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Feral cat noise, the sequel
Old 07-01-2012, 10:05 PM   #1
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Feral cat noise, the sequel

Feral cat noise (the original thread)

Let me start this thread by pointing out that the previous thread was closed by moderators for poster misbehavior. I'm trying to solve a problem here and some of you can help, while you thread-jeopardizing posters can keep your [moderator edit] comments to yourselves.

We're still awakened several nights a week, several times a night, by yowling cats. Spouse is starting to mutter darkly about the cat trap option again. I'm wishing hoping that the situation will get better on its own as described below.

Since that last thread, we've made a lot of progress on our lot. We've trapped & relocated two rodents that were living in our attic, so we no longer see cats sitting on our roof. We've cleaned out a storage area in our back yard that had turned into (literally) a rat's nest, so the cats have no reason to hang out under there anymore. We've even let the bougainvillea grow up on top of our lava rock perimeter walls, eliminating a four-lane cat highway. Of course now the felines use the sidewalks, but they don't hang around fighting about right of way like they used to on the walls. They're mostly in the street and in the yard.

We have a squirt bottle of cat repellent. I've finally persuaded my spouse that you're supposed to apply it on the sidewalks & outdoor furniture (not lay in wait for the cat like a pepper sprayer) and as far as we can tell it's keeping the felines off the furniture. Whenever I hear a cat in the shrubbery I quietly activate our sprinklers, and that training program seems to be effective. But yesterday a cat had the unmitigated gall to walk up our driveway onto our front lanai, yowling its head off during broad daylight. I walked to the front door to utter a short commentary, and the cat ran away, but apparently it's not totally discouraged by the smell of cayenne.

We've de-rodented and cat-deterred as much as our property allows-- but we still live on a cul-de-sac, next to a sewage pumping station, backing onto a gulch full of agricultural activity. There's plenty of land around our property to support a rat population. And when our guava trees are fruiting, the rats come a-runnin'.

The good news is that our cat-lovin' neighbors up the street (who've been feeding a half-dozen feral kitties) are moving out. They're taking a couple of their housecats with them (to the Mainland) and the rest of the outdoor cats are going to have to fend for themselves. (Nobody else on our street will feed them.) When these neighbors are gone (next week!) I'm hoping that the rest of the cat herd will dissipate to more, shall we say, "fertile" territory. My fear is that the tenants will be encouraged to feed the cats, but these homeowners might have an extended vacancy before they get their tenants. Hopefully the cats will move on before the tenants move in.

Is that wishful thinking? When the cat-feeders stop, do the feral critters really move somewhere else? Keep in mind that I'm planning to use this as a domestic-harmony proposal-- so I need to get it right the first second time, while I still have a shred of credibility.

I've already suggested earplugs... hence my concern for my remaining shred of credibility.

Is there any other way to keep the critters out of aural range?

If we decide to escalate to offensive tactics again, what's the best cat trap for this situation? Instead of borrowing from the Humane Society, I've been informed that the unilateral decision has been made to buy our own. From our wakeup patterns the trap would probably trip around 11 PM, and then we'd wait until the next morning to visit the vet for a chip read. I want a trap that will catch a cat, of course, but one that will also store it for 8-10 hours until we're ready to release it. The cage would have a bowl of water and some yummy tuna in it, and hopefully it'd have a porous bottom to allow the exit of pee & poop.

If we caught a collared or chipped cat then I'd go back to the owner's house (with the cat, of course) for a little chat about letting their cat roam. Hopefully that would be the end of the problem. If the cat's not chipped or tagged, though, we'd have a choice of either dropping it off at the Humane Society (an hour's drive downtown) or releasing it a few blocks from our house. Any other ideas for dealing with a cat with no ID?
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Old 07-01-2012, 10:50 PM   #2
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When these neighbors are gone (next week!) I'm hoping that the rest of the cat herd will dissipate to more, shall we say, "fertile" territory. My fear is that the tenants will be encouraged to feed the cats, but these homeowners might have an extended vacancy before they get their tenants. Hopefully the cats will move on before the tenants move in.
As the infamous tenants' car drives out of their driveway, and you flip them the bird with your hand behind your back wave them goodbye with your other hand, unleash a hellfire carpet bomb assault of super concentrated cayenne pepper spray (or whatever that special spray is) on the previous tenants' property, driveway, and anything more than 6" away from the house. No reason to make those poor fleabags cats think that the tenants are only taking a weekend trip away and will return any day now.

And why stop with cayenne pepper? If you're feeling particularly vengeful at the cats, pick up some spice mixes containing chiles that rank at 1,000,000+ Scoville units.

You could also double down on your efforts by borrowing a dog from a friend or neighbor, chaining it to the yard of the tenant until the new one moves in (or for a few days) with a leash that allows maximum freedom of movement, keep the pup well fed and watered, and some shade, and start enjoying those restful nights of sleep.
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Old 07-01-2012, 11:32 PM   #3
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Nords, I don't know what I would do in your situation. However I will offer this small suggestion. Last trip in our motorhome, we parked near a canal in a campground where after dark the FROGS were so loud we couldn't hear ourselves think. I drove to a nearby Walmart and purchased an oscillating fan, plugged it in and turned it on HIGH. The "fan noise" was great...a constant loud whirrrrrrr that drowned out the dang frogs. Ah, blessed sleep.

Good luck to you.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:10 AM   #4
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Do any of your neighbors have nice, unchipped, inoffensive cats? If so, the trap might cause some battles between you and them. But if not, I think that idea would work nicely.

I don't imagine that it would take more than a handful of trips into Honolulu to drop off the feral cats. Hardly an inconvenience at all compared with having the feral cats remain, IMO, a pleasant drive and you could do any shopping that you might have in mind while you were there, or maybe do a little surfing off Ala Moana or someplace.
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Old 07-02-2012, 10:11 AM   #5
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I think getting your own trap is a good idea, and you can probably save a step by just taking any trapped ones to the shelter, as they will check for chips there. The owner will have to pay a fine usually to get the animal returned, which will often make them a bit more interested in keeping up with them.

But, if you get one that has a collar, then I'd recommend just taking it back home and explaining your problem in reasonable terms, at least the first time.

A decent sized trap will have enough room for the cat to stay in it from 11pm until you can get to the shelter in the morning, as long as there is moist food and perhaps a water bowl in there.

Although I think you've talked to the shelter folks before, this might be a good time to find whoever there deals with feral populations and ask them for help. They might be more willing than you think. And I don't recommend releasing them a few blocks from your house--that will make them someone else's problem and/or they will eventually come back.

You've made some good progress with your landscaping and improvements, so I think it is just going to be a matter of time. I'd probably be less concerned about the one strolling up the driveway than the ones fighting at midnight. Can you run the sprinklers for a few hours during the times they seem most active?

Good luck and gold star for doing this in a humane and reasonable way.
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Old 07-02-2012, 10:29 AM   #6
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Do you have a CAT leash law in your location? Or a requirement that cats be chipped?

I think you may need to be very cautious with TRAPPING cats that may be neighborhood pets, especially if they may be left in the trap for hours before you find or release them. Trapped animals will sometimes become desperate enough to thrash themselves to injury or even death in a relatively short time as they try to escape a trap. Do you know if there are any pet cats in the area close enough that they would normally roam into the area (or be attracted into) your traps. Pet owners may be very upset if you hurt, kill or even just relocate their pet.

Many cities do have laws prohibiting moving and releasing problem animals. You might want to be sure you know your local laws before you catch and release anything.
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:02 AM   #7
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I don't know if a few blocks away would be far enough, I think most cats could find their way back. If you do catch any cats that aren't fixed, make sure to get that done before releasing them. It's supposed to help a lot with the yowling and fighting.

If you do remove them all, there's a chance a whole new set of cats will move in.
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:07 PM   #8
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Thanks, everyone, I'm taking notes here.

I don't know if a chip is the law or just a good idea. If there's a cat leash law, it's not enforced.

I know the vets here do pro-bono neutering (of cats, anyway). If the cat ends up at the Humane Society that'll probably be a condition of the parole back to the owner.

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Do any of your neighbors have nice, unchipped, inoffensive cats? If so, the trap might cause some battles between you and them. But if not, I think that idea would work nicely.
They do, and the cats in question were smart enough to not get trapped during the last round of cat problems.

But you're right-- we'll start a neighborhood publicity campaign before actually buying traps. The threat is a lot cheaper than the act, and it might be just as effective. That's just a couple dozen mailbox flyers.

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If you do remove them all, there's a chance a whole new set of cats will move in.
Oh great. I'm probably not going to bring up this discussion point with my spouse...
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:07 PM   #9
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The cats are either wayward pets or feral. If they’re pets, bets to deal with the owners. If they’re feral, it’s not effective to trap, kill or otherwise get rid of them. It just creates a vacuum for other cats to move into the territory. Here’s an article about it from Ally Cat Allies: http://www.alleycat.org/page.aspx?pid=926

Have you considered adopting a dog? You’d give a home to a homeless pup, have a nice companion, and fewer problems with the neighborhood cat population. Otherwise, deterrents would be your best option. Here's a link from the American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that may be helpful:

http://www.cat-repellant.info/

You may want to try placing some fake predators in your yard - plastic replicas of owls and snakes might work. I've had a large hawk hanging around my yard for the past few days. Think she must have a nest nearby. Since she showed up, haven't seen any birds, squirrels, ground hogs or other critters. We have over two acres and are surrounded by woods, so we usually have lots of wildlife hanging around. I'll let you borrow her if you want to fly to DC.
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:34 PM   #10
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You may want to try placing some fake predators in your yard - plastic replicas of owls and snakes might work.
Walking about my neighborhood, I saw many homes having a fake owl mounted on their rooftop as pigeon repellent.

These owls were covered in pigeon poop! Often see a pigeon still perching on top of the owl.

Our cats have always been indoor. I don't think they would know what to make of a plastic snake, or even a real snake. By the way, there's supposedly no native snakes in Hawaii, and they try hard to keep Hawaii snake-free.

Hmm... How do I test my cat's instinct? Borrow a real snake? Am curious now. Would my cat have a heart attack or try to snuggle up to the snake?
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Old 07-02-2012, 02:07 PM   #11
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Here’s an article about it from Ally Cat Allies: The Vacuum Effect: Why Catch and Kill Doesn't Work - Alley Cat Allies
I guess these neighbors are only doing part of the Humane Society's cat-feeder program-- they're feeding but they're not trapping the cats for neutering. Maybe if these (uncollared, unchipped) cats were neutered then they'd have no reason to be so noisy at night? In that case I'd be happy to re-release the non-breeding felines into our backyard to keep a cat vacuum from sucking in adjacent populations.

It's frustrating. The neighbors two doors up have their annoying noisy feral cats. Yet our neighbor across the street from them also has a (collared, chipped) cat that we never hear from. I see it in our yard all the time, but I've never even heard it open its mouth. The yowling and caterwauling must be some sort of territorial or breeding issue that this cat chooses not to get involved in.

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Have you considered adopting a dog?
Not yet on that one; maybe not ever. We're still mourning a bunny and barely handling zebra fish.

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Here's a link from the American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that may be helpful:
The Cat Repellant And Deterrent Web Site
Thanks, we'll take a look at these. I've read that oleander is poisonous but I don't know if it's a repellent. The pepper spray is pretty stinky but it only lasts through a few rainshowers.

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I'll let you borrow her if you want to fly to DC.
And boy will my arms be tired!

I've been buzzed by owls in our backyard, and they're probably attracted by the rodents too. Maybe the cats are sticking to the brightly-lighted areas.

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Walking about my neighborhood, I saw many homes having a fake owl mounted on their rooftop as pigeon repellent.
These owls were covered in pigeon poop! Often see a pigeon still perching on top of the owl.
We have zebra doves doing the same thing to a neighbor's owl statue.

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By the way, there's supposedly no native snakes in Hawaii, and they try hard to keep Hawaii snake-free.
Yep. Probably a dozen snakes sneak onto the islands every year (that we know of) but so far they don't seem to be breeding (as far as we can tell).
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Old 07-02-2012, 02:25 PM   #12
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Nords, I imagine you've looked at a lot of web sites regarding feral cats, but perhaps you haven't seen this one. I scanned over it and it looks decent. Perhaps a tip there can help you.

I didn't read all the comments, so an apology in advance if any of the remarks are upsetting to anyone...

Help Me Get Rid of Feral Cats! - dogs cats pests | Ask MetaFilter
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Old 07-02-2012, 03:11 PM   #13
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I guess these neighbors are only doing part of the Humane Society's cat-feeder program-- they're feeding but they're not trapping the cats for neutering.
IMHO, they're acturally doing more harm than good by feeding but not spaying/neutering. The cats are no doubt breeding creating more homeless animals plus the noise and other issues are disturbing neighbors and not excatly fostering good will toward homeless animals. Not a good way to help these cats if that is their intent.

If they're feeding them, they need to take responsibility and get them fixed and vaccinated. If you know them, suggest they contact Alley Cat Allies for help. If you don't, contact Alley Cat Allies, explain the problem and ask them to send some information to your neighbors about the proper management of outdoor cats.
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Old 07-02-2012, 08:50 PM   #14
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IMHO, they're acturally doing more harm than good by feeding but not spaying/neutering. The cats are no doubt breeding creating more homeless animals plus the noise and other issues are disturbing neighbors and not excatly fostering good will toward homeless animals. Not a good way to help these cats if that is their intent.
If they're feeding them, they need to take responsibility and get them fixed and vaccinated. If you know them, suggest they contact Alley Cat Allies for help. If you don't, contact Alley Cat Allies, explain the problem and ask them to send some information to your neighbors about the proper management of outdoor cats.
They are good-hearted people, and they're friends, but they have firmly wrongheaded opinions about a number of things... like feeding feral cats.

Luckily for us, they're moving to the Bay Area and will hopefully find out that all the people there keep telling them the same things about feeding feral cats that their neighbors here keep telling them.
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Old 07-03-2012, 01:14 AM   #15
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FYI: Out of curiosity I did some research (on the Web - not with my own kitty! ), and have reasons to believe a feral cat would not be afraid of a snake, and most likely would attack one.

On a different topic, I found on the Smithsonian Web site an article about feral cats. People disagree on how to treat this problem. An excerpt follows.
The Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA and other supporters say the nation’s estimated 50 million to 150 million feral felines often live healthy lives. They also say TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) has added benefits: After a cat colony is sterilized, nuisance behaviors such as fighting and yowling are reduced, and the feral population stabilizes. Feral cats can keep rats in check, too.

Skeptics, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and some veterinarians, argue the life of an alley cat is rarely pleasant. In many cases, they say it’s actually more humane to euthanize cats, rather than condemn them to a harsh life on the streets.
The rest of the article can be found here.
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Old 08-11-2012, 12:23 AM   #16
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Well, spouse took matters into her own hands.

The cat owners left last month, and they took their two housecats with them. The feral cats have been left outdoors with food & water dishes. There's been a parade of contractors through that home-- new upstairs carpet, new kitchen appliances, and a bunch of other improvements. They're apparently hoping to get it rented by September.

However a local relative has been dropping by daily to refill the cat dishes. Casual conversation revealed that the relative also thinks it's a great idea to feed feral cats, although they're not willing to go the extra step to trap & neuter them. No help there.

Spouse could have visited the place daily to remove the food & water (which also attracts rodents), and who knows how long that would have gone on. However the other day a shipmate fortuitously mentioned that her nephew had moved off the island and left behind a bunch of his possessions-- including a cat trap. Spouse promptly borrowed it.

It's the standard model of the Hawaii Humane Society-- a wire-mesh cage about a square foot in cross-section and three feet long. You put bait in the far end and cover it with a beach towel (to make it look like a tunnel). The curious cat walks in the near end, heads for the food, and about ¾ of the way through the trap steps on the trigger plate to slam the door shut behind it. Everything latches in place and it takes two (human) hands to open the door.

It works like a charm. When I came downstairs next morning at 4 AM, the trap had been rolled off the lanai. A foot of the towel had been hauled through the mesh into the trap... and shredded. The water dish (a plastic margarine tub) had been sliced to ribbons. In the center of the debris field (and luckily still in the trap) was the most angry feline I hope ever to meet. The noises it made when it saw me sounded like they came from the soundtrack of The Exorcist, and the hairs on the back of my neck literally stood up.

The handle on the top of the cage is surrounded by a metal guard, but I still needed gloves when the cat reached through the mesh with its claws. I eventually hauled the cage back under our (roofed) lanai, managed to add water to the dish, and trickled in more dry cat food. The whole time the cat leaped & bounced around in the cage-- not scared but tremendously pissed off. For the next four hours it threatened me with all manner of cat havoc if I didn't release it this instant. It also moved the cage all over the lanai. The noise was impressive.

The local vet's office opened at 8 AM, and they have a chip reader. I thought that the chip reader was like an RFID remote: wave it at the cage until it beeps, and then read off the pertinent data. It turns out that the vet's model had to be gently run up and down the animal's spine to locate the signal, and then held there to read it. The vet tech took one look at the cat, listened to the vocabulary it was using, and then said "Feral. We ain't touchin' it."

Luckily one of their volunteers was about to make a run downtown to the Humane Society, and she offered to take the cat. We gave her the cage, the towel, the water dish, the cat-- everything.

The next day she returned the cage and said that the Humane Society practically had to handle the cat with a tranquilizer gun. Apparently the staff have some sort of harness or wrapper that they're able to use on the cat, although I have no idea how the cat is transferred from the cage to the restraint. The volunteer said that she stayed in the outer office (in case of injuries?) while the vet tech got the cat under control-- and she said the noise was unbelievable. Hopefully the noise was coming from the cat, not the vet tech.

Anyway, much to everyone's surprise, the cat has a chip. The Humane Society is trying to reach the owner, but we don't know who or where. They think it's been years since the cat has had an "owner" and in the meantime has gone completely wild. If they can't find the owner then they'll neuter the cat and put it up for adoption. They think it can be domesticated, and it really is a beautiful short-hair black cat with bright green eyes. Plus very big teeth and very sharp claws.

So now we're baiting our cage again. We think there are four cats left. The Humane Society is also offering a $10 discount neutering coupon this month, so we can take care of all four for just $40.
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Old 08-11-2012, 06:30 AM   #17
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Wonderful news! You are doing a good thing, Nords!
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Old 08-11-2012, 06:33 AM   #18
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That's good that you are doing that. We have quite a few ferals around our house and the neighbors a couple of houses down keep them well fed. We bought a trap from Home Depot and trapped 5 adults and one kitten. They were all fixed and the adults released back. We kept the kitten along with another feral kitten who was very comfortable around us (never needed a trap - we just picked him right up like a regular house cat). Both kittens are now a year old. The one we trapped still doesn't let us get too close to him, but he seems happy and loves playing with his brother. The brother has turned out to be the best cat I have ever owned - very sweet and always following me around. They had two more siblings that we were unable to ever trap. One still hangs around but we never saw the other again.
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Old 08-11-2012, 07:29 AM   #19
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Well done Nords and Mrs. Nords. You're handling a difficult situation in the most humane way possible.

I remember you saying your neighbors are nice people and well intentioned. However, feeding feral cats but not having them spayed and neutered is not a good thing. Ferals who aren't "fixed" will breed and become a nuisance, particularly in a highly populated area. This just makes the problem worse.

Once the home is rented or sold, it's doubtful the new family would want to continue feeding the cats. So these cats, who've become dependent on the regular feedings, would have suffered even more.

Again, well done.
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Old 08-11-2012, 07:36 AM   #20
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Around here we have natural feral cat traps:
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