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Feral Cat Trouble

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
This is kind of a long story, so here goes..

I moved into a condo six months ago. My backyard sits right infront of a conservation area( I havent fenced it off yet). For the las the lat 4 months my outdoor furniture has been used by a group of feral cats as a liter box and scratching post. This are not your average abandoned cats, they are nasty little things that show very little fear. Since animal control is useless I have trapped and removed six of them myself but more keep popping up to take their places. After a search I have discovered that someone has been dumping catfood near the back of my yard. I removed the food and notified the neighborhood board. They sent a letter to everyone telling them that tresspassing is a crime( DUH!) A week after all this I check the corner of my yard again and found another mound of food. I removed it and week later it was back!I even put up no tresspasing signs, but the person(s) just knocked them over. More cats keep pooping up! Every morning I chase atleast eight off my patio. I tried a store bought cat repellent but it has had no effect. Any ideas?
I think my options are as follows..

1.Grab my ipod and a six pack and wait in my backyard at night to confront the person who is doing this..
2.My next door neighbor has a pittbull and a german shepherd. He says that if I let his dogs chase the cats of my property they will never come back. I dont want to risk getting one of the cats killed ( I dont hate them, I just want them gone.)

Understand that I dont want to hurt the animals. I just dont apreciate some person sneaking around my property at night. I have no objection to them feeding the cats. I wish they would do it on their own property. If it is a TNR program, wouldnt the person first ask for permission?
post #2 of 20
I am so sorry you are having this problem - but thank you for not wanting to have the cats killed. I'm glad you found us - and I hope we come up with some ideas that may work for you.

The problem is that if this person is merely feeding the cats, they should DEFINITELY stop it. I promote Trap, Neuter, Release - for a lot of reasons. But when people pop on this board and say they've got feral cats they've been feeding, I NEVER encourage them to continue feeding the cats UNLESS they are going to spay and neuter them. This makes the problem worse.

I would write a note or letter and leave it in plastic on the food they're dumping - and I would try to be tactful and use reason so they don't think you're some cat hating nut.

1) If they are just feeding the cats, they are not doing the cats any good - they're helping keep them healthy to procreate, simply ADDING to the homeless cat population problem.

If you want to go so far as to print out information on the subject, click on the picture in my signature line for Stray Pet Advocacy, and print out some of the information on TNR to include in your note to whoever this is.

2) You are happy to let them trap on your property - if they are going to be spayed, neutered, and released into a colony somewhere else where they can be properly managed.

3) If they do not want to stop feeding the cats, and they do not intend to trap the cats, please ask them to let you know so that you can contact a proper TNR group that will trap the cats and remove them to a proper colony.

You can look up TNR groups that may be wiling to trap these cats and release them into an existing colony! Here are some links to help you find a group:
...and e-mail the Best Friends Network of their No More Homeless Pets Campaign: Explain that you do not want the cats on your property, but that you do not want the cats killed - is there a member of the network in your area that can help TNR them - but release them into an existing colony that is NOT your back yard?

In the meantime, consider going to a hunting store and purchasing "Cayote Urine" - it also comes in a powder (I think all of it is synthetic). I'm sure you can buy it online somewhere as well. Use it liberally - the smell of a predator should keep the cats of your things (and potentially out of your yard).

Others may have more suggestions or better ideas, but that's where I'd start.

Hope this helps,

post #3 of 20
You will need to know who is feeding. You do not need to "confront" them,
but you do need to talk to them. Maybe they are trying to find a lost cat, and feeding to attract the cat? There's other possibilities too - they could be a horder for example. Or just a do gooder that isn't educated enough to understand the feeding makes the problem worse.

Or, scared to tackle the problem and not aware of what the feeding is doing to your property?

I always feel bad for the cats, not the property owner. But then, I love cats and never see them as a "problem".

That said:

They MUST be trapped and neutered and released. Not just fed. That only creates MORE cats. I have a colony of 12 that grew to 20 before we stabilized it. I am still working on them. You would not believe how fast they can multiply!!

You can moving the feeding area away from your porch, / yard/ with this persons assistance and cooperation once the TNR is completed.

I hope you can do this. Keep us posted!

PS. there are groups to help with this, Alley Cat Allies feral friends, low cost spay neuter groups and rescues.

Remember some of those cats might be "strays" - a persons beloved lost pet.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
I wouldnt mind a TNR program, however that option has problems...

1. I work full time and attend grad school in the evening..I dont have the time to implement a TNR program. Someone would have to do it for me..

2. I dont want to attract more strays and I dont want people to think that they can dump strays in my yard.

3. I still want my furniture to be protected.

4. The other person could be the one abandonig the cats in the first place. Even with a TNR program in place they could still add more cats..

5. There are nearly 20 cats in the area. Wouldnt it be impossible to trap and fix them all?

6. My housing contract prohibits me from owning so many animals. I could be subject to fines or even have my contract cancelled. If someone complained I would have to deny that the cats are in my care.

Any advice?
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Just so you know...My community board is very strict. All it will take is one complaint and I will be fined. A couple more and I will be out. They dont make exceptions. Also if the cats were removed and placed in a colony would a new population replace them? I trapped several and took them the humane society. More cats moved in...
post #6 of 20
If there's food, and there are cats, they will come. It's called the "vacuum" effect. It has been studied and documented, and it's an argument for Trap-Neuter-Release as an animal control policy as opposed to the trap-and-kill employed by most communities. Stabilizing the population and maintaining it will keep other cats from coming into the area. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like the board of your community cares - and not wanting to deal with this yourself, I'm not going to suggest you lobby the board of the community to allow the colony to remain.

However, you may want to make a pre-emptive strike and complain to the board that someone is feeding cats on your property.

The other idea is to still try to communicate with whomever it is that is leaving the food. The most important thing is to get those cats spayed and neutered - this is more important than feeding them. Perhaps they can be fed somewhere else. Further into the preserve so it's not on community property?

Even if the cats are not fed, and just simply trapped, spayed, neutered and released - if there is food in the area (in the woods, in garbage cans - wherever - they'll find it), they'll still help prevent other animals from coming around.

It seems to me the most important thing here is to communicate with the person that is leaving food on your property. Then the cats must be spayed and neutered - where they will be released depends upon your communications with the person feeding them, or your ability to find an active TNR group that may be able to take them into an existing colony (or someone willing to start a colony).

IF they are removed from the area - more cats will not come if there is no more food. That's part of the key to the problem. If garbage cans have lids, if food is not put out -they'll stick to the wildlife preserve. However, your property right at the moment has been marked by cats, and it has the "there's food here" scent all over it. So to discourage the cats, the food must be removed, and the scent must be taken care of - and the smell of a predator can help - but that's just a part of the equation.

Hope this made sense,

post #7 of 20
Important to note - if the person feeding the cats is going to start TNRing them, please make sure they get the cats ear-tipped (top of one ear is cut off in a straight line) during the spay or neuter procedure. This is the quickest way to identify whether or not a cat in a trap has been caught before.

post #8 of 20
Here is an article on the problems of removal of cats:

Here is general info on feral cats and TNR that also addresses the vacuum effect:

post #9 of 20
Hats off to you, GTS, for showing determination and compassion in searching for solutions for your problems. I am glad that you hesitated to allow your neighbor's dogs to chase the cats; that would encourage the dogs (who already have high prey drives) to chase small animals, and unfortunately, to dogs, babies are just another small mammal, so who knows what other problems that solution would cause
To protect your furniture, perhaps you could offer litter boxes in an alternate area. When I was cat-less, that's what I did - it was a hassle but saved my garden area and the neighbor cats did keep the mice away.
I hope that you find a TNR group soon. If the cat-feeder is good about continuing to keep feeding the cats, then there's a good chance that they will also be willing to monitor the traps for the TNR group. having a stabilized colony nearby can be a real plus Please keep us posted!
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
I checked my contract and found that it has an anti TNR clause. If you feed the cats then you own the cats and are responsible for all damage they cause.. A couple complaints and I could be in serious trouble with the board. One of my next door neighbors (the pittbull guy) doesnt care as long as the cats dont bother him or his wifes garden. My other neighbor runs a bluebird trail....If she complains then I will have plausible deniability..That is I could say that some whacko has been feeding that cats without my permission. If I openly let an outside group do TNR then they will almost certainly be noticed. I couldnt claim that they were just some yahoos..

I left a note last night for the person who is dumping the food. It has my contact information on it. I checked this morning and it is gone. Hopefully they contact me..
post #11 of 20
GTS - Thats a hard place you're in. I undertook TNR and was mostly let alone, but in my hood, its probably the same. (And my cats roam )

I suggest the contacting, and moving of the feeding site to further away from properties, combined with a TNR by some outside group - they could help you do it!

The board situation, sucks. It might help to have Alley Cat Allies on board for PR if things get bad. After all, YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING.

TNR is proven. It keeps cats from moving in, and it keeps the bird kills down (the cats are feed) and allows the problem to be "corrected" without
on going issues.

And you defnitely need to find out who this person is leaving the food.
They don't know the situation re: board that you are in. If they did
they would probably want to work with you.

Anyway, lots of good info you've been given here. We hope you find away to do this so that the cat situation is fixed. The dumping IMHO is a real probability...
post #12 of 20
Originally Posted by GTS View Post
I checked my contract and found that it has an anti TNR clause. If you feed the cats then you own the cats and are responsible for all damage they cause.. A couple complaints and I could be in serious trouble with the board. One of my next door neighbors (the pittbull guy) doesnt care as long as the cats dont bother him or his wifes garden. My other neighbor runs a bluebird trail....If she complains then I will have plausible deniability..That is I could say that some whacko has been feeding that cats without my permission. If I openly let an outside group do TNR then they will almost certainly be noticed. I couldnt claim that they were just some yahoos..

I left a note last night for the person who is dumping the food. It has my contact information on it. I checked this morning and it is gone. Hopefully they contact me..
I think your best bet with the board and the contract (and your neighbors) is to keep the "plausible deniability" ready if necessary. In fact, you have your neighbor with the dogs as a witness that you've been complaining about someone feeding cats on your property and you've been trying to figure out how to stop it.

From here there are two basic options:

The person leaving food contacts you, and you ask them to move the food they're leaving off your property and further back into the wildlife preserve - and to trap, spay and neuter the animals, so they aren't marking the territory of the community and getting into fights in and around the community which WILL cause complaints. (BTW - I think you're going to have a problem with this person. Seems to me they live in your building, so they know the problems and issues - and they're choosing to feed the animals on YOUR property, not their own!)

If they won't TNR, then I think you should try to find a group that will - and as long as the trapping is done in the wildlife preserve and not on community property - and you're not affiliated with the group - wouldn't that also help solve the multiple problems you're facing?

post #13 of 20
One sneaky way to move the feeding - find the food, remove and place
futher out on your own.

You could also, borrow a camera if the person doing doesn't want to contact
you, and this might motivate THEM to move the site on their own.

Suggested in a note - tell them you urge them to do a TNR and move
the feeding site, and that you've got some resources that might help. List the resources, and list your own dilema w/ the board.

Warn them though that you cannot have them doing this on your
property. Complain a bit to the doggy person. Damn person feeding
those cats...

Then put up the camera (locked) and see what happens. Bet they move
the feeding site somewhere else! And I bet someone on the lost cat or feral advocate websites in your area would lend you one.

Worst case - it becomes someone elses problem, best case, they take your advice, contact you and get the TNR done.

That's the hard part of making this takes a really special kind of person to pull this type of situation around....and I think that board of yours needs some serious working on and educating by the animal welfare groups.

Too bad there aren't some around to help you out like Best Friends. I really think we need feral advocates for situations like this - you know people who go in and do the leg work, the legal/educational/persuational type of work to get attitudes and rules changed/challenged or thought about. So the people like you don't get stuck in the middle trying to do the right thing but demotivated by the situation.

Kudos to you for even trying.

On a totally different - positive topic just before the big cold is expected this week - I scored a catch!! Been trying to catch these little 3 month kittens and I finally got the 2nd one! In an adult trap too!! Miracle.

yall can send me vibes for her/him taming. Adorable and hissing and mewing in the trap already... If she/he can tame, we can place - I've a group that will take him/her. Any maine coon lovers out there with a yen for a kitten that started life feral?

This one is a pure Maine!! Mr. Gigantor the Fluffy is his daddy cat (it looks like a racoon till it stretchs that's how huge n fluffy it is..).

Baby kitten has got a ruff already that would make yr. eyes pop out. gonna be a real beauty when she/he gets cleaned up. Fingers crossed I can do the taming!! I had great luck with my former ferals Grey Goose, Laphrogie and Titi - they were all about 3/4 months when I got em too!

Goose and Titi were so tame you'd never know they lived outside for 4 months of their lives. Laphrogie is okay with me, but not with others. Her sensitive feral nature still shows. It may be a few more months a year even with her to tame fully....
post #14 of 20
Could you let the Board know what is going on with someone feeding them and let them know that although you did not start this problem, you would like to help out and correct it. Maybe make a recommendation to them about what you would like to do about it, that way your covering your butt with them. Contacting Best Friends is a good idea. They have contacts in all states that would willingly help.
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
It seems I am in between a rock and a hard place..

Even if I can make contact with the person and convince them to stop leaving food in my backyard I still have another problem. If the food is then placed on the conservation area the cats would placed in danger. The conservation area is county owned. Tresspassing is illegal and if the cats are discovered odds are they county will have them trapped and put down.

The Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission has started a program where they eliminate feral cats on state or county owned lands. If the cats are discovered, it will be lights out for them.
post #16 of 20
Even more reason to get Alley Cat Allies and Best Friends working for you.
They'd be delighted to over turn that statute. Working hard on it I imagine.

Its really stupid actually. The TNR is the only way to keep the cat population down. Killing doesn't solve anything - you have to constantly keep it up ... sort of like having cats as mousers vs traps and poison. The cats are more efficient at eating mice and keeping population in check. Ditto the TNR - keeps the scale AND COST of the problem down.

Isn't Florida in a huge budget deficit? So how come its spending
resources on that sort of stuff? I bet you you'd do awright
push come to shove.

sometime you have to break the letter of the law to make the spirit of the law work. (And yeah, that stuff about eating song birds that cats feral esp do? Crap. Its been disproved by studies of the feral cat colonies that are TNR'd. and their impact is to put it mildly, limited.

Too bad Florida doesn't do the sane thing. I used to live there, I know.
They aren't all that smart.
post #17 of 20
Maybe an erection of a fence would help also keep other undesirables out as well.
post #18 of 20
Have you heard from the person leaving the food out?

Also - it does really sound like the community Board is going to need to deal with some realities. You really may want to consider contacting Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Campaign and Alley Cat Allies to see if they're willing to get involved on behalf of the cats.

post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
No they have not contacted me. Even worse they are stilling leaving food. This limits my options.
post #20 of 20
I'm so sorry. This really sucks for you. What a situation to be in.

Being a cat activist, I can't recommend you do what I'd do - which is contact Alley Cat Allies and get them to help educate the Community Board to allow the TNRing of the cats that ARE there - and if that succeeded, then solicit members of the community to help trap the cats and get them spayed/neutered and just manage the colony.

If you were considering a fence to begin with, maybe that's all you can do to keep this person off your property. And in the meantime, maybe take up the food, and wait it out to talk to the person when they come to leave the food.

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