Sunday 7 August 2022

How do I stop my neighbour feeding my cat?

The best idea that I can think of to stop your neighbour feeding your cat is this one. You fit a dietary alert collar to your wandering cat. The collar has the following message on it: PLEASE DO NOT FEED ME and on the buckle, there is a medical warning sign. If you can buy a customised collar whereby the manufacturer allows you to choose your own words then you could put something like the following on it: I'M ALLERGIC TO CERTAIN FOODS - PLEASE DO NOT FEED ME! This is better.

Dietary alert collar
Dietary alert collar

Alternatively, you can buy a collar with the above words on it and with a tag attached to the collar which certainly can be customised on which you can put a warning about your cat being allergic to certain foods but don't tell them what foods, obviously. This might frighten your neighbour to stop feeding your cat.

Dietary alert collar for a cat who is being fed by a neighbour and becoming obese
Dietary alert collar for a cat who is being fed by a neighbour and becoming obese. Screenshot.

I think the best way to stop your neighbour feeding your cat is through fear! That sounds a bit harsh but I don't think you will succeed by simply talking to your neighbour.

Clearly, you can put on the collar's tag the name of your cat and the phone number which would allow your neighbour to telephone you and discuss the matter and then you could ask them to stop feeding your cat but, as mentioned, I think this has a high chance of failure.

I say that because when a wondering cat constantly visits a nice home occupied by a nice person, they will enjoy the experience and come back. This is not a criticism of the home in which they live. It is just that some domestic cats don't feel attached quite so strongly to their human caregiver. All domestic cats have this slightly loose relationship in any case.

It doesn't matter how good a caregiver you are; some cats are going to wander and it doesn't matter how sensible the neighbour is. If they have a nice cat constantly visiting and they enjoy their company they might be tempted - even if told not to - to feed them.

But a stern warning which sends a message that if they feed your cat, they might harm them would, I believe, have a greater prospect of success.

This perennial problem is being faced by Fiona Keddie Ord who lives in Amersham, UK. The city has a Facebook page and her two cats, Simba and Arlo, wander off regularly. She lives in a nice part of the country and she does not want to keep them inside permanently because they enjoy the outside which is apparently pretty safe.

Arlo (right, white socks) & Simba (left, no socks)
Arlo (right, white socks) & Simba (left, no socks). Image: FB.

RELATED: Woman issues flyer asking neighbours to stop feeding her cat. Who’s at fault?

But her neighbour feeds them and she is concerned about them putting on weight. She posted on the Amersham Facebook page a polite request saying:

“A gentle and polite request. These are our beloved cats, Arlo (right, white socks) & Simba (left, no socks). Simba often wanders from home for days because we suspect he is being fed treats from other homes. If so, please do not.

"He is fed the correct amounts of healthy food and additional food is not good for cats. We have to take him for his yearly health check and can’t because he is irregularly home. These cats are well looked after.

"You should never feed other owners’ animals. They may need specific foods, they may become overfed. If you come across an animal that seems mistreated or not looked after, take to a local vet to track owners or report. Do not assume and feed treats. Thank you.”

I don't know whether the post succeeded but she received lots of comments from other members of this Facebook page, one of whom suggested that she keeps cats indoors full-time, which she rejected.

Another queried why neighbours sometimes feed other neighbours' cats. They know it's not a good thing to do and they know it might upset their neighbour and cause a health problem in the cat because they might become obese. This is because cats will eat even when they're not angry sometimes. But they still do it. It's human nature.

What they should be doing really is discourage their neighbour's cats coming onto their property by gently shooing them away or making it clear to the cat that they are unwelcome. A gentle person might find this hard to do particularly when they are an animal lover. Punishment should not be involved. It should be 'divine intervention'.

RELATED: Cat punishment versus divine intervention.

But it clearly is the best thing to do unless the cat is in a bad way and underfed. Under these circumstances the neighbour's reaction should be entirely different. They have a duty to care for that cat and if necessary, take them to the local veterinarian for a checkup and treatment if they can't contact the neighbour and even if the can because the neighbour will probably be irresponsible.

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