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Should I attract feral cats to my city garden to keep away pests?  RSS feed

 
Eric Giordano
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I am part of a community garden in NYC. There are feral cats around and sometimes I see them in the garden.

I was wondering if it would be a good idea to set up a little cat village to keep them in the garden to scare away birds and other pests?

Are there any cons I'm not thinking about?

 
Casie Becker
gardener
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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Birds and the kinds of small lizards and amphibians that cats hunt are very active hunters of insects, keeping control of that kind of pest. Cats also like to bury their waste and that nice soft garden soil could look very tempting. It's something I've seen people complain about on other gardening forums.

On the other hand, I have two cats and there are numerous other cats that roam my neighborhood. I'm fairly sure they're responsible for keeping the squirrels mostly out of our pecan tree. The worst I've ever actually seen them do the garden is leave foot prints in freshly planted beds.

If rodents are a big part of your pest problem, then I'd be very grateful to have a nearby colony of feral cats. Just be aware that cats will reproduce to the maximum amount possible based on the local resources. If you have plans to feed them it would probably be good idea to see if your area has any of the catch and release programs for sterilizing feral cats.
 
Andie Carter
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I've had cats poop in my garden beds, and it's not a pleasant occurrence (especially since I do most of my digging by hand). If you do go through it, make sure you ask the rest of the people in the community garden, or you might seriously tick off some folks.
 
Amit Enventres
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Location: Ohio, USA
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I'm pro a small number of responsible cats. I've had both experiences- the negative and positive, but from different cats. Though if they are there already roaming, you don't need to attract them.
 
David Livingston
steward
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Location: Anjou ,France
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I would say no as these critters often eat the good guys llke lizards etc and they can make a real mess of veg beds . Chipped bark = toilet
Why not put up some owl nest boxes instead if you have rodent issues .
Also they attract folks who want to feed cats and if you are not carefull you can end up with hundreds of cats .

David
 
Bonnie Greenbud
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Are birds or rodents causing damage? Don't see problems where there aren't any. Those birds and rodents may be controlling insect pests. Feral cats go where the prey is. If you have enough to be trouble, the cats will come.
 
Ian Rule
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Location: Nevada County, CA
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We have a kitty who prefers to spend winter in the greenhouse for the most part - first year he destroyed most everything just from dozing on all the beds and compacting them, and the bed that we didnt put some cover over definitely found a turd or ten - which I consider high level biohazard.... moreso than finished humanure. Toxoplasma gondii yada yada. However, he did a great job of keeping the rats at bay, and does so in the garden elsewhere during the year. Im just finding that certain beds beg to be pooped in, and a little clever fencing or planting can generally direct the flow to a preferable destination. Next winter most beds will get chicken wire and another will get a layer of plastic and some sand. Cats!
 
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