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Making Nice with the Neighbors
Not everyone likes cats in their yard—but as cat advocates, we need to be both positive and reasonable when dealing with peoples’ concerns. In fact, it’s a good idea to prevent any possible issues if possible. The best defense is a good offense.
Initiate a conversation with your neighbors early on, before concerns arise, and you might even find other neighbors who are also feeding the cats! If you do have neighbors who would prefer the kitties stay out of their garden, listen to their concerns and help find solutions. Here are some ways to help you navigate these situations:
- Having community cats spayed or neutered through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) helps eliminate many elements of cat mating behavior, such as yowling and spraying, that neighbors often have concerns about. TNR also controls the population by preventing the arrival of kittens.
- Keep organized health records and profiles for each of the cats you care for, using our Colony Tracking Sheet, and prove to your neighbors that the cats are all healthy and that you are monitoring them.
- Practice good colony care to keep cats provided for with food, water, and outdoor shelter, making them less likely to wander to the properties of nearby neighbors.
- Host a TNR Workshop to bring the community together, share information about community cats and TNR, and find volunteers to help.
- If neighbor concerns escalate to threats, calmly speak with them to determine their specific issues, and offer Bargaining Chips such as offering to clean up after the cats or providing humane deterrents (such as the CatStop™ or ScareCrow™ ) as a solution.
- Protect yourself and the cats by learning your community’s animal control policies and other local laws that affect cats and caregivers, in case neighbors call animal control.
- Connect with Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Friends Network, and find someone who may be able to help with mediating disputes.
- Build TNR Capacity by connecting with neighbors, veterinarians, animal shelters, and local businesses to promote policies and practices that protect the cats, or even start your own TNR organization.
- Continue talking with your neighbors to make sure deterrents or other solutions are working. Caring for outdoor cats is a long-term endeavor, so be sure to continue to educate new neighbors about it as they move in.