Thank-you SO much!!!
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Board Mailbox 
  Sent: Saturday, December 08, 2007 1:32 PM
  Subject: Re: feeding birds and feral cats 

  When I was feeding ferals cats I had a problems with startlings as well.  
They eat massive amounts of food.  I never solved my problem but I found this 
in the archives.  I am including the whole question and answer 
because they have some great suggestions for solving the problem of all kinds 
of wildlife eating cat food. Hope it helps.

  >>What about caring for feral cats when it affects wildlife?
  Question from Laura: 
  Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) seems like the best answer to solving the problem of 
feral cat overpopulation; it is a way of humanely dealing with the feral crisis 
and it works where traditional methods fail. However, there are serious 
problems with the way caring for ferals affects indigenous wildlife. The 
feeding stations attract raccoons, squirrels and other animals, creating 
dependence on humans in these animals; in some places the colony population 
goes up instead of down because people dump cats where they see them being 
cared for, and the cats hunt already threatened birds and other native 
wildlife. I am a strong and active proponent of TNR, but I am troubled by these 
problems. What is the right thing to do? 
  Response from Sally:
  Thanks for your question. These are issues I have gone over with myself quite 
a bit and are not easy to resolve. I agree and believe that TNR is the best 
long term and most humane way of solving the feral cat overpopulation problem. 

  The attraction of wildlife to cat feeders is difficult problem. It is hard to 
exclude very many critters by limiting the size of the feeder's opening, as 
anything smaller than a cat can get through. 

  One way I have found to exclude undesired diners is by trying to temporarily 
manipulate the food presence. In other words, if nocturnal critters are the 
unwanted diners, then try to avoid having any food present after twilight. The 
cats will learn to eat during the day, especially if you begin the regime with 
something very sexy to them, like canned food or tuna/canned meat. 

  If you have diurnal and nocturnal wildlife arriving at your feeders, you have 
more complicated problem, depending on the species involved. I have situations 
where starlings are eating me out of house and home during the day. I found I 
could create a barrier that they were afraid to breach, like light cardboard 
strips hanging over the feeder opening. This would probably not work for 
mammals like squirrels though. 

  A raised platform on 4 legs, one at each outside corner of the platform, will 
keep out dogs, but still allow raccoons, possums, mice and rats to climb up one 
of the posts and access the food/water. To prevent this, design a raised 
platform on just one, stable, central post. There will be a considerable 
overhang lip of platform on all sides, making it impossible for non-jumping 
climbers, such as the above-mentioned animals, to access. Cats are wonderful 
jumpers and will have no problem leaping onto the platform to feed. Of course, 
the central post will need to be imbedded in dirt or concrete so it won't 

  Each situation requires a different selective barrier of one sort or another. 
Sometimes you can only exclude the largest problem with your solutions, and 
just accept that others will be freeloading. 

  In all instances, I recommend being extremely discreet about feeding. That 
means keeping feeding paraphernalia hidden and out of view of the public. I 
would reload my feeders at a time when folks are not around. If the cats are 
truly feral, they will stay out of sight for the most part, especially during 
the day when people are about. If your feeding operation is visible, it will 
attract feline haters who will cause problems and also encourage people to dump 

  Although you hear a lot and very loud concerns about cats eating birds, in 
fact, cats rarely are successful bird hunters. They are much better rodent 
hunters. Most birds can avoid cats and those that don't are usually fledglings 
or old/compromised birds. In the big picture, it is loss of habitat that is the 
significant cause in bird population decline. Cats probably don't even register 
on the radar screen as a significant cause of bird mortality. Documentation for 
this is 
  available through Alley Cat Allies (, along with more 
information about all aspects of your question.

  Laura, you are doing the right thing! It is impossible to please everyone and 
meet all needs. If only we lived in a perfect world... but then we would not 
have feral cats at all! We can only dream of that day and do the best we can to 
minimize suffering to domestic and wild animals.<< 

  In a message dated 12/08/07 12:01:12 Eastern Standard Time, [EMAIL PROTECTED] 

    Message: 2 
    Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2007 19:11:11 -0600 
    From: "laurieskatz" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> 
    Subject: feeding birds and feral cats 
    To: <> 
    Cc: "Brubaker, Angela \[DOC\]" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> 
    Message-ID: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> 
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="windows-1252" 

    I have a friend who feeds (and TNR) feral cat colonies. She has a new 
problem. The starlings are eating the cat food. Has anyone encountered this? 
Have suggestions for what works to feed cats, not birds? 
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