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My Dilemma

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I am so happy to have found this forum; I didn't even think one like this existed! You all seem so helpful and understanding so I thought I would share my problem. I really am not expecting any "solutions" as there really may be none -- I guess I am just looking for an "ear".

My situation is that there is a feral colony in the woods behind my house. I first noticed them about two years ago when a mama cat sheltered her litter under a wood pile in my backyard. My dgs insisted on feeding them though I did not want to because I had always been told that it's a mistake to feed stray animals (I've always loved cats and for the life of me, don't know why I ever thought that was a good, sane idea!) because if you do, they will just keep coming around. Well, whether it was good advice or not, it was true! But, thinking they would just "go away", I did not feed them anymore. Then, one day a few weeks later, my dh found one of the kittens dead, laying next to the grave of our old kitty who he had just had put down because of an long-term illness (he cried at the vets and he is not normally that sort of person). He almost cried when he buried her body next to our old cat and told me we should have fed these poor helpless little cats.

After that, we began leaving out scraps, etc. once in a while. Not knowing what we were doing, the saga began -- by the end of the year, about 6 ferals began showing up nightly and we felt so sorry for them knowing that the scraps we left out couldn't possible feed them all. So, we began buying cat food. We also began realizing that we had to do something about the coming problems of kittens eventually. As it turned out, several of them disappeared and only a few kittens were born or survived it seems. It was then that I began hearing neighbors and others in the community talk about "getting rid of those d--- cats". Several spoke of the fact that they were trapping and taking them to the pound. So, I knew what had happened to the missing cats.

We then began searching for a "solution" and found out about the trap, neuter, and release solution. However, we also ran into a big problem. In our town, you are considered an "owner" of a cat you feed whether feral or not or whether it "lives" on your property or not -- merely feeding it once, they say makes you a legal "owner". You are also limited to four animals per household -- this makes it practically impossible to openly care for a feral colony. In addition to this legal restriction, our neighborhood's CC&Rs also has a similar limitation and imposes heavy fines in addition to forcing a resident to correct the infraction (getting rid of the unauthorized pets).

Since my neighborhood sentiment is heavily weighted against the cats being around, and since I would be charged with "owning" "too many" cats, I am afraid to even bring up the possibility of trapping the remaining ferals to have them neutered and returned to their home in the woods. These people just want them GONE. That's even though I've tried to casually mention the fact that these cats may be doing our neighborhood a favor by keeping rodents from the woods out of our yards -- they just replied that their dogs could do that without leaving poop in their gardens! Over 75% of the residents have dogs, so I really had nowhere to go with that argument anyway. They complain that the cats upset their dogs (a lot of them walk their dogs in the woods), poop in their yards, eat their plants, and in general, just don't want them around.

So, for now, my dh and I just feed them knowing that eventually many of them are going to be trapped and killed. Sadly, we know we would be in trouble if anyone discovered that we feed them as we cannot take them to a free feral neutering program (and we can't afford to pay for it ourselves) as they require us to commit to the care (which includes feeding of course) of the cats which then makes us legal "owners" which then makes us in violation of the law and CC&Rs, which then would probably cause an all out "sweep" of the ferals.... Well, you see the dilemma. I just don't want to risk their lives... at this point, I totally understand their mistrust of humans even more than the poor things could possibly understand.

post #2 of 4
I'm sure someone will come by with more help than I could begin to offer, but I just want to say thank you for caring enough to do this! Know that no matter what happens, you are making life a little bit easier for these cats. We need more folks like you!
post #3 of 4
You will want to check out this thread if you haven't found it. http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16045

Alley Cat Allies is a great organization to contact when you aren't sure where to turn in your neighborhood. Our advice to folks in your situation is to find local TNR resources that will help you in many ways: help educate the community on the need for a TNR program, help with the TNR effort itself, help relocate cats (as a last resort measure), etc.

If you go into petfinder.com and search for adoptable cats within your zip code area, you can get at a list of rescue organizations that operate in your area. Many don't advertise, and the ones that may be able to help you are probably not in the phone book. Click on the organization by the cat listing and it will bring up a page where you can contact them. Find a no-kill group that are advocates of feral cats - some of them will even state that they have TNR programs. And ask for help. While we all want to do things on our own, sometimes help is necessary.

Thank you for caring for these cats and trying to do what is right for them!!
post #4 of 4
kit, I am in Bakersfield. Are you near me? Listen, you need to join the yahoo feral cats group, as they are used to dealing with situations like this. Here is a link; http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/f...yguid=41485574
Join the group and post the post to them, that you shared with us, and see what their advice is. Carol
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