We appreciate your concern about neighborhood cats.
Unfortunately, cat overpopulation is not a problem that can be solved through adoptions at city animal shelters. There just aren't enough people coming to the shelters looking for cats to take home. Many cats surrendered to city animal shelters are euthanized. Here is some advice about roaming cats, and some tips from Alley Cat Allies on how to keep cats out of your garden or your yard.
The Animal Welfare Department works hard to help control the pet population through spay and neuter programs.
If there are feral cats in your neighborhood, or if someone (including you) is feeding stray cats, there are charitable groups in Albuquerque that can help get the cats sterilized so they don't reproduce. The cats then continue living outdoors.
These groups are well versed in where to get traps, how to use them, where to take the cats for sterilization and what to do afterwards.
For assistance, contact New Mexico Animal Friends, 881-7297, option 3, or Best Friends Animal Society at 440-3441. Programs also are available through Animal Humane, 255-5523, extension 105.
If you find a tame cat and want to help it, the best way is to foster the cat until you find a home for it yourself. You should notify the Animal Welfare Department and register as a finder of the animal.
Frequently, what seems to be a stray cat is an owned cat which has been allowed by its owner to roam. An owned cat typically will return to its home if you leave it alone, and it can be very difficult to find the owner if you try to intervene by removing it from its roaming area.
You can attempt to reunite the cat with its owner by having the animal scanned for a microchip. City animal shelters and some local veterinarians will do this for free. If a cat is microchipped, the owner's last known address will be on record with the company that created the microchip. There is a very low rate of success in finding the owners of cats, largely because many cats aren't microchipped.
Keeping Cats Out Of Your Garden
Scatter fresh orange and lemon peels or spray with citrus-scented fragrances. Coffee grounds, vinegar, pipe tobacco, or oil of lavender, lemongrass, citronella, or eucalyptus also deter cats.
Plant the herb rue to repel cats, or sprinkle dried rue over the garden.
Use plastic carpet runners spike-side up, covered lightly in soil. They can be found at local hardware or office supply stores. Or, set chicken wire firmly into the dirt with sharp edges rolled under.
Artfully arrange branches in a lattice-type pattern or wooden or plastic lattice fencing material over soil. You can disguise these by planting flowers and seeds in the openings. You can also try embedding wooden chopsticks, pinecones, or sticks with dull points deep into the soil with the tops exposed eight inches apart.
Obtain Cat Scat™, a nonchemical cat and wildlife repellent consisting of plastic mats that are cut into smaller pieces and pressed into the soil. Each mat has flexible plastic spikes that are harmless to cats and other animals, but discourage digging. Available at www.gardeners.com.
Cover exposed ground in flower beds with large, attractive river rocks to prevent cats from digging. (They have the added benefit of deterring weeds.)
Establish a litter box by tilling the soil or placing sand in an out-of-the-way spot in your yard. Keep it clean and free of deposits.
Keeping Cats Out Of Your Yard
Apply cat repellent fragrances liberally around the edges of the yard, the tops of fences, and on any favorite digging areas or plants.
Install an ultrasonic animal repellent or a motion- activated water sprinkler, such as the CatStop™ or ScareCrow™. Available at http://www.contech-inc.com.
The Animal Welfare Department does not have cat traps for rent, and it will not come to your neighborhood to pick up a cat unless the cat has bitten a person or the cat is injured.
Feeding stray cats is very common, but attempting to eradicate the cats through poisoning or other means is a crime that will be prosecuted.