Regulations are fuzzy on cat pooping

Your recent story about the overflow of kittens and cats at the Jackson County Animal Shelter has prompted me to write with a cat problem of my own. My neighbors' cats are using my gardens as their bathroom. They're everywhere. I'm sick of digging around in cat poop, sweeping up cat hair and opening my screen door to the scent of cat spray/urine. Why don't people take responsibility for their cats and keep them off other people's property?

— Jane D., Medford

If you're one who believes that misery loves company, Jane, you can take heart in the fact that you are not alone in your stinky misery.

Colleen Macuk, program manager at Jackson County Animal Control, said she often receives compalints from neighbors upset wayward cats' destructive behavior, which includes digging up gardens, killing birds or leaving unwanted deposits behind. But there are few laws or regulations covering cat behavior and cat owner responsibility. Because of that, Animal Control officers personnel can't go out and impound cats like they do with dogs, Macuk said.

While it's tough to control a neighborhood tom, there are chemical agents that act as deterrents to him using your garden as a litter box, said Sally Mackler, executive director of the local animal welfare organization, Spay/Neuter Your Pet. Additionally, cat-proof fences can be purchased and installed, she said. For more information, visit the SNYP Web site at spayneuter.org or call 541-858-3325.

A much more longterm solution of controlling cats is to get them spayed or neutered, said Mackler. SNYP will be offering low-cost spay/neuter clinics in an effort to reduce pet overpopulation during October. Tom-and-Mom discount certificates will be available for purchase for $25 for female/moms and male/toms at the Medford, Ashland and White City granges.

We also did a brief search on the Web and came up with a large number of ideas. A promising one (but time consuming): chicken wire buried just under the mulch or dirt. Other options include predator urine sprinkled about, motion-sensor sprinklers, planting lavender, rue or pennyoil (both herbs). Then there's the old standby: Get a dog.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.


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