A cat-free yard

G A Liebenberg, Gordon’s Bay

For several years we have had to contend with neighbours’ straying cats defaecating and urinating in our relatively secluded yard, as well as their seasonal wooing and scrapping under our windows and over the covered stoep and roofs.

This includes the regular death of pot plants by feline faeces and urine that pollutes and sterilises the pot soil.

My wife draws pleasure from the pot plants and it is her effort to beautify the front yard.

Having to continuously replace the dead plants and polluted soil is an unnecessary and unfair expense forced upon her by the selfishly callous and arrogant attitude of the cat keepers in the surrounding streets (cats are not owned but merely kept).

Apart from the obviously revolting stench, there is the accompanying deposit of all manner of harmful bacteria and germs.

Adding insult to injury, I am forcibly co-opted to dispose of the spoils and to neutralise and remove the regular disgusting territorial markings by these straying pet cats.

Strangely, these sprayers know “instinktively” to target the gate openings (and roof gutter downpipe openings adding to the bird droppings polluting my harvested rainwater).

I demanded from a specific cat keeper to keep their cats off my property. This was met by the following: “We previously lived in a complex. The other residents soon learned about cats;” “Cats stray, deal with it;” “They also defaecate in our yard;” and “What must we do?”.

My proposal of electronic collars was met with horror, hysteria and “that is cruelty to animals”. My statement that I intend to have these stray pets professionally trapped and removed was met with the same response, only “it is illegal to destroy animals” was added.

Of course, the cat keepers could (should?) alternatively turn their own yards into big cat coops. They will, however, need building permission from their immediate neighbours.

A counter proposal by the cat keeper was that I should “get a dog” and “use a handheld spray bottle” because “our cats do not like water”.

It is currently impractical to keep a dog, and as for the spray bottle: really, is that once the strays have already strayed into my house looking for a place to dump a litter?

Over the years I have had to cat-proof my stoep by covering all possible openings, and recently other accessible windows, to deny these pets (and a few feral cats) entry.

Enquiries with relevant authorities and pest animal management groups (excluding
SAN Parks) concluded that there is not a professional trapping service available in the surrounding farming communities.

The City of Cape Town did, however, confirm that all pets must be kept on a leash outside its keeper’s property.

The legal question: Do I have, as a taxpaying and legal property owner, the (constitutional) right to enjoy a cat faeces and urine free residential environment (my yard and roofs) and to expect cat keepers to institute measures to contain their pets?

The academic question: Given that nature dictates that animals instinctively kill certain other animals, then surely the (natural violent) death of a reptile, fish, bird, farm animal, and cat or dog by another stronger animal’s predatory tools should be considered a natural death?

The logical question: Who are the cat keepers going to blame for their pets’ deaths on my property, should I actually get a vicious dog or much stronger and bigger territorial cat(s)?

The logical conclusion: Surely the cat (pet) keepers should consider that they are personally, callously and cruelly responsible every time they allow their pets out of their properties to a probable encounter with a naturally violent end.