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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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Discussion Starter #3
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
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.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
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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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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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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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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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.
i'm sorry but I started lol'ing at this. it might just be easier to feed the cats corn LOL. not that photos aren't a good idea, it just might be way easier said than done. like they probably do it at 2 am and then go hide or something. you know, those midnight cat ninja poop marauders.

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 still laughing because there's so much poop everywhere, which obviously the neighbors are not amused by. I think I might do this one if it were me. of course, picking up some cat poop doesn't bother me. I know it's not your responsibility, but it shouldn't be that big of a deal. I don't see how anyone could remain annoyed if you offered to remove the poo. I mean honestly, how cantankerous would they have to be to still be mad at the cats if someone else offered to clean it up? too bad feral cats won't use a little kitty outhouse.

we had lots of cats when I was a kid, but they didn't go outside. I remember my father being really mad because several neighbors used to just let their cats roam around, and they always, without fail, went in the flower beds and killed flowers. there was even another tom cat who knew we had one inside and he would pee on the house to torment koko.
 

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i'm sorry but I started lol'ing at this. it might just be easier to feed the cats corn LOL. not that photos aren't a good idea, it just might be way easier said than done. like they probably do it at 2 am and then go hide or something. you know, those midnight cat ninja poop marauders.
That was the ulterior motive. ;)

Someone finds poop in their flowerbed, they go stomping around looking for someone to point a finger at. Thing is, the world is full of critters, and critters are full of poop. No reason for brvid to take ownership of the poop if she doesn't have to.

After all, it's their yard, and possession is 9/10s of the law.
 

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I know. I hate to recommend that brvid do it as well, it's just whatever's easiest and keeps the peace. on the other hand, no matter what you do sometimes, people are just surly temples and you can't win. it would take all of what, five minutes maybe? (hoping there aren't 100 cats coming from the entire area because this place has the best bathroom accommodations in town.)

i'd probably do it, and then if they were still cranky, I'd be like hey, I did my part, I'm not catching the cats and putting diapers on them.

hateful people like that like to poison animals, and I hate that, so I might be tempted to call a TNR place or even a sanctuary and not ask them to take them in but maybe relocate them? that's the only way these people will be happy--for now. after that it will probably be something new.
 

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Off the subject a little but when we had new neighbors move in next door we had an outdoor cat and they accused her of digging holes in their yard. They figured to poop but it was a hole in grass. My cat was already several years old and never did I see her dig into grass. Well they were getting madder and madder while I tried to figure out what to do. Then their son saw the culprit. It was a skunk digging for grubs or insects. But honestly before that cleared my cat I think the neighbor might have done something bad. Many years later he moved out, rents his house to his son who is still young and the place is a mess with no grass, just dead weeds all over and they like my new cats clearing it of all the gophers, mice and things that reside in that mess. My cats probably poop there too but doubt anyone would know.
 

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Hi, I work with Marin Friends of Ferals - - that is to say, I am a feeder/volunteer for them. I have learned a lot since starting there, and how the attitudes about feral cats (or as one organization has called them, "community" cats :)) vary.

Dog people and non-cat people tend to get pretty grumpy about cat scat left in their yards, too.

I have a suggestion: what if you put out kitty litter boxes for the feral kitties and see what happens? The cats may be shy of them, but if even one poops in one, that's one poop that won't be in your neighbor's yard! But as someone else here pointed out, cats don't like to eat and poop in the same area and so I don't know how big the space is you are working with is, but if you decide to try this out, put the litter boxes as far as possible away from the food.

Of course, this would mean having to scoop poop from the litter boxes (since once the boxes get too dirty, the cats won't use them anymore) which is a drag, but it might be preferable to dealing with an unfriendly neighbor.

If you decide to go this route, it might be a good idea to put the litter boxes inside, say, the garage at night, so raccoons and other nocturnal critters don't use them as a bathroom and possibly turn the cats off of them.

***

I would definitely recommend the Trap/Neuter/Return. But I would recommend help with that -- it can be tricky. One thing I found out is that ideally, the putting-out-of-the-humane-trap and the cat being captured in that trap is all supposed to take place within a matter of minutes. As in, you're supposed to sneak away after putting out the trap and wait and watch for the cat to go in. (I had always thought the trap was to be left out overnight or something: but no doubt that would cause maximum stress for the cats). I could be wrong in this -- others can correct me as needed.

It sounds like the OP isn't quite sure how many cats are there or what each one looks like -- another advantage to trapping them and getting them spayed or neutered is whomever is willing to perform the procedure (a vet or a shelter) can check the kitties for a microchip. Some cats who get lost or run away have gone feral as a way to survive.

It's super-important to get the cats fixed, considering how fast the kitties can breed. Gotta love cats, but you don't want that brood mulitplying -- living as a feral is a tough life we wouldn't want to inflict on any cat if we can help it.

I am new here, and am not sure if we can post links here or not, but if you do an internet search for Alley Cat Allies, that's an active organization which can offer a lot of advice, and I believe they can direct you to whatever organizations are in your area.

There's is more I could say, but this message is long enough...

Good luck! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Neighbor

I'm the original creator of this thread. It's a year since I first posted. I looked into TNR programs in our area, but didn't act. The over riding factor was that the neighbor was complaining about cat poop and the animals digging up her seeds, and TNR wouldn't address that, at least not for years as the cats die out. That doesn't really get me off the hook as to why I didn't act on TNR, it just seemed like alot of effort that wasn't going to satisfy the neighbor in any sort of a timely fashion.

The neighbor hasn't complained since last year, but as it's now Spring, and she's beginning to attend to her backyard again, she came back again today asked us to stop feeding the cats because she can smell poop everywhere in her backyard and the cats are digging up her seeds.

I have to say, as much as I have always been an animal lover, I'm slowly beginning to feel like I'm swaying towards caving and accomodating her request. The amount of money we spend on feeding them each month is in the hundreds, and clearly she is not going to give up. She did acknowledge that she called our town goverment and that they informed her they don't do anything about these types of complaints anymore.

But then I look at my one inside cat, my actual pet who I adore, and I realize these outside animals are really no diffeernt from my indoor "pet".

I'm torn as to what to do.
 
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