Stray & Feral Cats

Many people may find stray cats wandering on their property a nuisance. Unowned cats in the community are in survival mode, searching to meet the basics of life: food, water and shelter. In order to make sure your property is less tempting, here are a few simple prevention measures:

  • Do not put any kind of pet food outside, even for your own pets 
  • Make sure your trash is kept in containers with tight-fitting lids 
  • Don’t leave your garage door open and unattended 
  • Eliminate or close off areas that could shelter cats from inclement weather, under decks and porches or other types of enclosed spaces on your property 
  • Use measures to minimize the presence of rodents that may attract the cats; keep the yard mowed; remove spilled bird seed from the ground, keep the yard free of lumber and debris that could harbor rodents 

If you are already experiencing a problem with stray cats on your property, you can visit this Cat Repellant website for simple, humane home remedies as well as manufactured products. The products they recommend are designed to scare cats away without harming them.

Consequences of Feeding Feral Cats
Wild cats, also known as feral cats, are untamed felines that live in the outdoors. These animals are not accustomed to human interaction, and due to their need to find their own food, prefer to live as carnivores. Felines are carnivores by nature. Animal lovers who have wild cats close by tend to want to feed them as a way of protecting the animals. However, there are consequences to feeding any wild animal - even cats. Some of the unintended consequences are listed below.

Breeding
Wild cats, even though many live in packs, may live individually in an area. If you begin to feed outdoor cats, you will probably attract additional feral cats from other areas. Once the cats have realized that regular food is available at a location, they will consistently return to that same spot to be fed. The issue of breeding comes into play since wild cats are not spayed or neutered. Because of this, the mingling of males and females will eventually result in kittens, thus increasing the overall wild cat population. If you choose to feed wild cats, you should also use a system of catching cats, having them spayed or neutered and then returning them back to the outdoors.

Danger
Feral cats are wild animals. Although they may appear to be as tame and friendly as an indoor house cat, the instinctive nature of the animal makes them potentially dangerous to both humans and other animals. If you feed wild cats, do not attempt to hand feed, touch or pick up feral cats as they may bite or scratch you. Since wild cats have not been vaccinated, you could contract a disease from them. Wild cats also pose a threat to your other animals, even indoor pets that do not come outside as wild cats can claw through screen doors and windows if provoked.

Property Damage
If you feed wild cats on your property, you potentially run the risk of property damage by the cats. As they are wild animals, they will scratch and chew items on your property. If you have patio furniture and the cats wander around the area, they could chew cushions, chairs and even plants. The problem of cat waste is also an issue; although cats will not defecate where they eat, they will use your outdoors as an area to urinate and defecate, which could cause smells and spread parasites. Additional damage could occur by cats scratching vehicles or even males spraying hard surfaces. In addition, cat urine, which is high in ammonia, can cause stains and decay of surfaces, such as soft cushions, wooden furniture and plants.

Neighbor Complaints
Feeding wild or feral cats will draw the animals close to your property. If you have neighbors, you also run the risk of the cats causing similar damage and destruction to adjoining properties. You should discuss your feeding of wild cats with your neighbors before engaging in such behavior so you can stave off any complaints that could arise. You should keep in mind that even if you know how to feed wild cats, by not approaching them or trying to touch the cats, you may have neighbors with small children living nearby who could be harmed by attempting to approach the cats. Complaints made by neighbors to the city Animal Control department will be investigated.

Ordinance Violation
Chapter 18 of the city ordinance requires that dogs, cats and ferrets be vaccinated for rabies. Feeding wild cats could be interpreted by a court of law as harboring, thus making the cat caregiver the owner of the cats. The code also places limits on the number of cats a person can own inside the city limits.

Here are a few excerpts and definitions from city ordinance:

  • “Harbor means to feed or shelter an animal at the same location for three or more consecutive days.”
  • “It shall be unlawful for any person to keep, harbor or own a dog, cat or ferret within the city, until and unless such person has the dog, cat or ferret vaccinated for rabies and secures a rabies vaccination certificate from any veterinarian who holds a current license from the state. Owners of dogs shall also secure a tag of registration vaccination issued from such veterinarian which shall be displayed on the dog for which it was issued. Owners of cats or ferrets shall also secure a tag of registration, however, the tag shall not be required to be displayed on the cat or ferret, provided the owner of the cat or ferret shall be required to retain at all times a copy of the vaccination certificate or the tag."
  • “No person shall at any time keep, harbor or own as pets more than four cats over the age of six months."