First feral cat

First feral cat, originally uploaded by mtbikernate.

I have been having problems with feral cats this year. I first noticed them shortly after I moved into this house about a year ago, but didn’t have any trouble until this spring when I came home from the hospital. One of the ferals had a litter of kittens in the neighbor’s densely wooded lot, and they’d come into my yard to play. The first problem I had was the feral cats raided a wren nest on my porch and at least ate the babies. Not sure if they got the adults or not.

Later in the spring, my wife noticed that mama cat had been hit by a car. We wondered if the kittens would survive. At least some did. We didn’t see them for a long time, as I’d chase them away whenever I saw them. But one night, when letting the dogs out for their evening pee, one of them (now a cranky tomcat) was sitting on the porch. In trying to chase it away, it ran around me and into the house. Boy did that cat reek strongly of urine.

Because of my cancer treatments making me susceptible to disease, bleeding, and bruising, my wife had to take over. She threw a laundry basket on top of the cat and ushered it out the front door with a broom. When she removed the basket, the cat tried to attack her. She had to whack it a couple times with the broom to get it to run away.

It was then I decided we had a problem and set about to fix it. I bought this tomahawk trap, some heavy duty kevlar lined leather animal handling gloves, and the pictured scent lure. I tried catching cats on the back porch for awhile, with no luck. Just yesterday I moved the trap to the front, near my car where there were fresh muddy cat prints on my hood. Today, this was waiting for me.

This cat was a nasty bugger when I took the shade cover off the trap. It tried eating me as soon as I lifted it off and moved the trap to the driveway. The cat continued to hiss and try to attack me any time I went near the trap. Definitely a feral. An owned and socialized cat shouldn’t be behaving that way (yes, my wife and I have a cat of our own…and it’s an indoor-only cat).

I sprayed the cat with the hose, blared a loud air horn, and released it. Aversive conditioning has been proven effective for years on habituated bears, and is a technique recommended by the Humane Society of the United States. We’ll see how well it really works on cats. I’ll be keeping the trap in the front yard for the time being. It’s possible the smell of the dogs in back helps keep the kitties away.

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