Tuesday, August 31, 2010

revisiting the topic of neighbors feeding feral cats around Crispus Attucks Park

See this string of Emails, originating from a 1st Street NW resident along Crispus Attucks Park:

From: 1st Street NW resident
To: ``Vigilance, Pierre (DOH)``
Cc: scott@scott-roberts.net; john.salatti@gmail.com; SGiacoppo@washhumane.org;

Good Morning Dr. Vigilance,

As you can see from this message the feral cat and other wildlife is still an ongoing issue here for those who live on the park. I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, but going back several years this has been a growing and unabated problem for me. I have lived with neighbors who choose for whatever reason to feed the wildlife here. It is not just feral cats, it is also raccoons and opossums eating this food that is left standing all day. They are attracted to the park area because there is an ample food supply. Last summer I was virtually afraid to go outside in my rear yard for fear that a raccoon, or cats would be on my deck sitting on my furniture. At least the opossum would leave, but the raccoon and cats with their constant deliveries of feces at my rear basement door is unacceptable and a health hazard. I arrived home one day for lunch and found a feral cat lying in my bed! I had apparently left the door open while going to put trash earlier that morning. Neighbors should NOT be leaving any food out and feeding cats. Not for 10 minutes, not at all. Anyone who continues to suggest that food should be left for a 10 minute feeding (does the feeder really know what amount that is, monitors the feeding and then removes what is left, I don`t think so) therefore is giving a green light to continue this nuisance. This is my position, I have lived on the [Crispus Attucks] park for more than 10 years and I have never experienced the wildlife at this level. Yes, there were more cats present, but they were NOT living in my yard and on my deck. I do not own a cat, nor should I be responsible for cleaning up after them. There needs to be continued inspections and efforts to educate neighbors on the Park from the Dept. of Health about what is acceptable and what is a violation of the law. Continued violations should then receive citations just as those who leave their trash cans out. Again, I would go further to say to the neighbors here on the Park, ``Please Do Not Feed the Cats``. Believe me they will survive.

From: 1st Street NW resident
Sent: Monday, August 30, 2010 5:35 PM
To: `SGiacoppo@washhumane.org`; Hille, Maria (DOH)
Cc: Vigilance, Pierre (DOH); `john.salatti@gmail.com`;
Subject: RE: Feral cats and wildlife @ First Street, N.W.
Importance: High


This appeared in the Bloomingdale list serve today. However based upon past experiences for the last years, I have strong suspicions about who the culprit might be. Clearly there remains a serious health issue here. Year in and Year out! You must understand, it is NOT just the feral cats here. Other wildlife are continuously attracted to the area because it is source of food, a buffet all you can eat all day long. This is not rocket science. NO ONE SHOULD BE FEEDING THE CATS. Not for 10 minutes. Can anyone determine really how much cats, raccoons, and opossums can eat in 10 minutes!!!. This is beyond ridiculous!! Must I remind you I had opossums and raccoons both on my deck last year, virtually living in my yard along with the cats. Not to mention the feces in my back door. This is unacceptable. What is the next step to resolve this long standing issue. Is the Dept. of Health and the Wash Humane Society going to continue to nicely ask neighbors to ``please stop feeding the cats``, year in and year out!!! I want some action. This is a violation…. It was last year, the year before that and it is today. What are you waiting for now.

Here is what is in today`s Bloomingdale Email:

+ See this 08/29/2010 message from a resident on the unit block of V Street NW: ``Someone has been feeding HUGE aluminum tins of dry cat food to the alley cats in the V/W NW block. It is a very kind and well-intentioned gesture, but it`s also a violation of city law to leave such large amounts of food out. Please, if you feed cats, only leave out enough for them to eat at one sitting, in 10 minutes or less. Thanks!``

From: 1st Street NW resident
Sent: Friday, July 30, 2010 3:32 PM
To: John T. Salatti
Subject: RE: Follow-up on our conversation

Thanks for your efforts John. However, I remain concerned about the conditions at my home. Feeding cats @ 202x [1st St NW] has been a true nuisance for too many years. Why must I have to endure their presence? I have stated for the last time I will not continue to repeatedly clean up feces on my property. The fences that were discussed on the last visit by Wash Humane Society will be more costly due to the special design features that must be present in an attempt to keep them off my property. Should I also be responsible for incurring the financial burden of this special fence design? I purchased a fence two years ago only to be informed that it would not be effective. I will NOT live with cats and feces on my property. As far as it being her choice, she chooses to feed and for a fact ignores the regulations. The cats and any other wildlife are present and attracted to the area because of self centered choices. I will not continue to live this way. I hope I made my intentions clear in our last conversation.


Anonymous said...

Happy that I haven't seen any rats since moving to the Bloomingdale neighborhood. Reminds me of living in Philadelphia for a few years, where the feral cat population is rather high. I lived in Logan Circle neighborhood 2005-2007 and saw so many rats, luckily the feral cats in this neighborhood keep their population down. Very very very nice.

Anonymous said...

is there no issue that people won't whine about?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I too would much rather Crispus Attacks and Bloomingdale were plagued with rats, just like U St and Columbia Heights and the rest of city. After all, rats never hurt anyone, but we all know that cats were the vector that spread the black death.

2nd street resident said...

I certainly sympathize with this property owner if they are a particular nuissance on his property. However, as a neighboring Ledroit resident (2nd Street) I love that I rarely see rats in the area - much prefer the cats! The rats were everywhere when I lived in Dupont

Malinda said...

I feed a few cats in the alley between V and W Streets NW, where the population has gone down greatly since cat advocacy organizations have helped get them fixed over the past five or six years. I feed them only what they eat at the time and discard the plates as quickly as I can after that. Whoever is putting out more food is disrupting a delicate balance between me, the cats and the neighbors that has taken years to achieve. Plus it it unsanitary and probably unhealthy for the cats as well. I have to think it is someone who means well, because they put a big container of water out too, but clearly this person is trying to help animals that do not need their help. I would love to find out who is doing this and work with them, if anyone knows who it is.

Anonymous said...

just leave a not for them.

Anonymous said...

I dislike cats. Especially Garfield. But I prefer feline fecal matter to that of rabies-infected rats. This is the ONLY hood in DC where I have never encountered a rat. I will gladly take the cats in my yard and the upsetters can have the rats.

Jonathan said...

Malinda - which block? The unit or 100 block?

Anonymous said...

Okay, started a fresh post on this topic on 09/10/2010. http://bloomingdaleneighborhood.blogspot.com/2010/09/back-to-feeding-ferals-cats-around.html.

K.L. said...

I'm right next to, but not IN Bloomingdale. I have fed several small colonies of sterilized cats every day for many years.

In yards I have permission to enter (or belonging to people I know), I periodically clean up their feces.

I wait for the cats to finish eating, remove the plates, and clean up any overspill. If there's a big mess and serious rain isn't imminent, sometimes I even come back out with water and cleaning supplies.

Not all my efforts are witnessed, so some people have been quick to blame the cats for problems they haven't caused (either directly or indirectly). Once I've learned about this, I've been able to explain my habits and assure them the cats were not a factor.

Almost everyone came around, including a few people who surprised me because their initial reaction was so fierce. They watched and saw that my words were backed up by my actions. Some of them even went on to defend me to future detractors.

The crucial part is that I have to KNOW about a problem to deal with it. Some people don't speak up because they don't truly want the problem solved (if one even exists), they just want to complain.

Maybe they have something against cats, and/or don't understand (or, sometimes, WANT want to understand) that without my efforts, there'd be MORE cats around. Maybe they erroneously believe cats have to be hungry to catch rats (even though a strong, healthy cat has a hunting edge, compared to a sick, starving one).

One or two still don't like what I do, or maybe they just don't like me. Either way, I put my personal feelings aside and stick to my mission. After all, it's not about ME.

The LAST thing I want is for the cats to become a nuisance to the neighbors or draw urban wildlife, so I will do anything - within reason - I can to prevent it.

Of course, I cannot promise someone's yard will be completely poop-free 100% of the time, but no one could promise that, even if all the cats were removed. Animals share this planet with us, so unless we are willing to turn our property into the equivalent of a prison exercise yard, we have to learn to deal with that.

Meanwhile, I try to reciprocate for the hospitality extended by people who DO allow me to feed cats on their property. Not only do I clean up after my activities, I also pick up stray litter, clear leaves, shovel snow, maybe weed or mow a little here and there, and serve as an extra set of eyes and ears. For a few years I handed out goodies at Christmas, but these days just buying all the cat food is hard enough.

I may be a little more fastidious than some colony caretakers (I do tend to go all out). But from what I can tell, most caretakers follow the same basic rules I do. I am sorry to hear that probably ONE well-intentioned person is causing problems for some neighbors - AND for the cats.