I posted an open letter in my community about outdoor cats...

ms_minnamouseSeptember 14, 2012

The community has a Yahoo group. I just wrote an open letter to outdoor cat owners, describing the things I'm subjected to by outdoor cats (ruining my gardens, parading outside the windows and driving my dogs nuts, leaving mutilated dead and dying wild life corpses, leaving #2 on my pathway, etc.) and I also posed the dangers to the cats, stating that I was concerned for the cats welfare.

You know, to let them know what their neighbors are going through and to change their minds about letting kitty outside. Very objectively and politely written.

It hadn't been posted more than an hour and the first angry response came in from an outdoor cat owner.

I'm wondering, why outdoor cat owners would be angry when I'm the one who is being inconvenienced by THEIR cats? They don't pick up their cat's crap from my pathway, they don't have to calm down my dogs when their cat is teasing them, they don't have to pick up the wild animal bodies, they don't have to put up with their cat meowing outside MY door and all the rest of the stuff that goes on.

I don't walk my dogs on other people's property to use their lawns as toilets. I don't let them run up and accost the neighbors. I don't let them stay outside barking. I pick up after them in public places. I'm respectful and considerate of my neighbors with my pets.

I'm wondering why rules seem only to apply to dogs but not to cats, in the outdoor cat owners' minds?

I don't understand the mindset.

In our county, it's even against the law for cats to be at large.

I know, I can trap them and bring them to the shelter but the point of the letter was to avoid people getting fines and cats possibly never getting reclaimed.

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I agree with everything you said but be prepared to be slammed. I was once for suggesting cats belong inside for their own safety and so they aren't nuisances to others. I'd never dream of allowing my four cats to be outside. We have laws too in our town.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 2:31AM
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These people are just ignorant and no amount of logical explanation will change their minds. If these cats are really bothering you, trap them and take them to a shelter and be done with it. There's no excuse for other people's animals making your life miserable! I've heard that they make some sensor sprinklers that would go off when the cats get near them but I think that sounds like more of an expense and inconvenience than a help really.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 8:57AM
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It's hard to turn an outside cat into an inside cat, so that's why the owners (and the cats) won't be very receptive to your suggestions. Several cats roam our neighborhood and do all those things you mentioned, but there's no point in letting it get to me. When I was a kid, cats and dogs were allowed to roam free. It's no longer acceptable for dogs to roam, but that change in thinking hasn't caught up to some cat owners. Most shelters require that you keep the cat indoors before they'll let you adopt, so I think cat owners are slowly waking up to the fact that cats should be kept indoors. One of the problems is that you have to work harder to entertain an inside cat.

We had an outside cat (it was already established before I joined the household), but our new cat is an inside cat. Personally, I love cats too much and am too nervous to let a cat outside. I had the traumatic experiences of losing one cat to a dog and one to distemper when I was a child, and I couldn't forgive myself if something happened to my Gracie Girl.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 10:31AM
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Are you sure that the cats you see are pets and not feral?

I live in a fairly rural place. Most of the people here are cat haters who turn their dogs on cats or simply shoot the cats. Regulations are not enforced. SoI have precisely the opposite problem. Pitt bulls tearing through the habitat, killing whatever they can catch and leaving its remains, leaving pee and poop everywhere. Oh, and the dogs are un-neutered. They attack the ferals that I care for-on my property. But that's just peachy keen here in redneckville.

Yeah, that was a lot of yap but I understand your frustration. I wonder if a notice posted that includes the dangers to outdoors cats might be more effective than personalising it. I wish you well, responsible dog owners are few and far between here, as are responsible cat owners in your neighbourhood.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 6:21PM
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That's awful what you have to go through due to the dogs running loose. Pets just shouldn't be allowed to run loose.

No, this is no colony of feral cats. They're all owned. This is a "well to do" neighborhood and the surrounding area is very yuppy.

If it were feral cats, that would be different and I would be caring for them as well and I wouldn't be complaining about the neglect owners that they don't have anymore.

I have nothing against the cats, I understand their nature. Cats will be cats. It's the owner's faults here.

I understand it can be hard to transition an outdoor cat to an indoor one but it can be done and cat trainers can help, but most just don't want to be bothered. They'd rather inconvenience their neighbors.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 6:47PM
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I live in a yuppie neighborhood too, where dogs are walked on leashes, and in the past 10 years, I've picked up more dog poop from my front yard than I've found cat poop in my garden. I don't have kids but their kids scream and run over my plants with their bikes. And I've about had it with those pesky high school kids ringing my doorbell and wanting me to buy yet another coupon book or donate my bottles and cans. ;)

Every neighborhood is going to have some inconsiderate neighbors. That's what happens when we live close together. Hopefully you have enough good neighbors to make you enjoy living there.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 7:47PM
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While walking in my daughter's neighborhood tonight in the town near mine, there were three signs for three different lost cats with their pictures. One had a $500 reward, one $300 and one $100, so these cats were loved ,but not enough to keep inside apparently. When were sitting in DD's kitchen ,her cat screamed and ran to the window, and there was a big cat walking across their porch. I don't seem to have a problem with stray cats, but then my dogs run loose when we're out and are let out to potty so maybe cats know this. I would not be responsible if something happened., although my dogs love my cats.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 2:15AM
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You know, I agree that people who live in close confines shouldn't allow their cats to bother neighbors who don't welcome them. However, as a cat lover and the owner of a dog who doesn't really bark, I can say that it is just as irritating to a cat lover to have to put up with other people's dogs not only making messes on their property but also having to listen to them bark non-stop. It's like somehow they cannot hear their own dog when it is right outside their door barking for hours.

I think it boils down to people just needing to be more considerate to their neighbors. I personally wouldn't care if ten cats strolled through my yard every day, better than listening to a bunch of barking dogs any day. I've often noticed though that in my experiences the ones who complain about cats running lose are also the ones who let their dogs run and/or bark regularly.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 8:29PM
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I agree its annoying. I also agree that I do love cats, and there are also feral cat colonies here and there.

What I haven't seen mentioned is that there are leash laws, and by and large, those laws DO INCLUDE CATS. I know for a fact that my state (Tennessee) does have a statewide leash law and it does include cats. It's probably true as well that most people in TN aren't aware of that fact. I'll go one further and speculate that most people in southern states with a lot of rural area aren't aware their own states probably have the same law.

You need to check your state leash law and see if it includes cats first off. Then its not just a matter of "inconveniencing" anyone. Then it becomes a matter of law. Now can you get someone to enforce this? (probably not).

I will say however that there are a lot of people out there - specifically cat owners and lovers who let their pets run free and aren't fully aware of the consequences. Feral cats perpetuate FIV and feline leukemia. They can pass this on to the roaming family cat, who in turn can pass it on to her mates at the local groomer or vet.

In addition, and trust me, I know this for a fact, there are people out there who go out of their WAY to trap and turn in roaming annoying cats who wander onto their property.

When I worked at the shelter, there was one older lady who went out of her way to rent a live-trap monthly and bring in every stray cat she could catch (often baited with tuna). THAT wasn't illegal - but the roaming cat was.

By the way, the other day, a contractor doing some work for us told me, "Oh I'm so sorry, but we let your cat out of the garage accidently."

My response? "Umm... what cat? we don't have one."

Apparently we've had a cat take up residence under our house. Lately sometimes at night, I can hear a good bit of screeching and yowling. I fear for the fellow or gal because I've only recently caught glimpses of him and we have no idea what he's up to in the neighborhood or what he's running into. We don't have feral cat colonies in our residential neighborhood, so I suspect he's someone's roaming pet who has decided he likes our basement garage.

I've also seen him slip through the gate of my back yard. That's not a good idea for him since I have Boo and Ginger who roam at will back there (2 large dogs). That is not an end I want to witness.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 3:43AM
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Not to mention that roaming cats have a tendency to jump on top of neighbors' cars and scratch the paint. Grrr!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 9:37AM
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Sorry, I am a lurker and wandered to this page (thank you for the help on cat diets though. My poor Fang has IBS).

I feel for you in terms of your neighbor's responses. It is education I think. I am passionate on this subject because our songbirds are disappearing and outdoor cats are one huge reason. The link below has lots of information and links to studies.

I have had several cats that were outdoor cats before adoption. They have made the transition fine. It takes time and patience. After losing a beloved feline friend to poison (which is a horrible way to die and still tears me up)and seeing mutilated songbirds, I will never let a cat I own outside.

Thanks for letting me jump in,

Here are some links to help with the transitions;





Here is a link that might be useful: Impact of outdoor cats on wildlife

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 9:54AM
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Well you have the right to your opinion - but you know you are not going to change anyone's minds by posting such a post. I might as well try to talk you into voting for
Obama (or Romney depending on your orientation - LOL).

A more fruitful approach might be to offer some out of the box thinking and some links to diy fencing, cat pens, leash training cats, etc. That probably won't change many minds either, but at least it might plant a seed and get people thinking. Most DO love their cats, and really would rather not have them run over and poisoned. Really! Once not too long ago, dogs were allowed to roam freely and the attitude eventually changed about that.

It's all well and good if you have a total couch potato like one of my cats - a former stray, he could care less about outside. One time the door was left open by accident and I found him sitting in the doorway looking out. My other cat Orange was nowhere to be found. Orange is totally fixated on outdoors, has been known to rip out window screens and jump off of 2nd story roofs. He loves his pen - still is obnoxious, whines to go out the other door where he knows the REAL outdoors is. But this takes the edge off - I just boot him out into the pen and he can spend his time rolling in the dirt and eating grass and nudging all the shrubberies and lawn furniture to mark it.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 11:52AM
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My present four cats have NO desire to be outside. Previously I had one who would bolt and we'd catch him but these four are very content. Once our door was standing open(husband thought I was behind him, and i went out another door). When we returned an hour later, I was frantic. Two were sitting at the door, the other two were sleeping in their usual places.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 3:54PM
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We have a long private drive so my dogs do run loose but stay off my neighbor's property unless we go over to play with their dog. His dog also comes over to my property to play. It's mutual.

One of my dogs has OCD and we've started her on medication for this and we're working on the barking issue. But I don't leave my dogs outside (some people do and their dogs bark a lot out of boredom and it usually happens in the earning morning hours). Especially not if they're barking at something. They don't wander, they stay with me, usually in a heel or within a few feet.

It's just consideration of other people. Then cat owners who let their cats roam get absolutely outraged if they hear of people trapping cats and dropping them off at the shelter. Seems to be that if they REALLY cared, they would keep their cats inside. Being dropped off at the shelter is hardly the most dangerous thing that can befall a free roaming cat.

Our leash laws do include cats. Not many people seem to care. "Cats need to be free" and "Cats were born to roam" and more of that nonsense.

So I guess, I should just allow their cats to trespass and inconvenience me and shut up about it.

Some people even keep chickens and other small livestock in the area. I guess if cats kill their livestock, they also should just put up with it.

I really don't understand some people.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 4:50AM
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We live in the middle of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex where we have great horned owls, bobcats and coyotes, all of which enjoy dining on lose outdoor cats. These predators eliminated feral cats in our neighborhood.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 11:05AM
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Honestly, I wonder if we live in the same neighborhood. I live in what is considered a "well-heeled" neighborhood of ex-hippies. This was attractive in my twenties, but not so much now that I'm in my fifties.

My two cats were "outdoor" cats when I found them, but are quite content to stay inside, so it's not impossible to recondition them to be indoor cats.

I no longer put bird seed in my backyard feeders. There's no point. My neighbor's cats camp out beneath the feeders. They've all lost several cats to car clashes over the years, but apparently their need to see their cats roaming free trumps my right to enjoy my own property in the way I see fit. Fortunately, I have a weekend property in the middle of nowhere and I have birds galore there.

I'm putting this property up for sale in the spring. Unfortunately, you won't change the "free range" cat people's minds.

I feel your pain.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 5:44PM
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I think my city is the first in North America to license cats. It was very controversial when it was implemented, but the concept seems to be working. Many folks with indoor only cats don't license them. But any cat picked up anywhere except on its owner's property gets impounded until the owner bails it out. If it is licensed, it is easy to find its owners, who usually want it back and will pay the fine. Unlicensed cats are subject to larger fines. Animal Control will not come out to capture trespassing kitties, but anyone who is bothered with free-range cats can rent traps to set on their own property, and then turn over the captives to AC.

Besides providing recourse to folks who are inconvenienced by marauding felines, it has brought about a big change in attitudes among cat owners. Historically, cats have often been considered almost a "disposable" pet. If Fluffy failed to come home one day, it was too easy to move on and just get another cat. Of course not all cat owners acted this way, but enough always have that the city pounds were always full of strays, many of which were euthanized when their owners never showed up to collect them. Now more are returned to their homes because their owners can be contacted, and those owners have financial incentives to care for their pets and keep them safely at home.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 10:36PM
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