Author Topic: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)  (Read 5500 times)

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Charliebug

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I do realize there will be very differing opinions on this and I will start by saying that I have never had a pet that I did not

a) Keep inside.
b) Take absolute ownership of their behaviour and their care.
c) Take 100% responsibility of all of the time, no matter what.

Background: I lost my Floyd (cat) in February of 2012. He was 13 years old. It took a while but I eventually placed an add on a local ad website looking for a male kitten and, after a few false promises, I got Sam.

Now: Sam has been an absolutely amazing addition to our home. He gets along with the dog and my older cat Charlie (15) but one thing Sam had before he came to live with us was an outside existence.

I got him in July of 2012 and did not let him outside unless he was on a harness all summer, and through the winter he was inside at all times. When spring came he started getting hyper, as kittens will do, and since I do not live alone (I live with my Mom and she said she would not put up with another summer of keeping the door closed all the time) I had to make compromises. I live in a trailer park (manufactured homes- not campers) and there are plenty of cats who come and go as they please here. I never wanted my kitten to become an outdoor cat but it is hard to keep one in when they do not want to be. He escaped every time we brought groceries in...everytime I came home or left...you get the picture. Arguing with a cat is like arguing with a wall. Unless we had him on a short leash he would be off before we knew it. So this spring came and he got out and we shut the door. Then we waited and worried and waited and worried and when he came home we swore we would never let him out again. Ha! (I should mention he is neutered so he was not prowling that way). Charlie and Floyd were very laid back kittens so I never had to deal with this before, plus Sam is just a little bit more streetwise than they ever were so I didn't have a clue how to deal with his escapism.

So finally I got used to the idea that Sam was going to do what Sam was going to do and there was nothing I could do to stop it unless I was on it 24/7. I work shiftwork so there was no way I could be and I got to know the park and the people in the park pretty well and had a good feeling that Sam would be safe. As it turns out our neighbours talk to us and one by one they all came over and told us that Sam had been over visiting and what a nice cat and they think he is lovely. No complaints at all, until tonight.

First of all you need to understand that I do not know from one day to the next what status I am with my "friend" across the street.  Some days I can do no wrong and others she is judging me from head to toe. Perhaps I should not worry so much about her opinion but she happens to be one of those people who, if she has nothing to complain about, will find something to complain about. I made the mistake of telling her that Sam is allowed outside during the day so she knows he is out and about. That was about three weeks ago. Tonight she called and said that her husband caught Sam burrowing a hole under their trailer the other day and also her stepson caught Sam walking across the windshield of her car leaving muddy footprints. I cannot dispute this since I did not witness it nor can I account for his whereabouts during those times. What I do know is that Sam has never done either in his own yard (I know that doesn't mean squat).
She told me that she was going to call the park manager (who has met Sam and loves him) and complain but she felt it was better to "let me know first" that this was a problem. I thanked her for letting me know first and addressing the problem. The problem is, how do I address it? I can lock my cat up just for her sake but I feel she is only complaining because she (her hubbie) has nothing else to complain about. I do not feel her concerns are real or valid but I have no way of proving that. I know some of you will absolutely condemn me for not keeping him inside to begin with and being irresponsible and I understand that. I am very aware of the risk I am taking by letting him run around during the day and I know I am easily at fault for his alleged crimes. I am not trying to be a "protective mom" and let him get away with whatnot in the neighbourhood. If I had not seen my "friend" complain about every little thing that crosses her path I would believe what she says outright. Clearly the park is okay with Sam doing what he does and the more Sam is out the more he wants to stay home. Aside from that, how can I keep things okay with my neighbour/friend? Do I need to put mittens on Sam to prove he doesn't burrow? Should I go over every morning and clean her windshield so there are no paw prints?  The easiest answer for most would be "keep him inside" and I know that is what she wants but it is not that easy for me to do. I believe it is a control thing on her husband's part because of personal issues he has with my mom.

So what would you do if you were faced with this "friend" who tells you there is a problem with your cat? Is there anything you can do? BTW for the record I am not certain what the park rules are about pets running around in the neighbourhood. I assume it is not allowed however nobody enforces it and I doubt they ever will. This is very much a friendship issue and not a legal one.

Sharnita

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2013, 05:02:44 AM »
Don't lock your cat up "just for her sake".  Do it for multiple other reasons.

Do it because it means that Sam won't be hit by a car.

Do it so that another animal doesn't tear Sam apart.

Do it if there is a rule about it and avoid the typical kids's excuse "But the other kids do it ..."

You ask if there is anythign to do if somebody tells you there is a problem with your cat.  Of course there is but it involves effort and displeasing your cat a bit. If you think that it seems to make more sense to make your neighbors displeased and taking risks with your cat then that is a choice you have made.  It could eventually impact the friendship and/or your cat.

Melle

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2013, 05:04:49 AM »
(snip) I live in a trailer park (manufactured homes- not campers) and there are plenty of cats who come and go as they please here.
(snip)
(I should mention he is neutered so he was not prowling that way).
(snip)
As it turns out our neighbours talk to us and one by one they all came over and told us that Sam had been over visiting and what a nice cat and they think he is lovely. No complaints at all, until tonight.
(snip)
She told me that she was going to call the park manager (who has met Sam and loves him) and complain but she felt it was better to "let me know first" that this was a problem.
(snip)
Clearly the park is okay with Sam doing what he does

By these highlighted quotes, in my opinion, you're essentially in the clear.
First off, I don't think it's your responsibility to prove that Sam hasn't burrowed anywhere, it's your "friend"'s responsibilty to prove he actually has. As you say, there are plenty of cats roaming the park, each perfectly able to burrow.

In a trailer park as in any residential area, you can't control what animals do outside. And shutting Sam in would be cruel now that he's used to and enjoying the Great Outdoors.

It seems to me your neighbor has a problem with the freeroaming cats in the park in general, but approached you directly because she has a connection - albeit an unsteady one - with you, singling out Sam in the process.

I think you should go to the park manager and ask for his advice directly. You should also find out what the official rules are about pets, and maybe find out who the owners of the other free-roaming cats are and connect with them, so if push comes to shove you have allies.

Momiitz

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2013, 05:22:50 AM »
I POD what Melle said.

sammycat

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2013, 05:27:29 AM »
as do I.

Sharnita

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2013, 05:28:22 AM »
Pet owners better control what their animsls do outside. If a big dog atstacked Sam (or a small child) would the response be to shrug it off and sy "Hey, the dog was outside, can't expect the owners to control what it does there."

Charliebug

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2013, 05:32:46 AM »
Thank you for pointing out some very real concerns Sharnita- I would like to address them one by one to show that I have given this consideration and I am not a totally irresponsible pet owner.

1) The chances of Sam being hit by a car is pretty much nil since the speed limit in the park is 20 km/hr with speed bumps and a lot of very concerned home owners and we are nowhere near a busy street.
2) I have taken our little dog for numerous walks around the park and, during the day, there is very little chance of a wild animal or anybody's pet attacking Sam. I am very aware of what animals are around and the closest he has ever come to this kind of danger was a "wild" pug on a leash who wanted to sniff his bum.
3) I am not using "the other kids do it" as an excuse at all. I was simply stating that there are other cats roaming around to show that Sam is not the sole kitty out there who could leave paw prints on a vehicle.

Like I said, I am aware this could be a point of contention for those who would never "allow" their pets outside. I have never had to deal with it either until now and perhaps I am taking the easy way out but I have taken many things under consideration and I do not believe I am putting my cat in any imminent danger.

Thank you Melle for your understanding response (clearly you have such a cat or know someone who does). I would love to go to the park manager but he is in the hospital at the moment and I doubt he would care one way or the other anyhow. All I really want to do is maintain a friendly but somewhat detached relationship with said friend. I guess I will just have to keep an eye on Sam as much as I can and let her do what she will.

Sharnita

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2013, 06:03:18 AM »
I think you make a leap. I have no problem with letting pets outside if you can monitor them gor their sake and the sake of others. The harness sounded like a good approach to taking a cst outside. However, abdicating responsibility for where it goes or what it does while outside is not the behavior of a responsible pet owner or neighbor. And the fact that it is a cat instead of a pit bull shouldn't be a reason for a pet owner to shrug and say "Hey, it is outside, can't control pets while they are outside." If somebody had their dog outside I would expect them to be able to control it. If I wanted them to keep it off of my property I would expect they could and would do that. I don't believe those are unreasonable expectations. I don't believe owning a cat instead of a dog somehow changes those obligations as a pet owner or a citizen

veryfluffy

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 06:53:37 AM »
Tonight she called and said that her husband caught Sam burrowing a hole under their trailer the other day

This really caught my attention. Mainly because cats are not, generally, burrowing animals. I've never heard of a cat digging anywhere really, except to bury its waste. So if the cat was "burrowing" under their trailer, it's more likely that there was a mouse or rat under there. In which case your friend should be grateful for Sam's assistance with pest control.
   

Margo

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2013, 07:02:05 AM »
I agree with Melle.

It sounds as though in your area it's normal for cats to be outside. (so I would disagree with Sharnita. It isn't irresponsible or abdicating responsibilities if you comply with the local laws and standard practice. There's also a big difference between a cat (whcih may be at risk, but if highly unlikely to present a risk to anyone, and a dog, which may both be at risk and present real risks to other people)

What you could do is to offer your neighbour suggestions on how she can discourage *any* of the cats from coming on to her property, if she doesn't want them to - for instance, by mentioning that she could shout at or use water spray to discourage Sam (or any other cat) which comes onto her property. You could also let her know that cats tend not to like citrus smell so she could try using cintronella (or proprietry crystals / powder) to discourage cats from coming into her garden.

Of course, knowing Sam isn't welcome, if you actually *see* him on her property it would be appropriate for you to remove him.

It think that there are differences in what is reasonable and normal in relation to cats compared with dogs, and if you live in an area where it's normal, and not in breach of any local laws or rules to let a cat out, it's not rude to let your cat out.

If it is practical, you could also consider whether making an outdoor run for Sam would be an option. A friend of mine (who lives in an area where outdoor cats do face dangers from extremes of weather and from wild animals, and whose cats were rescues so in one case has been de-clawed and is unable to easily climb or fight)  has given her cats outdoor opportunities by screening in her porches, and building a larger enclosure where they have access to grass, and to old branches to climb. The cats are happy, and safe. I appreciate that this may not be practical, but even a small run (perhaps outside a window?) might allow Sam to be outdoors but not always roaming free.




*inviteseller

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2013, 07:42:53 AM »
OP, I have only read your post and no replies yet, so if I am repeating anything, sorry.  Let me start with saying that I have been a cat owner for over 30 years.  I am adamant about cats being indoor only to the point of being preachy to some of my neighbors about their allowing their cats to roam.  I also am part of a feral rescue group.  I have fed, trapped and fixed so many cats over the years I have lost count (but I remember each one).  I have had to bottle feed litters because their moms were killed, I have seen cats die from antifreeze poisoning (heart wrenching), I have managed to turn some ferals into sweet house cats, I have been out in wicked snow storms and below zero temperatures making sure all of them could get to the houses we make and right now in my basement is a momma feral and her 2 almost 2 week babies that I am taking care of...there was 7 kittens but due to an idiot not waiting for me to remove them from the spot she had her babies (that wasn't bothering anyone but this idiot who thought the kittens should be killed) and having someone take them at 2 days old for a time before we could get them back and trap mom(10 hrs), we lost 5 of them.  I have seen cats maimed and killed from them hiding up under cars, I have seen people purposely try to kill them, I have seen them hit by cars, mauled by other animals.  Most of these cats had been someones pet.  They thought "well kitty loves to be outside."  Yes, cats love going outside (*disclaimer...I have an escape artist too, but she runs out, hits the porch, then panics and wants back in), but the dangers for them are too great.  Your neighbor obviously has an issue, be it true or not with your cat roaming, and is already making complaints.  You love Sam, let this be a wake up when someone is making threats to do something that it is time for Sam to learn to stay in.  If your neighbor calls animal control, they can pick the cat up and depending on your town, sometimes these animal control places only have 24-48 hr hold before they euthanize.  It is a very big sore spot for me on that, and we just got one place successfully closed due to this, but it is a fact.  Some tips are indoor cat grass gardens, squirt bottles when he makes a run at the door , continue the walks on the harness if you want, building an enclosure in your yard where he can be out but he is safe, and please make sure he is chipped.  His safety comes first. 

AuntyEm

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2013, 07:46:26 AM »
Could you take Sam over on a leash to talk to the complaining neighbor so she could get to know him up close?  Maybe if she and Sam become friends she won't be so ready to turn him in to the manager.

Sounds like Sam is pretty safe in his environment and cats can be quite a help in keeping the area free of rodents and other pests.  I've had cats most of my life and lived where there was a feral population in the neighborhood and have never seen the burrowing behavior described by the neighbor. 

Kiara

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2013, 08:04:24 AM »
OP, I don't know where you live, but I'd check with animal control.  Some areas include cats in leash laws.  Mine does.

MindsEye

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2013, 08:13:53 AM »
Oh my...

First, not to get legal, but I would absolutely check what the laws regarding roaming pets are in your area.  In many areas (mine for instance) there are laws on the books that police and animal control officers do not actively enforce (e.g. they don't go driving around looking for roaming cats and dogs) but if people make complaints, then they will absolutely enforce those laws. 

Do you think that your neighbor will register her complaints with the police/animal control?

I think that your neighbor has very legitimate complaints about the roaming cats in the neighborhood (are they digging in her yard and garden?  It sounds like it.  Are they using her yard and garden as their litter box? Ew.) and she may have fixated on Sam because she knows him and knows that you are the owner.

Frankly if I had a neighbor whose cat was causing problems in my yard and they did nothing about it after repeated complaints, my next step would be to trap the cat and turn it over to animal control. 

Do you think that your neighbor might try to trap Sam?  Or maybe might put out something to try to hurt him?

If you think that the answer to any of those questions might be "yes", then keep Sam in your house or in your yard.  Period.

It is not your neighbor's job to alter her yard with citronella or whatnot to keep Sam (and other cats) out.  It is your job to keep Sam out of her yard since you are Sam's owner.

I second the previous poster who suggested making an outdoor run for Sam.  That way he can be outside, and you know where he is at all times.


Eden

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Re: Who Is Easier to Contend With...The Cat or the Neighbour? (Long)
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2013, 09:51:12 AM »
From an etiquette perspective I don't think you're necessarily doing anything wrong. In your shoes I might consider keeping Sam inside or on a harness and leash if for no other reason than not to risk your neighbor calling animal control as some sort of weird tactical maneuver.

For the life of me I can never understand how people have the energy for those kinds of games. I barely have the energy to make it through my day in the most straightforward way possible, let alone devising ways to manipulate and "punish" those around me.