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Feeding cats or squirrels

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I have a question I am afraid to ask. (Because I can see where this may end up).

I posted on Christmas eve about a poor little stray kitten that was starving - and I left out some food for it. I could not continue to feed it in that spot, but I followed it's tracks in the snow, and found a fairly secluded spot on my own property, and left out a dish of kibble. It got wet, mushy, bits of tree bark fell in, but I did not want to do any more permanent type of feeding station unless I knew that cats had found the food. The little kitten was the third stray I have seen over the past few months in the neighbourhood.

Tonight when I got in, the dish was completely empty - and there was water and bits of bark still in the bottom, so I know that nobody just dumped it out.

So how do I know that it was cats, and not the resident rodents, who we do not want to encourage.

Stupid question, I know, but I will not be happy with fat happy well fed mice and squirrels moving into my attic. We got Sam to get rid of those little pests.
post #2 of 12
the paw prints in the snow? Don't squirrels hibernate? (Sorry I live in CA where it rarely snows or drops below 30.) It could have been mice or rats but, if you are feeding critteres, and the cats are catching them, it all ends up in the cat, right? Keep a good watch and see what turns up!
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
The weather warmed up and all of the snow is gone. The squirrels do not hibernate for the entire winter, they do come out on warm days, but I don't think I have seen as many recently. However, I had not thought about the cats eating the healthy mice - that could be a good thing.
post #4 of 12
Actually you are probably feeding the cats, any raccoons or possums that are around, and some hungry blue jays and squirrels!

You can set out a piece of sponge rubber under the bowl, spread some dirt on it and then see what type of tracks are being left.
post #5 of 12
I find that racoons always make a big mess out of the bowls...so if the bowls are real muddy or messy in the morning, chances are that the racoons have been there. I've not had trouble with squirrels, though birds eat a lot of the kibble I leave out for my ferals.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks, this helps.

I am not as concerned about the squirrels, mention of raccoons bothered me a bit. The bowls are left very tidy, no mess, and in exactly the same place and position as I left them, so I think that it may be the cats.

I'll try the sponge rubber trick, that sounds interesting.

Other than staking out surveillance, I am not sure what else to do until there is snow and I can look for tracks, but although we have seen raccoons in the area, we don't have trouble with them raiding the garbage or anything - I am thinking that cats are getting most of this food.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Well, I just took a big tin of cat food outside, and its ALL YOUR FAULT. ALL OF YOU. You know who you are (Hissy, Laurie, all the rest.)

I would never even consider feeding feral cats until I found this site. I was hoping to get some advice about Sam, which I have.

But now I feel responsible for all of the poor homeless kitties in the neighbourhood. I feel like Good King Wenceslaus. We have a big snow storm starting here, and I have to go out in the snow to make sure the cat food is still uncovered.

So Thanks a Bunch!
post #8 of 12
Oh, Sammie5, how I can relate to your feelings about feeding all the ferals around. Since taking Lucky in, (my very first feral) I find myself looking out the windows a bit more often to see if any cats are out and about. It gets very cold here in the winter and I worry about these guys. I think it's wonderful what you're doing - helping all the "wild" cats and making sure they're fed.

That is also very interesting that you wondered if the cats were indeed the ones getting the food. When we were putting food out for Lucky - I wondered the very same thing. Now, I knew she was eating it during the day (as we saw her), but when it got dark, I was never really sure if she was the one consuming the food - or opossum's or raccoons were the culprits.

Best of Luck to you!
post #9 of 12
Sammie5, I had to laugh when I read your last post! It just takes one to start it all, as so many of us know so well!!! But, as you'll note in my most recent signature - one cat leads to another!

We were feeding raccoon, skunks and possums in addition to the cats. We've constructed an outside feeder that dispenses dry cat food and it's built in such a way that I think we're down to mostly cats and maybe some raccoons.

But before that, we were just leaving bowls outside (although we still make special food for "our gang" at least twice a day!). When we were going through the process of trapping all the strays around here to have them neutered (or spayed), vaccinated and released, Gary trapped several raccoons along the way! He caught the biggest possum either one of us had ever seen. ...and fortunately, the cats steered clear of the skunks (and fortunately we never trapped one!)

You are an angel for caring for these lone, forgotten ones. Every little bit helps.

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
We have raccoons, I can't think that I can keep them away. The rest, not so much. Definitely not opposums. I am hoping that I can figure out when the cats come around - I saw then at around the same time each evening in the summer, and I can fill the dish then, so they get the most benefit.
post #11 of 12
To keep the racoons (and dogs) out you can put the food under an overturned plastic laundry basket with a small hole cut in the side. The cats will squeeze through and baby racoons can fit inside, but the big coons can't get to the food. You do have to weight down the basket with a block of cement or something similarly heavy or else the racoons will just move the basket aside.

Welcome to the world of feral lovers! I think we all started out just helping one poor little kitty and then lost all control!
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
I thought about that. I just have an idea that I need to make the food really easy to find for a bit, to be sure that they get used to coming here for it. I want to find a sort of secluded spot, and then I figured that a rubbermaid bucket, with the lid at the top, so I can open it, and a hole cut in the side, would eliminate all of the big critters.

And because we are in a fairly high end professional neighbourhood, it needs to look acceptable as well as be functional.
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