General chatter - Halp! Wild Cats Problem




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Hat Trick
10-20-2008, 03:35 PM
Ok so for the past year or perhaps two there is a woman who has been feeding stray cats. I live in a regular suburban type neighbor hood and the houses are pretty close together. She lives out back of me, one house down. This woman has taken it upon herself to feed the wild cats that live in the field behind the house across the street from us. These cats are using everyone's yard as their litter box and are constantly in and out of our yard. and are multiplying. Our yard is fenced in for the dog but they don't care. I also have an indoor cat who goes nuts when these cats are around and has 'marked' his territory on occassion in the house.

I just spoke w/my next door neighbor and apparently these cats are a nuisance to everyone up and down the street. The guy next door to the cat lady had it out w/her last summer because the cats had yet another litter of kittens in her shed (where she feeds them) and the cats decided to move the kittens to under the guy's shed. The lady went nuts when he said he was going to get rid of them and she ended up taking them. Of course, they just multiplied.

We have a HOA and they have been contacted but don't seem to either know what to do or want to do anything about it. Various neighbors have said things to her but . . . she is less than receptive and unless she stops feeding them no one sees and end to the problem. And no, she is not some little old lonely woman; she is in her 30's, married w/two kids.

I like cats; I've had cats as pets all my life but . . . . this is getting out of hand. It's been out of hand. I don't see these cats as pets; they are just wild cats getting a full belly.

I'm contimplating buying a (humane) trap or two and setting them and taking the trapped cats to the SPCA. It's the only thing I can think of to get rid of the cat problem but unless all the cats get trapped they will just breed over and over and it will be endless.

Has anyone ever encountered a similar situation? If anyone has any suggestions I'd be glad to hear them. I don't think our township has an animal control department and the only thing I find in the phone book is 'pest' control. To be honest, the 'pest' control solution is looking better and better :( Thanks for any help anyone can provide.


alinnell
10-20-2008, 03:49 PM
The woman who does our books here at work feeds the feral cats here. However, she traps them and takes them to be spayed or neutered. It helps control the population. Sure there are new ones that pop up from time to time, but she traps them and has them altered. I think that is the humane thing to do. BTW, feral cats that are altered have a nick taken out of their ear so they are easily spotted as having already been altered.

While I don't have a problem with her feeding these cats, I would if she just fed them without altering them. It is a disservice to everyone (the cat and the community) to allow them to reproduce.

I'm sure that if your HOA doesn't get involved, your local SPCA should be alerted to the problem.

raw23
10-20-2008, 03:54 PM
Here's what you do...

Every day when you drive the house toss a couple eggs out
Order pizza and other food to their house and pick it up at their doorstep claiming that you don't have a phone.
At night transplant plants in their garden. In the morning say, "looks like they're on the move again."
When they're watching TV, pull a lawn chair behind their window. Sit down with popcorn and a drink and ask them if they could open a window so you can hear too.
Build snowmen with name tags of your neighbors each day hack off a different part of their body.
Use your TV remote to change the channels on their TV from outside. If asked why, say you protest such programs. (The more educational the program the better.)
Dig shallow graves at night filling your yard with brown grave patches. Make markers out of household appliances
Put a "For Sale" sign in her yard
God put them there so that you could witness to them. I would go to their house at least 6 to 8 times a day to share Jesus with them. They will either convert or move.
Build a moat and a drawbridge. Cats hate water.


As for usefull suggestions... sorry. I thought a chuckle might lift your spirits though!
Maybe send her this:
http://www.geocities.com/Petsburgh/7848/backdoorfed.html


PhotoChick
10-20-2008, 03:56 PM
Is there a leash or licensing law in your area? Where I live, your pets HAVE to be licensed and you have to leash them outside. Even cats. In general no one in our townhouse complex is anal about it, since there are only 3 cats that are indoor/outdoor (ours is not one of them) and they don't make a mess or fight or anything.

But I digress. :)

Even if your township doesn't have an animal control, the county or state will. Start off by calling the police non-emergency number and asking them to refer you. It may take a few calls to find the right person.

Another option would be to contact a feral cat organization or a cat rescue organization in your area. You could start here: http://www.saveacat.org/ - they might be able to refer you to a local cat rescue or feral management organization.

I also agree with alinnell above: While I don't have a problem with her feeding these cats, I would if she just fed them without altering them. It is a disservice to everyone (the cat and the community) to allow them to reproduce.It's a commonly accepted practice among those who care for feral cats that you try to trap and spay/neuter if you're going to be responsible for caring for them. Most vets will give a discount and even help you find homes sometimes for the tamer cats or the kittens.

I think this woman is doing a HUGE disservice by feeding the animals but not taking responsibility for their health and their reproduction.

.

zeffryn
10-20-2008, 04:25 PM
That was an issue in our old neighborhood as well. The cats grew to such enormous numbers that they would rush in our homes when we would open the door. The final straw came when my husband was backing out of our driveway and ran one over....the woman that was feeding them was furious with him and called him "cat killer" until the day we moved.

I called animal control and they ended up trapping close to 30 cats within a few days. They also gave the woman feeding them a warning about feeding feral cats again.

kaplods
10-20-2008, 07:34 PM
Feeding feral cats, often is a lot less humane than it seems, especially without any efforts to control their population. Feral cats often carry diseases that can be transmitted to housepets and some even to humans. Feeding them without having them neutered, encourages out of control breeding, and the population of the feral colony and its deseases explode. It also attracts people wanting to dump unwanted pet cats because they think it's more humane than taking their unwanted animals to a shelter where they might be put to sleep (despite the fact that the life of a feral cat is often a fate worse than death to a formerly pampered pet). So instead of the chance at a new home or a painless quick death, they're forced to try to learn how survive as a wild animal, without any of the skills that they need to do so.

Feeding animals without neutering them or caring for their other medical needs, does not help them survive, it actually can make them less able to.
They become more dependent on humans, and the ill cats who without human feeding, would die because of an inability to feed themselves, survive longer to spread more infection.

That being said, you're probably not going to be able to convince "the crazy cat lady" of that, especially if she's a "collector." For some, feeding and caring for animals (while ignoring their real needs) reflects a mental illness. They're convinced they're helping and will ignore all rational information to the contrary.

If you can get a group like Sterile Feral involved (they catch, neuter and release back to the colony) that would solve some of the problem, but not all. It sounds like the problem may have already becomed too late for that to be a workable solution. But whether it's Humane Societies, SPCA, Animal Control or law enforcement agencies, you've got to be complaining to any and all to get this situation under control. Not only for your sanity, but the safety of the neighborhood children and pets, and even the feral cats themselves.

Hat Trick
10-22-2008, 11:10 AM
Thanks for everyone's replies. raw, your post cracked me up. Loved the 'remote outside changing channels' and 'build a moat' ones. lol

Our township doesn't have an animal control dept so I contacted the spca. Spoke w/the humane officer there; super nice guy. He said that if you feed a stray cat for 3 consecutive days then it is considered yours and you are obligated to provide the animal: food, water, shelter, vet care and proper living conditions. I gave him the woman's address and he is going to talk to her. He said he would do everything he could to get her to stop feeding the cats but . . . if she chooses to continue feeding them there is not much he can do about it.

Off the record he said this is what he would do. In our state the law says that if an unmarked animal (no collar/no id) is on your property then you have the right to humanely trap the animal and take it to a shelter/spca. He recommended a trap and basically said trap, rinse, repeat as necessary. I kind of thought this would be the solution.

My other concern - besides the growing population and the fact that winter is coming and all - is that my dog thinks these cats are fair game. Although she has never gone after our cat, and we had the cat 5 or 6 years b/4 the dog came into the picture, she sees these outside cats just as if they are rabbits or squirrels. Sunday morning when she was let outside to go to the bathroom she ran behind our shed and there was a squeek and a yelp. We thought she got one of the cats but instead proudly deposited a big, lifeless bunny on the patio! It was very early in the morning (like 5a.m.) so we left it to drink coffee and went back 1/2 hr later to get rid of it and it was gone. Hmmm, maybe she just stunned it. The next day I let her out because three cats were in our yard again and she was out for about 20 mins. When I called her, she came around the shed licking her chops with blood on her chest and paws. Gulp, again I thought she got a cat but no, the wild cats had dragged the rabbit to behind the shed and were eating it. The dog was too. Oh, the next day or so were rather gross from her eating that rabbit. Had the wild cats not be around the rabbit (which was in fact quite dead from the dog) would have still been on the patio and the dog wouldn't have eaten it.

Anyway, I will give it some time to see if the cats disappear then proceed with the trapping and taking them to the spca. Of course, if I go to the spca I will want to take all the animals home, especially another dog! Trying to talk hubby into this; so far a no go. But . . . . I am persistent if nothing else. ;)

Thanks again for your replies.

peachcake
10-22-2008, 04:56 PM
www.feralcats.org is an organization in Oregon that I volunteer for. THey trap and spay/neuter feral cats. I don't know what state you're from but most states have programs like this. They are free to the caretakers however, they do suggest a donation.

I have trapped many a feral cat in my town - THANK GOODNESS!- because they multiply like guppies.

If you get humane traps SOME vets will alter them (you usually have to pay all or most of the fees) but some vets WILL NOT alter ferals. Also, the Humane Society and other similar organization generally DO NOT accept feral animals.

I would suggest trying to find a feral cat organization in your area. If you can't find one, contact some cat rescues and ask them if they know of one.

peachcake
10-22-2008, 04:59 PM
Oh, and it IS NOT INHUMANE TO FEED FERALS!!!!!!! Although, you do have to get them altered or they will continue breeding and dying.

For the best prevention be sure yours and your family's pets are altered. Feral cat colonies are usually started by house pets.

Hat Trick
10-22-2008, 05:52 PM
peachcake - thanks but even if she were to get all the cats altered (there are 5 that I am aware of) if she continued to let them be 'outside' cats, they are still all over everyone's yard. She does not let these cats into her house so the problem with these 5 cats being a nuisance to at least a dozen neighbors would still exist. From talking to other neighbors who have had contact with her I get the impression that she thinks its 'cute' when there is a litter of kittens. And even is she is taking these litters to a shelter, its still a problem.

If I end up having to trap them, they are going to the spca and the spca will determine if these cats are adoptable or not. I don't know if altering wild (feral) cats would make a difference in their behavior as far as being a suitable pets goes. All I know is that if they continue to roam, they will continue to breed and if they continue to breed one of these days my dog will catch and kill one and I DO NOT want that to happen.

peachcake
10-22-2008, 07:17 PM
Are these cats strays or ferals? BIG difference. Strays are accepted by programs, many programs like SPCA won't even accept ferals because "ferals" are totally and completely wild and rehabilitating them as adults is near impossible. If all 5 get altered then you can hope for relocation (anyone know anyone who needs a barn cat?) or eventually, they will die off.

peachcake
10-22-2008, 07:18 PM
And unfortunately, ferals are a community problem. Yes, it sucks she's feeding them and they're around but it's the community in general that caused the problem. Not her specifically.

kaplods
10-22-2008, 08:10 PM
I didn't say that feeding feral cats was always inhumane, just that it can be under certain circumstances. If you're not providing veterinary care and neutering for the animals, and providing this care year-round, you can be making the lives of the feral cats and neighborhood pets worse, not better. And while most feral cats are descendants of housepets, most truly feral cats are not, and neither are they easily tamed. A cat that once was a housepet, has a better chance to be rehabilitated than one that was born feral.

Five cats doesn't sound like a huge feral colony, until you realize it can become one in just a few months season. If you've got one male and four females, you can suddenly have nearly 20 cats. We had a small colony behind our apartment that started with just one male cat when my husband and I were newly married. We were in that apartment less than two years, and it started with a scraggly white male eating out of the dumpster (we called him Sludgey because while he would have been gorgeous as a housepet, obviously all white, with long silky hair near his face and tail, he always looked filthy, greasy and bedraggled), and the whole apartment comples started feeding Sludgey. My husband and I did so most regularly, and by the first winter he had a gray tiger striped mate and they had a little family. We bought dry food and provided shelter in the wooded area (a large cheap styrofoam coolers and some rugs). I thought we were doing such a good thing, and the population went from one to at least 15 by the next winter that's when the housepet dumps started occurring more and more (because people knew the folks in our apartment building were feeding the cats). We finally contacted Sterile Feral (and were told some of what we'd done wrong. Calling Sterile Feral should have been our first step, not our last, especially since we learned there was a concern that ferals were endangering some of the local bird species, and if the feral populations grew too much the city could pass an ordinance that all feral cat colonies would have to be destroyed).

In our little colony, the gray female who was the first mate to Sludgey was obviously a former housepet. Not obviously at first, but when someone dumped a recliner by the dumster, the gray momma would lay on the recliner to sleep. One day out to the trash, I didn't wake her by some miracle and was petting her head and she started purring, then she woke up realized where she was and made a mad dash for the treeline. She had taught all her kittens to fear humans and for a few brief minutes, she forgot. It broke my heart.

When we moved, Sterile Feral had not yet gotten to our little colony (we were on a long waiting list) and my husband and I didn't have the money to pay for any of the neurtering ourselves. Most of the other tenants had lost interest in feeding the cats, because they'd become a nuisance, pooping and scratching on the cars, making noise at night. And they weren't looking too healthy, so some people were a bit afraid of them. There was still a dad and his young daughter feeding them, and the little girl would use a rod and reel with feathers but no hook, to play with them from a distance, hoping to eventually tame as many as she could. I hope it worked out for the little colony, but when we left, there seemed to some sort of disease spreading (their eyes were weepy and many of the cats had lost quite a bit of weight, and several of the kittens had died. Distemper maybe).



If you don't know what you're doing, like we didn't, you can do more harm than good.