Tuesday, October 4, 2011

the great cat invasion of 2011

feral cats have taken over my neighborhood.

and my backyard is their home base.

i've never been a big fan of cats. i'm a dog person, through and through. but i don't hate cats. i don't hate any animal with a cute little face. at least i didn't until the great cat invasion of 2011.

it started with 3.
a black and white scrappy little guy (or gal) who prowled the wall around our yard..
a nervous cat always looking over his shoulder and sprinting at the sight of any human..
and a too-well-fed fluffy gray beast that would sit on a post perfectly still for hours while the other cats bowed before him.

i didn't mind that trio so much. they left my dog alone, stayed out of the yard and generally minded their own business.

the night the first litter was born, it was raining. Handsome and i heard this tiny terrified mewing sound coming from the neighbor's backyard. we peeked over the wall and even in the rainy darkness, we could see there was a little pile of newborn kittens struggling in the cold, without a mother cat in sight. it was sad. i felt pity for the little guys, knowing they wouldn't all make it.

fast-forward a few weeks. the black and white is roaming the walls, but wait! she's much much smaller than before. in fact, she is one of the kittens. "oh yay!" i thought. "one of them survived."
no, not one. all of them.

soon, there were half a dozen kittens on our walls at a time. and this generation was much bolder than the last. they didn't run from my dog's barking, and even when they ran from me, they would retreat only for a moment, then quickly return, challenging me.

after that, the cats started multiplying. this new litter had a litter of its own. a few more strays joined the colony. and either there is strength in numbers, making them more bold... or there simply isn't enough room left on the walls for all of them, because they have started to spend their nights in our backyard. if we step outside to take out the trash, it's a good bet we'll see three of them lounging in the grass, another two circling the firepit, one on the wall as a lookout and one more - usually old black and white - prowling the perimeter of the house.

most of them still run, but a few boldly hold their ground, not scared off even by my dog's yapping. one of them even perches on the wall, pretending to take swipes at my poor stressed-out puppy. because this is their headquarters. my backyard has become the HQ for the evil cat posse, and they feel as much ownership of it as i do.
too bad they don't help pay the mortgage.

and if you thought all that was a pain, get this:
it costs $25 bucks a pop to have the little jerks trapped, neutered and returned.
or worse - you can trap them yourself, take them down to animal control and pay $96 per cat just to TURN THEM IN!

i did a count this week and figured, at $25 a head, i'm looking at at least $300 just to have them fixed and brought right back to my backyard. and that will fix the problem ONLY if we catch every. single. one.
no thanks. i'm not betting $300 with those odds.

if anyone has ANY alternatives, please share before we become overrun by the feral felines!


Angie said...

I'm wondering where you live at this point. If you're in a city, there are usually a few different places where you could turn cats in, besides the Humane Society. I'd call around if I were you, maybe even to a few vets to see if they can give you suggestions. Whatever you do, don't feed them. They'll just keep coming back. Also it may sound a little mean, but if all else fails you could turn the hose on them when you see them. Cats really hate being sprayed with water (I train my cat with a spray bottle) and it might teach them to stay away.

Elizabeth said...

I foster cats, including ferals, so this is a common problem. Call local veterinarians and explain your situation. Ask if they know of any no-kill shelters who participate in trap and release programs for ferals for low or no cost. There are programs out there. Unfortunately, they're regional, so finding one can be a job of work. The good news is, vets and no-kill shelters want them fixed as badly as you do. Good luck!

erinjade said...

thank you both for the tip about asking our vet. i hadn't thought of that. maybe they will know of an agency that will do TNR or take the cats for a lower price.

a lady at one of the agencies suggested i try to take up a collection in the neighborhood to pay for the trapping and fixing, but unfortunately, we just don't know our neighbors well enough to knock on the door and ask them for cash. :/