Community cats in a managed colony generally make good neighbors. They are quiet, shy away from humans, and provide excellent rodent control. Most community cat complaints arise from cats in colonies with inadequate or poor management. All of the most common cat complaints can be addressed without the need to remove the cats.
Cats in My Garden
Cats can be discouraged from digging in a garden by a number of simple means. Adding citrus peels and coffee grinds to your mulch not only fertilizes your plants but discourages cats from digging. These substances should be renewed every time it rains.
Other products can added beneath your mulch. A simple office carpet runner, placed upside-down and spikes up can serve both as a weed barrier and cat deterrent. Cat Scat Mats can also be placed beneath a shallow mulch layer to deter cats.
On the more high tech side, motion activated sprinklers and motion activated CatStop sonic cat deterrents have both proven effective. Laurel Cats offers extended loan of CatStops free of charge to Laurel residents.
Cats Attacking My Birds
Keeping cats inside is the best way to ensure their safety and protect wild animals in the area. But if you're feeding a free-roaming cat colony or your neighbors let their kitties roam-and you also enjoy putting out bird feeders-follow these tips to promote everyone's safety.
- Position feeders at least 12 feet away from grass and shrubs, which can serve as good cat cover. If possible, place the feeders within 15 feet of trees, where birds can hide or flee from avian predators.
- If you can, hang feeders on a wire strung at least 8 feet above the ground, between two trees that are at least 8 feet apart.
- If your feeder is mounted on a pole, install a predator guard (a metal cone with the wide bottom facing down) to keep cats and other animals from climbing up.
- Place circular fences, about 2 feet high and 4 feet in diameter, on the ground directly below feeders to make it difficult for cats and predators to creep up on birds unseen.
- Use high-quality food that birds will be sure to devour, rather than let some of it fall to the ground, where it can attract other types of birds and make them vulnerable. Also install a spill tray to catch seeds.
- Put down sharp-edged gravel beneath feeders-or, under a shallow layer of dirt or mulch, bury small-gauge chicken wire, a plastic carpet runner with the knobby side up, or a deterrent mat such as the Cat Scat brand. Cats don't like walking on these types of irregular surfaces.
- Drive cats away from feeders with CatStop, a motion-activated product that sends out a burst of high-pitched ultrasonic vibrations-inaudible to humans but uncomfortable for cats. Or install a motion-activated sprinkler to soak cats stalking birds at feeders.
- To prevent attracting cats to your yard, store garbage in a container with a lid that locks in place.
- Do not leave food for your cat outdoors, as this can attract additional cats and other predators. If you feed free-roaming cats, make sure they are spayed or neutered, and put food out at a designated time when you are present to monitor for predators. Take the food away when everyone is done eating.
Recommendations on keeping birds safe from free-roaming cats provided by the Humane Society.
The presence of kittens indicates the presence of at least one unspayed female. Females cats in Laurel, generally have one or two litters per year (more if the kittens are killed or removed) of approximately 5 kittens each - half of which will be female and can reproduce themselves at six months. This means that even with only one unfixed female cat the size of a cat colony can rapidly get out of control. 100% TNR is the solution to this problem. It is critical to TNR all the cats in colony, especially the females.
Sick and/or Injured Cats
With the exception of simple respiratory viruses which need to run their course (no colored mucus from nose or eyes), sick and injured cats should be taken to a vet versed in the treatment of fre-roaming cats. See "Local Outdoor Cat Vet Services" for a complete listing. Many cats can be easily retrapped using a simple box trap, but for those cats that have become "trap shy" Laurel TNR volunteers are happy to provide assistance with using more advanced trapping techniques such as drop trapping.
Growing Cat Numbers
Growing cat numbers indicates the presence of unfixed female cats. Female cats in Laurel, generally have one or two litters per year of approximately 5 kittens each - half of which will be female and can reproduce themselves at six months. This means that even with only one unfixed female cat the size of a cat colony can rapidly get out of control. It is critical to TNR all the cats in colony, especially the females. If you suspect new cats joining the colony, it is important to locate the source colony for these cats and work with that caretaker to TNR all cats in the area. If you find domestic cats have been dumped in a colony, please contact us for help.
Cats on My Car
It is not uncommon for cats to seek warmth on or under the hood of a car. Building a winter shelter may help alleviate this problem. See "Building Winter Shelters." If you are concerned about paw prints on your car, we recommend purchasing a cover for your car. If cats are sleeping on your engine, open or pound loudly on the hood of your car before driving.
Cats in My Child's Play Area
We recommend covering sandboxes to keep cats out of them. Cats can be discouraged from play areas with the use of CatStop ultrasonic cat deterrents.
Cat Food Attracting Unwanted Animals
Cat food that is being left out unattended can attract unwanted wildlife. Cats should be fed during specific feeding times and food should not be left out unattended. Most wildlife will not come around a cat feeding station if cats or humans are present.