Contacts and kitties and baths, oh my!

I know, I know; I completely missed Love Thursday this week. In my defense, I spent most of yesterday trying to figure out how the heck I sprained my ankle doing nothing. (What can I say? I’m unbelievably klutzy fragile talented.) You can read about that and my general hatred of everything fitness related this week over in my weekly post at Five Full Plates, but here is the summary: WAH WAH WAH THIS SUCKS.

You’re welcome.

One spot of good news, though, is that Dr. Fancypants came through and supposedly a contact lens prescription has been faxed to our local place for Chickadee. Is it true? I have no idea. I’m headed over there this afternoon to see if we can actually get her some contacts. I’m hopeful, while still poised for crushing frustration, you understand.

The other thing I’ve been busy with this week is a proliferation of cats. And I know, “a proliferation of cats” sounds like a bit of linguistic exaggeration, a turn of a phrase for effect, but believe me when I tell you that this phrase, in this particular instance, is 100% hyperbole-free. (Now with less melodrama!) The fact of the matter is that we are being overrun by cats.

Let me back up and set the scene: We have some neighbors who are “animal lovers.” I put that in quotation marks because feeding every feral animal which comes your way without 1) having them neutered and 2) seeing to their medical care is not, in my mind, love. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that it’s an unintentional cruelty, because all it does is keep them healthy enough for long enough to procreate and make more feral animals. Hooray! What a FANFUCKINGTASTIC idea!

And before you get all “You must just hate animals” on me, I’m willing to confess that I’m not overly fond of cats, it’s true. I happen to be allergic, for one thing, and for another I don’t see the point of a pet who both hates you AND poops in a box which it then expects you to clean. I just don’t get it. I’ve known a few nice cats, but the majority (TO ME) seem to just be eating, pooping, judgmental people haters. So yeah, not a cat fan.

HOWEVER—my general dislike of cats aside—these neighbors I’m talking about, they’re not just feeding a couple stray kitties. They leave their garage open and fill it with industrial-size trays of kibble. At any given time their yard holds at least a dozen cats, and while yeah, I sort of feel like all they need is a rusted-out truck up on blocks to complete the look, it’s their yard. Whatever.

At last, that’s how I felt until this week.

Because this week, apparently Critical Kitty Mass at the neighbors’ was exceeded, and now MY yard is full of cats. Specifically, my PORCH is full of cats, and my DECK is full of cats, and there are cats hiding under my car and there are cats sunning on my pool cover and THERE ARE CATS YOWLING AND HUMPING UNDER MY WINDOW AT 3:00 IN THE MORNING.

The poor dog has all but lost her mind, and I can’t say that Otto and I are too far behind her, what with the constant clash of feline wills that so often seems to need to happen in the middle of the night, as close to our heads as possible.

I mean, I stepped outside one morning and there were tufts of fur as far as the eye could see. I realize it was probably a territory squabble (or maybe I just don’t understand that kitty love is a lot more rough than I think it is), but all I could think, as I beheld the carnage, was “Muppet massacre.” It really looked as though a couple of Sesame Street’s finest had stepped on a land mine right there on the porch. It was something.

Anyway, I would love to tell you that we called Animal Control and they came and took all the extra cats away, but when I called them Animal Control basically laughed in my face and told me that they don’t handle cats anymore. Apparently we can submit a complaint, at which point we’ll be subpoenaed to testify against the neighbors, and they’ll be fined. This would 1) piss the neighbors off (just guessing, here), 2) take up a bunch of our time, and 3) not ultimately result in the removal of the cats, so I’m thinking it doesn’t solve the problem so much as make the current one suck even worse. So.

Anyone have any ideas on how to keep the cats off our property? I don’t want to HURT them, obviously, but I would also like them to go away. Forever.

Licorice is valiantly attempting to assert her dominion, but given that she’s approximately the same size as most of these cats, they are not too bothered by her. Oh, she barks and runs after them and then they run away a little and then stop and sit down and look at her like, “I see you’re on a leash, there. I am not. I am just going to sit here and smirk at you.” Licorice now spends a lot of time being VERY WORRIED about the cats, and I’m a little afraid she’s going to have a nervous breakdown.

After a couple of days of us all trying to STOP her from chasing the cats, I leashed her up one day with the long retractable leash and handed her off to Chickadee. “Run like the wind!” I said. “Let her do all the barking and chasing she wants! Maybe it’ll scare the cats away.”

Wishful thinking, I know.

Well. After she’d cleared the yard of cats, she very much wanted Chickadee to KEEP RUNNING after one particular cat, so they went jogging along for a while until they ended up down by the pond. As Chickadee looked around, trying to figure out where the cat had gone, Licorice spotted a couple of geese in the middle of the pond. And although Little Miss Timid spent her early days with us quite content to circle the edge of the pond and perhaps daintily lap at its edges, all the pent up rage and frustration about the recent Catsplosion imbued her with superdoggy strength, determination, and stupidity—she went flying INTO the pond, where the poor geese were understandably startled, and Licorice demonstrated that yes, Virginia, she can swim.

My daughter took this as a rare opportunity to practice her skills at utilizing understatement; she appeared at the back door and called, “I need you to get a towel, Licorice’s feet might be wet.” I grabbed a towel and opened the door to discover a sodden, mud-covered pooch doing an excellent impersonation of a drowned rat. And I probably would’ve been mad if I could’ve stopped laughing long enough.

The whole time Licorice was suffering through the ensuing bath you could just TELL she was working on her plan to get back at those rotten cats.

62 Responses to “Contacts and kitties and baths, oh my!”

  1. 1
    Jen January 29, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    Hm. I cam a cat lover, and have 3, but yours sounds like a terrible situation. Perhaps instead of the shelter you might contact a local rescue group and see what their suggestions are? You could then talk to the neighbor and tell them you are setting traps and turning them over to the rescue group…
    Alternatively, try some of these?
    http://landscaping.about.com/od/pestcontrol/a/cat_repellents.htm
    And good luck!

  2. 2
    Kate M January 29, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    Poor Licorice with her possibly wet feet. As for the cats, have you tried a local cat rescue or the humane society (assuming it’s different from animal control)? They may be able to set humane traps and at least get the kitties fixed, even if they can’t find homes for them. Maybe they’d even approach the neighbors to enlist their help in actually taking care of the animals.

  3. 3
    Jen January 29, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    Oh–I thought about a good one for Otto: motion activated sprinklers! Cats hate those!

  4. 4
    MaryP January 29, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    Gad. Wish I had a sure-fire solution for you. I have a suggestion, though, which, while it may not result in the permanent eradication of the cat population — that would likely require the removal of your neighbours — does afford one a great deal of satisfaction: Your garden hose. Set to as strong a directional stream as you can find.

    Then you sit somewhere not too obvious and take those suckers out, one at a time. They hate water, and run like crazy.

    We once used this on a stray unneutered male who had decided the perfect place to spray his noisome manliness was directly into our living room window. (We then lived in a basement apartment.) I sat there with the hose attached to my kitchen sink, and, feeling very Clint Eastwood, just waaaaaaited.

    “Make my day, kitty.”

    He didn’t come back. :D

  5. 5
    Randi January 29, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    I’d definitely be looking for other organizations to help with the cats, as that isn’t right!! You twittered that Otto was going to talk to the neighbors – I’m wondering how THAT went!

    I have 4 cats and 3 dogs, so I’m definitely an animal lover, but I would never feed feral cats! They should be caught and brought to a no-kill shelter where they can be fixed. And what type of shelter doesn’t take cats?! That’s just wrong! Wait, you said animal control? No, call a shelter. Our local shelter had a similar situation and they all went in and got the animals out, fixed, and to new homes. Does the family have all these cats inside their house too??

  6. 6
    Nevermind January 29, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    No, there is no real way to keep them off your property. Plus, with spring just around the corner and a good food supply there are just going to be many more.
    I would recommend that you see if you can find a group in your area that trap feral cats. Some groups will only come trap if the cats are being taken care of (trap/spay/neuter/release) others will trap, spay and/or neuter and then release to an established colony or place the tame ones in new homes.
    Also, some animal control agents will not come get the cats but if you trap the cats and take them to animal control they will accept them. You maybe able to find a group that will allow you to borrow Havahart traps if you want to do it yourself.
    Trapping or having the cats trapped is probably not going to put you on good terms with the neighbors, but then they aren’t really being good neighbors and animal lovers by not taking proper care of the animals they are feeding.
    Good luck.

  7. 7
    steff January 29, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    ewe! cat-hoarders. good luck.

  8. 8
    ccr in MA January 29, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

    “…Licorice’s feet might be wet.”

    Maybe it’s just hard to tell for sure under all the rest of the mud and water streaming off her?

  9. 9
    sillyme January 29, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    I saw this on “to catch a thief” I pink puffy heart it! It’s called the scarecrow, although I think havahart has one similar.
    http://www.amazon.com/Contech-Electronics-CRO101-Scarecrow-Motion-Activated/dp/B000071NUS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1264784501&sr=8-1

    and it’s on sale too!

  10. 10
    Nelson's Mama January 29, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    I think it’s time for that invisible fence so you can put Licorice on patrol…

    I happen to love cats too (we have three), but they can be annoying. The water hose ideas are great; another option my Mom uses to keep theirs from climbing the window screens is an air horn (like the ones people buy for their boat or you hear at a ballgame). Talk about kitties scattering!

  11. 11
    Karen January 29, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

    There is an organization called Alley Cat Allies that is focused on humane treatment for feral cats. I know you’re not really looking to become a “host” for these cats, but there is a page with resources that might be helpful.

    http://www.alleycat.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=355

  12. 12
    Angela January 29, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    http://www.amazon.com/Contech-Electronics-CRO101-Scarecrow-Motion-Activated/dp/B000071NUS

    My inlaws have this and it helps. Their neighbor has tons as well, and doesn’t really care for them. In fact the neighbor’s cats once got into the trash and pulled out a set of chicken bones. The neighbor saw this and freaked thinking my inlaws had killed one of his cats. So anyway FIL uses this, plus sprays the cats with vinegar water any chance he gets. There are options of putting jugs of ammonia or something in your yard too. Good luck

  13. 13
    Heidi January 29, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    We use an airhorn to scare off coyotes. I would be concerned that it might push Licorice over the edge, though…

  14. 14
    Katherine January 29, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    We have neighbors down the street like this – they claim that the cats aren’t theirs, but instead belong to some other neighbor (maybe the first one did, once), but our neighbors feed and flea treat the cats, but won’t get them fixed. GRRR! The cats aren’t feral, but still, at times there are 15 or more cats around. Luckily, my 2 cats keep them off our property.

  15. 15
    Kai January 29, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    Buy better cat food than the neighbors and leave it someplace around the corner?

  16. 16
    Half Assed Kitchen January 29, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    Too many cats is as bad as no cats at all. I’m suffering from the latter. I adore cats. I think they’re hilarious and insane and many of them are actually really loving. Anyhoo, I’m sure you’ll get a ton of comments defending cats. So, I’ll just say that I’m sorry for your situation. Sounds sucky.

  17. 17
    Melissa January 29, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    Have you seen those little electronic plug in things at bed bath and beyond? They are meant to scare mice away, but they work on animals like cats and dogs too. Maybe you could send Licorice on an all-expense paid trip to a friend or relative’s house and plug those suckers in for a week?

    I used them in my small apartment after I realized my landlord’s solution to my rodent complaints was GLUE TRAPS (ew). Within 10 minutes of plugging them in, the mice ran out from behind the fridge and became hysterical. I opened the back door, they ran out, and I never saw them again. I left them plugged in for a week (not realizing the effect on other animals) until I ran into my neighbor who said her cat had been crazed and running around for a week. I guiltily unplugged them that night.

    It is supposed to work best where the noise can travel across hard floors, but maybe it would do something? They were like $10 for 3.

  18. 18
    Burgh Baby January 29, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    When Otto installs that new fence (and all the fun stuff that goes with it), make sure it’s an electrified fence. Zzzzzap!

    (Just kidding, cat lovers. Mostly.)

  19. 19
    Jenn January 29, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

    That scarecrow page on Amamzon is worth a look just for the additional pictures! It will scare away Godzilla and former tv “stars.” And the Grim Reaper, at no extra charge. You’d have the best-watered lawn on the block!

    I can tell you that forking your yard won’t work. Tried that on our box gardens that the kitties thought were giant decorated litterboxes just for them. Didn’t phase them a bit.

    Good luck!

  20. 20
    meghann January 29, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    I was going to suggest finding someone who trap/neuter/releases, but then I saw it’s ILLEGAL where you live. AHahahahahahaha. It’s legal on campus though, so here’s what you do: Have Otto fill his car with cat food. When a ton are in there, quickly lock them in and drive them to work with him, and have the TNR group for the campus “coincidentally” waiting for him in the parking lot.

  21. 21
    Em January 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    I don’t care for cats either. I like other people’s cats. They are pretty and soft to pet but also walk THROUGH that litterbox you mentioned and then up on kitchen counters, etc. and no. I just cannot go for that.

    The two thoughts I had regarding your problem were 1) the board of health. Because I hate to say it but how long before your yard, aside from being the honeymoon suite, also becomes a giant public litterbox? There has to be some law about how many cats a household can safely “own” (and I think if ya feed it, ya own it).

    And 2) citrus. I have heard cats hate that smell. I have heard this as advice to keep cats off of furniture and counters but I wonder if you lined your yard in lemon peels or sprayed the perimeter with orange glo or planted a grapefruit tree or some other such craziness, it could divert the little suckers to some other, less fragrant yard.

    What do the other neighbors say? Surely they must be as big a bother to everyone.

  22. 22
    Megs January 29, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    I was going to suggest humane traps and a trip to the Humane Society (even though you might have to lie about where the cats came from…our Humane Society only takes animals picked up outside city limits). But that has a) been suggested and b) might, apparently, be illegal.

    I’m guessing talking to the neighbors about helping eliminate some of the cats is out?

  23. 23
    Lil January 29, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    We had a similar problem when we moved into our new house just. We ignored the multitudinous cats until I had my first baby and then would wake up in a panic every night convinced my baby (sound asleep on my chest) was howling, only to discover it was the very active and very loud cats. Our solution, as someone mentioned in passing above, was ammonia. We got a jug of ammonia (and when I say “we,” I mean my husband, in a fit of “Let me solve this problem” effort) and sprayed/sprinkled/poured it all around the base of our foundation, on the window ledges where cats were sunning themselves, on and around the back deck, where ever we had seen or heard them, basically. We did reapply a few times over the next 6 months or so but then forgot about reapplying because the cats were gone. Two years later, and we see an occasional stray on our driveway (where we did not spray), but the howling cat menagerie is no longer in evidence, apparently for good.

    Good luck!

  24. 24
    Alicia January 29, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    My parents were single-indoor-cat owners/lovers when they woke up one day to a yard that had apparently been designated Cat-stock.
    Fortunately, my parents’ cat was a cranky, 10 year old tom. Dad let him out and in no time flat, he had the interlopers gone. Apparently, his stiff legged howl and hugeness (25 lbs) are very effective deterrents.

    Soooo rent a big mean ass tom.

  25. 25
    Cathy January 29, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    I second the citrus smell – it works like a charm. While it may have a temporary bad impact on your flora, lemon-scented Pine Sol worked like a charm at my parents’ farm.

    One common misconception: no-kill shelters don’t euthanize feral cats. Most no-kill shelters either do not accept them OR they take them in and euthanize. “No-kill” actually means “No killing of potentially adoptable animals” which does not include feral or sick animals.

  26. 26
    Karate Mom January 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    “…but the majority (TO ME) seem to just be eating, pooping, judgmental people haters.”
    THAT CRACKED ME UP!!! You see, I adore cats, especially big, squishy, floofy cats that have toe-hawks like mine. (No,wait, I don’t personally have toe-hawks. I mean my cat has toe-hawks.) But, I know that, deep inside, our cat doesn’t really like us and only deigns to keep us around so that we can feed him.

  27. 27
    melissa January 29, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    cats also do not like moth balls. so maybe scattering them around the yard?

  28. 28
    kakaty January 29, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    “I don’t see the point of a pet who both hates you AND poops in a box which it then expects you to clean”
    I’m so with you. I HATE cats and have never, ever in my life met a nice one. They are evil.

    I have no idea if this harms them, but we’ve used moth balls to keep skunks out of our yard. They stink, yes, but it’s still cold so maybe you won’t smell it as badly now as you might in the summer. Seems to work for skunks – it might work for cats.

  29. 29
    Frank January 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    Your description of Licorice chasing the cats to the end of her leash put me in mind of FogHorn LegHorn and ‘that dawg” where he has the leash end marked off like a goal line. I will be very surprised if you find a way to defeat the local cat gang… but good luck anyway!

  30. 30
    Nicki January 29, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    Huh, where do you find these people hating cats? Mine, which I had thought might be something like furry statues, are instead INCREDIBLY involved in our life. I can’t sit down without some cat climbing into my lap. I can’t work on the computer without them hanging out on the desk or my lap or both. Isn’t there a bed they’re supposed to be hiding under or a patch of sun with their names on it? Geesh.

    Oh, and poor Licorice. Must have been a fun bath.

  31. 31
    Groovecatmom January 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    If you can’t get a live trap to um, relocate the cats, there is a product called “Critter Ridder” you can get at Home Depot. Comes in spray or granules. I use it in my garden b/c there was a local cat that thought my flower bed was his bathroom. So just spray/sprinkle away! I would sprinkle along the fence, if you have one, or else just at the property line and around the grass around the porch. Soon you will be gardening again…and likely you don’t want this kind of fertilizer. It uses hot pepper oil (capsaisum) as the deterrent.

  32. 32
    Karen January 29, 2010 at 2:50 pm #

    I happen to like cats and have owned and known many who are very friendly and warm and poop outside – mine were housetrained. They are certainly not EVIL or people hating unless they’ve been mistreated by evil people, and there are plenty of those. However what you are dealing with is totally unfair to you, and to those cats, you are absolutely right. Surely there is a rescue group in the State of Georgia that can point you in the right direction. Anything you do as far as trapping, etc.. is not going to solve the problem in the long run.

    Cats hate water, and water guns are an effective way to let them know they are not welcome on your property. The invisible fence is not a bad idea… however our dog learned to “take the hit” when she wanted to chase something beyond the “border”. Then she was to afraid to “take the hit” and come back in. Didn’t work for us… had to install real fence.. splitrail with black wire mesh that you can hardly see worked well. Which might really help solve your problem. a really SOLID fence.

    Good luck.

  33. 33
    Traci in GA January 29, 2010 at 3:03 pm #

    My suggestions:
    1. water hose or sprinkler
    2. the moth balls do work to keep the cats out of flower beds, you can get “lavender” scented moth balls, they don’t smell as bad, but they also don’t work as good.
    3. Borrow a Jack Russell Terrier or Border collie for a week.

  34. 34
    JennyM January 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    I’m picturing Otto (Except, not really, since I… you know, don’t know what he looks like? So, really, I’m picturing a generic man-type, perhaps with a camera hung around his neck? Yes, that will do.) driving slowly through town with an open trunk full of Meow Mix and the entire proliferation of cats trailing behind him, per meghann’s suggestion, like a feline Pied Piper.

    I’ve got nothing to offer, other than agreement that cats are eating, pooping, judgmental people-haters (people-toleraters at best) — I would add that they are also rude. Good luck with the menagerie.

  35. 35
    Aimee January 29, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    I think go to the neighbors, explain to them that while you appreciate their efforts to keep animals from starving, you do NOT appreciate being overrun with cats. Tell them, nicely, that you are going to call a rescue organization and have them come get the cats — that way they can be assured the cats will be cared for.

  36. 36
    lee January 29, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    I am so sorry to hear this story. More then that, I have a feeling that once the weather warms abit and you start going outside or opening a window or two, you are not going to like the smell of this story! My daughter had the same scenario; they trapped and then our local Animal Control came and picked them up. Maybe you could start a site for FREE CATS since your Animal Control doesn’t do cats anymore, lol.

  37. 37
    Karen January 29, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    My grandma has a neighbor like that. In that town animal control will come, capture the cats, spay or neuter them and bring the cat back to your yard. It does help a bit, but it took YEARS for the cat population to go down. It was the cat poop that made us crazy.

  38. 38
    Katie in MA January 29, 2010 at 4:27 pm #

    I say go for the eternal ring of fire around the yard. Or if you want to throttle it back just a tad, I hear orange peels work.

  39. 39
    Jane January 29, 2010 at 4:27 pm #

    Is anyone else enjoying all of these comments as much as me?

    I now have a mental picture of you applying all of the above suggestions, and coming up with said mental picture: Otto in his truck with the entire proliferation of cats trailing behind him like a feline Pied Piper; Mir with a giant hose on full spray in one hand, a giant Super Soaker water gun in the other and growling Dirty Harry style “Go ahead, make my day”; the children running around the edge of the yard leaving a trail of moth balls Hansel and Gretel style; and poor Licorice hiding behind the leg of the giant scarecrow in the corner!!

    As a fellow dog person with two much loved dogs and not a cat in sight, I say, create the above mental picture, enjoy the resulting chaos, and please, please, please…I’d love a photo or two!

  40. 40
    The Other Leanne January 29, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    The Crazy Cat Lady down the street used to leave bowls of food out with similar results. I spent a lot of money at the vet because of the fights on my back porch (I have two cats, indoor-outdoor at the time). It turns out the raccoons were also guests at that table and that’s why my cat was so badly shredded. I didn’t have that problem when I had a dog sleeping on the porch. If you don’t go with the sprinkler idea, you could get a raccoon. Or borrow a big dog for a week.

  41. 41
    Nancy AP January 29, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

    What has worked for us:

    Mix Tabasco sauce, spicy hot seasoning and water, making it watery enough to spray. Spray it around the perimeter of your property. Don’t skimp. You don’t want those cats coming back.

    The theory is that the cats will walk/step in the hot sauce mixture, and then when they clean their paws, they will associate the hot mixture with your property and stay away.

    It works. And there are feral cats like crazy where we live. I’ve only seen two on our property since we’ve done this.

  42. 42
    Little Bird January 29, 2010 at 7:23 pm #

    Just a quick question. Do you scoop your dogs poop? Not much different than the litter box. That being said, I’m allergic to cats too and can’t be around them for more than an hour or two. Explaining to your neighbors your allergy, and the recent(?) infestation might convince them to cool it with the feeding of the furballs.
    I second the invisible fence idea, along with mothballs. Invite a MUCH larger (friendly to Licorice) dog over for a “playdate” a few times as well. And video tape it.

  43. 43
    Jane January 29, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    and then Jane said ” is anyone else enjoying all of these comments as much as me?” and I almost peed my pants. Thanks Jane! I have always liked your name. The rest of her answer sums up my thoughts as well. We have about a dozen cats that the woman across the street feeds. Generally, we just run at them angrily when we go outside and they are in our yard. I will be trying the citrus idea when the snow is gone.

  44. 44
    The Other Laura January 29, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    Do you have a not-for-profit/volunteer animal rescue organization in your town (or county)? They might be able to pick up some of the cats,

  45. 45
    Chuck January 29, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    Maybe you could purchase a cat-eating python? But then Licorice wouldn’t be safe either. Hmm. It is a tough one. My shotgun loan offer still stands.

  46. 46
    Ingrid January 29, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

    Sounds like licorice needs a couple of large friends. Would you like to borrow my dogs for a couple of weeks? They LOOOOOOOVE cats!

  47. 47
    Unfond of cats January 29, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    When our elderly neighbor moved to a retirement community, her son began leaving large bins of cat food out for the feral cats. I’m severely allergic, too — and we experienced all the problems you described. Look for this one next: Licorice rolls around in cat crap and the brings the smell in to share with you. That’s when the fun really begins!

    We called Animal Control for a trap, and in two days, we had caught one squirrel, two raccoons, and one possum (twice!). One of the times my husband went out to release a captured animal, another animal got trapped before he even made it back into the house. We kept that trap for over a week, and we never did catch a cat!

    Finally, the real estate agent who had the listing came over and removed the food. When she did, she thought she had found a dead cat in the yard — but it turns out the cat had gorged itself on free cat food and couldn’t find the energy to move for two-and-a-half days.

    In summary: good luck!

  48. 48
    Cindy January 30, 2010 at 1:37 am #

    Ooooo I would find myself in hysterical fit daily. I couldn’t let my toddler out on my lawn because neighbor cats were pooping on it. Cleaning up after animals not your own,…well, IT IS JUST WRONG. I had evil thoughts. I’ll watch to see what works for you, and next time I’ll know what to do. Good luck and my goodness bless your heart, and mine too, for not acting on evil thoughts.

  49. 49
    mamaspeak January 30, 2010 at 3:54 am #

    I’m sorry for your misfortune, but your story & the resulting comments are comedy gold! I love it!

  50. 50
    Brigitte January 30, 2010 at 7:30 am #

    Heh, the one feral cat I’ve been feeding for 2 or 3 years I had trapped and neutered . . and he’s STILL tough enough to keep away all the other feral cats, apparently, because I never see (or hear) any others. I can’t believe trap/neuter/release is illegal there (but if it WAS legal, it shouldn’t be your responsibility anyway).

    I liked Jen’s motion-activated sprinklers idea, though I’m sure THEY’D be illegal too during drought season! Otto’d have to put them in on the sly. And you’d have to shut them off before you went out, of course. ;-)

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    Momma Chaos January 30, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    I cannot say I blame you or Licorice one bit. I actually really like cats- but not cats who are not my own and feel the need to impose themselves onto my property and drive my dog & husband insane. We have a few cats here that are actually someone’s animal(collared) yet for whatever crackpot reason the owners decided it’s perfectly acceptable to allow said animal to roam loose in town. Those cats then came to my house-when we still had that cute little Koi pond out front & would go fishing.. I got tired of replacing the fish and screaming like a crazy woman at the STUPID CAT GET AWAY FROM MY HOUSE, so we finally filled our pond in.. Now we just send the kids out to chase the cats and scream at them.. Good luck!

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    paige January 30, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    We live in the country. We have a neighbor who is a “cat lady”. We have college students who drop off their cute little kittens in the spring when the students can’t take them home.

    We have cat problems. Our dogs are willing to chase cats away, but the dogs live in a fenced in yard. (The neighbors think we’re weird to not let our dogs roam free.) You’ve had good suggestions already (Ally Cat Allies, electronic devices). We tried predatorpee.com and used lion and wolf pee around our property. I know, I couldn’t stop laughing while ordering or applying the product.

    It worked, though. And it’s environmentally safe. You do have to re-apply after rain and we have 11 acres to deal with so it was not easy. It’s been five years, though, and the feral cats still avoid us.

    You could also try filing an animal neglect complaint with the local humane society.

    Squirting lion pee around the fence line is much more immediate, though.

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    Alice January 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    I was all about Alley Cat Allies and suggesting Trap-Neuter-Release, when I saw meghann’s comment about TNR being ILLEGAL in your area. What the fuck? That makes me LIVID, as someone who works with a TNR program here in Florida. Limitless breeding for ferals just leads to kittens starving to death, which is hardly humane.

    Since Alley Cat Allies’ site can be slightly difficult to navigate, here’s one of their brochures describing different deterrents (http://www.animalrescuecoalition.org/clinic/Feral_Deterrents.pdf). A lot of the ones people mentioned above are also really good (ammonia and hot-pepper containing ones, especially).

    If you (or your neighbors) are up for neutering the animals yourselves, the campus group may well have contacts with vets who will do the surgeries for free. If the neighbors agree to having them snipped (hopefully more likely if they’re not going to be paying for it), then that seems like it’d help keep things from getting worse, and the deterrents should help things get actively better for your yard.

    If not, I have to confess that I’m leaning towards the pied-piper idea of leading them to campus. Jane’s idea of channelling Dirty Harry is optional, but would be highly amusing for those of us in the peanut gallery. :)

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    JaneB January 30, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

    This sounds like a real pain of a situation. Can you get Renardine over there in the US? Works well on my parents’ allotment to keep the ferals off the seed beds. A good water pistol is also a good deterrent if you have a decent shot on the premises!

    These people are absolutely not animal lovers, I agree with you completely on that.

    Personally, I like nearly all cats and dislike most dogs (in the general – I know some OK individual dogs but dislike the species, especially kept as house pets in towns…). I dislike: the abject neediness adoring stuff dogs do, the way male ones roll on the floor with their penises on display, the way they poop in the street or garden and people either walk around with bags of poop or leave it to be trodden on and think that’s BETTER than having the poop neatly deposited into a tray in your own house. The way many of them smell. The licking humans thing – GROSS! My sister’s dog is a nice well mannered animal, who even smell quite pleasant, but he LICKS ANY BARE FEET HE SEES. It is NOT CUTE!

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    Nancy R February 1, 2010 at 12:13 am #

    We had a ‘kitty love’ thing going on in our yard a few years ago – I have no idea what changed…maybe the cat owners moved? But I can say that yes, kitty love is a lot more rough than you think it is.

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    Lindy February 1, 2010 at 7:59 am #

    If you put pepper on your counter tops, that will usually keep them off (they kick it up when they walk on it and it makes them sneeze), I guess you could try peppering your porch.

    My folks never minded the random cat visitors much, but they lived on a farm and the cats kept the vermin away. Occasionally a few less-than-welcome ones showed up though, and Dad enjoyed sitting outside in a chair and chasing them out of the yard with one of these:
    http://www.amazon.com/Wheels-Monster-Grave-Digger-Truck/dp/B001O2S7YY

    You can’t really tell by the picture (I’m not sure that is the particular model he had, but it was a giant Gravedigger), but it’s like, a foot and a half tall at least, almost a foot long and huge and awesome and cats don’t like it and stuff. It was his present from Santa one year.

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    Ann Menk February 1, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    Oh my… I like cats – I have three indoor cats and a 75 pound black lab who gets along with them just fine. I also have a neighbor with an open garage and free food for the hobo cats in the neighborhood. These cats would wander into my fenced yard and had great interest in the fish in my pond. Lo and behold, Mollie the black lab, learned to love the game “Get the kitty!”. She would run over her own cat friends inside the house to run out the back door and scare the living daylights out of the infiltrator. It usually only took one desperate run to get out of the yard per cat before they realized it was not worth losing one of their nine lives over. We no longer play this game – the last time we did, Mollie also “got” the kitty, and I would have been horrified. However, haven’t seen a cat inside our fence since. Good luck!

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    Tracy February 1, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

    Well, I’m getting in at the end here..but when you find out how to get rid of them..let me know. I have some strays around my house that constantly get in my garbage…Grrr. It makes my day to wake up to that. I’m thinking the traps I use to catch the armadillos would work but then what do I do with them?

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    Megan February 1, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    I am sure there’s more than one animal shelter/rescue nearby. Animal Control may not be available to come out to address an outdoor feral cat situation, but a lot of rescues/shelters offer either free or VERY cheap rental rates for live animal traps. You could borrow one of their traps and see how many kitties you can snatch up. Then deliver the trapped kitty to the shelter, and re-borrow the trap.

    The ugly truth is that this will probably result in the euthanasia of most of the animals you deliver to their door, BUT you’ll be drastically helping to reduce your FUTURE feral cat population – and that means a lot.

    Some shelters offer spay/neuter and Release programs where they’ll spring to spay or neuter the cat if you take it back off their hands. In that case, you could release the cats post-op in a rural area knowing that they won’t procreate.

    Other than that, I honestly don’t see any other option. Cat deterrents for your property may encourage the majority of them to stay away, but the situation you’ve described is only going to continue to deteriorate.

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    jenny February 1, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    Open bins of cat kibble in the garage? Could it be a Board of Health issue?

    The PineSol/Ammonia/Mothball thing might be effective but the garden hose/water gun combo is certainly more fun!

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    AngelaVan February 7, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    Advertise “Free cats to good home” on craigslist?

    Sorry, no help here.. But loving the rest of the comments.

    Good luck!

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    Loth February 10, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    Arm your children with water pistols. Big ones. And mix some lemon juice and black pepper in with the water. Cats hate water but they hate cleaning themselves off and discovering they taste of lemon juice and pepper even more.

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