We have lots of neighborhood strays who frequent our yard. While I like the fact that they help control the rodent population, I’m not keen on them being in my yard all of the time. Any advice on how to make our yard less-hospitable for the neighborhood strays?
Unhappy Hosts in The Heights
Dear Unhappy Hosts,
You’ve got a very common problem on your hands, unfortunately. According to Citizens for Animal Protection, feral cats are the largest cause of pet overpopulation in Houston. Thousands of feral cats are born into homelessness every year, often right in our own neighborhoods. Left unattended, feral cat colonies can grow out of control.
We’ll discuss ways to help control the feral cat population in a bit, but first, here are a few tips from the website Realtor.com on how to keep stray cats from frequenting your yard:
1. Cover the sandbox: Keep a lid on your kid’s sandbox to discourage cats from using at as their personal toilet. Also, the lid will protect the sandbox from rain, leaves and other things that can cause the sand to get dirtier more quickly.
2. Plant fragrant herbs: Plants herbs like rosemary, lavender and lemon balm all around your yard to discourage the cats from visiting. Cats do not like the scent of these herbs. You can also spray diluted lemon juice around the yard to further deter the cats.
3. Lock the lids on the garbage: If a cat can get into your delicious garbage, they’ll keep coming back for more. Attach bungee cords to the lid to make your cans impenetrable to cats and other creatures of the night
4. Inquire about a trap/neuter program in your neighborhood. Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP) has an active trap-neuter-return (TNR) program and can help you tackle your cat problem. According to CAP, TNR is the most humane and effective strategy for reducing the feral cat population. It has been proven that trapping and euthanizing feral cats only contributes to the population problem. Cats are territorial and when cats are removed and euthanized from a location, new cats will move in and the survivors will breed to capacity. This well documented phenomenon is called the vacuum effect. TNR stops the problem because it stops the breeding and the colony will gradually diminish over time. To learn more about CAP’s Trap-Neuter-Return program, visit their website at www.cap4pets.org.
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