Like all communities, Southtown shares its streets and yards with animals who live in the great outdoors. And in our neighborhood, that means cats. A lot of feral cats. They live under porches, in sheds, in otherwise unused barrels and crates… they are very creative in making their homes.
The Cannoli Fund - a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization - actively works to control the area’s feral cat population through its TNR program. ‘TNR’ stands for ‘trap, neuter, return’, and that’s exactly what they do. Feral cats are humanely trapped, transported to a veterinary clinic to be neutered or spayed, and then returned to the area in which they were trapped. Yes, those cats are still here in the neighborhood occupying our streets and yards, but they will no longer be adding new kitties to the feral cat population. The program has been incredibly successful and has significantly reduced the number of feral cats living in our neighborhood.
But, there’s still a large number of feral cats in our community. Some neighbors welcome their presence and actively care for them by providing food and water on a daily basis. Others would prefer that the cats stay away from their property. If you fall into the latter camp, there are some things you can do to deter them from making their homes in your yard… things that are easy to do, humane, and that don’t cost anything, or cost very little.
Yes, kittens are adorable, but that doesn't mean you want feral cats living under your house.
Here are a few suggestions:
Make sure that garbage bins are tightly covered! Tie them up with bungee cords if you have any.
Block or seal openings in structures that cats are climbing into. Use chicken wire or lattice. If you do this, please make sure there are no cats already inside the area your are blocking off!
Provide shelters in areas where you don’t mind them living. If you have a large yard, for example, maybe you don’t want them living under your front porch but wouldn’t mind if they stayed away from the house in the rear of your property. Put some empty crates with old blankets out there and put down a filled food and water bowl. You can train them to migrate to that part of your property.
Keep cats away from specific areas of your property by scattering fragrant items that cats don’t like. For example, if you don’t want them in your garden or flower bed, scatter fresh orange or lemon peels or coffee grounds over that area. Other things that will act as a deterrent are vinegar, pipe tobacco, lemongrass, oil of lavender, and eucalyptus.
If you don’t want them climbing on your cars and leaving footprints, use a car cover.
If you don’t want them digging in a garden or flower bed, put attractive rocks down in exposed areas… those areas don’t need to be completely covered with rocks. Place them 6 to 8 inches apart and that should do the trick. You can also do things like covering those areas with branches in a lattice pattern, or embedding pine cones or sticks with dull points with the tops exposed, eight inches apart.
Eliminate cat urine smell by spraying the area with white vinegar, or products using natural enzymes, such as Nature’s Miracle®, Fizzion Pet Stain & Odor Remover®, or Simple Solution®
These are just a few steps you can take that are really easy to do. There are further suggestions on the Alley Cat Allies website. And please feel free to contact me if you’ve got any questions or would like to learn more about some of the things we’re doing here in Lavaca and Southtown regarding animal welfare in our community. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jen Galletti fosters dogs for the Footbridge Foundation and has volunteered with the Cannoli Fund TNR proogram.