For the cats of Edenhurst Avenue, speeding cars as well as coyotes pose mortal threats, according to a woman at a recent Atwater Village Neighborhood Council meeting.
“Aside from coyotes that placed the remains of a cat on my front porch … They’re a lot of kittens dying because of this,” said the woman who spoke in favor of adding speed humps to slow down traffic. That prompted another person at the meeting to chime in that she had found a cat that was killed not by car or coyote but by nature’s own masked assassin: the raccoon. Such grisly talk proved too much for co-chair Torin Dunnavant, who changed the subject “in an effort to not be morbid.”
Morbid or not, however, the discussion reflected the fears of urban cat owners and pet lovers. While coyote sightings often trigger concern among cat owners, there are many other mortal risks – among them cars and stray dogs – to worry about for cats and their owners in Atwater and across town.
“Loose dogs and fast moving cars are problems everywhere in the city,” said Brenda Barnette, the General Manager of the city’s department of Animal Services.
Although everyone is entitled to their own pet theories about what’s most deadly to city cats, Barnette did not believe the story about the Atwater cat-killing raccoon.
“That’d have to be a very hungry raccoon,” said the head of animal services, who added that it would take quite a bit to sour the amicable relations between cats and raccoons.
For residents of Atwater Village and Los Feliz, wildlife is a bigger problem because of the neighborhood’s proximity to Griffith Park. According to Barnette, however, human behavior is often the root of the coyote problem.
“Humans leave food for the coyotes, or they eat food from garbage cans. People don’t realize it’s bad,” she said. “It’s illegal and encourages coyotes.”
Besides curbing their own behavior humans can protect their cats by fencing in their backyards to stop coyotes from jumping in. She said some barriers come with rolling bars at the top to send coyotes back to the wilds of the L.A. streets with a Loony Toons-esque scramble.
Installing fencing with little room at the bottom will keep out other vermin, snakes or other potential cat killers. Barnette also recommended clearing bushes and brush from the backyard, lest wild animals find an urbane outback ridden with hide-outs. Old tricks, such as turning on lights and “banging pots and pans” will scare off most critters in a pinch, too.
The most effective way to protect cats is to keep them indoors or, at least, in a screened in porch. Despite cat’s protests, Barnette said, “It’s better for them and they’ll live a lot longer.”
Tony Cella is a freelance reporter that has covered crime and grime in Los Angeles, New York City and the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Click here to contact Cella with questions, comments or concerns.