Friday, March 20, 2009

Residents tired of feral cats running around neighborhood

Residents in the El Mirador Neighborhood Association say they are fed up with feral cats in their yards.
Some say their lawns and flower beds have been ruined by cats urinating and defecating in them.

“It's just ridiculous,” resident Ron James said. “We've got people who put food out there in their front yards” for the cats.

To keep the cats away, resident Carla Bernal said she removed the grass on her lawn and replaced it with rocks. She also sprayed vinegar and pepper in her yard, but nothing has worked.

“I had words with my neighbor because he keeps feeding the cats,” Bernal said. “I have two cocker spaniels. I can't let them out until I check the yard.”

Feral cats are the offspring of lost or abandoned pet cats or other feral cats who are not spayed or neutered.

“Feral cats are a real issue,” said Dr. Douglass Kunz with Animal Medical Hospital in Palm Springs. “They wreak havoc on the environment by the way they go after endangered species.

“The worst thing people can do is feed them and encourage the population.”

Bernal said she has seen four to six feral cats around her house since she moved into the neighborhood in May. But feral cats have been a problem in the area for the past 10 years, James said.

Bernal said one of her dogs becomes sick with diarrhea for several days any time it eats feral cat fecal matter.

Feral cats can carry internal parasites, including Toxoplasmosis, that can also be threatening to humans, Kunz said. Toxoplasmosis can cause miscarriages or birth defects if contracted by pregnant women.

Some feral cat populations also carry Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. But Kunz said these cases are more prominent in areas with low health standards.

Unsuccessful in driving the cats from El Mirador neighborhood, some residents have tried other tactics. Roxanne Ploss said her neighbor feeds and traps the cats to have them spayed or neutered.

Some feral cats can be tamed, Kunz said.

But beyond efforts to trap, tame and not feed feral cats, there isn't much else other than euthanization to control the population, Kunz said.

“There's so many of us who have pets and are so torn,” Ploss said. “You don't want to see an animal hungry. You don't want to see them put down. Maybe relocated? But I really want to throttle the people who are feeding them.”

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