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.