March 7, 2011

Holyoke Home Situation

I keep a mostly positive attitude on this blog is really short and I'm a really lucky girl. And I've thought a LOT about whether or not I should write this post. I've hinted at this issue before but never really spelled it out. As spring approaches though, it's time. I'm gonna tell you about the bane of my Holyoke Home existence:
We have situation. Our next door neighbor feeds a feral cat colony.  I've counted twelve cats this winter (there are more during the rest of the year):
- Two orange tabbies
- Two regular tabbies (brown/black-ish?)
- One orange and black tabbie
- One lightbrown/grey tabbie (big one!)
- Two mixed color long hairs
- One white and orange short hair (this one is mostly blind, poor guy)
- One totally black short hair (that keeps having babies)
- One totally grey with grey eyes
- One mostly grey with white chest

Our neighbor feeds the cats from her front and back porches twice a day. The cats get wet and dry food (hmmmmm, wet cat food in the summer.) And apparently our neighbor's yard is full up, because the cats come into our yard to poop. Every day. Let me remind you: there are at least twelve cats. Also? Some of them spray to mark their territory. And some have decided our front and back porches are their territory.

As you know, we've worked hard to create planting beds in the back, side and front yards.  I have picked up so. many. piles. of cat shit. And I have stepped in so. many. piles. of cat shit.  And in what  - so far - has been the nadir of my cat shit experience, I wiped the sweat off my brow one day and marked my forehead with......wait for shit. Here's what we've tried:
-6 foot fencing
-Essential oils and every other product that is non-toxic but supposed to smell nasty to cats.
-Motion detected water devices.
-Motion detected sonic devices.
-Asking neighbor to put out kitty litter boxes (she refused)

Look, I love animals. Really. Look at my ridiculous dog: he sleeps on cashmere for gods sake. But he is licensed and I pick up after him. It's not the cat's fault. And - honestly- if it weren't for the poop and cat urine smell, I wouldn't mind them at all.

Holyoke passed a new ordinance last year requiring anyone feeding four or more feral cats to register with the city. This spring, our neighbors' request will be working its way through the process. I plan to keep you updated as we go along.


  1. I am a cat lover and I don't think you should feel bad about your request at all.
    I'm sure your neighbor has the best of intentions, but cats don't just need food thrown at them twice a day. They need shelter and they need to be spade/neutered(!). Anything less is irresponsible. My opinion is you either leave them alone entirely and let them have 'natural' lives, or you take them in and care for them as pets.

  2. We had a similar problem at my last house. The previous owner had fed all the feral cats in the neighborhood so they were pretty thick around our house. We didn't feed them but that didn't keep them from coming back. We tried the orange oil, spraying them with the hose, the spray that's basically garlic and blood that's supposed to keep them away and a bunch of other crap I can't remember. Sorry to say that nothing really worked. Eventually (we lived there for two years) there were fewer of them because there was no more food, but that won't work in your situation. Do they climb the fence? Barbed wire on top? (Just kidding...kind of.) Are you allowed to call animal control on them?

    I can sympathize with you about the whole issue, especially the cat shit. I'm so glad that we don't have that issue where we live now.

  3. I love cats too, but our neighbor's cat uses one of our flower beds as her litter box. It's not OK. It costs us time and money to replace the mulch that gets dug up. While some cats like to be outdoors, responsible owners should consider the neighborhood they live in and assess if that's the best choice. Our cats used to be outdoor kitties when we lived in the middle of nowhere. Now we live in a dense neighborhood and they stay inside.

    I would call animal control. The cats should at least have their shots and be fixed, especially since they are hanging out in a residential area. If she doesn't want to be responsible for that, she shouldn't be feeding them. Feeding strays with no intent of relocating them to a shelter and getting them properly taken care of is really irresponsible, in my opinion.

  4. Best bet is to call the local shelter to ask them to trap/spay/neuter them (we are dealing with a similar issue at my work right now).

  5. I would talk to local animal control and see if they can help


  6. I don't think you're out of line at all. That many cats defecating in your yard sounds unsanitary as well as kind of gross.

    I agree with Kari that you should contact Animal Control to see what they suggest. Talking with your other neighbors to see what the general consensus is might help as well. This lady has good intentions, but she is being very irresponsible.

    If you're willing to live with it, you could always start a compost pile for your garden :)

  7. We have a cat we rescued..a, as in one, cat. I've rescued more but I had them fixed and found homes for them asap. Many people I work with have this same problem. Our shelter does not take cats. There is a sanctuary that's privately run and does a great job. They keep the cats indoors but also get full very fast. I would be as upset as you with all the crap! I'm willing to bet that the 12 outdoor cats are not the only ones she has..I'm betting inside you'd find another group..hope some resolution is found for you soon.

  8. Awful. As soon as I started reading this I swear I could smell it. There is no smell worse on this earth than cat urine. I agree with the above that you should call animal control.

  9. I love animals, but 12 is ridiculous! Call your city to enforce the ordinance.
    Also, we had problems with neighbor cats and spraying (YUCK!) and we planted some prickly holly bushes and other rose bushes in different entrances.

  10. Couple suggestions. Electrify the 6 foot fence. It's easy to run a strand right along the top where the have to come over. Or a couple of strands. After they each get hit once, they won't do it again. Harsh (once) but effective.

    Trap them, and bring them to the MSPCA or Animal Rescue League, organizations that don't say no to taking animals. If they are truly feral and unlicensed, and you trap them in your yard, there is nothing your neighbor can do. More will likely move on in though, that's the problem. I shudder to think of the smell, etc. Besides that, the food they don't eat draws all kinds of vermin, skunks, possums, raccoons, rats, etc. Nasty little disease vectors, especially in a crowded city environment.

    Write to the town board of health, or whatever dept is licensing, take pictures of the shit all over the ground, etc. If she won't play nice and make an effort, why should you?

  11. Hi folks! The first thing we did was contact our local Board of Health- before anything else. I'll tell you about that in another post.

  12. Hey--I love cats too but I am with you 100% on this one.

    When I was reading this I couldn't help but think of Jackie O's cousins, big Edie and little Edie Beale (HBO did a movie called Grey Gardens and a documentary was made about their life in the 70s). They were famous for having feral cats.
    I will follow along as you keep us posted. I wish you all the best because I can only imagine this is such a crazy headache of a situation.

  13. And just as I was lamenting to myself about the hoards of our neighbors who don't think they need to pick up after their dogs (until reading this, I thought nothing could be worse). I'm so sorry. I hope you get some resolution to this soon. Poor kitties, too. They just don't know any better. Now you've got me thinking about our neighbor's yard, and how in the summer the heat just wafts, well... let me just put it like this: they don't actually *walk* their dogs. (shudders)

  14. You have a remarkable ability to capture a moment with a camera, and this one tells all. All the best to you in a tough situation.

  15. What a horrible situation. As a responsible pet owner (2 cats) I am appalled that this woman thinks she is doing these cats a favor. Can't wait to hear what the health department and animal control have to say.

  16. Also, priceless photo.

  17. Hi, I just found your blog and wanted to let you know that I am a new follower! :) love your blog!Erin

  18. That is the WORST! We have quite a few feral cats (but no where near 12!) and there poop is definitely a problem. We laid new bark dust last year and it was like a huge giant litter box that I was nice enough to gift them. Gross. A few of my friends suggested cayenne pepper. Cats hate it and it doesn't harm the plants. So far, it seems to be working well.

  19. We had the problem of our cat being bullied by our neighborhood cats and so she feared being out alone! After about 6 months she eventually managed to fend them off for good but being a totally softie, towards my puss, I asked the vets for a solution and they recommended putting tiger manure around the edge of our property as cats won't cross it. We never actually tried it as we thought not only would it mean they couldn't access our land but our puss wouldn't be able to venture out either. Anyway the moral of this rambling story is, I don't know how readily available it or or it's cost or if it is at all effective but it's another line of research you could possibly follow. Her's the link to an old article I found.

    I really hope you get this poo problem sorted as it's really not a pleasant situation for non-cat owners. As I think one of your readers rightly said dog owners are required by law to 'scoop the poop'. I know that's a little harder for cat owners but your neighbour is being totally irresponsible and actually down right ignorant.

    Hope you get it under control soon. :)

  20. We live in Holyoke and have the same problem...with the ridiculous amount of cats...and with our next door neighbor! He has an old shed in his backyard where they all live and he throws bologna and hotdogs out to them every morning. As a result, our backyard is covered with their poop and unfortunately our sweet little black lab likes to snack on these little poopy treats (that's a whole other story). Anyway, she had her annual exam with the vet and they discovered that her digestive system is loaded with roundworms and yucky parasites...too much for her monthly heartgard meds to treat. Now we have to leash her, in our own backyard, to prevent her from eating the any hidden poop. SO frustrating!

  21. now that is a lot of cats! and cat poo, yuck! I wouldn't be very happy about it either, good luck!

  22. I got your comment on my blog! :) If you want to try a sample of shaklee, just email me your address to
    Thanks! :) Erin

  23. This is hard, I am a HUUUUUGGGEEE cat lover (animal lover in general.) I can understand the good that your neighbor is trying to do. But, I can also understand your side of the story as well. I'm sure it's not easy. There needs to be measures taken to (1.) spay/neuter these kitties so no new little kitties come along, and (2.), possibly find homes for the not-so-feral ones, and then the feral ones can just live out their lives. As far as the neighbor, she needs to understand where you are coming from and try to make your life a little easier by putting out some litter boxes (and cleaning them.) It may not completely fix the problem completely but, it will definitely help. I do bed you though, not to call animal control. Then you will just have a lot of dead kitty lives on your conscience. They kill most that come through their doors. I would get in touch with some no-kill shelters and see if they can help with taking care of this colony. There are organizations just for this such purpose. Good luck, I'm sorry you have to deal with this. Kitties are such wonderful's a shame that they have to live like this, and that by extension you have to live like this. People need to learn that animals are not disposable, and to be responsible pet owners (FIX them! and don't dump them.) Ok, I'm done sorry for a long's just such a sad thing...for all of you.

  24. Dude. Crazy Cat Lady.

    I'm feeling sooo much better about our psychotic next door neighbors right now. I'll take their XL senior citizen underwear hanging out to dry & the ridiculous raking leaves down the property line ANY DAY of the week.

    The really funny part? The Stucco Bungalow blog was born out of a very similar situation when an unknown neighborhood cat sprayed INTO our open basement window. What kind of cat does that? We had to buy a new clothes dryer.

  25. I feel for you. I have a similar next door neighbor situation except, instead of cats, my neighbor feeds squirrels. There are more squirrels in the area comprising of our two lots then would naturally live on an 18 hole golf course. Regularly they climb trees and jump onto my roof, chew a hole in the eves and avail themselves of my hospitality. Her roof is slate saving her from a similar turn. Ack!

  26. AAAAAAAHHAHHAHAHHAAHAHHAHA I'm sorry I shouldn't laugh at your misfortune but holy {cat} shit this post was funny! I have this amazing image in my head of you with a smudge on your face... Oy vey you poor thing. At least they're not leaving you dead animals at your doorstep the way our childhood cat did. What lovely gifts! I hope you get it resolved!

  27. Hubs says you should pee all over your yard to mark your territory. I can't tell if he joking. Worth a shot, though, right?

  28. In all honesty since we have this issue and it is an issue if, and that is a huge if, everyone in the neighborhood could pull funds together and TNR - trap, neuter/spay, and release the little guys the population will decrease over time There were 42 we are down to 18 with a few more in need of fixing.

    I don't believe in killing, hurting, etc any animal...that is just really, really bad karma and for us the TNR was the "how" we need to fix this problem.

    The Husband and I have funded all of it with no help. If there is a feral cat issue, there are people who are there to teach and help.

    I will say this, due to the kitties we no longer have mice and the rats have been kept at bay.

    Now you know why we haven't been working on the house...busy catching kitties....just kidding.

  29. i agree. i also live two doors down from "the crazy cat lady". and the problem is not the cats, its the specific people who are irresponisble and simply feed every stray cat around till the whole street smells like cat feces. i believe that the trap and spade/nuder program is the way to go. however something needs to be done to hold the specific people accountable if they are creating a enviorment where cats can have shelter, eat, and bread with out any regulation. its just not fair to the community at large.


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