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Subject: Feral Cats 2021
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BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:73


11/17/2021 2:09 PM  
Today an angry resident emailed in a complaint about feral cats, which are beginning to be problematic in my (600 unit) neighborhood.

Due to COVID, neither the city nor the usual animal groups will assist with TNR or anything else.

As near as I can tell, the neighborhood is divided: some people love the "kitties", others detest them.

My fellow Board members are contemplating budgeting funds to pay a trapper to trap the feral cats and do TNR on them.

Personally, I think this is insane{1}. But - to my constant distress - I am not always correct.

Thoughts?

Bill

{1} Yeah, these are the same people who want to kick me off of the Board. But I'm not cold-blooded enough to sit back and silently watch them self-destruct.

CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


11/17/2021 2:43 PM  
You could talk to professional exterminators or the like to see what they say, but I doubt that they can keep up with the reproduction rate of feral cats. Not to mention that it's expensive. What got rid of them in my area is that coyotes and foxes moved in. I hear that Florida has a bunch of pythons they'd like to get rid of... :-)

One thing to consider is that the population of predators is limited by the amount of prey available. You could enact some rules: no feeding the cats, keep trash cans closed and inside garages, no bird feeders so that the birds go elsewhere. Also get rid of the chipmunks/moles/etc if you have them. It may be hard to enforce these things and will give people another reason to fight, but these critters are a health and safety issue. Also start an education campaign about rabies and other diseases spread by ferals.

(There was a major argument on social media earlier this year because foxes were living in a community down the street. As usual some worried about safety and others llluuuuuvvvvved them and were feeding them. I was waiting for news about some kids getting bitten because they tried to pet the "puppies" which would approach or even chase people for food. I feel for you, people can be idiots about this stuff.)
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1593


11/17/2021 2:49 PM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 11/17/2021 2:43 PM
You could talk to professional exterminators or the like to see what they say, but I doubt that they can keep up with the reproduction rate of feral cats. Not to mention that it's expensive. What got rid of them in my area is that coyotes and foxes moved in. I hear that Florida has a bunch of pythons they'd like to get rid of... :-)

One thing to consider is that the population of predators is limited by the amount of prey available. You could enact some rules: no feeding the cats, keep trash cans closed and inside garages, no bird feeders so that the birds go elsewhere. Also get rid of the chipmunks/moles/etc if you have them. It may be hard to enforce these things and will give people another reason to fight, but these critters are a health and safety issue. Also start an education campaign about rabies and other diseases spread by ferals.

(There was a major argument on social media earlier this year because foxes were living in a community down the street. As usual some worried about safety and others llluuuuuvvvvved them and were feeding them. I was waiting for news about some kids getting bitten because they tried to pet the "puppies" which would approach or even chase people for food. I feel for you, people can be idiots about this stuff.)



And if it were just that easy for humans.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4284


11/17/2021 2:59 PM  
Yeah, the kitties and other wildlife are really cute until the cats go I to the mating season, piss all over the place to mark their territory and then howl their intentions all night long.

The usual animal groups might not be able to help with the trapping at this time, but could they send out a representative to talk to the homeowners about the cats and the problems they could create, like kill off birds who are native to the area. They can also come up with other ideas, although getting a trapper might be the best idea for now. Tell the homeowners the cost of the service will be reflected in the assessments - If the cat lovers have an issue, they need to be prepared to pay for this and be happy about it.

Finally, if people want to kick you off, it's probably because they're used to having board's that does little or nothing. Then you come along with the brazen idea that (1) assessments should be rooted in reality and things aren't as cheap as some might like (2) rules need to be enforced, but that needs to be done in a fair and consistent manner because....the homeowners agreed to comply when they bought their homes and (3) you strive to say what you mean and mean what you say - and people really HATE being told the truth.

So you're probably on the right path, so don't worry about the haters. I'm the end, they'll have to do the job their damned selves if they are insistent on getting rid of you. Better to sit and complain than actually do any work. As for you,keep it up!
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:73


11/17/2021 3:11 PM  
Thanks all!

How about this: should an HOA be responsible for controlling the local feral cats?

Bill
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:73


11/17/2021 3:13 PM  
Posted By SheliaH on 11/17/2021 2:59 PM
As for you,keep it up!



Thank you, Shelia. You're very kind.

Bill
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1593


11/17/2021 3:18 PM  
Posted By BillD16 on 11/17/2021 3:11 PM
Thanks all!

How about this: should an HOA be responsible for controlling the local feral cats?

Bill



What do your governing docs say?
AugustinD


Posts:1901


11/17/2021 3:35 PM  
Posted By BillD16 on 11/17/2021 3:11 PM
How about this: should an HOA be responsible for controlling the local feral cats?
-- As topics go here, this is an interesting one.

-- Whichever choice the board makes here, I can see potential liability arising.

-- Worse, as others pointed out, your HOA would be helping (or attempting to help) the situation for much more area than that your HOA lots and common area cover.

-- How about:

First, consult the HOA attorney. Are the cats a nuisance that the HOA has to do something about?

Second, and depending on what the attorney says, hire a professional to offer an opinion on displacing the kitties. To pay for the professional, reduce the billable hours of the local coyotes. They're slouching off.

Third, present what the attorney says at a board meeting. Get the pulse of the community on the point. Then make a decision.

MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10584


11/17/2021 3:53 PM  
We had a similar issue. Had a "momma" cat that once owners moved it came back to live. Well it wasn't fixed. Lived in the ditch. Had a few sets of kitties. We had people try to catch the Momma but could not. Finally think she was caught after I moved. That person had the cat fixed and it went back loose.

Someone had someone in a cat feral group that came and sat up traps. They were able to capture the kittens. Which some neighbors did adopt. Others were put into the shelter and labelled "HOA's Name" cats. You could go to the shelter and they were reference them as such.

My suggestion is to find a feral cat group if possible. If not, then find a way to capture and have them fixed. There may be some programs for spay and neutering. We have a place that does it for like $75. Some Vet offices may have programs that X month they reduce their fees for it. I would look into any local programs.

May not be able to get the cats to stop running around. Can see about getting them fixed while they do.

Former HOA President
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:588


11/17/2021 4:00 PM  
How on earth is Covid preventing people from setting feral cat traps?

Maybe they are short staffed or lack volunteers, but a generic "we can't because Covid" seems pretty lame - especially in Texas where most local governments pride themselves on pretending Covid doesn't exist.

The problem with TNR is that they just bring the cats right back to wherever they came from. No, they won't reproduce but the problems they create (noise, poop, harassing birds) won't go away until they die.

I would encourage owners to keep calling animal control on stray cats. Don't say feral - stray. You could see if it's possible to pass a rule about not feeding ferals, that will take time though.

At most , set traps at your amenities, IF the feral cats are causing problems there: pooping in the playground, etc.

Otherwise, in a single family community, a stray cat in an owner's yard is an owner's problem.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1104


11/17/2021 4:36 PM  
Posted By BillD16 on 11/17/2021 3:11 PM
Thanks all!

How about this: should an HOA be responsible for controlling the local feral cats?

Bill



I do not think the HOA should get involved. Feral cats are essentially wild animals. Will the HOA also get in the business of relocating nuisance deer and raccoons? In my opinion feral cats do more good than bad. They keep rodents and snakes away.

Also, trap and release (TNR) usually means they are trapped, fixed, and released in the same area. It would be irresponsible to release them to another neighborhood or other private property and it is probably illegal to trap and release them on public land.

SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4284


11/17/2021 5:41 PM  
Oh its face, the HOA shouldn't be responsible for controlling the cats. To be blunt, the reason feral cats get that way is because HUMANS abandoned them several generations ago. The ones that don't get killed by cars, crazy people, dogs, weather, disease and what not end up going wild.

People don't realize how quickly these cats reproduce. I was an item that stated female cats can reproduce as early as five months. If the cat had two male and two female kittens and each day reproduces four kitten each, now you have 16. And this can happen 8 months later. Sixteen months later and ALL those cute cats meet more cats, have drinjs, and the magic happens again, you now have 36. Keep doing the math and you can see this becomes a problem.

Meanwhile all these cats roam around the neighborhood pissing and dropping cat poo everywhere, killing the birds and maybe biting the hell out of some kid who wants to pick up and play with the oh-so-cute kitty. Cat bites and scratches can lead to some nasty infections.

Although your documents probably don't address feral cats or wild dogs did ifically, there's probably something in there about addressing anything that could be considered a nuisance. If the HOA doesn't try to get the cats trapped and neutered, you'll get more of them, along with the problem and expense of trying to resolve it. Then people will squawk about their assessments being too high, so you can't win.

Just do the best you can, run the numbers and present all of that to homeowners who whine. That may shut them up. Also check with your local animal control. Some areas have rules requiring those who feed the things must also pay to get them neutered and perhaps all their shots like rabies. That may also give people pause.
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:73


11/18/2021 5:25 AM  
Again, thank you all for contributions. I don’t know what my fellow Board members will do, but based on y’all’s comments and a little reading, my advice was “we should step back and think about whether or not this is an HOA problem”.

From your comments:

- Call them “stray cats”, not “feral cats”. Word.

- I think “because of COVID” is code for “reduced workforce” or any number of other issues that can be traced, however hazily, back to the pandemic.

- Where does it stop? First cats. Then squirrels? Birds? Small children{1}?

- This is potentially a huge, expensive problem with no obvious solution.

- I don’t know if our governing docs mention cats. It’s a good point that I’m going to try to delegate to someone else.

- Cats are tough on birds. Maybe we can find some hard-core birders who will handle the issue themselves? I can dream, can’t I?

- I especially liked what BarbaraT1 and AugustinD had to say about “area of control”, namely a) that a neighborhood control program would cover a lot more than just our neighborhood, b) “a stray cat in an owner's yard is an owner's problem”, and c) that (if we choose to address the problem) we should focus on common amenities like the pool, playground, etc.

If I may add a bit of my own thinking? I believe that Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) is based on the notion that the stray cats have found a niche (food, water, shelter &c) in the local ecology. So neutering the cats and dropping them back into the neighborhood theoretically keeps them from reproducing and growing in number. But this thinking seems flawed - if the niche supports 20 cats, then over time it’s going to contain 20 cats, whether they come from kittens, hobo cats who were just passing through, mutant cats who’ve escaped from secret QAnon genegeneering labs, cats that fell from the sky during the last major rainstorm, or wherever. So I think the only real, lasting solution is to disrupt the niche by (for instance) convincing people to stop feeding the cats. Which is already a CC&R violation. My gut feeling is that adding additional, stronger violations to the CC&Rs would not change things.

Bill

{1} Ref Philip K. Dick’s short story “The Pre-Persons”
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


11/18/2021 5:45 AM  
Bill,

The other comment that I would like to make is that our association tried to be a leader and make a decision that was unpopular with some homeowners, and it turned into a real fiasco, and one that we will not repeat in the future.

Thus, our HOA shys away from most situations that are controversial, because the HOA will then become a lighting rod for frustration in the community. We have plenty of things that we can do that unify, or at least attempt to unify, our community and that is where we spend our volunteer hours on.

Classic example: We are sending out a homeowner survey, and I am sure some people are going to comment on wanting new parking regulations to make our streets easier to navigate. However, I think many people who use the streets for parking would get annoyed at the HOA for creating new parking regulations. Thus, it is unlikely that we will choose to wade into the parking debacle.

KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1804


11/18/2021 7:39 AM  
Feral Cats should be controlled by the HOA under the auspices of the town's animal control, under a partnership. It's negligent property management to allow feral animals (but not wild enough to actually leave the property like other wildlife) an unchecked presence.

1. They multiply beyond reasonable population numbers, especially in a hyper-local "community" like a neighborhood.

2. The HOA could be, in a sense, allowing the potential of disease (rabies) to persist w/ a good-faith effort to control it.

Look after the community, Bill! Good work.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


11/18/2021 8:03 AM  
I'm also of two minds about whether or not this is an HOA issue, although I lean toward yes because of the damage cats can do.

I understand the TNR idea because it's more humane. But I also think it's based on a flawed notion and is not an effective strategy given cats' reproductive rate. House cats are an invasive species - their natural habitat is the living room, not the outdoors - unlike other wild critters that have achieved a natural balance in their ecosystem. Cats generally damage any ecosystem they're dropped into, and the damage doesn't stop simply because they can't reproduce.

Another issue with the cats is the diseases that they can spread to humans and other pets. On top of rabies, toxoplasmosis and feline leukemia, they're also susceptible to covid. The last thing we need is another animal reservoir where SARS-CoV-2 can mutate and spill back into humans at some point. (There was some recent news about the discovery of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in a sizeable number of white tailed deer in a number of states: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/deer-can-carry-covid-19-heres-what-that-means-for-humans/.)

Finally, cats will turn your mulch beds into large litter boxes that stink, they'll spray and mark their territory, and there's nothing like that aroma drifting around your community on a hot afternoon to get people's attention. People won't want to deal with this, nor with the corpses of little critters that were killed by the cats.

So yes, I'm leaning with this being an HOA problem. Hopefully making your area unattractive to the cats by removing sources of food and water and eliminating little hidey-holes for them to live in will encourage them to go elsewhere.

LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1462


11/18/2021 1:58 PM  
You can always follow your governing documents and fine homeowners that leave their garage door slightly ajar. You can fine them for leaving food on the sidewalk or other common areas.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1104


11/18/2021 8:03 PM  
Posted By LetA on 11/18/2021 1:58 PM
You can always follow your governing documents and fine homeowners that leave their garage door slightly ajar. You can fine them for leaving food on the sidewalk or other common areas.



Fortunately, I don't think most HOAs have such draconian rules.
MichaelH34
(North Carolina)

Posts:64


11/19/2021 7:58 AM  
Posted By LetA on 11/18/2021 1:58 PM
You can always follow your governing documents and fine homeowners that leave their garage door slightly ajar. You can fine them for leaving food on the sidewalk or other common areas.




Fines for leaving doors they own, ajar. Good luck with that. There's running an HOA and then there's helicopter parenting.

"Yes, that's my sidewalk but I don't know who put that food there."

Are you going to set up cameras facing every possible surface so you have proof of who's doing what?
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1462


11/19/2021 9:13 AM  
Posted By BenA2 on 11/18/2021 8:03 PM
Posted By LetA on 11/18/2021 1:58 PM
You can always follow your governing documents and fine homeowners that leave their garage door slightly ajar. You can fine them for leaving food on the sidewalk or other common areas.



Fortunately, I don't think most HOAs have such draconian rules.






From our R&R's
5.Garage doors must be kept closed, except as reasonably necessary for ingress and egress.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1462


11/19/2021 9:15 AM  
Posted By MichaelH34 on 11/19/2021 7:58 AM
Posted By LetA on 11/18/2021 1:58 PM
You can always follow your governing documents and fine homeowners that leave their garage door slightly ajar. You can fine them for leaving food on the sidewalk or other common areas.




Fines for leaving doors they own, ajar. Good luck with that. There's running an HOA and then there's helicopter parenting.

"Yes, that's my sidewalk but I don't know who put that food there."

Are you going to set up cameras facing every possible surface so you have proof of who's doing what?




Sidewalk is a common element.
Our HOA, the BOD has the right to decide what constitutes a nuisance.
MichaelH34
(North Carolina)

Posts:64


11/19/2021 10:35 AM  
Well, have fun with those. I don't envy any board member having to enforce that rule or homeowners having to deal with nuisance letters every time they leave their doors up or even slightly ajar. Especially for cases where someone's working in the garage on a warm day and you end up with a Gladys Kravitz on your HOA or in your community.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1462


11/19/2021 11:27 AM  
Posted By MichaelH34 on 11/19/2021 10:35 AM
Well, have fun with those. I don't envy any board member having to enforce that rule or homeowners having to deal with nuisance letters every time they leave their doors up or even slightly ajar. Especially for cases where someone's working in the garage on a warm day and you end up with a Gladys Kravitz on your HOA or in your community.




We do have common sense, It is only when something becomes problematic when that is used. Before I was on the board there was one crazy cat lady feeding feral cats outside her home. leaving the garage
door ajar and putting piles of cat food on the side walk. Finally county health and animal control stepped in, partially eaten cat caracas were found in the community. The lady has upwards near 50 cats
in the garage. Language like this is needed in governing documents to combat people who confuse rights with abilities.
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