Thursday, February 4, 2010

Trapper Joe - how to rid your neighborhood of feral cats

I discovered my home's front door, and metallic security screen door, to be once again sprayed by the dominant feral cat in the neighborhood last weekend. On my way to get the mail on Saturday afternoon, I saw a gang of 7 feral cats nosing around my neighbor's truck in his driveway. 2 of the cats didn't run away from me, while 5 of their compatriots fled in fear as I approached them, enroute to the mail boxes. This defiance would not do.

Now visitors to this blog know I have no love for feral cats - but my cayenne pepper solution survived only a few months in the blazing Arizona sun, as the Crisco melted away, and relentless winds scattered the remnants of the spice. Deterrents were not working. Cats were breeding. My front door welcome mat was fetid with male cat urine. Our elderly indoor cats were freaking out each time a lurking feral cat patrolled our little yard. Dr Desert Flower was out of town at a family funeral, so it was time for action. Inexorably.

Setting out my varmint traps, baited with canned tuna, I caught 3 angry cats in the first 24 hours. These 3 full cages were loaded into the back of my station wagon - lined with a large thick tarp (for a moisture barrier, just in case of spraying), and card board (to reduce friction as the cages were slid in), with the shipping box in which the traps arrived used as a physical barrier between the feisty felines. Growling, hissing, and attempted reach-through-the-bars clawing were in no short supply. I proactively double gloved (a thick poly blend inner glove, and leather work glove outers), wore my old jeans whose waist is 4 inches too big now with a belt to hold up the brown-bag fashion, wore steel toed shoes, and my old "Joe" labeled winter work coat, and donned safety glasses. I took along an old snow shovel in case the newly relocated & released felines turn and attacked after the 30 mile trip.

The scaredy cats did not stick around, and each ran off in a different direction. I know they'll have food and water there, as they join the other cats I've seen in that general area who are effective mousers doing charity work. So the 7 were now down to 4. I reset the traps last night, baited with the rest of the can of tuna, and waited. 16 hours later, the 4th one has been captured.
But the bob tailed ring leader, the one who is full of piss and vigor, appears to still be too wary to 'take the bait'.

We shall see what tonight's waiting brings. I'd much rather drive all 4 of the remaining feral cats to their new undisclosed location tomorrow night, but I'll settle for this fourth gullible one for now. Need to find a more irresistible form of bait...

One of the varmint traps failed to trip closed this morning, allowing the curious explorer to devour all the tuna therein. Galvanized mechanical springs are notoriously unreliable, but they're also cheap. Stay tuned, for more news about feline apartheid and the forced relocation as it develops.


  1. i can see the Cat which disturbed our calls...Nice catch sir =)....

  2. Aren't coyotes supposed to keep the cat population in balance in the SW?

  3. out in the rural areas, yes. I believe I have helped to add to that 'circle of life' food chain. IN the sub-urban areas, where 1/3 of the home owners have dogs here in AZ, the coyotes are more skittish, less prevalent, and have not kept the cat population in check. The homes have dividing walls, 6 ft high, which cats can climb, but which frustrate coyotes. Some homes bordering rural areas have metallic vertical barred fences - like my buddy Matt in Reno. Coyotes have been known to lure a yappin dog to the fence, and bite their snout, dragging them through the fence to devour them.

    The grid-work cinder block border fences are boon to the feral cat population, providing escape routes.

    Altogether, I captured and relocated 6 out of the gang of 7. Traps are now bleach washed (diluted, 10:1) and spray rinsed and drying in the sun. Hopefully, the bob tailed ring leader (who I did not catch unfortunately) will prowl elsewhere now that all of his bitches and cohorts are gone.

    Il faut voir. Parkalam. We shall see.


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