Raccoons can be a real nuisance, especially when you are trying to care for the feral cats in your neighborhood by leaving out food and water for them. Unfortunately, raccoons tend to love cat food, and any that you leave outdoors is irresistible to them. This can make it tough to keep the raccoons away from the food so the feral cats can enjoy it.
However, it is not impossible to do so. A few different techniques can be used to get rid of raccoons without totally taking the food away and in the process, getting rid of the feral cats. Here’s a list of effective possible options that you may be interested in trying on your property.
The 5 Tips to Get Rid of Raccoons But Not Feral Cats
1. Switch to Daytime Feedings
Most people fill up the cat food bowls in the evening so feral cats can eat throughout the night when the environment is quiet. But nighttime is also when the raccoons like to come out and look for food. Therefore, you may be able to keep the raccoons away by switching from a nighttime to a daytime feeding schedule.
Try making the food available in the morning, and keeping it out until right before sunset. You can store the food indoors throughout the night, so the raccoons are not tempted to roam around your property looking for the food. At first, the feral cats might be confused, but it shouldn’t take long for them to figure out the new feeding schedule. Consistency with the new schedule will be essential.
2. Move the Food Bowls Indoors
You likely don’t want feral cats coming in and out of your home throughout the night, especially if you have pet cats living inside. However, you may be able to move the food bowls that you leave out for feral cats to an indoor space, where the raccoons are less likely to find them. This technique may only work for a while before the raccoons get smart enough to find their way to the food, but there are a few ways to combat that.
First, try installing a cat door in your garage door or wall, and then keep the food bowls in the garage. For the first few nights, you may have to leave a small bowl of food right outside the cat door so the feral cats will figure out where to go. If raccoons also end up getting into the garage for food, you may have to find a new spot.
Consider building a small box with a cat door in it and placing it near your home. Keep the food bowls in there until the raccoons find the food. If or when that happens, you can move the box to a new location as necessary. Using surveillance cameras will help you monitor the box so you can determine when the raccoons are taking over.
3. Elevate the Food Bowls
While raccoons can jump up high, felines tend to do a better job of it. Therefore, elevating the cat food bowls several feet off the ground can help keep raccoons from getting to the food and coming back nightly to compete with the feral cats for more.
You can install shelves on the exterior wall of your home to put the food on. Alternatively, you can use 4x4s and plywood to build tall stands or tables to set up in your yard, somewhere away from the trees, which raccoons may be able to climb up. If this raccoon repellent technique ultimately doesn’t work, you can use the stands or tables as flowerpot holders.
4. Eliminate Other Food Sources
Another way to keep raccoons from rummaging through your property for the food that you leave out for feral cats is to make sure all other food sources are eliminated. Start by switching to trash cans that seal and lock so the raccoons cannot get into them. This will also help ensure that things like chicken bones don’t get thrown onto the ground, where the cats can get to and possibly choke on them.
Make it a point to check your property for food that has been left on your property, whether it’s a half-eaten rat or a banana peel that came from a neighboring home’s garbage bin. You should also enclose any food gardens with netting or greenhouses, especially when the food is beginning to ripen.
5. Find a New Place to Feed the Feral Cats
Perhaps there is another place where you can feed the feral cats in your neighborhood so raccoons don’t feel tempted to hang out on your property. There might be a park down the street where you can place food bowls in a safe place for the cats to find. Maybe someone in the community doesn’t mind using their undeveloped property to feed feral cats.
You can place ads online or make fliers and hang them up throughout the neighborhood to find others who are willing to help find a location to feed the feral cats that won’t attract raccoons to anyone’s property who doesn’t want them there. You may find that there are more people than you thought who are willing to help!
Raccoons can be frustrating to deal with for humans and feral cats alike. The more food that they can find on your property, the more likely they will keep returning. Hopefully, the tips and tricks outlined here will help you finally keep the raccoons under control without alienating the feral cats living in your neighborhood.
Featured Image Credit: Rod Zadeh, Shutterstock