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If you’re caring for a colony of community cats or performing Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), you’re sure to encounter different species of wildlife in your adventures. Community cats often share their outdoor homes with animals like possums, raccoons, rabbits, and skunks. These little critters can sometimes find their way into outdoor shelters meant for cats, eat up the cat food, and even get caught in traps set up for TNR. The protection of all animals is important, so resort to these methods of humanely deterring wildlife from your feeding stations, shelters, and traps.
- Feeding protocols. Keep cat colony feeding areas clean. The less food around, the less likely to attract other wildlife. Provide enough food for kitties to eat within 30 minutes, and then remove all bowls and food. Because raccoons, possums, and skunks can’t jump or climb as well as cats, consider placing food bowls on a high platform that only cats can climb and reach. Keeping food off the ground will also prevent insects from getting into the food.
- Outdoor shelters. Raise outdoor shelters on platforms so felines are the only residents. Again, since most wildlife can’t jump as high or as well as cats, you don’t have to worry about them reaching the raised shelters. Make the door to the shelter only big enough for cats to go through (about 6 inches wide). Since there’s no foolproof way of deterring wildlife from outdoor shelters for cats, caregivers often provide multiple shelters to accommodate them all. See some outdoor shelter options.
- Safety from predators. There are some locations where cats are threatened by predators such as coyotes. Providing outdoor shelters will help cats keep safe, but it’s important that the shelters have multiple doorways for cats to run in and out of easily. You can also build a fence around your property to keep predators out.
- Threat of rabies from wildlife. Wildlife such as skunks and raccoons are largely affected by rabies. You can protect cats from contracting rabies by getting them vaccinated during the TNR process. These vaccinations last multiple years, but we recommend following your local ordinances to keep the cats and your colony records up-to-date.
- Keep wildlife out of traps. Since you’ll be monitoring the traps during your TNR efforts, you can keep an eye out for wildlife attempting to enter your traps. Most wildlife, such as possums, skunks, and raccoons only come out at night. If these animals are interfering with your trapping efforts, change your schedule to trap earlier in the day. If they’re still finding their way into traps, use a drop trap to give you control of when the trap is sprung, and who’s trapped.
- Trapping wildlife. In the event wildlife accidentally gets trapped, be very careful. Cover the trap with a blanket immediately to keep the animal calm. Be sure to wear thick gloves to prevent being scratched or bitten. Slowly lift the cover from the sliding back door of the trap with the back door faced away from you. If the animal does not leave immediately, tilt the trap a bit to encourage it to slip out the back.
Cats Effect on Wildlife
- Part of the landscape. Cats have lived outdoors for centuries and have adapted to be opportunistic scavengers, which means they are more likely to feed from the scraps and garbage left by people. Read about our Save the Birds campaign and how cats shouldn’t be blamed for declining bird populations.
- Real threats to wildlife. People are the number-one threat to all wildlife. Constant destruction of habitats and increased use of resources are leaving wildlife with fewer places to call home and fewer food sources. Read more about the human impact on wildlife and what you can do to save and protect all animals.