This is the letter to council that this reader sent to try to get some action regarding the cats entering their backyard:

To:

**** ****
General Manager
A Central West Shire Council

24 February 2011

Dear **** ****

Nuisance Cats

I bought this house June 2000 and have lived here since then, tolerating a neighbour who breeds stray cats indiscriminately. Years ago I was told not to complain, it would do no good. Since the drought broke, the numbers have become unbearable. There is a new litter of kittens each month.

In January I decided to count them and at one point there were eight (8) cats in my yard, at the same time. Three (3) of these were kittens. I do not choose to have a pet animal on my property, yet for over 10 years, have been forced to constantly clean up cat poo and tomcat spray. There is continual damage to my vegetable garden, ornaments are knocked over and damaged, not to mention at night the continual noise of cats jumping over fences, onto outdoor furniture, calling and fighting. Whenever they are chased from the yard, they go over the back fence into ********s? yard, where there is a dog which accepts them, so there is no doubt where they live.

Each time I go outside, I cannot let the screen door close on its brake. I have to stand there and wait or force the brake and shut it, because in that time a cat is in my home, sitting under the birdcage. There was one there this week, when I was in a hurry and forgot to stand at the door waiting for it to shut. Then they jump around in my home, knocking over and breaking ornaments while trying to get out of the house. I cannot live like this. Neither could you.

Because of a requirement for maximum underfloor ventilation, my home is not closed off underneath. The cats go under there and poo and spray everywhere. You can smell it in the house. Living on a giant litter tray, which is supposed to be my home and constantly having to clean up after someone else's animals is not acceptable. I bought this property and pay rates on it, and yet Mr ******* of ?** ******* street has actual rights over it, because he is allowed to run his animals on it, using it as a giant litter tray. Again, this is my property. I do not choose to have animals. Surely I have the same property rights as any man. Don't I? I know it would be different if there was a man here. Mr ******* would pay attention. I thought the ranger would be able to make that happen, because the section of Council is called Animal Control. The impression is that it applies to dogs, not cats. There is feeling in the community that this Council is not able to control cats, or enforce any laws regarding them. People take things into their own hands. I cannot bring myself to do those things. Even if I did, it would not do any good, because they just keep breeding.

Through January and February of this year, I have phoned Council numerous times. A couple of times I have requested to N****** and others, who have been very helpful and understanding, that the ranger attend. D****** the ranger has been here and on other occasions sent two assistants, G***** and one other.

All have been very helpful and worked with me to try to find an answer to this problem. During the day when they attend, there are not many cats about. At night the property is covered with them and the smell is at times unbearable. Especially when it has not rained for a while. I think the ranger and his assistants do not understand the extent of the problem, because they do not see the animals and the yard is clean when they arrive.

For a month we had the council trap here. On two Saturdays I took cats to the pound, each time ensuring they had water in the cage. On two other occasions during the week a ranger assistant collected the trap with cat, then returned the trap, and so a total of 4 cats were removed. Not all cats can be trapped. Some are wary and won't go in it. This is a short-term measure, because Mr ******* just keeps breeding them. All the ranger can do is offer the trap. They have told me this on a number of occasions.

I have put bird netting on the tree that constant cat traffic is affecting and around the fence and driveway gate. For over 10 years I have put mothballs, pepper, citronella oil and fresh orange peel around to deter them. This might work with a couple of cats, but that is not the case here. This week I set rat and mouse traps around the property, because some say this is a deterrent.
I phoned ******* and left a polite message on their phone, telling them about the traps and asking for the fourth or fifth time, if they could keep their animals off my property. They disregard my requests. This morning I was again cleaning cat spray and poo from my back door and lawn. I spent too much money on deterrents, but nothing has worked. I can only conclude it is because there are just too many cats.

Mr ******* tells the ranger that two (2) inside, desexed cats belong to him, and the rest are not his, that they are strays. There are food dishes around the yard and Mr ******* admits to feeding the cats, saying they are starving. There are also some cats in two or three large netting enclosures along the fence-line near the corner of my property. What is the status of those cats? Are they the breeding females he does not own? They have kittens and can get out of the enclosures through a hole in the back.

Seriously, there are laws preventing people from feeding strays and providing space for their indiscriminate breeding. I pointed out to D**** and N***** that the Companion Animals Act 1998, legislation of 38 pages or so, has on page 3, section 7 of the definitions, that 'Meaning of owner' includes 'b) The person by whom the animal is ordinarily kept'. By feeding the animals on a daily basis, ******* are keeping them. According to the Act, ******* are the owners. This would be the reason for 7 b). So Mr ****** can't feed animals yet deny ownership and responsibility. Someone was going to look it up, and check. Now, why would I have to point that out to people who work in animal control? And why would they not be aware of it? That legislation is only about 38 pages long. That definition is on page 3. Perhaps I am mistaken in thinking they should be familiar with the Act which is closely related to their work.

Previously I asked D****** about a limit on cat numbers. He advised you can have as many cats as you like. Today N******* told me that it is legal for cats to wander and they don't have to be detained at any time. Thus I conclude - You can have as many cats as you like and all are allowed to wander free at all times.

Other councils have some control. Most problems occur at night because cats are primarily nocturnal hunters. They eat birds, frogs and lizards in my yard and I find the remains in the morning. Other councils have a cat curfew whereby people are required to restrain their cats at night. I work part-time and when walking home from work at night, see cats everywhere especially during the breeding season. It is the numbers that concern me. One or two about the streets might be acceptable, but there are more than that. Especially in the area of my home.

I can only conclude Mr ******* is supporting and promoting a larger population of stray cats than we should have in town.

Wherever there is a large population of stray cats, aside from the health risks to humans, such as Toxoplasma gondii (a cat intestinal parasite which lives in rats, mice and human muscle and brain tissue), there is also an increased risk to domestic cats - people's pets.

Attached is a suggestion from a Council in Victoria. A random find on the net.
Also, look up 'Toxoplasma gondii' on the net. A radio science show said it was estimated 30% of the population is infected. It is harmful to unborn children and the effects on others are not known, other than that in brains of humans it makes men more aggressive and women more compassionate. In rat and mouse brains, it makes the animal want to hang around cats so the parasite can complete its life-cycle.

Again, I cannot understand why Mr ******* is allowed to feed stray cats, let them breed and say they are not his animals. If this problem is not addressed in a proactive, concrete manner,
I shall be looking to take it further. Cleaning up large amounts of cat poo is how people catch Toxoplasma. Perhaps I should pursue it as a health matter. This is my property and as such I have the right to free and peaceful enjoyment of it. Perhaps it is a legal matter. Clearly this issue needs to be addressed.

Yours sincerely

M*** ******

 

The following are the measures that this reader has gone to try to alleviate the problem on their side of the fence, and remember that this person is having to take these measures despite the fact that the cats belong to or are being encouraged, and not controlled by the neighbour:


Planted hedging shrubs all along the back fence,

Pruned a bottlebrush tree (infested with the small brown ants) right back and covered it with nylon netting to keep the cats off,
Covered the trunk of the other tree with netting to try to save it (damaged by being used as a scratching post)

Mixed olive oil and Tabasco sauce and sprayed these on the fence (my side) to create an unpleasant experience when they traverse the fence, to discourage them,

Set up a timed air freshener under the covered tree near the fence. The unit is placed in a hanging water bottle half to protect it from weather. It is charged with a citrus (cats hate the smell) can of spray and discharges every 36 mins. It also has a motion sensor. Bought it at the local supermarket for about $12. Runs on batteries. Alerts the neighbours to the problem with the smells, too.

Made and erected screens of bracken where could not get shrubs to grow. Covered these screens in nylon bird netting, as the cats were climbing on them and scratching them to bits.

Surrounded my vegie patches with posted wire netting which has bird netting over the top of it. Cost several hundred dollars, but keeps the cats from pooing, peeing, rolling and spraying my vegies. No good trying to garden while crawling about in cat excrement.

Put mesh all around the house to stop the cats from going under it. After a couple of days, the smells disappeared from the rooms within the house. Later found these smells were caused by cat excrement under the house. They like the feel of fine earth under their feet.

Soaked 6 chillies, chopped up, in water for a few days, added garlic and onion, put all in food blender, strained into spray bottles and sprayed all around small trees and fence-line in garden. This is a temporary measure. Rain washes it away.

Bought Orange Power cleaner from the supermarket. Cats HATE the smell of citrus. I use this to clean up after them. It is kind to the environment as well.

Scoop up the cat poo and return it to where it comes from, just over the fence, to try to train them to go there, instead of on my yard. After cleaning it up, I water it down well, and then sprinkle black pepper on the area. Black pepper sprinkled where they generally poo can stop them from going there.

Set up mouse traps on my side of the fence. Cats are a lot faster than mice. They land near the traps, setting them off, and get startled. Problem is, cats are intelligent and pre-cognitive: Thus after a while they know to avoid the mouse traps. Each new generation gets startled, though. It's all about giving them a bad experience to train them to stay away.

Ages ago, I gave up trying to get the neighbours to help. They just ignored me. Throughout the process I was polite. It made no difference. So now I communicate directly with the cats: Give them a bad experience a few times, and when considering which way to go, they will choose another direction, before coming into my yard.....some of the time!


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