Feral Cats & Roof Rats

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Cat Protector:
Has anyone got information or stories about how a feral cat colony can be used to help wipe out or at least keep in check Roof Rats? Here in the Phoenix area (at least East Phoenix, parts of Scottsdale, and now Tempe) Roof Rats have become a problem. Despite laying down traps, cleaning up food sources like dropped fruit (from the citrus trees) and such, Roof Rats are moving into other areas. From what I have read the ideas for getting rid of them is vast.

It seems predators can help at least keep the rats in check but not totally eliminate them. Predators such as owls, hawks, and cats (even though cats will often have trouble with the adult rats, they can take care of the juveniles) seem to be good ideas besides snakes. When the Arcadia area was having problems with the rats the city of Phoenix seemed to think cats were not a good suggestion but I think a feral colony of cats could be of some help.
The only problem I see with using cats is because rats seem to carry disease but yet so far every rat that has been trapped by the County (Maricopa) have not had any diseases. The other problem that cats might face is the use of poisoned traps which could be very harmful to a cat if they eat a rat that has the poison in their system. Also cats tend to eat their kill so they might be a bit full from eating a good sized rat. But could a colony of feral cats (which we do have here in the Phoenix area) be a good form of rat control if the rats are healthy? I'd like to know your thoughts.

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Knack:
[nq:1]Has anyone got information or stories about how a feral cat colony can be used to help wipe out or ... the Phoenix area) be a good form ofrat control if the rats are healthy? I'd like to know your thoughts.[/nq]
A cat with good hunting skills will kill more rats than it will eat. In fact, domestic cats, feral cats, cougars and other wild cats have been known to go into killing frenzies when the hunting is especially easy. In such cases they may continue chasing and killing prey even when they're quite hungry for a meal.
And you're right about predators not hunting their prey until there are none left in their domain. What really happens is that as the hunting becomes less profitable the predator either switches to a different prey animal or moves to a more profitable area.
Barn owls and screech owls are other predators that can assist in the control of rats without harming adult cats. There are web sites for the purchase/construction of owl nestboxes. However, AFAIK owls will not live in an urban area. A not too densely populated suburban area with ample tree cover can be suitable habitat for owls though.
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Cat Protector:
Burrowing owls actually have been seen in urban areas. They have a large wingspan for such a small owl. I suggested that feral cats be used as a non-toxic natural way of killing off the rats. They'd go after the younger ones but an adult Roof Rat might be a handful. Of course since I wrote the last post I read another article which stated that a cat in Glendale, AZ had brought home a Roof Rat so the problem is not just in South Scottsdale, the Arcadia neighborhood, and Tempe.

It is now also in Mesa and even North Scottsdale. I called my parents today to let them know that they need to pick the fruit off their trees (they have an orange, grapefruit and lemon tree) pretty much every day. The problem is that in the area where they live there are plenty of other neighbors who have citrus trees. I wonder if my parents will be calling be asking to use my cats should they encounter the rats.

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Sherry:
[nq:1]Burrowing owls actually have been seen in urban areas. They have a large wingspan for such a small owl. I suggested that feral cats be used as a non-toxic natural way of killing off the rats.[/nq]
Natural predation to kill off unwanted species is fine, but I don't understand how the human intervention part comes in. The ferals that exist now in the rat-infested areas will kill some of the rats on their own. But what are you suggesting, trapping additional feral colonies and releasing them in the problem areas?
Sherry
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Anonymous:
[nq:1]Has anyone got information or stories about how a feral cat colony can be used to help wipe out or ... cleaning up food sources like dropped fruit (from the citrus trees) and such, Roof Rats are moving into other areas.[/nq]
Hi there again. You might want to give this a little more thought. Maybe ask an ecologist. This sounds like a terrific recipe for wholesale disaster. Interesting and funny, since it won't happen, I hope.
Cats as cute as they are, domestic cats, are not really set up for killing adults rats as other animals bred for such purposes. Have you heard the name of rat terrier?
Cats will kill small rodents on and on, but adult rats on a large scale? Did you read the horror story in India where an adult rat killed a cat, each about the same size, and then dragged the cat into its hole, presumably to eat? This was near the river, so a river rat. Ugh. Happened last month.

And if the cats do kill the rats, what do you do with a large colony of predatory cats? You might end up giving a very bad name to cats, as they start on other wildlife now that the rats are gone.
Better to get lots of rat terriers which were bred to kill rats? Now how do you put them on roofs, hmmm. Or is this not a concern and the roof rats don't live on roofs?

And what do you do when there are not any more rats?

Probably the terriers are easier to round up than the cats which are far more agile.
The saying here is that cats fight, dogs kill.
In a stand-off between a rat that is willing to fight, you will notice a tremendous hesitation between the cat and the rat. This is not the case with the dogs which apparently don't think through the situation.

The cat's mouth is too small for killing easily a large rat compared to the terrier. And cat's even as big-time predators to small animals and birds gives lots
of thought to injuries that are possible from
engaging animals close to its size.
I guess that cats fight and fight, especially each other, after posing and screaming at each other,
but not to the point of killing,
while dogs appear to fight to kill. Dogs have been bred for that purpose and specifically for that
purpose, and especially certain breeds of dogs.
Like the rat terrier.
What do you think?
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Cat Protector:
I am talking about ferals here and this is within a city area. I was reading that in L.A. rats infested an area and they used cats (I'd imagine ferals) to help eliviate the problem. However, the city is also not a big fan of ferals. But it seems from some of the information I have read that if there is an area that has a few rats and feral cats are removed, the rats flourished and their numbers grew. The Roof Rats have spread out into different areas of Phoenix and Scottsdale. They also have made their way to Tempe, Mesa and now Glendale. In fact a news article mentioned that in Glendale they were discovered after someone's cat brought them a Roof Rat.

I have heard of Rat Terriors but have heard mixed results with them. It seems on some Sites cats are favored as effective rodent control. Although it should be noted that cats will often kill the younger rats. Roof Rats are nasty creatures though since they will chew through anything especially wires and such. Besides cats, other predators which hunt and kill rats include owls, hawks, and other birds of prey. Snakes also like to eat rats and so do ferrets. Coyotes would also be helpful but they would get to be a nuisance.
These seem to be the best non-lethal way to kill the rats. Poisoned traps can be harmful to cats and other animals because if a rat ingests the poison, the animal that catches, kills and eats it could also be poisoned. Also, these rats seem to move from an area when driven out of another. Some of the news articles seem to state that the rats probably hitched a ride on the backs of landscaping trucks in order to spread to new areas. Maybe, feral cats can help here since the rats seem to have multiplied quickly. Also, people need to clean up their yards as well and pick up all the fruit from their trees since that is a food source.

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Sherry:
[nq:1]Hi there again. You might want to give this a little more thought. Maybe ask an ecologist. This sounds like ... purpose and specifically for that purpose, and especially certain breeds of dogs. Like the rat terrier. What do you think?[/nq]
Cats really can keep the rat population down we had rats and mice in the barn, and adopted four ferals a few years ago. They completely wiped them out. The other side is, the ferals have to be neutered, vetted and provided fresh water and food every day, too. Because if they weren't, with a steady food supply, the rat problem turns into a feral cat problem. But the dachshund is the amazing one-dog gopher terminator. It amazess me. I don't know how he catches them.
Sherry
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Mary:
[nq:1]But could a colony of feral cats (which we do have here in the Phoenix area) be a good form of rat control if the rats are healthy? I'd like to know your thoughts.[/nq]
I do humane wildlife control. You must make sure the rats have no food sources or nesting sites. Secure trash can lids, make sure no one is feeding feral cats or birds, tell people not to leave pet food outside, make sure they pick up all dropped fruit, secure fruit trees and vegetable gardens with metal bands and wire mesh. You need to make sure there are no small holes leading into people's homes or garages where they can nest. Make sure there are no overgrown outdoor places where they can nest.Rats are nocturnal. Owls, cats and opossums hunt at night. They will all kill rats, so will rat terriers and small dogs like Jack Russells. I think adding feral cats may cause another problem down the line. Then people will want to get rid of the cats. My choice would be opossums. Many opossums are trapped for no reason and taken to local shelters and euthanized. Maybe you can encourage those people to let you borrow the opossums for rat control? Hopefully people won't mind the opossums.

They carry no diseases, eat roaches, snails, slugs, mice and rats, do no damage, will not attack pets or humans unless cornered and provoked, and do not nest in homes. Whatever you do, DO NOT USE POISON. You will end up poisoning non-target animals like dogs, cats, hawks, owls and humans. It also ends up in the water supply.
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Cat Protector:
This is in Arizona and in the Phoenix area so we'd have no opossums except in the zoo. Luckily in the Phoenix area, feral cats are lot more welcome. They also have a spay/neuter release program in some areas where ferals live. People aready war warned in the affected areas not to leave any food source for the rats but this type eats fruits from the citrus trees and can also hang out in them. Roof Rats chew through wiring in buildings and like any rat can fit through a hole the size of a quarter.

These rats also look for openings in buildings and will have no problem getting between walls. The Roof Rats also seem to be able to walk along the electrical lines and move along the trees without the use of ground travel. Of course one cat in Glendale, was able to nab one of these pesky critters so think of what a feral colony could do.
Yes, there is the potential a feral colony could where out its welcome but one of my suggestions would be to have humans in those area who would care for the feeding and care of the ferals and also to make sure they were spayed or neutered. The use of poisons is a given since that can harm other animals and people.

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