Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Lexington County is changing their policy on killing stray cats starting next month, with the goal to let more of the animals live freely in the county.

The county passed the new ordinance in June, and it will go into effect on October 1.

The new measure was proposed by Pawmetto Lifeline, and means cats will no longer be subject to the restraint and confinement portion of the county ordinance.

That means the county’s Animal Shelter will no longer accept owner-surrendered, trapped or stray cats. Animal Control officers also will no longer respond to complaints regarding free-roaming or at-large cats, except for cases involving neglect, abuse, maltreatment or bites.

Read the New Ordinance

People who want to trap feral or free-roaming cats near their neighborhoods will be referred to Pawmetto Lifeline to get a trap. Cats that are trapped can be brought to Pawmetto Lifeline, where they will be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and ear-tipped. The animal will then be returned to the location from where it was removed.

People who want to surrender their cats for adoption will also be sent to Pawmetto Lifeline.

The county says it will continue to provide Animal Control services to municipalities that adopt the County’s new Animal Control Ordinance. Municipalities who have not adopted the County’s Animal Control Ordinance will not receive animal control services, until the County’s ordinance has been adopted.

To learn more about the county's cat program, call 803.465.9176, or email