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To feed, or not to feed? That is the question. October 5, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, pets.
Tags: ,

Silence Dogood here. It’s been several years since an outdoor cat showed up here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home our friend Ben and I share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA. But yesterday, as OFB was taking our beloved black German shepherd, Shiloh, for a walk in the backyard, an orange cat shot out from under our studio, raced across to the deck, ran across the deck, and vanished under it. (OFB managed to dissuade Shiloh from following suit.)

For the cat to make directly for the deck, rather than fleeing across the yard, indicates a familiarity with our property and suggests that it must have been hanging around here for some time. Which of course brings up the old question, should we feed it or not?

Here at Hawk’s Haven, we appreciate the work outdoor cats do to keep the local mouse population down. The fewer mice in the yard, the fewer will try to flee to the (comparative) warmth and shelter of the house when cold weather sets in. But as we’ve discovered, setting out bowls of catfood and water can attract other critters, including more cats, ‘possums, skunks, and raccoons. Nothing like looking out on the deck and seeing a giant ‘possum or pair of baby skunks eating the catfood!

So we’re torn. To feed, or not to feed? That is the question. What would you do?

            ‘Til next time,




1. narf77 - October 5, 2012

Odds are its from the neighbourhood out for a scrounge but we have 8 feral cats hovering around Serendipity Farm at any given time. No rats, no rabbits BUT they scarf their weights worth of native birds and they are about to reproduce…again…a problem we are going to have to deal with in the immediate future 😦 someone elses lack of care (dumped cats in the bush) have become this poor vegans BIG problem. We feed them to give some respite to the birds but now they are almost pets…what do we do? I have NO idea but soon 8 will become 16…or more!

This happens to us because we live in the country, too, Fran. People seem to think they can dump off their unwanted pets out here as though we’re an open-air animal shelter. We once had quite a group assembled here as well. We put the food on our deck so they had to come close to the house (and us) to eat, and they became quite used to us. So then we took our huge cat carriers, put the food in there, and when they crowded in to eat, slammed the door behind them and hauled them off to be spayed and neutered. It wasn’t cheap, but it worked! You can use a live trap if you don’t have carriers and yours aren’t quite as used to you, but unfortunately it’s unlikely to trap more than one at a time and will probably make the rest gun-shy. But spaying and neutering are the only options if you don’t want a hundred cats roaming around out there! I understand that some vets will give a deep discount if you let them know the cats are feral. Good luck!

2. Nelle - October 6, 2012

I have learned by habit (I feel bad for strays) set up a feeding time, say set out a bowl around 5-6pm then pick up the bowl 1 hour later…that way left overs will not attract unwanted pests. Unfortunately I have developed some mild attachment to my strays, lucky enough they are all boys so kitten population increases don’t worry so much. They keep gophers as bay and I reward them for their hard work.

That’s an excellent idea, Nelle, thanks! We’ll have to try that.

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