Raccoons: Friend or foe? 2 requests to discuss ’em


That photo is from Luckie, who explains:

This raccoon was walking around my backyard when I got home today just after noon. I scared it up a tree. I’ve called a couple of wildlife guys; they can come out next week, and each will charge between $185 and $220 to set live traps for raccoons. My question: is it worth it? Can this sort of action make a difference in the raccoon population of West Seattle ? Or would I just be spitting in the wind? Are other people having daytime raccoon visitations? I wouldn’t care so much, but we’ve lost several pets to raccoons.

P.S. The raccoon is still there. It fell asleep.

This gives us the excuse to finally post one other note we received a few days from someone who wanted to discuss the West Seattle raccoon situation. This one, its sender told WSB, was written by a cat named Eros:

My name is Eros. I live on the hill in the woods just above Alki Beach. Recently I looked on the westseattleblog to see if you had any information about raccoons, but there was nothing. I am surprised you don’t have numbers of readers writing letters about raccoons since they are such a presence around here.

In the spring a mother raccoon in the woods nearby had four babies. We could look out the window and see them trailing their mother in the woods as they gradually grew up. Now they are full grown and are making an impact on my life big time. All my life I’ve had a convenient cat door to go in and out at my pleasure, but now the cat door is shut. And why, you ask? Well, it’s those pesky raccoons. Since late summer, we kept hearing little noises in the kitchen late at night and my human family wondered what it was and couldn’t figure out who was eating all the cat food. They buy me nothing but the best, healthiest dry cat food. Of course, I knew who was eating it – I was in and out often enough to see the raccoons sneaking in the kitchen but since I didn’t have a way to tell my humans, they just let it go on. I am not afraid of the raccoons, in fact I’m quite a hunter myself, catching mice, rats and other little rodents all the time. If the raccoons are around I just give them a wide berth, climbing up on railings or fences and watching them.

The day of reckoning came about two months ago when one of my humans happened to turn on the light in the kitchen and found a raccoon- one of the now grown babies – in the kitchen busily eating my food. He/she didn’t want to go out – so there was a little fracas involving a broom and much human noise while the raccoon was chased out the door. The cat door was immediately shut.

Then all the humans, residents and, as it happened, guests, congregated at the back door to see three raccoons as the door, all trying the door to see if they couldn’t push it open. The humans all oohed and aahed about how cute the raccoons’ little faces looked as they kept taking turns trying the door and then looking up as if in disbelief.

So now, the cat door has been shut for weeks and I have to sit in front of one of the doors to be let out. And, worse yet, I have to sit outside in the weather waiting to be let in.

Now, in the last two weeks the raccoons have started coming up on our front porch (we have an 80 years old house with porches (not decks) and fighting late at night. They make quite a racket with thumping and raccoon style screeching at each other. They are not appearing on the back deck looking for food any more. I guess they think it is a lost cause.

I’d like to hear from other cats or even dogs or humans who live in the area who also know some raccoons. (I’m a little interested in possums too, but they seem to be scarce here. So far no foxes or coyotes – that’s kind of scary.)

66 Replies to "Raccoons: Friend or foe? 2 requests to discuss 'em"

  • Mike January 18, 2008 (5:48 pm)

    Stay inside where you can’t kill any birds. Nice to see something around that can hunt cats. Trapping raccoons would be like trapping squirrels. That might be gone today, but tomorrow?

  • credmond January 18, 2008 (6:00 pm)

    Raccoons, like crows, possums, coyotes, and humans are opportunists. They found something around your house which was attractive and went for it. I was biking through Georgetown DC a fews years back after the bars close, 2 am, just to amuse myself watching the after-hours crowd and I saw this mother raccoon walking with her three pups and she was showing them the where’s and how’s of scrounging for food in latenight Georgetown, DC. I was totally blown away and I lived 5 miles up Wisconsin in Tenley/Fort Reno area where I had a neighborhood raccoon which knew how to open the lid of my supercan. Your best hope is to offer them no incentive. They’re tenacious, though, and get angry sometimes, so do be cautious.

  • herongrrrl January 18, 2008 (6:15 pm)

    Our cats Gus and Gil suggest to Eros that he let his owner know about this fantastic invention called a cat box, which will allow him to stay safely indoors at all times where he won’t be killed by predators or fast moving cars. It will also dramatically decrease the number of vet visits Eros needs–we all know how much cats hate those–and probably increase the number of song birds he can watch through the window for cheap entertainment.

    I’d say it’s not worth the trouble to have the raccoons trapped and removed. Others will just move in. Raccoons (and coyotes) are very adaptable critters who do very well where people leave out pets, pet food, garbage and other snacks for them. If you want to live where there are open spaces, greenbelts, mature trees and open water, you need to accept that wildlife is part of that experience, and our domestic pets don’t mingle well with wild critters.

  • CandrewB January 18, 2008 (6:20 pm)

    In the Summer we usually have Racoons living under our front porch. We leave them alone and they leave us alone.

  • CandrewB January 18, 2008 (6:25 pm)

    Sorry, I failed to read the story about Eros. So Eros, raccoons giving you a hard time? Take some self-defense courses and stop being such a puss.

  • Steveed January 18, 2008 (6:30 pm)

    It’s an attractive thought to think that making your cat an outdoor cat gives him a richer life. In the city?…No. Indoor cats live longer lives and don’t get mashed up by other cats, raccoons or cars. Sorry to burst your bubble.

  • snowlion January 18, 2008 (6:52 pm)

    They are called “housecats” for a reason. It breaks my heart to see people allow their pets outside on their own near busy streets or forested areas. If you truly care about your animal, please keep it indoors. They are not “little lions” as some people want to pretend; they are domesticated creatures, and a lot of the time do not have the instinct to stay away from cars, wild animals, or other dangerous situations.
    In addition to being opportunists, as another poster mentioned, the reason that we are seeing animals like coyotes, opossums, and racoons is because we are encroaching on THEIR territory, not the other way around. it slays me that people get so indignant when a wild animal comes around the house they built in the animal’s habitat. Would you whine if a shark bit you when you were in the ocean, too? Buck up.

  • T January 18, 2008 (6:55 pm)

    Hey there-
    We are two happy outdoor cats who live on a dead-end street and don’t want to be banished to the indoors. We like climbing trees, chasing all sorts of outdoor things, and catching mice, rats, and snakes. We’re both spayed and pretty much leave the raccoons alone and they haven’t come after us.
    The humans in our house don’t care much for the raccoons, however. The raccoons are pretty brave and come inside when the doors are open during the summer and make all sorts of noise when they can’t get in. The racoons keep getting bigger, but the humans here have been making sure that there is no food around outside, nor any water for them to wash whatever food they find.

    They’re a nuisance, but the humans here don’t do much but chase them away and keep food inside. I think they’d rather the raccoons went somewhere else…

  • LA in the Junction January 18, 2008 (7:04 pm)

    Um, house cats are called that for a reason…they are supposed to be in the house. And I love the raccoons. We have a dog, with a dog door and a securely fenced yard, and we all enjoy what we call “Coon TV” — raccoon activity outside the fence that results in hours of rapt attention and much running back and forth along the fence.

    But no one gets hurt, the coons respect the dog door (she’s an Alaskan Malamute and would take issue with anyone messing with her food, even me), and the dog respects the fence. Win-win situation with hours of entertainment. I love the raccoons — send ’em on up to the Junction. And my dog never kills song birds.

  • Sage K January 18, 2008 (7:10 pm)

    I grew up on a greenbelt and at my parent’s house we have had raccoon families visiting our back deck for years. We have cats and have never had a problem with them. Perhaps that’s because we give them dog food. Sure they come out during the day and whatnot but we have never had a problem with them getting aggressive with the cats even when they are feet from them. And they stay out of the garbage. And we get to enjoy watching them and their families. Sure they get a little vocal around the time the babies start to grow up and establish dominance amongst themselves or when two families come at the same time. But then it all settles down. I’ve never understood what the problem is with them. If you don’t want them to be around then don’t leave out things that would be of interest to them and keep a spray bottle of vinegar water around, it’s a great deterrent it you spray them with it.

    As for trapping them nice of you to look into live traps but it would be pointless, other raccoons would just move into the vacated territory. They are highly adaptable animals and have figured out to thrive in the city.

    And Eros quit being such a whiner at least you still get to go outside. Or if the raccoon’s were only using your door at night perhaps your humans could just shut it at dusk and leave it open the rest of the time, or get you one of those doors that is sensor activated to a thing on your collar so only you can get in. Or you can just be a man and deal with the fact that you can’t always get what you want when you want it. And hey your humans could have decided that you shouldn’t go outside at all. So look on the bright side.

  • Susan January 18, 2008 (7:23 pm)

    we may have invaded the teritories of many animals with our human cities, but they’ve seemed to adjust pretty well. What’s interesting is the combination of fear and amazement of some humans (and apparently one cat) that other creatures share this space with us.

    Mr. Possum lives under our shed and sometimes a family of racoons walk through here. I understand who they are and, though it made me sad to lose our rabbit to these masked marauders a few years ago, I also know that it is in the nature of all god’s creatures to survive.

    I feed the birds and squirrels and watched with interest as a hawk flew through here after some of the songbirds who were munching at the feeder. It’s callede Life.

    If a cat should catch a bird, that’s life too … get over it.

    Don’t we all love that birds nest in the Bank tower? We watch the sealife and are thrilled when a pod of Orcas travels throgh the Sound off Alki.

    I remember in the early ninties when a coyote ran into an elevator in the federal building in downtown Seattle. Certainly coyotes are not new to the area even though some humans are oh so threatened by this natural part of living here.

    Paying someone to remove racoons is truly a waste of financial resources. Who can tell one from another?

    Why don’t we all just tune in to the world in which we live and enjoy ALL of it. Ain’t Life grand?

  • SomeGuy January 18, 2008 (7:24 pm)

    Give the racoons $30,000 in a dirty paper bag and send them over to Huling Bros. They’ll jump in their new truck and head for Vegas. Problem solved.

  • Vanessa January 18, 2008 (7:30 pm)

    We have a family of six raccoons living under the abandoned house next to us (what is with all the abandoned houses in W. Sea.?) and they are not afraid of anybody. They boldly walk down the road in daylight and leave cigarette butts all over the yard. I’d be all for getting rid of them, but I’m sure there is an inexhaustible supply where they came from. Keep the cat inside. Anyway, raccoons aren’t the biggest predator in the yard anymore, what with all the neighborhood coyote sightings lately, so there are bigger issues to worry about. Rent Ratatouille and try to change your position on this issue; it’s your only hope for sanity. You can’t win any other way.

  • Ron January 18, 2008 (7:41 pm)

    We see racoons here in Fauntleroy all the time. They like to hunt for bugs in the small stream that runs through our property or tear up rotten logs or tree trucks. We see them in daylight at times, but mostly hear them at night making a variety of sounds. Like some of you have said “if you leave them alone they won’t be too much of a bother”. Don’t feed them food scraps though or they forget how to find their own food and if you move away, they could starve to death. Let them survive on natural food. Seal up your attics as well or they just may make a nest up there.

  • Gina January 18, 2008 (8:04 pm)

    Considering that the racoons usually are running about in groups of two or more (one is the look out) and that I have seen a group of 5 running about on 45th down toward Atlantic, in broad daylight, my cat is now a total indoor cat.

    I used to let her wander about when I was gardening, but with daylight racoons popping in the fenced yard, I refuse to take the risk. The opposums are the ones that leave large calling cards in the yard during the summer.

    The upside of her being indoors this year: no fleas. And no rodents have ventured into the basement. Kitty on guard.

  • MargL January 18, 2008 (8:24 pm)

    It seems we have a raccoons/possums condo under our deck. We saw tracks in the last good snow going between our birdfeeder and the deck and hear them thumping around regularly.
    They also peek in the sliding glass door – which drives our cat nuts!
    Our cat is and always has been an indoor cat. I feel bad for the neighborhood cats that spend the night on our patio furniture (as evidenced by dirt, twigs and clumps of cat fur) in this weather! One beautiful abbysinian lost her tail to a car accident shortly after being adopted by a neighbor. Now we call her ‘stumpy’ – she could have easily lost more to the raccoons.

  • miws January 18, 2008 (8:36 pm)

    “Paying someone to remove racoons is truly a waste of financial resources. Who can tell one from another?”

    It would be a cinch, if they weren’t all wearing those stupid masks! :D

    Eros, if you couldn’t verbally communicate your knowledge of the racoons in the kitchen to your humans, why didn’t you simply E-mail them? :P


  • BGH January 18, 2008 (8:38 pm)

    Leave the raccoons alone. We have two cats and they spend the night indoors and part of the day outdoors. When I get up at four in the morning to go to work I let the cats out and the raccoons are sometimes in our backyard. They don’t bother the cats. When I let the cats in before I leave for work the cats are sitting on the deck with the raccoons right there next to them. I would not worry about West Seattle raccoons, its the ones in the deep woods that I would not want to come across.

  • Rick January 18, 2008 (8:50 pm)

    I brought my cat from the wilds of Long Lake in Kitsap here for a while and sent him back home to live with my neighbors at the end of our dead end road. There he can hunt mice, birds, moles, snakes ,rats and yes,even the little ducks from the lake. Sad about the duckie but nature’ll do that sometimes. ‘Sides, the Peanut cat likes the occasional dip in the lake. Outside in the city is not good for the kitty.

  • Alki January 18, 2008 (9:25 pm)

    The racoons aren’t hurting you, why would you want to hurt them? Seems a bit silly that you want to kill wildlife for no reason! Racoons come out at night around our house. We leave them be. They just traverse through our yard on their way to find some food.

  • Spana January 18, 2008 (9:36 pm)

    Ugh, raccoons! I hate to be the anti-coon voice on this thread, but in mid-November I was walking my small dog in the alley behind our building (2100 block of Calif Ave) and we were attacked by three or four raccoons. We must have surprised them or something (they sure surprised us, they came out from underneath a car), but it was the most awful experience. Both the dog and I got scratched up pretty good and one of the raccoons dug it’s claws into my calf and wouldn’t let go until I banged it against the car. It was surreal.

    We live next to an abandoned house (or at least a house no one lives in) and we think they live either inside the house or in the half opened garage. A few times since the “incident” a raccoon has come up to our glass back door (that faces the alley) and peeked in, which makes me jump and makes my dog basically poop his pants (or at least eliminate his anal sacks).

    We called a train of people (police said call animal control, they said call fish and wildlife, they said call the city) but nothing came of it.

    I am completely paranoid on our night walks now and wish the raccoons would disappear.

  • Ron Hines January 18, 2008 (10:17 pm)

    hehe we had a whole family living at our house on 40th. The coons were quite entertaining to say the least. They never caused any trouble and were quite fun to watch. They would peek in the basement windows or over the edge of the at ya. Must have been 5 or 6 of them right there in the trees in our yard at any given time.

  • been there January 19, 2008 (5:08 am)

    racoons = either food or shelter. Spend a little time eliminating the opportunity and the racoons will move along. Eros, since you have been indoors I bet your neighbors are appreciative that you are no longer pooping in their flower beds, walking on the hoods of their clean cars, tormenting their dogs, hunting the birds, etc… oh, you don’t do those things? Of course not, how could I be so naive? Every owner of outdoor cats I have met also insists their cat doesn’t do those things. Can’t wait ’till the coyotes find the one rogue cat that is doing it.

  • Mike Gerber January 19, 2008 (8:35 am)

    Unfortunately those cute little rascals carry and spread in their feces a dreadful and nearly always fatal form of round worm. The live spores stay in the soil for years and can be inhaled from simply stirring up the dirt. Within a couple of days the victum starts to go blind and in 2 weeks is dead (they attach to the nervous system – apparently it’s quite agonizing). The CDC suggests that one wear a moon suit when cleaning up racoon poop.


  • Ken January 19, 2008 (9:05 am)

    When raccoons sound like they are fighting? It is usually something slightly different….

    Raccoons are not something to be “controlled” unless it appears sick or injured. They were here first and close to Camp Long, I see them nearly every day.

    They seem to like taunting my three large dogs from just beyond the fence.

  • GenHillOne January 19, 2008 (9:31 am)

    We (including INDOOR cats) get to enjoy Racoon TV outside our window several times a week. They do a good job digging for bugs. Love that we can watch them literally nose to nose!

  • flipjack January 19, 2008 (10:38 am)

    A safe way to protect your home….
    Try Coyote Urine powder or crystals..you sprinkle it around the your yard..The Raccoons will smell predator markings and not go near.

    I can’t personally vouch for it’s effectiveness but we had a coon problem last year (it was attracted by our neighbors who left bowls of cat food outside for their cats)…They aren’t going to kill a cat for food unless they are really hungry or in defense.

  • Lauren B January 19, 2008 (10:43 am)

    Scatter some moth balls around your deck- the raccoons hate the smell and will stop playing American Gladiator on your deck at night. I had the same problem and it worked liked a charm!

  • Ian January 19, 2008 (11:54 am)

    Until they’re in your kitchen, in large numbers, don’t worry about it:


  • Jenny January 19, 2008 (12:07 pm)

    It seems to all depend on which family/posse of raccoons you come across. Apparently the neighborhood N. of Rose St. near Lincoln Park has co-existed with them for decades – including outdoor cats – with no problems at all. No fighting, nor diseases. One gentleman I talked to was baffled at those reports of aggressive raccoons down near Olympia last year, and felt that the squirrels getting into screened in areas were bigger pests.

    It almost sounds like you have to find out which religion/ethnicity/subculture a given raccoon clan belongs to before you can make an informed judgement about whether they’re going to be a problem. :-D

  • Gigi January 19, 2008 (12:10 pm)

    Dear Eros,

    My name is Louis, and I was a very happy orange cat living in the Admiral neighborhood. Then someone on my street started feeding raccoons. I made the mistake of being in own my backyard when a Mom raccoon and a her teenager came walking through, and I was mauled to death. The vets tried to sew me back up, but the raccoons had yanked my tail off so hard the most of my bottom was beyond repair.
    I know a little kitten that was also mauled across the street in her own garage because the raccoons managed to find a way in.
    I really wish humans would realize that it’s creating a dangerous environment for household pets when they FEED raccoons. Raccoons have razor sharp claws and can do a lot of damage, and once they have found food, it is very hard to discourage them from returning.
    My Mom spent years chasing raccoons out of the yard, squirting them with hoses, trying to protect my surviving sister. Mom finally moved away and doesn’t miss the raccoons.

  • Indaknow January 19, 2008 (4:26 pm)

    Personally, I keep all of my cats indoors BUT there is a special kind of locking cat door that will only open IF your specially-collared pet tries to get in. If any animal without the collar attempts to enter the door will not open. You can check one out at http://www.drsfostersmith.com. It is called the Staywell Magnetic Cat Door. At least it will keep the little bandits out!

  • CMP January 19, 2008 (4:30 pm)

    That’s so sad about Louis…poor cat! My family has always had indoor cats,mostly b/c of the threat of cars, but racoons were a definite concern. I hope that the owners of Eros will try the moth ball suggestion so they can resume use of the cat door again. I would freak out if I found a racoon in my kitchen; heck, they creep me out when I’m in a car or home and see them scurrying around.

  • PM January 19, 2008 (4:34 pm)

    HUMANS named them “house cats”, this is not some official, biological breed. As an owner of more than one cat I can tell you that most cats (certainly mine) are much, much healthier .. especially mentally… if they get out of the house once in a while, just like humans. Fresh air is good for them as is exercise. It just takes some human intelligence and caution. My kits only go out when I am home and only during daylight. They are far, far happier when they do, and even happier when I am working in the yard and we can socialize together. It’s all about finding some balance and not feeding scavengers like raccoons.

  • Michael January 19, 2008 (5:19 pm)

    I for one welcome all our new feline WSB posters/overlords!
    It’s a tough balance – keeping your cat(s) safe from harm while keeping them engaged and active (about as appealing to most cat owners as properly training a dog is to most dog owners, which is to say, sadly, not very).
    Of course, house cats aren’t named house cats for any particular reason – in fact, it’s just vernacular. But it IS much, much safer to have them remain indoors, properly entertained and cared for.
    Last, I would be reluctant to use the “special collar” cat door, because cats tend to get their collars hung up from time to time, and a proper cat collar is made to come off in that situation. Imagine your cat trying to run in to avoid a coyote or raccoons or a loose dog (so many around), losing its collar on a shrub branch on the way, and finding its trusted escape route locked as the assailants quickly approach.
    Best ways to go if you feel bad about keeping your cat “cooped up”: have the cat go out with you (they even make harnesses so you can…oops, so the cat can walk you), or build a “cat run.”

  • Elikapeka January 19, 2008 (5:42 pm)

    My raccoon story – one summer evening we heard a commotion outside our front door. Turned out to be a baby robin that we thought had fallen from its nest, and two of the neighborhood cats were after it. It was almost fledged, but couldn’t quite fly. We rescued the bird, with mom dive bombing us the whole time. Then we realized there was a raccoon in the tree where the nest was, munching on the rest of the baby birds. He/she finally got mom, too. We took baby to PAWS the next day and they kept him until he was ready to fly. So I have mixed feelings about raccoons, but they’re part of the landscape, and getting rid of a few here and there won’t make any difference in the population. I like to watch them, but they can be really mean critters, so the cats are indoors and I keep my distance.

  • RS January 19, 2008 (5:59 pm)

    Why is this such an issue?? Just keep your freaking cats indoors. Then they won’t kill birds, walk on cars, taunt dogs, poop in flower beds, get hit in traffic, or mauled to death by raccoons. It seems pretty simple to me. If you need that desperately to have an animal that can hang outside, then get a dog. Raccoons = outside, wild animals. Cats = indoor, DOMESTICATED house pets.

  • kml January 19, 2008 (6:38 pm)

    Wow, I never knew there was so much indoor cat prejudice out there! I’m thankful my independent little cat does her business outside and we don’t have to clean a litter box or have one around our small children. The one time we did need to lock the cat in for a medical reason, she made our lives miserable until she was allowed back out. She wears a bell so the songbirds are safe, but she does catch the occasional rat or mouse.

    We have one of the locking magnetic cat doors mentioned above and it works pretty well to keep unwanted visitors out most of the time. We got it at thatpetplace.com.

    We have had raccoons both in the Fairmont neighborhood and now in Admiral. Sometimes when it is really windy, the magnetic door doesn’t catch properly and they have followed our cat inside. They aren’t really that keen on leaving either. We lock the door at night now and unlock it (for our cat’s entry only) during the day.

  • kml January 19, 2008 (6:41 pm)

    I should mention too for those sensitive folks, our cat doesn’t sleep outside in the cold or on anyone’s lawn furniture. She spoons with my leg for most of the night. :-)

  • Indaknow January 19, 2008 (7:43 pm)

    Just a quick FYI, the magnetic “key” for the locking door fits ONTO the collar. I think it would work just fine on the special “don’t-hang-yourself-kitty” collar.

  • V January 19, 2008 (7:52 pm)

    Raccoon’s are dirty little varmints who are best left for road kill. Problem Solved!

  • SLK January 19, 2008 (8:31 pm)

    We’re not big fans of our neighbors’ cats using our back yard as a litter box, so last summer we rigged up one of those gizmos that attaches to a garden hose and sprays water when activated by motion. We got some good laughs watching cats and racoons (and my husband on one occasion) getting sprayed by water and quickly leaving the yard.

    Within a week, though, the racoons had figured the system out. One morning we watched as several racoons patiently approached the sprayer from the side, unscrewed the sprayer from the garden hose, and took turns lifting up the hose and drinking from it. I have to say that the baby racoon drinking from the garden hose was pretty adorable… even though we were out $50 and still have a problem with cats.

  • Luckie January 19, 2008 (8:49 pm)

    Yeah, I’ve decided it would be a waste of time and money to try to trap raccoons. And I do understand the “they were here first” argument. It’s a tough issue, because on the one hand, I generally like animals and would like to live and let live, but on the other hand, I don’t really fancy having raccoons hanging around my backyard, especially since I have young children. Mike Gerber brought up the raccoon parasite issue, and here’s the word from the CDC
    (caution: don’t read if you’re about to sit down to a nice meal.)
    Besides, raccoons are just bastards. Look at the raccoon in the photo I took. Look at his eyes. Those eyes say, “Watch your back, because I’m gonna go all Baylisascaris on you.” That is one hatin’ raccoon.
    And for what it’s worth, the pets we lost were not outside cats.

  • Mike January 19, 2008 (9:21 pm)

    Slk, That is the funniest post I have ever read.

  • Chris January 20, 2008 (1:11 am)

    I will personally give anyone who catches one of the critters a whole $5.00 and I will turn them into the sweetest winter hat you done ever saw. Shucks, ye’ll be the hit of the trailer park!!!!

  • been there January 20, 2008 (5:43 am)

    kml…. classic attitude of outdoor cat owners “glad my cat does its business outdoors so I don’t have to clean a litter box”. Next time your neighbors dog has to crap would you be ok with it doing so in your back yard? Of course not, you would be outraged… Why is it ok for cats to run loose? I’m sure you all love your cats but the whole let them run free outside thing seems lame and inconsiderate to others (I know, your cat stays in your yard…. right). If you are going to have a pet take the good (cuddling your leg at night) with the bad (spend some energy playing with and exercizing it vs. just opening the door). I saw another post mention so many loose dogs running around…. that is lame to (although aside from Lincoln park I don’t see it) put a leash on you dog! Or, come join us at Westcrest…

  • Daniel H January 20, 2008 (9:03 am)

    I have lived on Walnut with the Fairmount Ravine as part of my back yard for five years. The five years have been a constant battle (tried wire mesh at night, motion detecting springler, etc.) to make use of the pond that the house came with….. a series of koi fish, plants and a pump with gurgling ceramic fish have served as nothing more than a place for a meal and entertainment for a family of raccoons.
    Having given up on the idea of fish…or even water plants..my final retrenchment (surrender) was to remove the pond liner and fill the area in. My neighbors cats are happy that I no longer have the “raccoon mini-spa” in my back yard. Sorry raccoons! Cats are welcome.

  • kml January 20, 2008 (10:31 am)

    OK, been there, again, wow. That’s a lot of prejudiced judgment coming from you, given you don’t know me or my cat. We don’t simply open the door. We play with our cat quite a bit – she was our child before we had children and we love and care for her as such. We often ease the tensions of the day in fact, watching her chase after a light laser on the living room rug. But I don’t feel keeping her caged inside does her or us any favors. We found and adopted her and she’s just not an indoor cat – never has been. Cats are animals and I don’t necessarily agree that they belong locked up in a small house like a bird in a cage. There are valid arguments of course about using a neighbor’s yard as a litter box, etc. if that’s not okay with someone. We accept it when a neighbor’s cat comes and hangs out in our yard but I can see how some people wouldn’t. We’ve had our cat almost 8 years and never had a neighbor complain about her. In fact, most seem to really like her and love that she’s the kind of cat that comes right up to you and rubs her head on your leg. I guess the kindest thing to do here is just agree to disagree and leave it at that. If our cat was ever a nuisance to anyone, we would of course work to change the situation so that it worked for everyone, our cat included. Our only complaint about her outside status is that she does attract the raccoons.

    One note about the magnet on her collar. It doesn’t fit over the connections on most collars. We have to buy the basic buckle collar for her as the snap ones don’t work with the magnet.

  • WSMom January 20, 2008 (11:36 am)

    I wonder what would become of our rat and mice population if all cats were kept inside. Our cat wakes us up at 4:00 am to go outside (really annoying) and is back in by 7:00 am, then eats and sleeps the rest of the 21 hours of the day in the house. We’re amazed at the number of rats (even big ones, but mostly babies) we find dead in our yard. Really gross, but I’d rather find them dead than alive!! Not to give too much credit to our kitty, they’re lots of neighborhood cats that help to keep the rat population at bay. I think our cat would go insane if we didn’t let him outside a bit. My daughter wants me to add her two cents, she thinks that cats need to hunt to release their inner cat-ness, otherwise they’ll terrorize the house. She thinks this is why indoor only cats destroy furniture while our cat has been a perfect kitty!

  • Ray January 20, 2008 (3:18 pm)

    We hired a professional trapper who in just a few months, trapped six racoon. Each one of them was investested with mange. The trapper is not cheap, but neither is the investment I made to my koi pond, the plant and the fish, all of which the racoon were destroying. Since I do not know how the trapper deals with the capture, I do not have any guilt. Sorry, folk, don’t mess with my property or I will swing back.

    When we found out about the disease, it sealed my opinion about having these “cute” wildlife come into my house and yard to find food. They are not socialable, in fact, they are quite dangerous to you, children and animals.

    Racoons are also quite intellegent. We trapped one and a neighbor heard it crying so released it from its trap before my trapper could pick it up. It came back around to hunt for fish and rip up my plants, but din’t go into the trap. It eventually got away, or went to another neighbors trap.

  • Mike January 20, 2008 (5:30 pm)

    Most studies of wildlife in North American have concluded that native birds have lost more than 50 % of there population due to domestic cats. It isn’t “nature” for them as the domestic cat is not found here naturally. Bobcats are different and aren’t able to hunt the same. You people that let your cats out are letting them use your neighbors yard as a not quite porta pottie while also destroying native wildlife. You probably all vote republican as you don’t care about the land or your neighbor and want only your own way. The only good cat is the one in my headlights.

  • TammiWS January 20, 2008 (7:08 pm)

    Raccoons are nothing but a pain in the rear. They have broken through my LOCKED cat door into my sun room COUNTLESS times and once walked INTO my living room. Nothing stops these creatures. I put the cat food away, the water away, lock up the garbage, I’ve bought powdered coyote urine (yes, supposedly works, it didnt…), built a fence – have a totally clean home – yet they continue to visit and are incredibly SMART! Just bought a new fangled electronic cat door (different than the one I have now) for $200 – which will also require a new back door – to try and keep them out – we’ll see if it works! Cute in the movies but not in real life….

  • JT January 20, 2008 (8:53 pm)

    Mike- I’d like to read those studies. Could you post a link. In reality, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continually states the decline of native birds is due to invasion of non-native species, habitat loss (humans), disease, and pesticides. All the studies I can find support the same conclusion. Blaming cats is perpetuating a myth. For the record, democrat, indoor cats, litter box.

  • WSB January 20, 2008 (10:03 pm)

    Interesting WA state govt-originated link here.

  • JT January 20, 2008 (10:57 pm)

    google “cause of native bird decline”

  • Mike January 20, 2008 (11:00 pm)

    Thank you WSB.

  • been there January 21, 2008 (5:28 am)

    The whole “don’t want to keep my cat locked up” argument for outdoor cats is lame. If you feel your house/yard is too small then DON’T GET A PET. And for everyone with outdoor cats who are sure that all you neighbors just adore the cat…. you should really appreciate you neighbors because they are just being nice to you. Ask them how great your cat is when their dog is going bananas as the cat sits on their fence, or how wonderful little tabby is when they are sifting through your cats poop while gardening, or when they are trying to chase your cat out of the house after it snuck in while they were unloading groceries. I bet they especially love the little critter after they wash the car and find paw prints on the hood, or when their daughter watches the cat kill a small bird. I’m not a cat hater (we have had indoor cats) but enough with all the they need/deserve to be outside thing. Just because you want a cat doesn’t mean your neighbors should have to put up with it (I know, I know… YOUR cat is different). Not to mention it is dangerous for the cat.

  • jrd January 21, 2008 (12:38 pm)

    A couple of my cats spend the night outdoors. There are these great inventions called cathouses. They are raised and insulated. My cats are totally Call of the Wild, and refuse to come in. But they are warm and happy in their houses. I would never leave my cat outside at night without a raised and insulated place for them to sleep.
    Racoons come and visit a couple times a month, but leave when they see there is no food. The cats stay in their house, the racoons have never bugged them.
    The only time I’ve ever had a problem was at the last place in WS I lived at. I’m pretty sure the neighbor was feeding the racoons and possums, and they were not the least bit scared of humans. Anyone who feeds racoons (I’ve seen a couple posters here admitting it) STOP. They are wild animals, not pets, and are capable of getting their own food. When you feed them, you take away their natural fear. Not good for us humans, especially not good for the racoons.
    As for the whole cats pooping in their neighbors yard…maybe you should tell your neighbors to get their cat fixed. Fixed cats don’t roam very much. My cats never leave our yard. The only time I’ve had a neighbors cat in my yard was a tomcat who very obviously was not fixed. Cats who bother neighbors are the vast minority. I’ll take a cat coming in my yard over a dog any day.

  • susa January 22, 2008 (1:27 pm)

    Is this were I get to remind everyone that 60% of the raccoon population carries rabies? This a quote from a pal who is a small mammal curator at the Natl Zoo in DC. Yes, they are adorable – but do not mess with them (or let your pet mess with them).

  • kml January 22, 2008 (3:32 pm)

    Since “been there”‘s comments seem to be aimed at my entries, I have to ask this. If you met me on the street, say in the Junction on a Saturday morning, is this the way you would really talk to me in person? In regards to the whole cat thing, if you need to be right, okay you can be right. It doesn’t change anything for me and my cat (or my neighbors, with whom we get along very well – respectfully, I don’t think everyone feels the same way you do about outdoor cats), but I will admit the whole discussion has opened my eyes to issues I didn’t realize were so sensitive. If I ever purchased or adopted a kitten, I would probably think very seriously about it being an indoor cat.

    However, I suppose I am most alarmed at how quickly a message board can become a outlet for someone’s intolerances. Maybe I’m just new to this blogging thing but I wonder if being rude to your neighbors from the safety of a keyboard is a trend and whether or not it is or will eventually lead to yet another avenue for rude and even dangerous behavior, like road rage and other “anonymous” angry acts. (I know, I know… that’s not what YOU are doing). I am apparently a hopelessly ignorant, cruel and unthinking person, probably a Republican conservative, (I know, I know… that’s NOT what you were saying) when it comes to my cat and my neighbors. But the whole sneering tone seems really inappropriate. After all, we are West Seattle neighbors and we both seem to care about our community.

  • deb January 22, 2008 (4:37 pm)

    susa said: “….60% of the raccoon population carries rabies..”

    With all due respect to your pal in DC, I know for a fact that that statistic does not apply to Western Washington! A small-mammal expert on the east coast probably isn’t the most qualified person to report rabies statistics for our region.

    We are lucky enough to live in an area that has seen very little rabies activity in the last ~50 years. There are a couple of interesting distribution maps available here:


    The USDA and CDC web sites both have lots of (factual!) rabies statistics and other information.

    I wonder why my other comment on this post never got posted. WSB, could it be because it included multiple hyperlinks?

  • WSB January 22, 2008 (4:56 pm)

    Our spam filter does catch anything with more than two links, and we also have a filter for various words (mostly profanities and insults) – plus the spam filter sometimes has a mind of its own regarding what it decides to hold onto (not even sure about all the criteria). Sorry if it ate your comment, we imagine that happens to a couple comments per day; unfortunately the price of getting spammed thousands of times a day (porn, pharma, what have you) is to have to use a really good filter!

  • deb January 22, 2008 (5:05 pm)

    Thanks for the reply, WSB. It must have been because of the multiple hyperlinks AND the multiple profanities! ;)

    I won’t bother reposting it because other people have pretty much covered my points. But I will say that the PAWS web site (paws.org) has a ton of great information about indoor vs. outdoor cats, and another ton of fantastic information about coexisting peacefully with raccoons and other urban wildlife.

    I volunteered for many years at the PAWS Wildlife Rehab Center, and also worked there as a paid employee for a year. One fact (not opinion–cold, hard fact) I can share about working up close and personal with raccoons is that they have some of the stinkiest poop in the animal kingdom. Honestly, it’s beyond putrid. But I can’t help it: I love raccoons anyway.

  • Stephanie February 6, 2008 (12:41 am)

    Please don’t trap the raccoons… I grew up on Bainbridge and one summer, my mom and I got in the bad, bad, bad habit of feeding this sweet little blind raccoon and her 2 babies cat food. Well, eventually we had more than 20 raccoons coming around our house regularly. Once we learned more about it, we realized that when raccoons go un-fed, they will literally break into your home (they are ridiculously smart and crafty!)! So, we had this trapper from the middle of who-knows-where come to trap them (in live traps) and take them to the woods or whatever. So, he came and trapped them (after many failed attempts and many neighborhood cat-catchings) and he took them to a wildlife reserve… We thought this would be fine/great, except the mother raccoon ended up getting so scared that she freaked out, tried to get out of the cage, injured herself horribly, and they had to put her to sleep. Then, they let the babies go, but of course they were still dependent on the mother, so…? It was an awful experience. Just leave them alone and don’t feed them!

  • NoelleatAlki February 26, 2008 (10:49 am)

    We are two West Seattle little pups. We live just above Alki on the hill and love our trees & grass to play on. We love living by the park. Sometimes when we go on walks with our human mom we see a troop of three raccoon. Our mom always grabs us and crosses the street. We our only 10lbs each but we are not affraid of the Raccoons. We Would just like to sniff them and say hi. Mom worries the raccoons might attack us if we try to make friends. Sometimes the raccoons fallow us a little ways up the road. Now mom does not carry treats for us to eat on our walks any more.We just eat our treats when we get home.

  • Simschs June 10, 2008 (6:09 pm)

    Yes, racoons in broad daylight is weird and worrisome. We have two that have come in our yard. One was smart enough to do several steps to remove a large rock and open a latched door to get in our chicken coop and kill our best layer.
    :( This weekend, we came across a racoon in Woodland Park at noon and though we were walking by, it actually charged us (two adults and one kid).

Sorry, comment time is over.