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Neighbour's Cat Relying on Us

(48 Posts)
Uchijjang Thu 30-May-19 06:32:47

A bit if a long story, so please bear with me.

Since January we have a neighbour's cat coming to visit us - she's a very friendly and lovely main coon cross. We've seen her in the neighbourhood and in our garden before, but she started to come in since January - the first time was a rainy day, and she stayed in our poly tunnel for most of the day, and when we opened the back door, she came in and made herself very much at home. We don't have any cat ourselves, but we are huge fans, my SO always wanted one (or two), so do I, but we move around a lot, so I have my hesitations.

But we do have some leftover cat food from when a friend was visiting with their cat, and she seemed hungry, so we gave her some food. Then she started to appear every morning and then at dinner time, begging for food. We would give her half a pouch at each time, she stay in the house for a bit after food, and then would go out, but we noticed that she spent a lot of time in our garden.
We know that cats visit people and go round people's houses, but she's here really a lot (I work from home, and can see the garden from my home office) and also always seem really hungry. She also has a lot of mats in her hair (about 7/8), we became a bit worried that something may have happened to her family.

We followed the suggestion on RSPCA website, and put a paper collar with our number on her, and did that a few times, the collar would disappear, but no response. We then took her to the vet, they scanned her chip, found out that she's 3 years old and was registered on the same street. They phoned the number on the chip, it's no longer available, but after phoning around other vets in town, they found her family. The family got in touch, and their teenage daughter came and picked her up in the afternoon - apparently they've got at least two children and another pet.

We thought that was that, and have said our emotional good bye to her, but she reappeared by our window at dinner time straight after... We decided that now we know she has a family, we will keep her out and not given her any food. But 3 days later, her begging for food wouldn't stop, so we let her in and gave her some - a moment of weakness?

Since then she's spending more and more time here, we kepted a small window open for her coming and going, but often she would spend the night here, and I would say at least three quarter of the day in our garden or our house, and probably half of that time in our house. We started to feed her the recommended portion because she was getting skinny. And we've never heard from the family again. We are okay with this 'arrangement', and we really enjoy her company. OS is having difficult time at work and she has been a great comfort.

However, we went away for a long weekend (3 days), we left some dry food and water for her in the poly tunnel, but when we came back the dry food bowl was empty, and she immediately appeared at our back door, and was extremely hungry. It all feels as if she hasn't been fed by anyone else at all. That's okay, we don't mind keeping on looking after her and we love having her around. But it does concern us and we are not sure what should we do next, and we are going away again this month and will be away for longer in July, we don't have friends or family near by to look after her, and we are of course willing to find a solution for that, but I feel we should speak to her family again. Yet... What should we say?

My first post here - I've been hanging around on Mumsnet for a long time, but never registered an account until now. I'm not very close with my family, so over the years I've read a lot on Mumsnet at key points in my life - buying my first house, my first car etc etc. And this time the situation is a bit rare, so I thought I'd ask on my most trusted forum.

I look forward to any suggestions and advice!

Toddlerteaplease Thu 30-May-19 06:49:16

You shouldn't have fed her. As you know she has a home. Cats are very good at doing the 'I'm
Starving ' look. I'd be really annoyed if you'd been feeding my cat.

IStillMissBlockbuster Thu 30-May-19 06:57:02

But on the other hand, cats choose their humans and it looks like he wants you...

TooOldForThisWhoCares Thu 30-May-19 07:02:05

I think you should ask the vet to make contact with the family again and try and sort out if they want her back. How did they seem when they picked her up the first time? Relieved? Pleased to see her? You can't really rely on the cats behaviour as an indication of whether they really want her or not, you need to try and talk to them.

NotTired Thu 30-May-19 07:02:45

My cat begs neighbours for food, no matter how much he's already been fed. He is allergic to so many things so then gets ill.

Uchijjang Thu 30-May-19 07:03:00

@Toddlerteaplease I see your point, and we probably shouldn't have. But the question is what do we do now? Do we just shut the door and keep her out for our up coming trips, and not say anything to the family?

I do worry whether she's getting anything from the family, when they got in touch before, they hardly noticed that she's not been there (and this has been a week or so). But perhaps I'm wrong.

TooOldForThisWhoCares Thu 30-May-19 07:03:42

As to what you should say, if you do speak to them, I think you should be honest and ask if they would consider rehoming her to you.

ImaginaryCat Thu 30-May-19 07:05:24

Agree with PP the first time you gave her the slightest sniff of food in your house you massively breached pet etiquette. Yes cats do find themselves new places to hang out, and maybe the kids and other animals were getting her down, so it's fine to give her a place to lie down and chill. But you never give someone else's cat food.

Anyway, the damage is done now, you've basically given the cat the signal that your place is now home. So go round there, speak to her owners, explain what's happening and ask what they want to happen next. Are they happy for you to continue feeding her, in which case you now have an obligation to put something in place when you go away. Oh and vets bills should be on you. If they say no, you have to be mean and shut her out.

By the way, it's possible the reason she seems to lose weight could simply be she prefers the brand of food you give her. The buggers will refuse food for days if it's not the type they want. That's one of the reasons it's so bloody annoying when people feed pets which aren't theirs. It totally buggers with a diet the owners may have spent time establishing.

Uchijjang Thu 30-May-19 07:07:41

@TooOldForThisWhoCares from there text, they hardly noticed that the cat has been gone for a week, and I don't understand why they never responded to our paper collar - but it could have been taken off at some point before reaching them. And I'm also a bit surprised that this has been a few months now, and she's hardly not here, they've never been in touch.

I have a feeling that it's not that the family doesn't want her, it's probably a lot going on there.

Qweenbee Thu 30-May-19 07:09:05

You need to talk to them face to face or get a written response to a letter, to see if they want to give her up. Don't be surprised if they get angry. You can't continue this half looking after her. Either you aren't or you are.
You should have ignored her after you found her family.

Uchijjang Thu 30-May-19 07:10:51

@ImaginaryCat thank you, all very fair points. And we should not have fed her to start with - I'm very unguided in this department...

I will speak to them - we don't have their address but I still have the phone number.

Uchijjang Thu 30-May-19 07:14:19

@Qweenbee thank you, and will do. We did try and keep her out when we found her family, and she just shows up all the time at the window, and I work from home so it did wear me down... As I said, a moment of weakness.

DizzySue Thu 30-May-19 07:14:37

It sounds like she spends more time with you than my own cat spends at home, she's definitely chosen you. At this point I'd just get a cat flap, buy her a bed and let her move in, as she's obviously not being missed by the other family - as long as she's free to come and go let her make the choice.

However, what will you do about yearly injections, deworming & de-flea treatment? On the slight off chance they are still keeping up to date with these (I doubt they are) she mustn't be treated twice.

Uchijjang Thu 30-May-19 07:19:09

@ImaginaryCat also re brand of food. We tried various brands (from standard ones like wiskas, Felix to catz fine food and lily's kitchen) over the past months, she does have clear likes, but it's never happened when she doesn't eat something at all.

ImaginaryCat Thu 30-May-19 07:23:23

It'll come. Just like toddlers who scoff down sausages one week and the next declare they've never liked them, cats can appear happy with one brand, wait until you bulk buy 48 pouches of the stuff, then turn their back and refuse to eat it.

At least the hedgehogs benefit.

Uchijjang Thu 30-May-19 07:25:19

@DizzySue haha, thank you. That's very good point re injection etc..

Uchijjang Thu 30-May-19 07:28:51

@ImaginaryCat smile noted. Yes, we did notice that when we bought a pack of 60 pouches once, she won't be as keen, but still would have it if she's really hungry.

Thank you again for all your suggestions.

Uchijjang Thu 30-May-19 07:30:42

@TooOldForThisWhoCares thank you, we will do.

strawberrypenguin Thu 30-May-19 07:36:14

You stole someone's cat. Now you're trying to justify it. You should never have fed it in the first place. Did the vet say the cat was in poor condition when you took it in? I'm betting not.

ehohtinkywinky Thu 30-May-19 07:38:26

Ours get the odd matt even with regular grooming so it's not a sign of neglect in isolation. Especially if going outside and getting seeds / plants in hair.

I think you need to learn a bit about cats. They can do the 'feed me I'm desperate' thing instantly after being fed.

Stop feeding her, no more 'moments of weakness'. Stop letting her in your house.

Cats have a large prowling area and you're currently a stop on her route. You know she has owners and they may have thought you a bit odd and not wanted to communicate further with you, they don't need to act relieved or any way to get her back ... It would be an odd scenario having your cat pop out for most the day each day then being called to say someone has taken it to the vet.

Get your own cat if you miss her visits.

Uchijjang Thu 30-May-19 07:45:58

@ehohtinkywinky I take every point you said, and I was very unguided on this, so it's good to have more information now. But we did try the paper collar thing first over a week's period for several time (4-5 times), it's not like we took her to the vet straight away. We did Google a lot at the time about how to tell if a cat was stray and followed everything here www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/cats/straycats

But we are probably odd.

Uchijjang Thu 30-May-19 07:48:12

@strawberrypenguin no they didn't, they only expressed a little bit of concern about the amount of mats.

buckeejit Thu 30-May-19 08:11:38

You do seem very critical of the owners - 'there's probably a lot going on there'. As they have 2 dc & 2 pets? Quite a stretch.

Can't believe RSPCA recommend bulk buying lots of cat food for potentially stray cat. Or that anyone would think a Maine coon is a stray.

Speak to the family & own up. Say you're happy to take cat or stop feeding & letting it into your house. If they choose the latter, let them know that it will start to eat more at home! Go get a cat from a rescue centre if you want one. Cats are free spirits & will see other people if they are getting spoiled. My dc love to go to granny's as she always gives them sweets!

Daffodil2018 Thu 30-May-19 08:12:11

I don't think you should beat yourself up about having been kind to a creature that seemed hungry and lonely!

I would probably contact the family again and tell them the cat is still hanging around your house but as you're going away for an extended period (be vague) they may want to keep a closer eye on it. I don't think you should entertain hopes of them offering or allowing you to adopt their family pet I'm afraid.

Have you thought about getting a cat of your own? In the long term this would keep the interloper cat away and it sounds like you'd offer one a great home.

FlossieTeacakesFurCoat18 Thu 30-May-19 08:12:22

Her family don't sound like they're that bothered to be fair - they didn't even keep their details at the vets up to date! It sounds like it was only luck that allowed the vet to find them

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