All About Marie

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Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at www.blogtalkradio.com/petplace; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 18 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of one baby boy, and pet parent of three cats, two dogs, and a cockatoo.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Cats are NOT allowed to roam...it's the LAW!

Dear  Marie:
Help!  My problem is neighborhood cats.  One has broken my bird feeder.  Is there nothing to keep them away?  Repellent sprays are very expensive and no guarantee.  It’s not fair that dogs must be kept in their yards, indoors, or on a leash and cats get free run of the neighborhood.  I don’t dislike cats...but I like my wild bird friends better!  Too, I’m the only one in the neighborhood with soft dirt in my garden - so guess what happens?

Thank you for any suggestions,
Leona, Orange

Dear Leona:
First, let me say that cats are my favorite animals.  I have three little guys myself and I love them dearly.  But because they mean so much to me, I certainly do not let them roam the neighborhood where they could be exposed to great dangers and create bad feelings with my neighbors.  I do not understand cat owners who insist on making excuses about why their cats “need” to be “indoor/outdoor” pets...or worse yet - strictly outdoor animals.

What most people do not realize is that it is actually against the law to let cats roam onto the property of another...just as it is with dogs.  You, as a property owner or renter have the right NOT to have cats at your home or in your yard.  Therefore, I recommend that you speak to the owners of the problem cats and let them know about the nuisances and damage their pets are creating.   Try and do this in as friendly a way as possible, letting them know that you are genuinely concerned for their cats’ safety when they (the cats) are roaming freely. I know this is difficult to do, and it may create hard feelings. But THEIR actions are creating hard feelings (that they are blissfully unaware of)...so you need to open the door to communication.

If this does not work, or if you do not know who the owners are, contact your local animal control authority.  Each agency is different, so you will need to find out what its policy is on stray cats.  Most agencies will pick up stray cats from your property, provided they are in a box or other suitable container that can be used to transport the animals safely to the animal shelter.  Furnish the agency representative who impounds the cat with all owner information if you know it.  The shelter staff will contact the owners and  have them pick up their pet.  The owners will have to pay impound fees which usually is enough incentive to ensure the animal is not allowed to run loose again.   If no owner is located, the cat may be placed up for adoption in a new home with new owners who will take proper care of their pet. 

I am completely inflexible about what proper care is when it comes to cats.  There is NO excuse to let them run loose.  Cats that roam neighborhoods are routinely killed by cars, even on secluded residential streets.  They are taken as prey by coyotes and other predators.  They are exposed to viral diseases that are often lethal.  They are attacked by other loose cats and dogs.  They can fall into the hands of abusers or people involved with the illegal roundup of straying pets for use in laboratory experimentation.  If they are unaltered, they contribute to the staggering number of unwanted pets that are killed in shelters. The list of dangers goes on and on.  If a pet owner can’t protect his or her pets and give them adequate care, then perhaps he or she should just stick to keeping stuffed animals!

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