Raccoons aren't so cute after all
July 5, 2012 2:45 AM   Subscribe

Help! I have a bunch of raccoons in my house!

I just woke up to very loud eating of my expensive cat food. It is a pile of raccoons. The cat food is at the end of the hallway, slightly around the corner, I am in the bedroom between the cat food and the only current exit. My cats are locked in the bedroom with me.

How do I force a bunch of raccoons to get out of my house without setting them off and/or having them bite me. I have tried throwing stuff at them.
posted by jeather to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I think you need to call animal control. Certainly not all raccoon have rabies, but they can be extremely dangerous if you don't know what you're doing.
posted by xyzzy at 2:53 AM on July 5, 2012

Best answer: When we had this happen I chased them out with a broom. Same thing, door open for the cats in our old house and a whole family of racoons came in to eat the cat food. Can you reach a broom? Is the way they came in open so that they can get out? They would rather flee than fight unless cornered. They will probably leave on their own once they are done eating, then you will have to take measures to keep them from getting in again. The cats probably know all about the critters if your cats go out, but it is good that you have them in the bedroom with you.
posted by mermayd at 2:54 AM on July 5, 2012

Response by poster: They have access to the outside, but if I go towards them, then I am blocking their access, it's a skinny hallway, and they are sort of in the hallway, at the end. This is an urban area, they're probably fairly tame.

I will be blocking up my back door to keep them out from now on. But first they need to leave.

These cats are indoor cats and very upset about the weird sounds and smells.
posted by jeather at 3:01 AM on July 5, 2012

I would also call animal control if I were you. If nothing else, they can give you some sound advice for methods of scaring the little buggers out.
posted by fight or flight at 3:04 AM on July 5, 2012

Best answer: Some people you can call:

* A company called K911 (canine 9/11) which is an animal-related emergency service company serving the Montreal area. They specifically mention taking care of raccoon problems. 514-677-4357

* Humane Wildlife Control - 514-395-4555

* Dial 311 and ask city services for Animal Control

In the meantime, the advice from the experts is to open up a clear path from the raccoons to outside, isolate your pets and the rest of the house, and they will leave (after finishing the cat food). You may have to abandon the bedroom to give them a clear path out.

posted by ceribus peribus at 3:05 AM on July 5, 2012

This used to happen to me all the time. nthing chase out with broom. But if that's not an option, can you wait until the food is gone and block access to all other areas? They'll get pretty bored at the end of the hall with no food.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:19 AM on July 5, 2012

Response by poster: Okay, there were in the end only two juvenile raccoons (there were, for a bit, five, but some left when I threw things at them) and I managed to circle round them with a mop (closer to hand than the broom) and a very high pitched shriek and they are out (and the back door is closed). I am fairly sure there are none left because I am back hiding in my bedroom (which does not block their egress, the door to the bedroom was on the hallway which was the only way out) and I don't hear eating sounds and one of the cats looks interested in leaving the room instead of hiding in the corner like he had been. (The other looks interested in staying at the far end of the room on my pillow.)

I really hope they are in fact gone, because if not then they are trapped inside. I don't see any of them anymore when I look before I run back and hide, but now everything reeks. There is a surprising amount of cat food left. Is it still edible by cats?

(I was actually separated from my phone for this and also it was 5:30 when they woke me up so googling was getting me nowhere because panic.)
posted by jeather at 3:22 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yay! The food is not edible and everything should probably be cleaned thoroughly. Also, guarantee that those racoons will be back unless their access is permanently cut off. Racoons are clever, clever creatures, too. I had them sneaking into the house for about a year, until one day I came home to two beat up cats and a baby raccoon positively SHREDDED on my carpet. It was unpleasant, to say the least. Good luck to you.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:48 AM on July 5, 2012

Best answer: THROW AWAY THE CAT FOOD immediately. Bleach the dishes. Raccoons can carry some icky stuff that you don't want your cats exposed to. Also clean your floors to the best of your ability.

I do wildlife rehab, and we've never had a problem from raccoon to human transmission from parasites, etc. We've had a lot of raccoon mortality due to distemper over the last 3 years; please make sure your cats have current vaccines if you have a big family like this in the area.

Check your attic, if you have one, and make sure they haven't found a way in there. Probably not, but sometimes they'll come down from above. Lid your garbage, and use a bungie cord or similar to keep the raccoons out. If they don't find something to eat, or a hiding place, they'll probably leave you alone.
posted by theplotchickens at 3:52 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Cat food gone (goodbye, pricey food, I will get you again this evening -- I have cans of wet food for now). Floors as cleaned as I can get them. Dishes soaking in bleach. Thanks, I would probably not have thought of any of that. (I would have washed the dishes, but not with bleach. I would have cleaned the floor, but maybe not so obsessively and immediately.)

The raccoons absolutely came in through the wide open back door. I am on the top floor, but of course they can get up the back stairs and just climb over the door to the balcony. I will now keep the door shut (not just the screen door shut, the actual door shut) unless I am in the back room or on the balcony, so they won't come back inside. The only other ways in are the front door (never open) and the windows, and I'm doomed if they start climbing up the siding into the windows. Oh, or the chimney, but see above about doom.
posted by jeather at 4:18 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: More thorough posting (I wanted to get the TOSS THE FOOD directive out there as soon as possible). What you most need to be concerned about with the "reeking" bit is to look carefully (with cats enclosed safely in another room) and make sure there's no poo lurking about. If you'll be crawling on the floor, wear something you can wash on really hot water with some bleach. You should be okay as long as you don't accidentally ingest some of that waste material, but your cats might sniff it or poke it, or try to bury it, and then lick a paw, which would bring all kinds of trouble. Disposable gloves are a good idea for this process, and a mask if you've got it. Use the sniff test to see if the raccoons urinated anywhere. IF YOU FIND POO, dispose of in a plastic bag, tied tightly. Sanitize the area thoroughly, wherever you find waste. Use bleach if you're able, and paper towels. You're not at risk for distemper, but your kitties are, and raccoon saliva can be a medium. Clean your floors carefully, even where there was no urine/waste, especially around the cat dishes. Soak your cat dishes in a strong mixture of bleach and hot water. These raccoons likely did not have distemper, but you never know. Wipe down your door, too, if you think that's how they came in. Raccoons (like all animals, including your cats) can have feces on their paws. We're concerned about the (very rare, but possible) transmission of raccoon roundworm. And you CAN get that.

If you can, I'd stay up tonight (or camp out near the door, so you can hear them). They scored last night, and may not have been scared enough to be discouraged about coming back. If they show up and try your door, scream at them (if it won't make your neighbor call the cops) and bang pot lids together, so they'll get the idea that there's a big scary predator here waiting for them.

A lot of websites get histrionic about the dangers of raccoons, to scare you into purchasing their services. I found the Rainbow Wildlife page to have calm, sensible advice about raccoon avoidance, and keeping yourself safe from raccoon-related illness. There's no need to get overwrought about the cleaning, despite the frantic sales-oriented websites. We're all exposed to all kinds of stuff every time we walk out of the house. Just do your best.

If you're not sure that the raccoons made it outside, consider confining your cats to your bedroom (which you know is raccoon-free) with their supplies while you're gone today. It's likely that the raccoons ran out the way they got in, but if you're not sure, better safe than sorry.
posted by theplotchickens at 4:29 AM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just read your post which mentions the chimney. The Rainbow Wildlife site I linked to has chimney suggestions too.
posted by theplotchickens at 4:31 AM on July 5, 2012

Response by poster: The reek is very definitely a wild animal reek, and not a feces or urine reek. And it's pretty much gone now. The cats can open the bedroom and bathroom doors (the only closed rooms), so I think I will take them to work for the day, then watch them more closely tonight.

I will hang out near the door (I have a futon in that room) to scare them away tonight as needed or when I am awake for it

The raccoons are gone and I have a plan of action. Thank you. I can now stop thread-sitting.
posted by jeather at 4:58 AM on July 5, 2012

bang pot lids together

Raccoon casseroles!

One positive thing, jeather: raccoons in Montreal don't carry rabies. Because Montreal's isolated from the mainland, the government makes damn sure to keep a barrier of baits spiked with vaccine around the city. But they can certainly carry other things, as theplotchickens notes.

So damn smart, urban raccoons.
posted by zadcat at 8:25 AM on July 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

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