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What To Do When Your Neighbors' Cats Invade Your Property


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This is from my Tribune Media Services newspaper column. The piece has generated lots of controversy. I am a huge TNR proponent. However, what do you with owned cats who roam, spray on neighbor’s homes and use gardens on private property as toilets? Worse, yet, when the cat(s) belongs to your neighbor. After 15 years, I am tired of receiving this question, which I totally sympathize with. So, rather than to ignore the issue – I am taking a strong stand. Of course, responsible cat owners with indoor only cats aren’t the issue. 

            Q:
A while back you had some advice about pesky pets, and suggested a motion
detector sprinkler for cats. Well, I tried that without success. And the pesky
cats from next door are destroying my lawn. The people who own them don’t care.
Do you have any ideas? If you find a solution to this problem, you can probably
get rich with an online business. C. J. F., Las Vegas, NV

            You
are so right, this is a common problem – and I am sick of it! It is absolutely
irresponsible to allow owned cats outside to use neighbors’ lawns as toilets,
to allow them to hunt songbirds, and spray on homes where there cats living
responsibly indoors. By spraying on those homes, and often by their very
presence, those indoor cats may respond by spraying back. This creates an
enormous problem for those responsible owners, and might even feel pushed to
giving up their now spraying cats.

            What’s
more – people die every year because of roaming cats. In an effort to avoid
hitting a cat crossing a road they swerve off the road or into oncoming traffic
or slam on the breaks and are rear ended. I don’t know how many people die as a
result. But if it’s your relative, then numbers don’t matter.

            Also,
if the indoor/outdoor cats aren’t vaccinated for rabies, there’s a serious
pubic health question. And if they’re not spay/neutered, they may contribute to
the existing cat overpopulation problem.            

            It’s
not any cat’s best interest to be outdoors unsupervised either. Cats get into
fights with other cats, and with wildlife; they’re susceptible to infectious
feline disease from other cats and without tick protection in some places they
are susceptible to cytauxzoonosis (a tick borne disease which is usually
deadly). In the winter they will seek warmth under car hoods, and if the ignition
is turned on they suffer serious injuries.

They may also lap up anti-freeze or eat something
that can do them harm.

            I’ve
always advocated for responsible pet ownership. I am now taking an absolute
position, which I’m sure will stir controversy.

            When
all else fails, I am now advocating live trapping of these “pesky” cats, and
delivering them to a shelter. The law might already be on your side. I am also
calling for communities to create ordinances that prohibit people from allowing
their cats pets to freely roam. If the cats are not microchipped and not
wearing an ID collar, I admit I don’t know what will happen to them once they
reach a shelter since so many shelters are already over-burdened with cats. I
realize this solution is hardly fair to the cats, But what else is there to do?
People have a right to have gardens that aren’t used as a neighborhood latrine.

            In
your case, since you know exactly where the cats are from – I suggest you slide
this column under your neighbor’s door.

            I’ve
asked readers this before – if you have a better solution, I want to hear it.

            To
be clear, if there is a feral cat colony, we already have a humane solution,
called trap, neuter, return (TNR). The cats are “fixed,” vaccinated for rabies
and then returned to the place where they were trapped. I realize TNR isn’t a
quick fix, but it works – because the cats are prevented from continuing to
reproduce and eventually live out their lives. Often volunteer caretakers supplement
colonies with feed and provide shelter October 16 is National Feral Cat Day. Alley Cat Allies is a great resource. 

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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