Problem with Ferel cats and new neighbor - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-13-2013, 10:21 AM Thread Starter
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Problem with Ferel cats and new neighbor

Hi. I'm a new poster.

Been living elsewhere but both my sister and I recently moved back home to take care of my 90-year old Mom.

Three people live in the house. I own a cat, my sister owns a Chihuahua.
Over the years we've always own all sorts of beds from collies to birds to hamsters. It's fair to say we have a special place in our hearts for animals.

Both my cat and my sisters dog are in-home pets, never going outside
(My sister will take her chihuahaua with her occassinally but neither
pet is let outside to roam our property unescorted. As a matter of fact, it's rare either is outside).

However, there are 5-10 feral cats that hang around our house. Before we moved back, my Mom always fed them canned and dry cat food in the morning and evening. Since my sister and I have moved back, we have continued the habit for her. We can't actually "touch" any of the cats, they don't come inside, they don't have names, they don't let us grab them and take them to the vet for medical care...they're not that type of pet, but that's OK with us. We're just trying to make sure they have at least some food each day. And they do cry if we're "later" than usual in getting that food out the door for them.

Other than the cat food expense, it's worked out fine and we've never had any issues. My mom has lived in the house for over 50 years and has always fed the ferel cats.

Recently, a new neighborhood moved in next door. They knocked on the door recently and said "our cats are pooping all over their yard" and we need to do something about it. My sister, who answered the door, explained we don't have alot of control over their activites as we can't even touch them, don't really consider them "ours", don't know if any of them belong to neighbors but show up for the food daily, but she said she'd discuss the situation with me.

I'm not sure what the right thing to do now is. I supposed we could stop feeding them and hope that eventually they realize there is no longer and food source here, and hope they go somewhere else eventually. But that seems cruel, I know they'll be crying for quite a while for food before they consider leaving, and it's not something I'd ever to if not trying to be a considerate or responsive neighbor. I'm not sure I have the heart to do it.

I suppose the "right" thing to do is try and catch them and find them homes, but given most of their appearance, it just doesn't seem feasible.

I supposed I could try and capture them and get them to a shelter, but I know they'll just be euthanized.

I'd appreciate some direction, both legal and ethical in terms of what the best course of action is here.

I've asked my mom if this has some up with other neighbors over the years, and she basically said "they've just had to deal with it". That didn't sound particularlly responsible to me as a good neighbor, but it's worked for her for 50 years and it is still her house.

I should add that we're not social neighbors. We don't speak much to each other unless there is something that needs to be addressed, and even then it's just a short sentence or two or a passing wave as we come and go. So these are not "friends" of ours that we're trying to keep, but I am driven to try and do the ethical and right thing whenever possible.

The neighbors on the other sides have not said anything about the ferel cats, but I suspect that's because they own large outside dogs and the cats are smart enough not to go onto their properties.

Again, any input on what to do here would be greatly appreciated.
I'd probably even consider paying for some sort of spray that the neighbors could use to put down to repell the cats from their property, if such a thing exists, wouldn't affect their grass or plant growth...and wouldn't break the bank.

Thanks in advanced for your feedback.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-13-2013, 11:15 AM
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Find out if there is a local Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. The local animal control department or humane society might have contact information if there is one. They would also have information on low cost spay/neuter clinics, if you are able to trap one yourselves. But I think it would be best to work with experienced TNR folks on this one.

Legally (I'm not an attorney), I think just because someone feeds ferals, they don't necessarily "own" them. (Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, please.) Also, I think your neighbors would be within their rights to call animal control if they think these cats are a legitimate nuisance.

It's a tough situation. Thank you and your family for trying to do right for the cats.


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-13-2013, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your quick response. I have a question about TNR...even if they came and got the cats, or we somehow got them neutered, doesn't TNR just return them to our general area, and won't the cats be back again...pooping on the neighbors property? I don't know much about TNR, but doesn't that just stop them from breeding and making more cats? How would it resolve the neighbors primary issue of the cats using their property as a bathroom?
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-13-2013, 12:56 PM
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I think you would just have to explain they can't be returned to the TNR. They told me they could probably place my cats as barn cats until I kept them. I have put up with neighbor's cats pooping in my yard for years and tried different deterrents. But I have to say 5- 10 cats is a lot of poop. I would make some calls because the last neighbor who told me he didn't like cats pooping in his yard, my cat's two brothers came up dead on a lawn without any signs of trauma. I still think he poisoned them. That is how I got mama and Blanco, her one surviving son.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-13-2013, 02:26 PM
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Depending on the city code, the definition of "owning" animals can vary. In my city I own my ferals since I provide care for them (food, shelter, got them all fixed and shots when I did TNR). Technically I'm over the limit and could be turned in ...which means I am fined ($75 per cat) and have them taken away to be euthanized.
Other cities might consider "owned" only if they're licensed and indoors. You'd have to look up your city code to read it in detail.

Considering there is 5-10 cats, I assume there's a large area nearby that they live in? If you can figure out a way to feed them somewhere else and have them away from the neighbor's yard, that might work. I used to feed my colony on the back patio, but my dad got mad about "All those d*mn cats runnin' around!", so I had to move the feeding station over by the neighbor's old shed...but our yard is a whole acre, so there was plenty of room for them to move away and stay away (though they still do come to the house ever so often... Zazzle peeked in my basement window a few nights ago!)
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-13-2013, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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I may have exaggerated the 5-10 number a bit. I haven't really been counting. It of course varies when a litter of kittens pop up, although we rarely see the kittens. It may be closer to 4-5 in reality. I know it may have been larger in the past.

I don't really know where they "live" or take shelter. We have a carport attached to the house and I have seen them flittering in and out of there when we go to move the cars. Whether they are living in there or not I'm not sure. We also have a large backyard, but there aren't any structures back there for them to take shelter in.

We have been feeding them on our patio, which is close to the neighbors yard, and on our front stoop, which is more or less in the middle of our property. I don't know if moving their feeding location would make a difference for the neighbors. I hadn't considered it.

I really do appreciate the feedback and suggestions and am open to any and all ideas. I guess I should find out about the local laws.

Last edited by brvid; 05-13-2013 at 03:33 PM.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-14-2013, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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More info

I've checked with the town animal shelter and they say they know of no law or penalty for feeding feral cats, and we don't automatically "own" them because we put food out for them.

They do recommend getting them spayed and neutered. They also indicate that the neighbor has every right to be upset about the cats using their property as a bathroom. I certainly understand that. It is interesting, however, that we've never had a huge problem with that on our own property where they're being fed and come for the food. You'd think we'd have a worse problem with animal waste then the neighbor. Regardless, I'm not discounting their valid complaint.

I've also tried to do a little quick research on TNR and it seems there are strong opinions on both sides. Some say it works, others are adamant it does not.

Either way, the spaying and neutering wouldn't resolve this particular neighbors issue with animal waste on their property. I have not yet taken it to the level to see whether the local TNR program will "T" and "N", but not return the animals to our location as was suggested by an earlier poster.

Many anti-TNR advocates seem to feel the "cat colonies" or "barns" these cats may go to (if I request and they accomodate not returning them to the same area they were picked up in) can very well be a worse environment for them for a variety of reasons.

I'm as confused and conflicted as I was before I started researching this.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-14-2013, 11:10 AM
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I understand and what a dilemma. When I first found mama and her 3 kittens my daughter put an ad in Craigslist and someone called to use them as barn cats. I called the Feral Cat Coalition here and they also discouraged me. So the neighbor kept feeding them but then two ended up dead. My two cats don't seem to poop in my yard either that I can tell. I will tell you that I really didn't like it when a neighbor cat pooped in my front yard by my front door - so I covered it with bark and that solved that. Then in the front lawn and it killed wherever it was - I just picked it up. Top of my back bank - put down red pepper flakes, bark and the only thing that solved it was the cat moved I am afraid the neighbors will complain and get the cats caught (if that is possible.) If the T & N people really want to help the cats, they should have something to offer because I doubt your neighbor wants to live with that poop. I believe the cat deterrents lose effectiveness with water and expensive for a big area. I would let the neighbor know you are working on it even though the cats aren't really yours.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-15-2013, 01:49 AM
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Cats don't like to eat where they poop. Perhaps your whole backyard is considered the "food place" and they don't make waste on it.

I'm not sure of your area, but here the local TNR group will take "ownership" of the ferals. If your neighbours complain to bylaw and the ferals get picked up, their microchips will register as part of the TNR and they'll be returned to the colony. That also doesn't solve the pooping issue, but at least if they call to complain the cats won't be euthanized.

I guess, personally, what I would do is;
1. Confirm that the waste is indeed caused by "your" ferals (ie ask them for proof - photos, for example) and not just lots of neighbourhood cats.

2. Let the neighbour know you're looking at a TNR option and try to explain how it works - the amount of waste will diminish naturally as the cats pass and are not replaced by new kittens. Say you will try to get the TNR to relocate the cats, but that might not be possible.

3. Offer to clean their yard, whether its just once or every few months, as a gesture of goodwill (and to confirm the truth of how much poop they are actually seeing, or if it's old poop or someone else's poop, etc).


I'm reminded of a time when I was a kid, we had a border collie we used to put outside at night. The neighbours constantly complained about the dog barking and snuffling around the fence on their side. So we moved the dog inside. Not two weeks later those same neighbours knocked on our door again, complaining our dog was no longer scaring the skunks and mice off their property, so now they had mice in their shed and skunk stink all over the yard. Some people!
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-15-2013, 03:41 PM
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Sounds as if you have a difficult neighbour.

I'd go for the TNR option anyway - with or without the neighbour - and like the idea of offfering a clean up except that you really need to make it plain that you are making this offer becasue you are an animal lover not because you actually have a "responsibility".

When I regularly pooper scoop my garden, I clear not only stuff from my own animals but from other cats and from wild animals. One of my best friends regularly has to clear badger poo in big quantities from her lawn. It's part of life. I use my horse's manure as compost. Or is this another occasion when there is a big cultural difference?
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