You have set up an outdoor feeding station for stray cats. While you want to make sure you feed the stray cats in the community, you do not want other critters to eat the food, especially raccoons. If you find that raccoons are invading your feeding station, then you will want to implement the below tips for keeping the raccoons out of the cat food.
How to Keep Raccoons Out Of Cat Food
You may feel frustrated because you must take all these extra steps to keep raccoons out of the cat food; however, keeping the raccoons out of the cat food is not difficult at all. All that is required is for you to make some minor changes.
Only Set Food Out During the Day
The first step to keeping raccoons out of cat food is to only set bowls of food out during daylight hours. Raccoons are most active after the sun goes down, so you want to remove any remaining food before nightfall. If you find that there is food left over, you can put it back out the next day.
Do not worry about the cats going hungry because you change your feeding routine. The cats will eventually become used to finding food during the day so will know to come around accordingly. You will see that it takes the cats no time at all to adapt to your new routine.
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Set Your Feeding Station in a High Place
We all know that cats are incredible at jumping. The good news is that raccoons are not good jumpers. If you set your feeding station high off the ground, this will ensure racoons will not have access to the food. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your cat feeding station is 40 inches or higher from the ground.
In addition to positioning your feeding station high off the ground, make sure to use a slick, metal poll to set up your feeding station. Using a slick poll will ensure that the raccoons slip when they try to climb up to eat the cat food.
If you do not have a slick poll that you can use to position your feeder off the ground, you can place a skirt of plastic around your feeder. This plastic skirt will also serve as a deterrent for climbing, preventing the raccoons from turning your cat feeding station into an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Purchase a Raccoon-Proof Cat Feeder
If you really want to make sure the raccoons cannot get to the cat food, you need to purchase a raccoon-proof cat feeder. This option only works when you are providing food for one cat as a microchip on the cat’s collar is required to activate the feeder. If you are feeding a colony of cats, this option will not work.
If you have set your feeding station up to feed a colony of strays, then you need a feeder that will only provide food during the day. Automatic feeders can be set to run on a timer.
Understand that if you leave an automatic feeder outside during the night, there is a risk that raccoons will destroy it. Raccoons have been known to annihilate trash cans to get to the garbage that is inside. So, there is no reason to believe that raccoons will do the same to an automatic feeder if you leave it out overnight.
Put a Fence Around Your Property
Fencing off your property is a good solution for keeping the raccoons out of the cat food. When you place a fence around your property, you need to make sure the fence extends at least five feet below the ground. Raccoons are notorious for digging holes and burrowing into the ground to gain access to food sources.
Another thing you can do is structure your fence so it will be difficult for raccoons to climb. Since raccoons are not good jumpers, you can have your fence built to slope outward. If your fence is constructed this way, raccoons will not be able to gain a foothold and climb your fence successfully.
If you find that your area has a significant raccoon population, you can take extreme measures. You can have an electrified fence that can be turned on at night when raccoons are most active.
Remove Any Other Food Sources
Raccoons are scavengers. If there are any other food sources, lying around, raccoons are sure to sniff them out. Because you do not want raccoons anywhere near your feeding station, you need to do your due diligence to remove all other food sources from your yard.
Food sources that draw raccoons are garbage and compost heaps. To eliminate these food sources, you need to store your garbage and compost heaps in secure metal cans. Do not use cans that require bungee cords to hold them closed because raccoons can chew through bungee cords without trouble.
Call in the Professionals
You have followed all the steps to keep raccoons out of the cat food; however, you notice that nothing is working. Raccoons still congregate in your yard and are continually depriving the cats of their food. In extreme cases like this, you will need to call in professionals.
If you call in the professionals, they will come to survey your yard. They will let you know about problem areas that are drawing the raccoons to your property and will suggest ways to address these. If necessary, professionals can lay out traps that will bait and catch the raccoons.
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What Will Repel Raccoons But Not Cats
As raccons have a strong sense of smell, you can use strong scents like hot pepper, onion, garlic, peppermint oil, and Epsom salt close to the cat food to repel them.
Can Raccoons Hurt Cats?
Keeping the raccoons out of the cat food will also ensure the safety of the cats that are eating from your feeder. Raccoons can easily bite or scratch your cats during close encounters, and the last thing you want is for the cats to encounter danger while they are eating.
Raccoons can also be vectors for rabies and other serious diseases.Along with bats, raccoons account for many of the rabies cases in the United States.
This are a good enough reasons to keep the raccoons out of the cat food and take all measures to keep them away from your feeding station and your property.
In the event a raccoon gets into a fight with one of the cats you are feeding, you can consult a vet. If you are one who regularly traps and releases and are familiar with the cats in your colony, you can get them help when you notice they have been hurt. Many vets are glad to help kindhearted ones who provide food and sustenance to cat colonies.