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post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Moved to a new place and I have a yard. YAY!!!

Now for the not so yay part. There are at least two stray cats around our new place. I want to leave food out for them. My other half is saying no. His argument is that it will lead to more cats and even I can see the problem with that. We cannot handle a large amount of cats say anything over 10.

I will ask for your opinions as I really don't see how me leaving a few bowls of food out and water out could lead to 50 cats visiting my yard. Everyone owns a dog on our street and they bark at anything that moves and are rather hostile towards cats. Then again if it does I would definitely have a problem on my hands as we are renting. *sigh*
post #2 of 12
Well...this is a really difficult question you ask.

Are you sure they're strays and not someone's pets?

My thinking on this subject is... if you're willing to trap the cats and have them spayed/neutered and vaccinated and then re-release them, then there's no harm in feeding them. But hubby's right. Putting out food and water will most likely result in more cats turning up. I don't know anything about the neighborhood where you live...

...but Gary and I live in a farming community. We were aware of three wild cats, one of which was a lost pet. Then the feral kittens turned up, and we started feeding them, then putting out extra bowls of food... by the time we were done, Gary had trapped about 28 cats. We have an active colony of 11 (that we know of). They're all spayed or neutered and have been vaccinated, and will be trapped to get vaccinated again this year. We actively feed and care for them. They are wild and not pettable.

The problem with feeding ferals or strays in a community, IMO, without trapping them to get them spayed, neutered or vaccinated, is that they can pick up or pass along disease to the local pets.

Also, all animals are more aggressive and territorial if not spayed or neutered, and it can lead to a lot of noise and fights, which can really upset neighbors and/or a landlord. Not to mention injured cats or local pets.

Feeding the animals without spaying or neutering them will help to ensure they're at least somewhat healthy, almost guaranteeing reproduction... so by definition you'd be creating more animals to feed.

It's really difficult, I know. Some people advocate doing what you can to help the animals, and that is admirable! But personally, I don't think helping them without preventing them from being able to reproduce is really helping. In my opinion, while I appreciate the tender heart that wants to help...at the same time, that admirable act helps create more homeless animals. Which almost defeats the purpose of trying to help....

If you want to help the animals, perhaps consider this.... if you're prepared to have them spayed and neutered, put out food to attract them. Trap them, have them spayed or neutered and vaccinated... and rerelease them. If it turns out there are only two cats (unlikely)... then that's all there is. If more come... keep feeding and trapping until you stop seeing new cats. Then stop feeding them. This sounds very harsh ... but you will have achieved your goal of helping the cats, and your actions would have, perhaps, inconvenienced the neighbors or the landlord for a short time, but in the end you'll have helped the community by helping to prevent even more unwanted cats.

This might not be a popular opinion, but it is what I think.
post #3 of 12
In my neighborhood, every house except mine has a dog. But, they are all fenced, so although they can be noisy, the dogs don't bother the neighborhood cats.

My experience with feeding ferals in the neighborhood is that I never have more than six ferals in "my" colony at any one time. Once I find a home for one I socialize, a new feral will take his place, but it never goes over six. From what I've read, my experience is pretty typical in that each colony has a specific level at which the population will stabilize. With Laurie and Hissy having lots of land, they will have much much larger colonies. But in a neighborhood with lots of houses, the individual colonies probably will be fairly small.

But...it is very important that if you want to take care of ferals, that you make the commitment to neuter and vaccinate all members of the group and that you provide food, clean water and shelter enough for the group. This can take effort and money, but the rewards of caring for a healthy colony make it worthwhile.

I commend you for even thinking about caring for the unwanted cats.
post #4 of 12
When we first moved here there was a pregnant feral under the house. Of course I fed her, she had 7 kittens, when they grew up, I spayed mom and had the babies fixed. FunnyFace wanted to stay outside, so I fed her. First there were 8 then it grew to 17, the most I have ever had at one time was 28! That was when I had to ask some hard questions of myself. "Was I really rescuing these ferals when there were so many?" The quality of the vet care rapidly went downhill when both hubby and I lost our jobs. I scrambled to find homes for many of the cats and took the count down to about 15.

"Was I helping? Or was I hoarding? Or was I collecting?" That was my next question. My intention is that any cat that shows up here will get spayed or neutered. That is helping. They will get fed, BUT I have learned that I do not leave food down all the time. They know when mealtimes are, I release the feeders for 30 minutes 4 times a day. They show up routinely to eat. That is helping, but I am also a firm believer that cats network......."hey you know that farmhouse down the road? The lady there is really nice, you can show up and she will feed you and won't even throw anything at you."

If you can provide for the cats that come in your yard, then you feed. But know when you do others will come, those others will not be neutered or spayed so you run the risk of the colony breeding, fighting and then you have vet bills up the yin yang. Set your limits, know your limits, try to get the ones outside inside to socialize them and possibly rehome them and of course get them fixed.If you can't do that, then don't start feeding them. It sounds harsh, but it is the reality of rescue. You start small and before you know it the numbers keep increasing.
post #5 of 12
Mags... I just wanted to add, I think you're wonderful for even thinking about taking care of them! I think it's wonderful of you to seek advice, and to find out what you might expect. Just those things in and of themselves are above and beyond.

It is a responsibility, and when you start, there's just no way to know how big of a responsibility it's going to be. So don't feel bad if you end up deciding not to tackle the project.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Well...just an update. I wish I could be around more often but I've been busy with work and day-to-day life.....Anywho....

I haven't started feeding. I've been observing the neighbourhood animals. I've worked out that about 10:30pm at night every night all the dogs MUST bark to each other for about 3-5 minutes to wish each other goodnight or something.

There are two cats that consistently visit my yard at night and will fight it out. I got a closer look tonight at one of them and I'm estimating that he's about 7-10 months. He's rather small. The other one is a full grown cat and has an air of defiance around him. The full grown one is basically a tuxedo cat but only wearing the coat. The smaller one is black and has four white paws. At the moment
I am assuming that both are males purely from their behaviour and fighting over what appears to be territory. I haven't had an opportunity to get closer, although the larger one seemed curious tonight.

All I have left out for any animal that ventures onto my yard is water so far. It's rather dry where I am so I figure water can be of some help.
post #7 of 12
Ah...you sound like the Jane Goodall of Australian cats!

It is a fun task to do observations of the neighborhood critters and to learn their various habits. I find that the cats, dogs, and racoons in my neighborhood have very predictable behaviors, from when they do different things to when they show up in the yard and even what direction they come in and leave the yard.

Enjoy your animal studies!
post #8 of 12
Mags, what suburb are you in now mate? How's the fauna watching going?
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Kumbulu, I'm about 1600kms north, (direct route, not by road) of you up in South Hedland so not really a suburb of Perth. Though I am headed down there in September.

The fauna watching has turned into fauna listening as I now arrive home at dusk or after dark after work. And I figured that it would be best not to offer myself as an evening meal for the mosquitoes.

I want to collar the cats and tag them with my contact details so perhaps their owners can find out where some of their cat fight injuries are coming from. I can't imagine that guess work is fun or wondering about what may or may not be happenning. *sigh*
post #10 of 12
Mags mate, you're still just up the road! I know of South Hedland and often marvel at the weather - 30C in the middle of Winter! Does it get freezing at night, though? Bummer about the cat fight injuries, I mean, if you're going to let your cat/s out during the day, AT LEAST bring them in at dusk, grrrr.

Good luck with the cats, they sound like real terrors LOL I reckon putting out water like you said, is a good idea.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
LOL Kumbulu. Everyone up here is marvelling at how the temperature hasn't dropped to the low to mid twenties like usual. It hasn't been 'winter' at all. Night temperatures aren't all that bad. The lowest I think it's gotten to is like eight degrees but I've been indoors so I haven't noticed it much. Geez...and I don't even own a heater. I must be getting better at coping with the cold.

But back to my animal reports. Last night someone walking down the street upset ALL the dogs in the neighbourhood. They didn't stop barking for at least ten minutes. Only one cat visited. It was the larger one so I figure for now the little one has given up or has retreated to plan for guerilla attacks. And I still can't get near either of them. *sigh*
post #12 of 12
Just give it more time. It can take a very very long time for a feral to become comfortable enough with a human to even show its face.

Keep up the good work!
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