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Mediating Conflicts with Property Management
Cats tend to settle into areas that provide good sources of food and shelter. This can make areas such as strip malls, restaurant parking lots, and apartment complex properties prime real estate. Sadly, property managers don’t always welcome them with open arms, seeing them instead as a nuisance. If you’re experiencing a situation where a property manager is either actively trapping (usually by hiring a pest control company) or threatening to trap cats, or you are being threatened with legal action for feeding and caring for the cats (such as a property manager prohibiting feeding,) follow these steps to protect the cats, yourself, and resolve any issues with the property manager:
- Keep cats out of traps
Take proactive measures to keep cats safe by keeping them out of the traps until the issue is resolved. You can do this by keeping them well fed; this makes them less likely to be tempted by the bait. Learn how you can set up feeding stations in discrete areas.
- Keep track of and find missing cats.
Using our tracking sheet you can keep a record of each cat and easily identify which ones are missing if property management begins trapping cats. It also proves you’re organized and the cats are neutered and vaccinated. Once you’ve determined which cats are missing, visit local pounds or animal shelters to find and claim them. Always leave your contact information with the shelter and full descriptions of each cat. Some animal shelters post photos of animals they impound, so also check their website regularly. Shelters sometimes have specific policies of a holding period, or they won’t release community cats to individuals. If this is the case, you should reach out to local cat organizations or rescue groups and ask them to have the cats released to their care. Get in touch with groups in your area through our Feral Friends Network.
- Meet with property management.
Request a meeting with property management to discuss the issues they’re having with the cats on the property. Remember to always remain calm, friendly, and open to what they have to say. Offer humane deterrents, such as CatStop™ or ScareCrow™, as solutions for keeping cats out of specific areas like gardens where they are not welcomed. If the cats affected are part of a colony you already spayed and neutered through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR,) explain the benefits of a TNR program in effectively stabilizing the cat population. If the cats are not yet spayed or neutered, use our How to TNR Guide to get started and show property management that you are willing to go the extra mile to help them reduce the cat population. Refer to our negotiating tips for my pointers on what to say in a meeting with property management.
- Build community support for the cats.
Since cats can’t speak for themselves, they need you to be their spokesperson. You can build support by going door-to-door in the neighborhoods around the property to find people who’ll advocate for the cats to stay. For example, if it’s an apartment complex, property management might respond best to its own tenants. Use our truth cards and brochures to educate anyone about TNR, and have them voice their support directly to property management. You can also find organizations in your area to support your efforts through Alley Cat Allies’ Feral Friends Network. Of course, even without any direct threats, it’s a good idea to be proactive and go door-to-door to educate others about community cats and TNR. Our materials can help!
- Get the media on your side.
Working with the media can be a gift and a curse. Going straight to the media before attempting a civil conversation with property management can lead to damaged relations with property management, so only try this after conversations have failed. If you do decide to contact the media, you can write letters to the editor or pitch the situation as a story to local reporters. Since companies are self-conscious about their public image drawing attention to property management’s inhumane treatment of cats will add public pressure to do the right thing. Use our tips and templates.
- Know your local laws and use them to your advantage.
It’s a good idea to find out about local laws and how they protect outdoor cats. If your city has cat-friendly laws, you can use it in your conversations with property management. However, if your city has laws are not exactly pro-cat, a next step could be to get in touch with an attorney for appropriate legal advice.