June 14, 2007

Poison in my neighborhood

Posted in companion animals, cruelty, feral cats, real life, stupid neighborhood at 1:29 pm by nevavegan

Please Note: Poisoning cats is a felony in most states. It is cruel and inexcusable. It also does not reduce feral cat populations, since the cats who see the other cats die will not eat poisoned food, and will quickly breed back to the original numbers.

To learn about humane ways to manage feral cat populations visit:

Now for my story.

For the second time this week Sean found a feral cat convulsing with seizures while walking the dogs. This time a kitten, Monday it was an adult cat. When he found the first cat he rushed him to the emergency vet and the vet said he had no pupil response and euthanized him. Today with the kitten the tests also indicated brain damage and had to euthanize, but now Sean and the vet are both convinced that someone is poisoning the cats. The vet said it’s most likely rat poison.

I have a suspect in mind, as there is someone right by where both cats were found who has repeatedly told me he hates cats. Plus he behaves in ways that worry me, like following me after dark while I walked my dogs. He was in his car and kept a distance, but for blocks he stopped when I stopped, made every turn I made, and just in general frightened me. But I have no proof at all that he’s poisoning the cats. Just saying he’s seriously creepy and scares me isn’t much help.

We feel we have no choice at this point except to ask animal control to intervene. Even though I don’t have much confidence in their ability to investigate. Still if the poison is somewhere obvious, like in a tray on creepy-neighbor’s porch, hopefully AC is competent to handle that. AC has said to people in this area in the past that they don’t trap cats, so I’m not too worried that calling AC will mean they’ll kill the cats.

These poor cats, it’s such a terrible, painful, excruciating way to go. Especially since the problems here aren’t their fault and they’ve never done anything to hurt anyone.

Our prior plans to help sterilize this feral colony never got off the ground. Most of the families feeding the cats don’t speak much English and though I have clearly observed them feeding, only one woman would even admit it when I talked to her. Most just say the cats aren’t theirs and rush into their houses. One guy said the cats were wild and he ignores them, but wanted to know if Jesus was my personal lord and savior. The one woman who told me she did feed said it with a downward glance and a look of shame. “Just to keep the rats away,” she told me.

I’m terrified too because people have thrown food over our fence to our dogs and I worry all the time that it might be poisoned. I don’t leave the dogs in the yard for very long at a time, but it seems that every other week I have to run out and yank chicken bones or moldy bread from their mouths.

I’ll have to make a point tomorrow to go over a couple blocks and try to communicate with the neighbors who do speak English and let them know what’s going on. If nothing else there is one guy Stuart who seems to like cats in general and at the very least should be on the lookout for poison when he walks his dog. There must be 12 kittens just that I’ve observed right now, and we haven’t been able to try to trap and tame them because we’re overflowing already at our house. I’m good at taming, but it’s tough when there are so few good homes around.



  1. Rachael said,

    When I was younger, I remember my mother warning me to never let our dog eat anythign off the ground because there was someone leaving out poisoned meat at our local park. Now, as an adult and as a dog walker responsible for the welfare of other people’s animals, this terrifies me. What if I was walking one of my clients’ dogs and they grabbed something off the ground that ended up killing them? What is wrong with people that tricking an animal into a slow, torturous death is the only solution they can come up with to address a problem they have with an animal, be it too many cats, or barking dogs or whatever? Those poor cats…luckily there was someone there who was willing to cut short their suffering.

  2. Deb said,

    That’s so awful, neva.

    Have you contacted any of the feral groups around? I’ve been looking into groups to get involved with, but I only know of the one or two right in my area. I don’t know how far they tend to reach to try to help. I’d be willing to assist with transportation, if that is of any help at all.

    A friend of a friend runs Cats Rule, a feral group in the fairfax, va area, but I don’t know what their situation is right now, whether there’s anything they can do.

    Hopefully AC will be able to do something. I wish I had some good ideas.

  3. Neva Vegan said,

    Thanks Rachel, it’s really scary. I’m not even sure if people need a reason to be awful.

    Thanks Deb, sadly I cannot contact Alley Cat Allies for help. And even if I could part of my trouble with them is they don’t do “hands on work” so it seems unlikely they’d get involved anyway.

    It’s a long story… Maybe I should just try to sum up. I used to work there. They ousted one founder over a split on whether they should keep doing active rescue or “serve as an information clearing house.” I sided with the wrong founder, so they took my name off everything I ever wrote for them and I can’t ever ask them for help again. In retrospect I wish I’d never sided with anyone and just gotten out and never looked back…

    There is PG Ferals come to think of it. They are really nice but totally overwhelmed, so I never think to contact them for anything. Metro Ferals is also a good group, but again totally overwhelmed. And it’s the worst time to try to rehome cats, during kitten season.

    But the biggest problem is that we’re talking about a lot of cats (50 at least) that aren’t very hungry and feeders who don’t understand what we’re saying and think we’re the bad guys when we try to talk about the cats. This means too many cats to have a good bet at relocation and trapping really only works out well when they’re hungry anyway. It’s a mess.

    Sean went over and confronted our suspect and he denied it naturally. We drove over a little while ago to see if he’d put anything out and we didn’t see anything obvious.

  4. Deb said,

    Metro Ferals is the group I have been looking at helping, so it is good to hear that you think they’re a good group. I sort of hesitate about joining up with groups, because it seems like they become more about the members’ egos than about the purpose, but…I don’t know anything about ferals, so joining up with a group to learn from as I help seems like a good idea.

    I figured it was a bad time of year though.

    What language do your neighbors speak? Or languages? If we can find someone who can communicate better, maybe that would help? I have a friend who speaks several languages, could probably get by in several more, so if the languages coincide, maybe…or at least some flyers could be made communicating the issue, the danger.

    In the meantime, I hope that the the poisoning stops. Too scary.

  5. Neva Vegan said,

    Sorry I went off on that tangent–late last night I was tired and misread Animal Control (AC) as Alley Cat Allies (ACA) and went off on a rant.

    The main neighbors who feed are Southeast Asian and I’m not sure of the language. Who knows, among 4-5 houses it might be 4-5 languages, but if I had to guess I’d guess Laotian or Vietnamese, maybe Thai. There are also two more neighbors that I believe might feed, due to the congregations of cats in their yards, and they are African immigrants, again if I were guessing off the top of my head I’d guess the one family is from Ghana, and the other maybe Ethiopian, but it’s just a wild guess going off the kinds of clothes I see them wearing. The advantage with the family that I think is Ethiopian is that the little boy does speak some English, enough to say “yes, there are kittens in the yard” and so on. His mom really doesn’t and she’s terrified of my dogs, so my main communication with her is that she smiles and waves and says “I scared nice dogs.”

    But this is all guesswork unless I come out and ask everyone “hey, where are you from?”

  6. KleoPatra said,

    It’s things like this that, i’m sorry to say, make me HATE this world, HATE some of the people in this world… my heart hurt reading this, and so did my soul.

  7. Neva Vegan said,

    Thank you Kleopatra, I’ve just been sick about it. I went and talked to some other neighbors today, to tell them to keep their cats in and see if anyone knew anything. But I’m still no further along.

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