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My Yard is a Giant Litter Box for Ferals-what to do?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I apologize if this has been asked/answered. I have been searching the forums and can't seem to find info on my particular problem.

I live in a suburban community with a strict HOA, am new to my area, and a feral cat newbie. I am attempting the TNR approach with about 5-7 cats that I discovered hanging out in my backyard when we moved here. All but one is deathly afraid of humans, but I have been making some progress. Because I have neighbors who will complain about ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING as well as strict limits on the # of pets, I am feeding and attempting to trap/socialize the cats very quietly and privately.

My problem is they are defecating and spraying everything in my backyard - chairs, our grill, the kiddie pool, fence, my son's sporting equipment...everything! The smell is horrible. My son and his friends have stepped in cat poop quite a few times. The weather has been beautiful, but the stench is overpowering if we open the doors or windows. We can't really enjoy spending time in the backyard because it has become a giant litter box. This is very frustrating for me and I am now questioning whether I can manage this situation. I will soon be starting FT work outside the home and my husband works 2 jobs.

Whatever I do, I have to be very careful not to attract too much attention from my neighbors. I have tried the following approaches:

-Removing the poop from the yard (tried for 2 weeks) and
-Using citrus/orange peels, orange juice in the areas where I have seen them going/spraying the most.
-A "stay off" spray (can't remember the name) bought at a local pet store.

Does anyone have any suggestions/recommedations for me? I really want to help these cats, but I would also like to be able to enjoy my yard again and the fresh breeze from open windows.

Is there a particular solution/s that seem to work best for outside areas?

post #2 of 9
It may keep your ferals from spraying, but it will also keep them out of the yard completely, and that is scattering moth balls around the yard.

This may not work as well as it once did, since moth balls have been reformulated in the last few years.
post #3 of 9
There is a product called Cat Stopper and it works REALLY well.
U might need 2 of them. Uses ultrasonic waves to shock the cat
when he/she crosses thru the "zone". Safe, effective, non toxic!

You could also provide a litter area were you so inclined. (Sand box
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you very much for your suggestions. This is one of the most welcoming, helpful boards on the web. Seriously, you are a great bunch of people and I appreciate your recommendations.

I want to try more inexpensive methods first such as the sandbox (I could possibly get one of those second-hand or free off my freecycle group) and the mothballs. Just today someone else recommended that I try mothballs. I am going to try scattering some just around where they are defecating/spraying the most. Hopefully, this will work as some sort of repellent for those areas. *Crossing fingers*
Thanks again.
post #5 of 9
Diana, thank you for wanting to help these ferals!

One thing you may not know - having the males neutered will (most likely) stop the spraying.

It's much easier, in a situation like this, to tackle one problem at a time - and getting them trapped and spayed/neutered can be a challenge - but is really the most important step, because so many of the problems that arise from the feral cats is from their behavior of NOT being spayed or neutered: fighting and spraying tend to get resolved when there aren't females in heat and there aren't intact males.

I don't know where in Houston you live, so I just picked a random zip code. But here's a list of low-cost spay neuter places you can contact:


SNAP Houston Spay-Neuter Clinic
1603 Shepherd Drive
Houston, TX 77007
(713) 863-0010
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday 7:30 am to 6pm
Please email appointments@snapus.org to set up an appointment.

Houston Mobile Clinic
P.O. Box 70286
Houston, TX 77270
(713) 522-2337
Hours: Tuesday to Friday 8am to 5pm Please call for location.

Kingwood United Methodist Church
Woodland Hills and Chrystal Springs
Kingwood, TX 77339
(281) 319-1488
Hours: Each Saturday afternoon in the parking lot from 1pm to 4pm.

And here's a list of rescue orgs/shelters that may have traps for loan or rent or may know of people or other orgs that can help:

HOPE - Homeless & Orphaned Pets Endeavor
P.O. Box 273331
Houston, TX 77277
(713) 622-4673

Homeless Pet Placement League
P.O. Box 273027
Houston, TX 77277
(713) 862-7387

Saving Animals Across Borders
1005 Sawyer, Suite A
Houston, TX 77005
(713) 527-4490

The search sites I used are:

You can also contact Alley Cat Allies (http://www.alleycat.org) with this form: http://www.alleycat.org/response.aspx

to find people or organizations in your area that may be able to help you with trapping and spaying/neutering (and fostering or rehoming?) these cats!

post #6 of 9
I would also suggest getting a large sandbox for them. As far as the spraying is concerned, apart from getting the males neutered ASAP, you could try two different plants (potted?) in the areas where they really like to spray. One is basil - try to get plants that are pretty large, though it'll grow quickly in spring/summer. The other is available at many garden centers, and is actually called the "Piss Off" plant.

Good luck!
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks again. I live in the Katy area.
post #8 of 9
also look here: spayUSA.org. you can do a search for spay/neuter clinics in your area. the one here that i found thru that site even has a 'feral friendly' sign posted!
post #9 of 9
The sand box/basil idea sounds like a great combo I have found that cats tend to use the box, even though cleaning it is yet another chore, it's easier to keep the mess confined that way.
I recently put a box outside my house because I suspect that there are feral cats in my yard (it's 10 acres) - and, yup! it's being used...
Anyway, kudos to you, Diana, for helping these kitties - may your good works be blessed many times over
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