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Discussion Starter #1
I have solved the problem of food being stolen by raccoons...don't leave it out during dark hours.
I have solved the problem of food being stolen by ants... water moat around the dish.

I have NOT solved the problem of food being stolen by squirrels and magpies (and possibly mice, but I've never seen any). Anybody know a good way to keep them from taking the food? I might be able to rig up something to keep the food up high where the cats can jump but the squirrels can't climb. This still leaves the problems of the magpies, who can empty a whole bowl in just an hour! (seriously...I've watched and timed it lately!)

I sort of like the idea of this: bird tent. But magpies are smart, I'm sure they'd figure out a way to just poke their head in and take the food, just like the cats do. I'm wasting enough money on food, don't need to waste more on a useless contraption.
Doing a Google search says that putting up shiny/reflective things like CDs on a string or something works...not with magpies - they LIKE shiny! I have several wind chimes that are glass and silver on those little garden hooks stuck in the ground, and they walk right past it on the patio to get Xanthe's food (she is also fed outside...the ferals are fed at the other end of the yard).
Obviously I would prefer all natural stuff, no chemicals. And those ultrasonic things don't work either...my dad wanted to get rid of the squirrels that keep digging under the tool shed, and they sit right beside the thing that's sending those pulses out, and couldn't care less about it. Nice waste of $15 on my dad's part ;p
 

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Can you teach the kitties to feed at a specified time?
I fed my ferals at the shed when I went out in the morning to feed my horse. They hung around at feeding time, ate what I put out and by the time I was done with the horse the cats had finished eating and I put away any food that was left.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I know I should do that, but all sorts of things can mess up my schedule from heart problems that keep me in bed, to suddenly being needed in emergency help at the shelter I volunteer at (lately they've been wanting me there at 9am - like today, and I usually feed the ferals at 8:30am).
Plus, some come at different times. Zazzle is always waiting in the morning, but I've never seen Tangelo until after noon - even on the hottest days.

Apparently birds only take things they can see. I was wondering if I could drape a green and/or brown bed sheet over the feeding station, and just cut out a little 4" archway at the bottom for the cats to go in.
It actually did work for me to put a box over Xanthe's food for a bit, but then she kept knocking it over and exposing the food anyway.
A'course, I think squirrels go by sense of smell, so even while I may get rid of the birds, I'd probably still have to put it up high too...dunno quite how I'll do that yet.
 

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Anywhere a cat can jump, a squirrel can, too. I don't think placing it up high will do much good. *shrugs*
However I *love* your suggestion of hiding the food from the birds! Can you simply use a patio table with a table cloth and just push the food under there? Maybe out-of-sight-out-of-mind would work on the squirrels ... especially if you could set up a bird/squirrel feeding station further out in the yard to distract them for a few weeks ... just until they "forget" about the catfood on the patio.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
No real way to put a table there. The station is against the back of a neighbor's shed (as seen in first picture, viewed from my back door). I quit feeding Xanthe at the patio, and she just goes to share with the ferals (now if only I could get her to share nicely...she growls at everybody, and has actually attacked poor Zinny a couple times >:/ )

However, I figure maybe I could just move the tarp forward and have it hang all the way down and get rid of the 'floor' (now that everything died under there, it's just flat dirt anyway). Find a way to prop up the hem a little, so the cats know they can get in there, then after a week or so drop it and hope they can still figure out to slip in under and get to the food - but not have the birds know there's anything under there!

What do you feed squirrels? My dad doesn't want the squirrels around at all! (they're ground squirrels, and been digging holes everywhere)...he's sort of mad the cats haven't killed them by now! LOL



 

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Oh! I see the issue, now. I'd think you could just hang the tarp further down and leave a 1-2" gap at the bottom. The kitties will figure out how to nose under the flap to reach the food.

As for the squirrels ... I'm like your Dad: I'm surprised the kitties haven't remedied that issue. We were *overrun* with squirrels until BB the feral cat moved in. For a while there, she was bringing her litter TWO squirrels a day! Now I only see the rare squirrel up in a tree, well out of BB's reach.

I think you need to borrow my BB. She'd make short work of your squirrel problem! :wink

To feed the squirrels, I guess I'd just use a bird-feeder and birdseed. I'd be concerned it would become a hunting station and decimate the birds ... but it appears your kitties aren't great hunters so the birds oughtta be okay.
I think if you could get the squirrels distracted with food further away from where the cats eat, they'd forget about the catfood? That would be my hope, anyways.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, Xanthe got the two baby squirrels under the tool shed last summer.
The adults are kind of big...I''m sort of wondering if the cats just aren't going to bother as it might be more of a fight than they want to get into. In fact, one squirrel is almost as big as Zinny! But she's a small kitty, barely 6 pounds. And she's not much of a 'mouser'...she goes for bugs! LOL

As for birds, you're right. I don't know who is doing it, but I see dead birds (or at least remnants) ever so often. I know Xanthe chases them, and I know Zinny was given them by her mom last year (there was bird parts around the kitten den for about a month)

I'll try lowering the tarp to be a curtain, and see if that helps. Maybe an inch or two lower every week, so it's gradual and the cats don't suddenly think I'm blocking them from it (Tangelo seems to hate ANY change I make, and takes a while to adjust)
 

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I can't leave anything outside overnight for Midnight, the wild cat. I even have to bring in the bird feeders because the bears rip them down from the trees.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Oh, I bring everything in at night too... as far as I know, it's only been raccoons. While I don't HATE raccoons, I don't really like them... they's mean!
I wouldn't mind feeding skunks...skunks is keeuute! ^_^ (I actually want one for a pet, but they're illegal in Utah, because there's no approved rabies vaccine...maybe I should move to Canadia!)
 

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Squirrels

A little off-topic, but I didn't think that cats generally took on a squirrel! Not one of the stray/feral cats in my care have ever tried that I know of, even though the neighborhood is "crawling" with squirrels! Maybe we have some mean squirrels here in Michigan. I wouldn't want to go "tooth-to-nail" with one! On the other hand the squirrels don't hang around the feeding station either. Raccoons are another issue though. Raccoons absolutely love kibble and the cats won't come back to the station for a day after one has been around. I've trapped and returned to the "wild" more raccoons than I've TNR'd feral cats. I don't particularly begrudge them the food, but raccoons and cats are incompatible at a feeding station.
 

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Various thieves around the property.


Woodchuck (Groundhog)



Fox



Hawk



Skunk



Racoons



Possum



Chipmunk



And of course, Squirrel. Midnight, the wild cat, does climb the trees after them! :p

 

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When I was a child we had a white Tom named Pinky (pink ears and nose) who regularly caught and ate squirrels, nothing left but the tail.
Once I saw him lying on the front lawn playing possum for the Blue Jays, they were swooping down on him and he just laid there, suddenly he struck and Blue Jay down, the other Jay tried to strike him in the back and bam he got that one too.
He was quite an impressive hunter, but he was a real sweet heart.
 
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