Home > Pets > Arizona, the Land of Cats. Part 2: The Bystander

Arizona, the Land of Cats. Part 2: The Bystander

You’re awakened every night for a week by yowling cats performing acts in your front yard from which you have to cover your toddler’s eyes. Despite the fact that you don’t own a cat, your yard has become a litter box. There are streaks of tomcat urine on your front door. And your car has little footprints and claw scratches on the hood. Is the neighborhood going to hell? Well, no. But your neighbor is feeding a colony of feral cats.

If you don’t like the cats around…

You’re not alone. Most of the neighborhood feels the way you do. And there are a few things you can do. But be aware that as long as someone in the neighborhood feeds the cats, you’ll never be completely rid of them.

Manage your property. Keep your property free of clutter. If the cats don’t find any place to hide on your property, they’re less likely to hang out there. To prevent the cats from using your yard as a litter box, experiment with different products. There are lots of cat-repellant products out there. Sprays are designed to smell bad to cats, discouraging them to come around. Garden spikes are small clear plastic spikes that you can cover your garden with to prevent cats from walking there. There are other tricks out there, so do your research and be prepared to put in some time. Some work for some cats but not others. You may have to try a few to find the right combination.

You’re allowed to humanely trap cats on your own property and remove them. But here’s the rub. No shelter will accept feral cats for free. Just as they’re a burden to your neighborhood, they’re a burden to the shelters, so shelters have started asking for funds to help with that burden. So call your local shelter before you start trapping to find out what the fees are. They may be too high for you to decide to trap all the cats and you may just decide to focus on a particularly troublesome kitty. You cannot take the cats out into the desert to release them. If you plan to release them anywhere other than to a shelter, you must release them into an environment to which they’re familiar. Basically, this means taking them to someone else’s neighborhood. While it solves your problem, it creates one for that neighborhood, which isn’t fair to them.

You cannot poison, shoot, or otherwise cause any harm to the cats. Squirting them with a hose on a warm summer day is okay. Drowning them is not.

Contact your city councilman. Or your congressman. Or the mayor’s office. The people who make the laws need to know that feral cats are a problem. Use your voice to make them aware of the problem. Ask for laws regulating the movement of cats. Maybe we need laws requiring that cats be licensed and neutered. Maybe we need laws that require cats to be indoor only, or contained to the owner’s property, like dogs. Government agencies are not likely to devote any funding to cats if they don’t have to. The only way to get them to respond to the cat problem is to pass laws that require them to respond.

No matter which side of the argument you find yourself on, remember that the other side exists. The cats are stuck in the middle of the human debate. So keep an open dialog going with your neighbors. Come together to develop a solution that works for everyone.

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