Don't want raccoons? Don't give them an opening

Please, please, please help. I have tried everything to keep raccoons from using the kitty door to eat my cats' food in the garage.

I have purchased expensive products that don't work. I even started putting the dishes away at night, but they still come in and use the water dish to wash up. What can I do? They scare me, and I'm afraid they will hurt my kitties.

— Molly, Medford

Three "pleases," huh? At Since You Asked, we usually get only one. Two indicates some sort of urgency, so you must be in the throes of pure desperation at this point.

Whatever the case, we're here to help, but we're not sure you're going to love, love, love our answer.

It's a simple one, and according to the experts, it's the best solution: Lose the cat door.

"Pet doors are a constant source of trouble with nuisance wildlife," said Steve Niemela, wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. "As long as you have a door into an area that has resources that wildlife want, they're going to use it."

Yes, we understand that would restrict the amount of time your pets have outdoors, and that you would be responsible for their coming and going. It sounds like a better option than them getting hurt though, yes?

You could investigate another option, an electronic cat door that unlocks when kitty nears the door. Your cats would wear an electronic tag that causes the door to unlock, then re-lock after they enter or exit. The drawback is expense: The electronic cat doors that are considered raccoon-proof can run several hundred dollars. Check with a local pet store to see what options they may have.

Maybe you should consider yourself lucky, Molly. At least it's just raccoons in the garage.

"Raccoons in the garage is not as bad as skunks in the kitchen, which is another type of call we've gotten," Niemela said.

So there you go. Sounds like you're going to have to make a tough decision, Molly. We wish you the best, best, best of luck.

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


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