be neutered or spayed and microchipped.