Makakilo Cat Lady Gives Five Insights on Mousers
Having lived in Makakilo aka Mouseakilo since 1992, I know that having cats is an excellent way of keeping rodents outside. Construction is crawling up the hill behind my house for a dreaded residential development. Field mice forced from the wild brush are forging their way into my neighbors' gardens and homes. Feral cats keep my house rodent free. "Mouseakilo" was coined by the media when Makakilo's prolific mouse population made Hawaii headlines in the 1980s.
"You couldn't even walk out on the sidewalk without stepping on a mouse," says lifetime resident and friend Candace.
People who didn't have cats were finding mice poop in their silverware drawers . . . just like my neighbors today. When the poop hits your silverware it's time to act fast. What action to take: Traps, poison, or cats for the rodent subway system beneath your kitchen? Traps and poison can possibly harm children and pets, and are only a temporary remedy until the next infestation. They also cost money, when sadly feral cats are everywhere for free.
If you have a feral cat population put them to good use.
Being a Cat Lady or Cat Lord is an enjoyable and inexpensive way to keep your home rodent free. Since I moved into my current home in 1998, I have had the pleasure of caring for five feral and two domestic cats. I must be a cat magnet and living on the edge of a wild ravine helps, as all my feline friends have simply showed up. Listed below are five insights for attracting and managing your mousers.
1. Gain Feline Trust
To attract and maintain your cat pack gain their trust. This is easily done by providing food and water to the same location at the same time once a day. Cheap, dry vitamin rich cat food is available at any grocery store. I buy the 20 pound Kirkland Super Premium Healthy Weight Cat Formula from Costco. It is the least expensive and all the cats vigorously dig in.
As a Cat Lord or Lady, you have responsibility for their health and welfare. If one of your cats becomes injured or ill, do your upmost to aid them. Most feral cats will let you pick them up if you have been feeding them for a few years. Not true of Storm, a grey tipped white female who has been here for a little over one year. NEVER try to pick up or touch a cat until it has touched you first. Cat bites are one of most easily infected wounds. Feral cats build their affection and trust slowly. They will place themselves closer and closer on each day you feed them. Soon you will notice them right under your feet. Eventually they will rub themselves against your legs. At this point it is okay to pet them, but gain eye contact first.
2. Use Your Humane Society
Your local humane society can be of great assistance. My neighborhood participates in a feral cat program. Feral cats are trapped, brought to the humane society, neutered, notched and released back into the neighborhood. A small notch on one ear identifies neutered cats. As a Cat Lady, I feel it is imperative to make use of this free service. One not so good thing about Oahu's humane society: Kittens under one pound are put to sleep. Most cities and towns have additional cat care organizations that keep feral kittens. Kitten Care and Joey's Feline Friends are two on Oahu.
3. Female Cats are Better Mousers
From my experience female cats are better mousers. Sassy and Sugar are two female cats who adore the chase. I brought a kitten home for my 5 year old daughter Jackie in 1996. Jackie named her Sassy and the name rang true. Sassy Cat would line mouse carcasses along the lanai for our inspection. One day I found a rat that was half her size. Unfortunately Sassy also liked to poop in Grandma's suitcase when she came to visit. Grandma was happy when Jackie brought Sassy with her to college. Old lady Sassy who now lives in a Waikiki apartment, still chases the occasional mouse.
Sugar is one of five kittens I found abandoned on the side of the road. I was jogging with my golden retriever, Amber when I stumbled upon the motherless babies. Most likely someone dumped them there. Cat Lady that I am, I loaded them into the back seat next to the dog. While I planned to give them all away, Sugar became a favorite and stayed. I named her Sugar hoping for a sweet personality, which I got along with another keen huntress. Sugar goes after anything smaller than her that moves. I have seen her climb to the top of the patio screen after moths and lizards. If the patio door is left open she has a way of flushing the unwary bird inside where in a flurry of feathers, I try to flush it back out. Sugar's mousing technique is heinous. She holds the mouse gently but snugly in her mouth before dropping it into a metal umbrella base, where she "plays" with her trapped prey.
Storm has been hanging around for a year or so. She eats on my lanai, but only allows me so close. No doubt this feral female is keeping vermin away.
4. Male Cats Wander
Don't get too attached to your male cats. Gilligan is a ginger cat who came out of the field behind my house one day. At the time I was potty training our puppy Amber. "Gilly" became extremely attached to Amber, they potty trained together and he would follow us on our walks. Perhaps Gilly thought he was a dog. My heart broke when I had to put cancer ridden Amber to sleep in 2011. Gilligan's heart must have broken as well, because soon after that he disappeared. Occasionally he shows up when I am leaving for work in the morning. One time he let me pet him, but he doesn't come to my lanai anymore.
Other male cats have stayed for a few months and then gone their way. The exception is Shadow. Shadow visits my lanai every morning since about 2003. Dark gray shadow, once as wild as Storm is now, will come about a foot inside the patio door, but no further. He loves to rub up against my legs as I am filling the cat food bowls.
5. Be a Good Neighbor
My neighbors courteously ignore my cat pack. I suspect quite a few have cat packs of their own. I have friends who are not so lucky. If you are unfortunate enough to have feline hating neighbors, you will have to feed your cat pack on the sly. This means keeping cat dishes hidden from view and feeding your mousers in the middle of the night. One of the strongest objections people have to cats, is the horrendous odor of their urine. Male cats also spray this same repugnant scent Using a vinegar spray on smelly areas works wonders. My neighbors are just as important to me as my cat pack, so I am friendly and never complain about their pets.