Raccoons and feeding feral cats
Posted by Administrator on 12/30/2012
Occasionally the question of whether or not it is possible to keep
raccoons (or opossums or skunks) out of a cat feeding station. The short
answer is no. Raccoons, opossums and skunks are similar in size and
dexterity to cats, so can go most of the same places. There is ONE
exception. Cats are exceptional jumpers compared to most wildlife of
similar size. I've found one internet article that pictures and
describes a feeding station built onto a pole with a metal skirt that
prevents other wildlife from climbing in, but allows cats to jump in.
You can read more here: http://www.thewildones.net/raccoons.htm
our own experiments, we have found that possums and skunks are not very
inclined to climb, particularly skunks, which seem to ignore almost
everything above the level of their head. Raccoons, on the other hand
are incredible climbers and can scale virtually anything made of wood,
stone or brick. Feeders that would be resistant to raccoons would need
to be raised at least 24" off the ground (probably higher), and need leg
or legs that are made from, or covered with smooth, hard plastic. Even
at that, raccoons shouldn't be underestimated.
Short of going to
extreme measures, the most practical advice is the leave food out for
the cats only during the day and pick up any remaining food by sunset.
What is the consequence of leaving food out all the time? Mainly, you
will use food much faster feeding more critters! It is rare, though,
that cats will tangle with similar size wildlife. They may, however, be
discouraged from eating if there are many other critters around the
food. Study of literally hundreds of feeding station visits by critters
of all types has shown that animals universally are very attentive and
anxious while eating because it forces them to stay in one place and
focus on their eating, which makes them more vulnerable.So an overly
"popular" feeding station may become less appealing to more shy animals.