Raccoon and Possum-Proof Your Cat Feeder: A How-To Guide

Animals such as raccoons and possums are renowned scavengers, oftentimes getting into our pet’s food, disrupting the peace, and causing discomfort. Understanding these animals’ behavioral patterns, feeding habits, physical abilities, and the ways to discourage them from our pets’ food is key to developing an effective solution. This write-up walks you through the process of designing and creating a raccoon and possum proof cat feeder, utilizing knowledge of different materials, tools, and the physical differences between these creatures. Our focus includes understanding the dynamics of their sizes and climbing abilities, while ensuring the feeder remains accessible to cats.

Understanding Raccoon and Possum Behavior

Understanding Raccoon and Possum Behavior

Raccoons and possums are both highly intelligent and adaptable creatures, making them difficult to deal with when it comes to protecting your cat’s food. Raccoons, for instance, are known for their problem-solving abilities and dexterity, able to pry open containers and even turn doorknobs. They are primarily nocturnal creatures, active during the night and seeking food. Similarly, possums possess sharp, pointed teeth and are capable climbers, allowing them to access food left in high places or thick containers. Like raccoons, they are also primarily active at night.

Feeding Habits of Raccoons and Possums

Both raccoons and possums have flexible diets, which is why they are often found scavenging in trash bins. They are both opportunistic eaters, meaning they will often eat whatever food they can find. This is particularly true in urban or suburban settings where these animals have grown accustomed to human food sources. They will not hesitate to eat cat food, being drawn by the smells and easy access. The challenge lies in the fact that these animals are attracted to the same kinds of foods your cat eats, making it a delicate task to keep them away.

Physical Abilities of Raccoons and Possums

The physical abilities these animals possess further complicates the task. Raccoons are known for their excellent climbing skills and their ability to use their front paws almost as adeptly as humans use their hands. This means that even a cat feeder placed at a certain height may not be safe from a determined raccoon. In the same way, possums are skilled climbers and can squeeze through surprisingly small gaps. Their sharp teeth can also chew through certain materials.

Challenges in Creating a Raccoon and Possum Proof Cat Feeder

There are several challenges when trying to create a raccoon and possum proof cat feeder. One major challenge is keeping the food from attracting these creatures. There’s also the challenge of developing a feeder design that can effectively keep raccoons and possums out, but allow your cat to feed comfortably. This might involve choosing the right materials, considering the placement of the feeder, and even possibly incorporating certain deterrents.

Strategies to Overcome the Challenges

To protect your cat’s feeder from raccoons and possums, you could consider solutions like placing the feeder at certain heights or in places difficult for these creatures to reach while allowing access for your cat. Another strategy is selecting materials that these nuisance creatures can’t easily damage or compromise. You could also look at incorporating some form of deterrents, like motion-activated lights or ultrasonic devices, to scare these creatures away. Understanding these animals’ behavior, habits, and physical abilities helps you develop effective strategies to keep them away from your cat’s food, hence a raccoon and possum proof feeder.

Illustration of raccoon and possum behavior, with a raccoon and a possum in their natural habitats.

Photo by stevefqld on Unsplash

Materials and Tools

Materials Required for Raccoon Possum Proof Cat Feeder

In order to make a raccoon and possum-proof cat feeder, you need several materials. These items include a large plastic storage bin with a tight lid (approx. 30-50 gallon size), a smaller plastic bin for food storage (approx. 10-20 gallon size), a piece of PVC pipe (4 inches in diameter and long enough to reach from the ground to the desired feeding height), PVC end caps, and a small cat door.

The large bin serves as the outer shell of the feeder, providing a sturdy base and protecting the feeder from weather and predators. The smaller bin houses the actual food, keeping it fresh and safe from vermin. The PVC pipe is used for cats to access the food – it’s wide enough for a cat to fit but too narrow for a raccoon or possum. The PVC end caps provide extra stability and a clean finish to the PVC pipe, while the cat door ensures that only your cats can access the food.

Tools Needed for Cat Feeder Assembly

The assembly of the cat feeder requires a selection of basic tools. A drill with various bit sizes is necessary to create holes in the plastic bins for the PVC pipe and the cat door. A reciprocating saw, or similar tool, is used to cut the PVC pipe to the correct length.

If you choose to secure the components of the feeder with screws, a screwdriver will be needed. If you want to make the feeder extra secure, you can use additional fasteners such as zip ties or adhesive. A measuring tape is essential to ensure proper fit and placement of all parts.

Optional tools include a heat gun if you wish to bend or shape any plastic parts, and sandpaper or a sanding block to smooth out any rough edges on the cut PVC pipe. Safety equipment such as goggles, gloves, and a dust mask are advised to protect yourself during the construction process.

Choosing Quality Materials and Tools

When embarking on this project, it’s wise to choose high-quality materials and tools. The bins should be sturdy and weather-resistant. Look for bins with tight-fitting lids to prevent raccoons and possums from pulling them off.

The PVC pipe should be durable and thick, as thinner pipes may be prone to cracking. End caps must fit snugly onto the pipe. For the cat door, find one that is easily openable by a cat but securely latched to prevent ingress by larger animals.

In terms of tools, ensure that the drill and saw are in good working order. A tape measure with clear, easy-to-read markings will make the job easier. If using a heat gun, make sure it has a range of temperature settings and is safe to use on plastic. Always remember to use your tools according to their safety guidelines. Whether you are an experienced DIY-er or a beginner, the quality of your tools can greatly impact the success of your project.

Image of a raccoon and possum-proof cat feeder

Designing and Building the Feeder

Understanding the Physical Differences

Before designing any sort of animal feeder, you need to understand the physical characteristics and abilities of the animals involved. Cats, raccoons, and possums have markedly different sizes, weights, and climbing abilities. Cats weigh between 9 to 11 pounds on average, while raccoons can reach up to 20 pounds, and possums can weigh up to 14 pounds. Concerning climbing abilities, both raccoons and possums are skilled climbers, while cats are typically less so.

Selecting the Right Materials

When constructing your raccoon and possum-proof cat feeder, consider using sturdy, durable materials. Stainless steel is an excellent material for the feeder’s base due to its durability and longevity. For the feeding section, use a strong plastic that is easy to clean. Use a transparent one, so you can easily see when the food needs to be replenished.

Designing the Feeder

The design of your cat feeder should focus on preventing raccoons and possums from reaching the food while still allowing the cat easy access. One way of achieving this is by designing the base of the feeder to be heavy. This will prevent raccoons and possums from tipping it over but light enough for a cat to move or knock. Additionally, consider designing the feeding area with a small aperture – large enough for a cat to reach its head and eat, but too small for a raccoon or possum, which have larger heads and bodies.

Adding Features to Discourage Raccoons and Possums

Incorporate features into your design to deter raccoons and possums. One such strategy can be using a feeder stand with slippery smooth poles, which could deter skilled climbers. Consider placing a collar-like baffle around the pole, similar to those used in bird feeders to prevent squirrels from climbing. Alternatively, try installing a motion-sensor cat feeder, which will only dispense food when it detects the cat’s microchip or collar tag.

Building the Feeder

Once you have finalized your design, gathered your materials, and prepared your tools, you can begin building your feeder. Start by constructing the base. Ensure it’s sturdy enough to hold the feeding section and heavy enough to prevent tampering from larger creatures. Next, build the feeding section using your chosen plastic. Remember to make the opening just large enough for your cat’s head. Attach this section securely to the base. If you’re including additional deterrent features, like a slippery pole or baffle, add these to your design. If you’re including a motion sensor, attach it securely and ensure it’s in a place where it can easily detect your cat. Test it thoroughly before use to ensure it has the intended deterrent effect.

With this information and detailed planning and execution, you can successfully build a raccoon and possum-proof feeder for your cat.

A feeder design with a heavy base, small aperture for cat's head, and slippery pole deterrents.

Accomplishing this feat of fashioning a pet feeder that caters to cats exclusively not only enriches our domestic experience but also maintains the natural balance by preventing wild animals like raccoons and possums from becoming unduly dependent on human resources for their sustenance. After exploiting the wealth of knowledge about the behavior of these animals, understanding and implementing suitable design principles alongside effective use of available materials and tools, we can safeguard our furry friends’ food. With this, we can peacefully coexist with nature while protecting our pets and their necessities.

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