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Old 23-05-2004, 07:14 AM
Janice
 
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Default cat problem ....PLEASE HELP !!?? (very long)

On Tue, 18 May 2004 21:28:04 +0100, "not happy"
wrote:

We've just began getting our garden into shape , seeding/weeding etc...

Problem is, every morning we go outside & have to shovel up several fresh
cat turds. The woman next door has about half a dozen of the little vermin
..... & being as her garden ( our our neighbour on the OTHER side) is
completely concreted over ..... her pests use our soil as a kitty litter.


I see 10 to 20 cats over time that come through the yard here over a
season, and a good 6 to 8 on a regular basis. I used to till up my
entire yard, but particularly my back yard, and yeah, the cats would
use the yard for a time, until the soil was watered a few times and it
firmed up again, then they didn't seem overly attracted to it anymore.

Water the soil in the areas you don't want dug, and the don't be
overly zealous in going out and cultivating the soil .. stirring it up
and making it "fluffy" and therefore attractive to the cats.

I'd suggest if you've seeded an area, stretch something snaggy over it
if you want extra protection beyond watering the area well. If there
are unwatered and fluffier areas, they'll be more attracted to the
fluffier area and leave your newly seeded WET areas alone. Bird
netting stretched over the seeded area for a time low enough that they
can't get under it, let it droop over the edges they don't like
walking on snaggy stuff.

Provide an area away from your main garden area .. sand.. to attract
the cats.. plant a catnip near it. Water the soil where you don't
want them to go, let it firm up. Unless your soil is sand, it'll
usually get firm enough after watering it that it's not going to be
cat wonderland.

We have high walls ( 6ft) all around & I've even gone to the trouble of
coating them with an oily, black "non-drying" paint, knowing what vain
creatures cat's are ... but still they get in, somehow.


Cats are climbing hunting creatures who are curious. They can jump 6
or 7 feet straight up, they climb trees, jump on roofs, hop from roof
to roof to tree. Most places cannot be cat proofed if they are not 2
stories or more on all sides, no trees nearby, and most places are not
like that.

I've tried the various pellets, sprays & gels .... at some cost AND all to
no avail. I searched on the 'net & have seen a "cat-scarer" ( emits high
frequency noise, triggered by a P.I.R. sensor ) ..... it seems a bit
expensive, but I wondered if anyone else (here) may have one & can recommend
it as money well spent ?

...... seriously, now, considering getting an air-rifle & sitting up all
night waiting to shoot the little b*stards !

Any help/advice greatly appreciated.

Cheers !


For each person's pet cat, there are probably 10 feral cats, and cats
are territorial, if you kill one, several will begin fighting for the
one's territory.

Most places recognize it is in the nature of cats to wander and prowl,
and by that nature they cannot be controlled like dogs or other
domestic animals. Some people learn that their pets would be far
better off kept inside all their lives, than allowed to wander in a
hostile world among dogs and people who do not understand the cat
nature and cannot or will not solve problems with a bit of behavior
modification both on their own part as well as the cats'.

If you know that there are cats around who are going to dig in your
freshly dug areas, then you should take steps to keep them off. It
doesn't matter how much it bugs you that they exist, that the owners
are jerks, or you feel you shouldn't have to take the steps you do to
keep them off. None of that solves the problem and it just raises
your blood pressure and keeps your disposition soured, and causes
feuds that make life unpleasant for EVERYONE.

So, the questions a What is your soil structure? Does it firm up
after being watered a few times and then become no more attractive
than any other area in the yard where the cats are *not* digging? If
so, protect the soil until it's not attractive to them anymore. You
can do this by the already mentioned bird netting which could just be
laid down on the ground and see how that works.. do it before you seed
to test it if you will ONLY have that one area dug up. If laying it
down doesn't work then try slightly .. just off the surface, and if
that doesn't get it then try it slightly higher.

Another item would be to make movable chicken wire covers.. like an
open bottomed rectangular chicken wire box, to set over the seeded
areas.. leave it there until the soil has firmed up and your seedlings
large enough to protect themselves so to speak, and the soil firmed
up.. at the same time, provide a sandy area with some catnip around it
to attract the cats, away from your garden area.

I have had a yard completely tilled up, planted with seed and
transplants, and with cats patrolling my yard continually, and I've
not had a problem large enough for it to upset me to the extent that
it was occupying my thought processes to the extent that I wanted to
do bodily harm to the critters.

Now fleas and squirrels, that's a whooooole 'nother story. I've had
nothing but troubles with those, so I can't have pets that go in and
out of the house, because of the fleas, I keep my cats inside, don't
have dogs or in/out cats. I can't grow nut trees or bushes because
squirrels will cut every last one from the trees while they're still
green, and killing 1 squirrel with bring in 15 more to vie for its
territory. I never had problems with squirrels in my grapes, but now
1 developed a taste for them, and they're teaching their young. They
dig in my barrels and drag their bellies through it and poop and pea
in them when they're freshly dug. They bury stuff in them, they dig
stuff up out of them. They pick bite and drop strawberries. They're
far more damaging in the garden than cats ever thought of being,
they'll dig up and eat your seed, if not eat it, scatter it. They
will find black walnut trees and carry the nuts for miles to plant in
MY YARD or worse, in the yard of a neighbor who doesn't mind, only
close to the property line so that the roots and sap end up in MY YARD
poisoning my soil and making the area anywhere near it useless for any
plant, animal, or structure by putting jugulone in the soil, dripping
sap on anything within the drip line making it sticky, peeling the
paint off anything you try to clean the sap off of. I would far
rather have 10 cats to any 1 squirrel in my yard! If they can
discourage the squirrels from coming down to the ground in my yard, so
much the better!

As far as birds go, if the cats can discourage robins and starlings
and crows and magpies, YEA!!! Sic 'em chase 'em get rid of them!!
They will stalk them, and they will sometimes catch and kill them, but
they must taste so vile because I've yet to see a cat eat a robin or
starling. The only other birds I've seen here are house finches and
English sparrows, and while they catch bugs to feed their young, when
they're not doing that, the house finches spend all their spare energy
... along with all the young they've raised that year.. pecking any
peaches that have colored up and started ripening in that colored up
area, clear to the pit, and they happily do so to every peach they can
reach! The English sparrows, they haven't done anything that I've
witnessed other than nesting and pooping down the sides of any
structure they can get into .. attracting mites and any other parasite
they can harbor into the nests and your house if it's been able to
find a way into your eaves. Here those have been covered with metal
to keep the squirrels from nesting in the attic and then grabbing hold
of the wiring and WHALING away on it.. biting and jerking on it over
and over because it probably looks snake like to them and therefore a
threat to their young! I can understand why the squirrel would do
that, but I don't want my house burned down do their ignorant
squirrely little minds!

Sure squirrels are cute, they can be endearing, as long as you're
ignorant of all the damage they do.. close up every entrance into your
house! Keep them away from the wiring, don't plant anything they like
without encasing it in a cage of 1" or less mesh wire, or hire
yourself a herd of Maine Coon Cats to kick their squirrely little
asses! LOL

Well.. I digress from your hatred of cats to mine of squirrels ;-)
But really, you aren't going to get rid of the cats any more than I am
going to get rid of the squirrels, so instead of going mad over them
ruining your garden area, try to deflect them to another area, protect
your vulnerable areas until they are no longer attractive, and keep in
mind that we, people, are the ones at fault. We created the situation
where cats are living artificial lives, where in nature there would
only be a couple or three tom cats trying to share the same area, and
would do so in a manner where they rarely met face to face. Each Tom
will patrol a 5 to 10 square mile area, females ..maybe the same to a
little less, but can wander freely across the Tom's territories, but
they may fight for territory too. But we have taken the cats in and
fed them and put them in situations where they're breeding
uncontrollably. It's not the cats' faults, it's the humans' faults,
but the cats suffer for it.

I understand your frustration, and I understand jackass neighbors, but
try to deflect them from your garden areas, protect your fluffy soft
soil, provide them with an alternative to it with a lure of catnip..
shake it up/bruise it now and then..not a LOT, but a few leaves at
first...then leave them be after. If they discover it too soon, then
put a wire cage around it to protect the core of the plant or they'll
roll it to the ground...keep in mind the paths the cats will take to
access your "bait" area...make it easy access away from your garden
area..and the cats' patrol areas...those access areas may not be your
sidewalks, but yes, over the back gate. I see cats going over a
picket fence gate nailed onto a neighbor's fence that they didn't put
clear to the back property line, so needed to block the opening. Cats
go over that same area each one, like it's a cat highway, so it would
be stupid and unrealistic of me to dig up an areas in front of where
the cats are already known to go, but.. it would be smart of me to
provide a "rest stop" along a highway they are already using, because
I will NEVER be able to kill every cat, and in most communities
killing cats or anything for that matter within the city limits with
guns, knives or poison is highly illegal and could land you squarely
in jail, and a whole lot of people screaming for your scalp. Besides,
those measures usually kill the cats that *aren't* pooping in your
garden, the cat that's just passing through. You'll likely get the
little old lady's cat that is normally kept in but the careless
workman or child left the door open and the cat got out for the first
time in years, rather than the street wise cat. That would surely
endear you to everyone.

I suggest anchoring whatever cover you choose to protect your
plants/soft soil. You can use hoops and chicken wire over it, anchor
it at the edges because .. even if the cat isn't trying to get to the
plants under the wire, they sometimes get attacked by other cats, and
while fighting to survive they will roll across .. run across.. our
plants. I had a Gas Plant ..dictamnus I think .. snapped off by cats
in a fight. They weren't after that plant, it holds no attraction to
them, but it was collateral damage. That's not the usual course of
events in my yard.. it's not always an arena for battle, but it
happens.

My yard has become on the "banquet" list of every robin in the area
and they teach their young, and they descend on my grape vine, or
did, like they were planted just for them. I've lived here for 27
years, and had no problems with birds eating my grapes for 15 years or
so, then one bird, and its young figured it out. After that, I had
increasing numbers of birds each year... the ones from the first year
taught their whole flocks where the grapes were and they were good to
eat. UNTIL one year, I didn't get the vine pruned, and they bore so
heavily, they weren't ripe at the time they showed up looking for
them. THEY LEFT!!! And the following year, they didn't come back!!
I've not had the huge problems I'd had for years with the birds since
then. It's only a matter of time, and now I have squirrels eating
them, but they don't eat as much, and so far they don't like to share.
So now, I know how to break the cycle, prune them back to old wood for
a season so they won't bear one year and that should break the cycle,
If I just HAD to have some, I could severely limit the crop and cover
the clusters with sacks to keep birds out. That won't deter a
squirrel though, they'll rip it off or chew through it. But the birds
will be deterred by the bags, and grapes do not need sun to ripen, the
vine leaves do though.

So, each of us have to work through our individual problems.. and
hopefully you can solve yours. You put up the extra wire.. if you
slanted it out away from your fence, it might work. If there are no
other buildings or trees around to climb to get in, they will. If your
house is not tall enough to keep them from leaping up to your eaves,
they will jump up there.

If you are still having problems, inform your neighbors that your
garden is being so torn up by cats, and even though you have gone to
extraordinary measures to keep them out, you're going to start
trapping cats and taking them to the animal shelters in other cities
so they can't be "bailed out" only to return the next day. As such
anyone who does not want to lose their pets, should keep them indoors
from then on. Then get a live trap .. I've been able to borrow a trap
from the local animal shelter if it was not in use, but yes, I had to
take the cat to the shelter once I trapped it (cover the trap as the
cat will panic and try to scratch or bite you as you pick up the
handle). I was trapping a feral cat that was attacking my cat which
stayed pretty close to home. Since then.. I only keep cats inside, to
keep them away from people who purposefully try to run over them,
poison them, shoot them, torture them, sic dogs onto them, even when
they aren't being a nuisances. When I learned one cat I inherited
from my sister, and who had been an outside/inside animal, was
menacing chickens down the road, I kept him inside. That didn't work
really well though as a cat that has been inside and outside does not
take well to being kept inside. He started spraying, and I had to get
rid of him entirely, which saddened me because I'd fed him his first
solid food, named him after my father, but.. even though we were in a
new location and he couldn't menace chickens, he was getting in fights
even when he was in his own yard, other cats don't recognize property
lines as you well know. I could not afford vet bills for surgery to
clean up abbesses between the bones in his forelegs every month or
two. I caught him and looked for wet hair when I could and then found
the punctures and peroxided them inside and out, but that's not every
time. So, kitty had to go. :-( It's just that territorial thang.. so
it's really not realistic to think people will be able to keep their
cats in..so sure hope you'll try some of the things I and others have
mentioned that are behavior modification, and you being smarter than
the cats.. by covering things, watering them ..because that's part of
gardening, and not being over zealous in the cultivation loosening
soil, as plants don't need that much so long as you're not walking
right next to them all the time in single rows ..wide rows work
better, you should not need to loosen soil all the time. Wet soil
that's firmer will dissuade them.. or at least sure did in my garden,
I never had a problem with cats digging in my garden at any time other
than when it was freshly tilled, and not where I'd planted and
watered.

I'll shaddup now.

Janice



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