Neighbour cats hunting in the garden

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Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture
Neighbour cats hunting in the garden

This is a big problem for not only the native and non-native birds alike but for me as well. As my garden is so small and narrow and all the birds, especially the nectar feeding birds, are so exposed to the elements in my garden, they are easy prey for cats. I need to come up with a solution to this cat problem, as there are at least 3-7 neighbourhood cats that visit the property and try hunting the bird life whilst they are feeding on the grevilleas. 

My only solution to this problem is to set up a cat proof perimetre surrounding the grevilleas and other native plants.If I am to create, even by chance, a bird habitat garden it has to be cat proof. And I have to do it whilst my native plants are still growing so the plants merge into each other to make a dense habitat area. This means I have to use exotics. I have no other choice in the matter if I want to protect the native birdlife in the area that visits my garden to feed therein.

There is no possible way I can keep every single cat out of my garden but I can keep the cats out of reach from hunting birds in my garden by using sharp, prickly exotic plants such as cacti, rose bushes and other exotics. Very few Australia native plants have sharp spines on them, that I am aware of. 

What about Prickly Moses? An Acacia species that has prickly foliage. Sorry, it's not prickly enough to keep cats out. And the prickliest of grevilleas are not prickly enough to keep cats out either. I'm talking about plants with serious deadly sharp spines on them to keep cats out. 

I have noticed one thing about rose bushes - the climbing thorned variety. If you don't prune them at the base they are cat proof. My neighbour across the road has one but years ago when she had her German Shephard dog, the dog messed that all up when he'd chase rabbits out of the rose bush. Superb Fairy Wrens would also breed in the same rose bush as the dog would chase all the cats away in the garden, feral or domesticated.

I am not keen on rose bushes or their flowers. I never have been. I don't like their sweet smelling flowers nor their sharp thorns either. But when it comes to protecting the birds from cats - a rose bush may just be the ultimate weapon against cats. That and cacti. Finding the right kind of cacti that grows a few feet tall might be a problem but this problem has to be solved to guarantee the safety of the native bird life, especially if they choose to breed in the garden in the future.

Does anyone have any other suggestions of really sharp, thorned bushes or climbers (exotics) I can use in the garden? I'm after any plant a human dreads putting their hand/arm into. What works for us humans will work on cats too.

doublebar
doublebar's picture

Try a small dog if you can keep pets, easy to look after and will chase all the cats away during the day and night. If that's out of  the question you can buy "Keep Off" from bunnings just follow the instructions, I've used and it worked for me.

For Australian birds, natives=life, exotics=death, so do them a favour and go plant some natives and save their lives.

jason

Bougainvilleas? 

From Bourke's backyard web site

hard pruning of bougainvilleas is generally not recommended, because it makes the plants stop flowering and they then go into a strong, vegetative growth phase. Bougainvilleas in such a growth phase produce long, curved thorns in the leaf axils rather than flowers. These thorns enable them to get a grip on tree branches and scramble up towards the light.

And from Gardening Australia web site

indigenous to tropical South America it can adapt to a wide range of climatic conditions, but in cool temperate regions it would need more protection and positioned carefully. As a contrast it can be considered a weed in places like Queensland because of its prolific growth habit. 

Bougainvilleas love a free-draining soil and do not like having excess water around their roots. Positioned in full sun will give the best results. Fertiliser high in phosphorous and potassium applied in spring and autumn helps to maintain the colour of the bracts, their most attractive feature,

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Woko
Woko's picture

I'm not sure that encouraging the growing of introduced plants, particularly species which are likely to become invasive, is in the best interests of our wildlife. Other methods of cat control are preferable, I would have thought. 

jason

comon woko, a .22 with a drink bottle on the end of it is nice and quiet, but unsets the neighbours. lol

Shirley, if your council is as pathetic as mine, you need to become reactionary, not proactive. Sadly they understand reactionary, and are to scared of pro active because they are not.  

It's largly councils failing that cats are not rgistered or made to be kept in an enclosure like dogs. So take as many picturs of the cats as you can. If you can get them stalking wildlife even better.  If you happen to see a bunch of feathers from a cat kill, take pics of that as well. It can be anywhere and your are not lieing. Local parks often have tuffs of feathers from cats kills. I may be even able to send you some if you like.  Then complain to the counil about cats stalking and killing the wildlife.  Put the problem into their lap or at least jolt their tiny brains.  If they do nothing, complain to the Evironmental Protection Agency (EPA) in your State about their inaction.  You may have some open minded makes sense councilor, but the more I see and hear I'll bet odds you don't.

You could also get yourself a decent water gun from a pool shop.  Fill it with vinigar and detol or something that the cat will find ofensive and dislike emesly.  Perhaps some stinky fertaliser so it won't hurt the plants.   

Of course you can always attempt to trap them.  A large possum or fox trap from the local produce shop is required, roughly about $150 I think. Fishy cat food is not that expansive, its just keeping the ants out of it is the hardest part.  Trapping is slow, requires geat patience, but very rewarding when you finally get one of the buggers.  If you want to know how to dispose of the cat cleanly, easlily, quickly, and humanly so it never returns PM me.    

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Can't afford a dog and cats can't read so a keep off sign wouldn't work, doublebar, but thanks for the advice. 

Jason, I've thought of growing Bougainvilleas before but not sure where to put them or even if they would survive here. There's no trees on the property whatsoever and nothing really for it to climb up except the carport posts and the pathetic perimetre fence. I wonder how it would go as a replacement for cooch grass? 

I'll second what Jason said, "C'mon Woko."  Native plants are not always the solution to every problem, Woko. In my case native plants are failing to do anything despite the efforts I've put into the garden. I'm sick of all the stuff happening around here; the stupid weather that can't make up it's mind what season it is; plants dieing on me all the time; etc. I'm losing my patience rather quickly. I'm seriously considering growing nothing but Callistemons and those tall American desert cacti. 

Its not a matter of finding indigenious plants to grow here anymore. The weather is getting worse, and getting hotter again. There's next to no rain that falls month after month, and f'ing cats are starting to peeve me off big time. I've threatened my 3 Native Frangipani trees that if they don't grow I'll rip them out (as I pulled out the native mint bush that was dead).  If the dead looking trees don't sprout by mid Summer (January) they're all going to be ripped out of the ground and left on the surface to die. Nine out of ten plants, roughly, that I buy and plant die on me. I'm not forking out any more money on native plants unless it is a bottlebrush. 

I could go on about my garden and how native plants just don't make it. Cats are also a problem as they crap in the garden and their crap kills the plants nearby. The cats (males) meet up and then fight in the area, hunt the wildlife, kill the wildlife, and just make too much noise and mess. 

My garden is a sacred space for me. It keeps me sane and it relaxes me when I'm not being harrassed by the Magpies to feed them, or by humans. I tried growing a garden for privacy - the frost made sure that wouldn't be the case. With a landscape that is nothing but grass and the odd tree here and there, it drives me mad looking at grass, bitumen roads and no dirt, cows, sheep and the odd horse and very little native wildlife. The native wildlife (mammals) consist entirely of Eastern Grey Kangaroos only during summer, no longer in winter and last summer they didn't show up at all. Then there's birds, reptiles (including snakes), spiders and frogs and maybe a native fish species or two in the creek. Everything else is introduced, which is about 60-70% of the species here.

The main problem in Tenterfield is a lack of anything plant like that isn't a gum tree and too many of those orange berried fruit shrubs, too many people mowing endless amounts of grass; cats; foxes; owls breeding in the area; people in general chopping plants down and not replacing them; dogs chasing birds; people harrassing birds; and the list goes on. 

The bird life here tries its best to exist in this noisy, smokey (in winter), somewhat sterile environment but at what cost? A lack of habitat and constant predation - if not by cats then by crows and owls, being electricuted or being hit by a car. My garden strip is just that, a strip of plants growing side by side basically. Its hard to create density when barely anything even grows here. The grevilleas that are supposedly to be prickly are not prickly enough to keep cats out. They're not even prickly enough to keep me out, hence this post about how to protect the birds whilst feeding in my garden from cats.

Jason, trapping my neighbours' cats would not go down well with the neighbours themselves and I doubt it would solve the problem. My garden is not a good place to set up a trap but I do know of a good spot but I might catch/trap a sheep or a cow instead. Taking photos of cats is doable but they are mostly let out of a night time and it is not every night either. Its infrequent but regular. The main problem is all the cats merge in my garden's immediate area because that's where the birds come to frequently. They also stake out (the cats) the creek and my neighbour's places as there is a bit of plant life there. Cats generally avoid areas/gardens where dogs are that they are not familiar with, or do so when the dog/s are put to bed for the night or are inside. 

If this comment does get saved I'll be happy. My internet speed is almost zero.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

jason

Shirley, is it possible or worth considering a move. You might be able to pick up a spot backing onto bushland, creek, or park.  Somehere with more nature and more potential for a garden.   

I imagine units are tuff. Not really suited for an environmantalist. And like you are experiancing if the neighbour has wandering pets it's hard to get your needs respected without the risk of putting them offside.    

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Jason, I've considered moving numerous times since I've been here but financially it is difficult. I already live in a fairly cheap place, and with a decrease in my income I simply can't afford to move out now. If I do manage to move out all the plants in the garden would probably die because they are not fully established. That would just break my heart to see that happen. 

I hate to sound sadistic but have you ever been to Tenterfield? It's like living in an open field with just a few trees in it. I live on the south-west part of town. Places backing onto scrub only occur 5-10km out of town.  Most surrounding farmland/property have most of the trees/scrub cut down. Its been that way for a very long time. But there are parts of town that does back onto scrub but those parts don't have accomodation on them. Progress in this town is the removal of trees to create more grazing areas for cows and sheep. It would not matter where I moved to in town because Tenterfield is mostly devoid of native, indigenous plant life anyway. Outside of town there is just gum trees and grasses with some ferns here and there. There are also some Banksias and some wattle trees and some other plant species near the Tenterfield dam. There's not much of anything around actually when it comes to plant species diversity. I'm just trying to create a small area with lots of different plant species on it that the birds can distribute seeds from.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Okay..... update about the cats. The cats appear to have stopped coming around but now I have a problem with dogs using the property as a toilet. I've had to compress the sections of bare dirt to stop dogs from doing their business on it, which works by the way. It is the same two dogs that keep coming around all the time. I've already caught one of the dogs and called the dog catcher but the dogs keep coming around, up to 5 times a day. It just never ends!

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Woko
Woko's picture

How wonderful that the cats have ceased their visits, Shirley. I was scanning this thread & I didn't see a reference to Kangaroo Thorn Acacia paradoxa. That's really prickly & I think Tenterfield is within its natural range. So you could try that as an additional defense against marauding moggies. You'd need to be careful about where you planted it as it can be quite a spreading plant.

Now to the doggedly visiting dogs. It seems you may have an ally in the local dog catcher. Could you ask him to drop in on the dog owners & ask them to control their pets? I assume these animals have registration discs that would enable identification of the owners.

Would you be able to befriend these dogs & then tie them up to a post in a suitable location for their owners to collect?

You might want to familiarise yourself with the local penalties for owning nuisance dogs so that you're well-equipped in case any dog owner takes umbrage at your unwillingness to put up with their pets pooping at your place.

Would the dog catcher know of any effective dog repellants?

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