All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cats Run Loose in my Neighborhood

Dear Marie,
Before I state my problem, I want to let you know I love cats. I have two neutered, indoor cats that have collars, tags, microchips, all of their shots, an abundance of cat toys, and a bed in almost every room of the house. They are pampered and spoiled and that’s putting it mildly.

Now, here’s my problem. I live in a nice neighborhood where there are many other pet cats that don’t have it so good. They are outside all hours of the day and night. They come to my house and fight outside my bedroom window. They use my garden as a litter box and spray urine on my car’s tires and front door.

Unlike my cats, most of these don’t appear to be spayed or neutered, as it is pretty obvious they are in the process of making new kittens. UGH! Some of the cats look sick. Some of the cats sit in the street. Some of the cats look malnourished. Some of the cats look fat, healthy, and purebred. No matter what their appearance, I am almost certain that all of them have “homes”.

The situation seems to be getting progressively worse. When I come home from work at night, I literally see dozens of loose cats just in my own neighborhood. What can I do to help curtail this growing problem?

Dear Angela,
Many cat owners are under the mistaken belief that it is unfair to keep a cat indoors. Some people may have tried to keep their pets inside but later gave up because their cats complained too much. Ultimately, they are allowed to go out again. Still other cat owners believe the cats that they provide food and water for aren't really their cats. (Even if they have fed and cared for them for years.) It’s always frustrating to hear these excuses.

The bottom line is that it is unlawful to let cats roam on anyone else’s property. Furthermore, if one chooses not to have a pet spayed, he or she should know that it is against the law for any cat (or dog) “in season” to be unconfined. One could also argue that cats allowed to roam freely into and across streets are being neglected and placed in danger. This would be a violation of a California Penal Code requiring reasonable care of pets.

Unfortunately, most laws pertaining to cats are rarely enforced. Even animal control would probably just advise that you trap the cats and bring them to the shelter. However, if the cat does not have any form of identification, the shelter’s staff would not be able to contact the owner and statistically, the majority of non-identified cats are never redeemed and ultimately euthanized.

There are alternatives to taking cats to the shelter. First, find out who is in charge of publishing your local neighborhood watch, homeowner’s association, or other community newsletter and ask if you could write a small article about the problem. Be sure to include concerns about the health and safety of cats allowed to roam free. Add to that the staggering pet-overpopulation numbers revolving around cats. Emphasize the statistics regarding cats euthanized in shelters for lack of homes. Finally, reference the laws that I previously described.

If there is no improvement - and there is likely not to be as most pet owners never think their animals are the ones causing a problem - then you need to take a more hands on approach.

First, invest in a humane cat trap. Also, purchase a number of cat collars. Make copies of your community bulletin and cut out the article about cats. Fold up the article and staple it to the collar. Set the trap each night. If you find a cat in the trap in the morning, and if it is safe to do so, put a collar (complete with the folded article) on the cat. Then, set the cat free. When it goes home, it will personally deliver to its owners the desired message.

You will find that after receiving such an unusual note, some pet owners will modify their behavior. Some however, will remain irresponsible. They will continue doing so until they find their cat dead in the street. And sadly, they will replace that cat with another who is treated identically. Some people never change. All you can do is keep trying to make a difference.

Good luck.

1 comment:

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