Farm, Garden and The Land > Live Stock, Critters and Aquaculture

Getting Rid of Stray Cats... Ethically

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David in MN:
We have a number of strays (maybe 3 or 4) that now call our block home.I might have mentioned before that I am deathly allergic but it hit a headwind the other day when a stray tried to come cuddle up next to my daughter. They eyes are open now. Turns out my neighbor is feeding them.

I'm not some heartless jerk who would 'get the shotgun' or leave out a bowl of antifreeze (both things my grandfather did and I can't abide). But I also don't want to fry a cat turning on my car on a cold day or find a cat squatting in my shop. I'm also not thrilled about people leaving out food for wild animals because we aren't that far from state land and our town routinely has sightings of bobcat, lynx, badger, skunk, and worst of all mountain lions.

I'm also not the type to call the police and make a big stink because I'm sure every last one of us violates some stupid edict about zoning and I like our quite block. But I also don't want to live in some European backwater where mangy strays rule the roads.

I'm avoiding the conversation with the neighbor. I get it. They have a kid and putting out some cat food seems like the nice thing to do. They're just being kindhearted so I'm being nice about it.

Is there a simple way to get a cat to avoid my yard? I've thought about fencing the back yard as one of my great fears is finding a pile of kittens in the garden. Maybe I just need to mellow out and let cats roam my yard. I don't know. Any feedback or ideas would be appreciated.

Maybe a live trap?

You cant just live trap cats, because people are allowed to have cats and cats jump and climb, we cant lock them in our yards like dogs.  A live trap will catch other peoples pets.  If your neighbors are feeding, it is hard to draw the line, they may be rightly classified as pets by now. 

That said, does your area have a low cost/free spay neuter program for feral cats ? Find out, either yes or no offer to help  pay the spay fee to the neighbor so you do not get kittens.  So, nip it in the bud. 

You do need to up the barriers to keep cats out of at least the back yard.  Oh, it looks like you dont even have a fence yet ?  OK, of course you need a fence, but you want it to be of a design or material to discourage cats climbing over it.  Explain to your neighbors that you are not being unfriendly but you need to have a cat free area to go outside in.  Out here fences are redwood, but that is easy for cats to climb as their claws stick to it, it is like climbing a tree.  Possibly chain link and high enough that they cant just jump to the top.

We had 6 feral cats in the area when we had out townhouse.  We used live traps to catch them.  Then called animal control.  Animal control took them away and would deliver them to a shelter.

In my county, if you can show that a neighbor is feeding them, then that neighbor has claimed ownership.  That neighbor is then required to do all the stuff that comes with owning a pet.  License for each of them mainly.  But the county also required rabies shots for each of them and some other counties require other shots for every pet.  Putting all that money out will certainly stop them from feeding a stray.

And I have to disagree, it is NOT your responsibility to keep someone else's animal out of your yard.  It is that neighbor's responsibility to keep their animal under control.

A tin of herring will guarantee you catch something.  Of course it could be a raccoon, which animal control in my area will not take, I had to release that into a nearby park.

No matter your opinion, you cannot contain a cat like a dog, so no, it is not considered the owners responsibility to keep their cat out of your yard.  If you trap and relocate cats you know to be someone elses pets, you can and should be prosecuted.  If you have a real issue, go thru animal control. 

 Out here, if you believe they are feral, you work with animal control and they authorize if you can use a live trap, loan you one, and you give the cat to them.  If someone is feeding them, they are usually considered a pet, and yes, then they need shots and to be spayed and neutered, which will be done for free out here for semi-ferals, and then they notch the ear of the cat, so people can see it has been spayed.  You cannot just catch all cats that go into your yard.  The ferals and semi-ferals are released to people who agree to set out food and water for them, and they live out their lives outside but not having new kittens.  It is the tame ones, that dont know how to live outside, that can end up killed at animal control

If I was allergic, I would have a fence, as that is the only way to be safe

It is illegal to relocate racoons and other wild animals also, not just out here, everywhere I have heard of, it is considered crueler than just outright killing them, according to authorities and animal rights people, I guess they often either starve or get killed in a territorial dispute when dumped somewhere by a property owner.  SO they say. 


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