Dear Urban Diplomat: How do I get my neighbours to stop feeding feral cats?

My neighbourhood is home to a large population of feral cats. I didn’t mind until last summer, when a young couple moved in next door and started feeding them. Now, the felines have taken over my backyard, which reeks of cat pee, and I worry they could bite or scratch my toddler. (Who knows what strays may carry?) I’ve politely asked my neighbours to stop putting out food, but they dismissed my request and, worse, got sanctimonious, implying I was a bad person for wanting the animals to go hungry. How can I make them stop?

—Dog Person, Brockton Village

Unfortunately, the law is on your neighbours’ side. There are no regulations barring Torontonians from feeding feral cats, so shutting down the backyard buffet isn’t really an option. You can, however, make your property unappealing to the critters: orange peels, coffee grounds, vinegar (and, in the summer months, a sprinkler) are all effective deterrents. For a longer-term solution, call the Humane Society or look into the city’s trap-neuter-return program. You can even invite your cat-loving neighbours to join the cause.

Send your questions to the Urban Diplomat at


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