Neighbour's cat seems to have moved in with us - help!

(13 Posts)
do11y Wed 17-Jul-13 21:21:16

Our new set of neighbours moved in about 2 months ago. They seem very nice and are quiet but private so we do not know much about them. From the very beginning, their lovely cat started wondering into our garden and soon we became fast friends. Within the first 3 weeks of their arrival, I went over to introduce myself and also mentioned that their cat seems to have very quickly grown quite fond of us. At the time we had not fed him at all, but as we love cats, we did spend a lot of time making a fuss of him. Since those first weeks, the cat has started sleeping over and seems to spend all his time over here now. He follows me around and I've even witnessed him defending 'his territory' (my garden!) from other cats!

Then 10 days ago, we noticed he seemed very hungry (21h30 and no lights on next door so I wasn't sure if there was any food down for him) so we did give him small bite of tuna, very naughtily, but since have not fed him again. I now feel very anxious about this situation. I won't lie: I have grown fond of the cat, but am very aware he is not our pet and I know how I would feel if someone stole my pet, so I really do not want to do that to anyone else. At the same time, this cat seems to have made this his home and he is constantly around us.

I'd like to be honest with the neighbours and find out if there is anyone there actively looking after him (giving him love, engaging with him, etc), feeding him is clearly not enough. He obviously loves the fuss we make of him. What should I say to the neighbour? I am afraid of sounding like I want to steal the family pet. I obviously want to stay on the right side of the new neighbours and continue our good relationship, but more importantly I want to make sure the cat gets all the ingredients he needs to keep him happy at home. Please help!!

nickymanchester Sat 20-Jul-13 17:50:07

I think that you'll find that cats quite often are capable of spending time in more than one home. They'll quite happily spend the day with you and then go back to their other home afterwards.

With regard to feeding, there was a programme on a few weeks ago, part of the Horizon series called something like The Secret Life of Cats. That showed a lot of cats going into other homes and eating the food put out for other cats before going back to their own home. So perhaps you don't need to worry too much about the effects of feeding the cat.

Perhaps best not to say anything at the moment, the cat appears to be enjoying the situation. However, if the cat decided that it was going to spend the night with you rather than heading off home when it's owners got back from work I think then would be the time to mention to them that their cat was spending a lot of time at your house.

But, if the cat happily heads off back to it's owners every day at some point then I would say there's nothing really to worry about.

do11y Mon 29-Jul-13 09:04:34

Thank you Nicky, since my first message, the neighbour came over and asked me whether we would mind feeding him for 10 days as they were going on holiday. We agreed and fed the cat the food supplied by the neighbour. Now that the neighbour is back, he has taken all food back but I am very sure the cat has not returned to his real home at all. He spends his nights here and is here all the time. Last night he was crying for food and running to his empty bowls in the kitchen every time we headed that way. We have not fed him, so he ended up catching a mouse and bringing it in here. The thing I am very worried about, is that the cat might venture further and further away to get food instead of going back home. We live on a very road (and have already lost one poor kitty on this treacherous stretch) so keeping this new cat around here by constantly engaging with him has been one way of taking his attention away from the front of the house and busy road. I can see two solutions to this situation:
1 - the neighbour starts engaging more with the cat so he won't be looking for attention elsewhere
2 - we just feed him so he stays around our small patch and doesn't venture too far into danger.
What do you think?

27cats Mon 29-Jul-13 09:16:08

I would get some cat food in and feed the cat if he seems that hungry, so long as he doesn't appear overweight. Cats do split their time sometimes, but I think this sounds more like he has chosen you as the place he'd prefer to be. smile

Twirlyhot Mon 29-Jul-13 09:21:38

How about 3, stop letting someone else's cat into your house! If you want a cat, get one. You're now suggesting feeding their cat to protect it!

do11y Mon 29-Jul-13 09:53:12

Twirly, option 3 is harder than you think. I have locked the cat flap so he cannot venture in, but as it is warm outside presently I do have windows open which he gets through. I am most certainly suggesting protecting the cat from the busy road - any animal lover would. I do not want to see this cat harmed. My preference (by far!) would be to see this cat enjoying his OWN home. But it seems he is over here all too often and the neighbour has made very little effort to entice him back home. Every time the neighbour has been around here (4 or 5 times in total) the cat is in our home or garden. The neighbour laughs it off and says the cat looks very happy.

Our neighbour's cat decided to move in several years ago. She spent almost a year sitting patiently outside then gradually wormed her way in. Tbh, the neighbour didn't seem to want her.

I spent ages wondering what would happen if we decide to move - would we take the cat or leave her with her original owners. Then, one day, the neighbours moved out without a backward glance.

I guess the cat is mine now!

do11y Mon 29-Jul-13 10:17:53

What I would really like to do is to tell the neighbour to start engaging more with this cat and loving it so that he actually wants to to back to his home. By far, the easier option would be to just feed him and say nothing to the neighbour. Any suggestions on how I can do this? Yes I would love a cat, but no, I do not want to steal someone else's pet.

EauRouge Mon 29-Jul-13 10:23:38

If the neighbours are happy for you to own the cat then arrange something formal- otherwise there may be disagreements if it comes to a large vet bill. If you don't want to accept any responsibility for it (including financial) then I would stop deliberately feeding it. If it sneaks in and eats your cat's food then that's different.

do11y Tue 30-Jul-13 09:25:26

UPDATE: I invited the neighbour over last night to talk about kitty. Neighbour admits cat must be looking for company as house is empty for long periods. Neighbour is supplying food which he says kitty is eating (relief). I also mentioned that kitty is scratching alot which neighbour will medicate. Neighbour is a nice man and I am glad I raised it. I am sure it seemed silly but I am concerned about kitty's roaming on busy road and our reasons for trying to keep him round the other side of the house.

Twirly, so for the record, not every person who is worried about an animal is trying to steal someone else's pet. I am an animal lover who wants the best situation for any animal I come into contact with.

Twirlyhot Tue 30-Jul-13 12:11:49

I understand your concern but I wouldn't assume a cat isn't being fed because it fusses you for food. I'd assume it's a cat!

sashh Sat 03-Aug-13 09:04:24

Please see my post about Norman and my other neighbours.

I posted about my cat a few months ago, he only comes home about twice a week, he grumbles at me till I scratch his ears then he eats some food & he's off again sad I'd love him to stay in more but he seems to like his freedom too much.

On the other hand my mum had a little white kitten hanging out in her garden, she had a collar & tag but after a while she wasn't wearing them anymore. She started coming into the house, now my mum has her plus 5 kittens! She's being neutered next week and when my mum moves (hopefully in 2wks) she's taking them all with her.

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