Are Feral Cats Reducing Your Property Values?

by : Lisa Brodeur

Some people feel that animal overpopulation is the province of people who love and care about animals. However, as a homeowner, you should be concerned about rising feral cat populations, even if you are not a cat lover yourself.

Feral cats can drive property values down in several ways. Urine marking by an unneutered male cat leaves a lingering stench that is extremely unpleasant. Cats like soft soil to deposit feces, making gardens and children's sandboxes at risk for disease transmission. Feral cats are not usually vaccinated and therefore are the first point of contact for disease to infiltrate to pets and people. The noise made by fighting or mating cats is annoying. Cats are extremely efficient predators that can severely impact wild species.

In order to combat colonies of feral cats from impacting your property values, you should support mandatory spaying and neutering of shelter pets and encourage your family and friends not to let their cat go unspayed or unneutered. There are too many cats in shelters already - a cat does not need to have a litter to be a contented pet.

Encourage legislation that holds owners responsible for their cat's behaviour. More and more communities are enacting laws that make it possible for owners of free-roaming cats fined. Cats can be happy as indoor pets or as indoor/controlled outdoor pets. There are many resources on the Internet for the owner who wants to redesign their property to accommodate their cat(s).

Support the rehoming of feral kittens by rescues and shelters that require that the owners keep them as indoor/controlled outdoor pets. Encourage friends and family to consider these places for a new cat instead of giving money to an irresponsible owner with an unplanned, unwanted litter.

Encourage humane traps and euthanization as an alternative to poisoned bait in your community. Besides being inhumane, poison baits can be picked up by pets, children, and wildlife.

One problem with advocating mass round-ups and euthanization of feral cats is that often other ferals take their places quickly. In some areas, Trap-Neuter-Release programs have been found successful. The aim is that feral cats are trapped, neutered, vaccinated, and released. It has been found that these programs reduce the overall number of feral cats by creating a population that is not increasing internally and keeps its territory free of unaltered, unvaccinated intruders. This is meant as a long-term plan. Over time, the goal is to reduce the colony's numbers until zero population is reached.

Your house and yard can be protected from cats in several ways. Fences are a big help, especially if they are of a type that does not allow easy purchase for a cat to jump up on top. There are sprays on the market that are advertised as cat repellant. If you're an avid gardener/lawn care enthusiast, consider installing a motion-sensor-powered sprinkler system. Cats are not big fans of jets of water.

Feral cats are not just of concern to animal welfare advocates and cat fanciers - they are of concern to the whole community, especially a community that wants its property values to remain high. Support the control and elimination of feral cat populations through humane methods. Help prevent a feral cat colony from starting or growing by encouraging responsible cat ownership in your community. Responsible ownership isn't just for dog owners; all pet owners need to take responsibility for their pets' impact on their community.