Feral cats take over Arizona neighborhood

Posted at 7:55 AM, May 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-22 10:07:47-04

They are everywhere.

Residents in the Dobson Ranch neighborhood of Mesa say they're fed up with the number of feral cats that are roaming the neighborhood.  

Alan Robinson, who has lived in the community for more than 20 years said the problem started about four or five years ago. 

"There was one time I opened my door and I counted 35 cats on my front lawn," said Robinson.

Now with cats mating, neighbors reported seeing dozens of kittens also roaming the streets. Robinson said these cats were urinating and defecating on front lawns, planters, by front doors, and in backyards.

He says cushions on his backyard patio furniture that were coated with a thick layer of cat hair. During an interview, a cat appeared out of nowhere in the backyard and jumped onto a wall.

Robinson said he had installed spikes on parts of his backyard wall to keep the cats away.

Another resident said he had to buy expensive chemicals to treat his yard because of the waste left behind.

"When I try to mow the lawn the smell is so strong, I'm inhaling it. I've had to buy masks so I don't breathe it in," resident Jim Jarvis said.

Residents believed the feral cats were attracted to their neighborhood for a reason.

"The problem statement is not that we have feral cats. The problem statement is that some people feed those feral cats. They call this place home," Robinson said.

Pictures and videos of the feral cats taken by residents in the community showed at least eight cats sitting in the backyard of one home, by a swimming pool. Another woman who asked us not to identify her shared photos and videos of almost a dozen cats sitting on a neighbor's front lawn.

Other pictures taken by Robinson showed cats on the sidewalk, cats sleeping on top of parked cars, on the roofs of homes.

One cat appeared to have several large lumps on it's back.

Robinson said he had done a lot of research that showed the health hazards in communities with feral cats.

He pointed to a study published in "Trends in Parasitology" showing cat feces can be a source of parasites that can affect humans and other animals in the neighborhood.

However, most Phoenix-area shelters will not take in alley cats, as they are considered free-roaming creatures, unlike dogs.

Some animal advocates say feral cats can live healthy lives outdoors. Most Arizona counties have Trap-Neuter-Return programs for feral cats, calling it the best way to control the growing population of alley cats in the community.

The Animal Defense League runs a trap, neuter and return program in Arizona. Officials ask those interested in the program fill out a form on their website.

According to information posted on the site, the number of animals killed in local shelters has decreased since their predecessor started the Spay Neuter Hotline.