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Neighbours have stolen my cat, WWYD?

(55 Posts)
jennieflower Mon 11-May-15 19:55:24

I've had my lovely old cat for 17 years, she's 18 years old. She's a big part of the family and we love her, my 6yo son is very close to her, she goes to sleep on his pillow next to him most evenings, then I put her outside when I go to bed at around midnight. She's never liked being indoors overnight and on the few occasions she's been left in she's weed on things in the house, we have a litter tray but that is used by my indoor cat and she's never really used it.

Over the last few weeks she's been coming home less and less, at her age she goes through stages of looking a bit bedraggled but that's to be expected and she's definitely not a stray, she wears a collar and has her regular worming and flea treatments. We call her in every day and she usually comes but it's not unusual to not see her for a day or so, recently she's been looking really good, has been putting on weight and is really healthy looking.

Last weekend she disappeared for 3 days, we were all out calling her, looking under cars, knocking on the neighbours doors etc, we didn't think anything had happened to her as she's been looking so good recently...

I suspected that the neighbours 2 doors down have been taking her in as I've seen her hanging around on their doorstep from time to time, but when I was out looking for her last week, the neighbours were home and their windows were open so they must have heard me and my DD calling her, 5 minutes later I went outside and she was sitting on their doorstep! We retrieved her, I got her home and fed her and made a big fuss of her then went round to see them.

Neighbour invited me in and informed me that they have been taking her in regularly for several months, she sleeps in their house most nights, they don't have a cat of their own but have food bowls, a litter tray, a cat bed, blankets and toys (including one of those bloody awful fake cats in a basket made from cat fur). I was probably too nice to them and asked why they've been taking her in when they know she's our cat, they said that they thought she looked a bit scruffy and unloved and felt sorry for her. I explained that she's not a young cat, and that she's actually really healthy given her age. I hinted that she has some health problems due to her age and that she needs a special diet and needs to check in with us at least once a day so that I know she's ok.

Nearly a week on, they're still taking her in, still feeding her and she's only been home twice, I'm not able to keep an eye on her general wellbeing as she's always locked in their house, even when they go to work!

I don't doubt that they love her, but we do too and we just want our cat back home where she belongs. How should I handle this?

jennieflower Mon 11-May-15 19:57:38

I should add that the neighbours were shocked when I told them how old she is, they though she was a young cat, they obviously thought that she wasn't being looked after very well by I thought that they might stop taking her in when they found out how well loved she is.

jennieflower Mon 11-May-15 20:01:39

Apologies for the awful typos, you get the gist

wigglybeezer Mon 11-May-15 20:07:39

Stop being polite and demand they return her, think of your little boy. On the other hand ask yourself if she is enjoying the different living arrangements, the equivalent of moving to a feline retirement home for the last bit of her life??

thecatneuterer Mon 11-May-15 20:13:14

I think if you put her out at night, at her age, then it's not surprising she's found herself somewhere else to go. I think you either need to get a cat flap, so she can come and go as she wants or keep her in at night and perhaps get another litter tray (cats often don't like to share).

jennieflower Mon 11-May-15 20:16:39

Thats just the thing, she probably is enjoying her retirement with this couple, I'm pretty sure they're just loving her but she's our family pet, we love her and have looked after her for 17 years, we've always provided for her, got her vet treatment when she needs it and I'm pretty sure they don't want to be landed with the vet bills that come with taking in an 18 year old cat. I'm torn between thinking they're being sweet and being furious at them for taking away what could be our last few months/years with our beloved family pet.

Floralnomad Mon 11-May-15 20:19:02

Shes your cat so obviously they should stop encouraging her in if that's what you want but the fact that you think she likes being out at night whereas the reality is she is sleeping in someone else's home would make me think that she is happy with the new arrangement she has found . I doubt she is trying to get out of their house all night because no one would be mad enough to be kept awake by the antics of someone else's cat ( would they ?) .

jennieflower Mon 11-May-15 20:21:32

She's never enjoyed being kept in, otherwise I'd just keep her in all the time, she sits on the door mat asking to be let out, the neighbour also told me that he keeps her in at night even when she asks to go out, apparently a few weeks ago she bit him quite badly when he tried to keep her in. She's also weed on his work clothes a few times after being kept in. That's my girl!

jennieflower Mon 11-May-15 20:24:51

I'm tempted to point the neighbours in the direction of a rescue centre so they can take in a cat of their own

GraysAnalogy Mon 11-May-15 20:29:49

I'm not really sure with this one. It's obvious they're trying to be nice but I'd be really annoyed to.

thecatneuterer Mon 11-May-15 20:36:05

I really think a cat flap would be the answer.

jennieflower Mon 11-May-15 20:38:08

I'm sure they're not being malicious, I explained to them that we all love her so much, they told me they had seen my 12yo dd retrieving her from their doorstep last week and could see how upset and relieved she was, the simple thing would be for them to stop taking her in and she would come home to her family but they're still doing so. DD wants me to give them a good telling off but I'd like to keep the peace as apart from cat stealing and noisy over the top sex noises occasionally they're very nice neighbours

Floralnomad Mon 11-May-15 20:44:15

Well they're obviously just crazy then so frankly short of keeping her in I don't know how you will stop them - sorry . Seriously who would keep someone else's cat in if its peeing on your clothes

jennieflower Mon 11-May-15 20:50:07

We have a flap at the back of the houses leading to the porch but she's never used it in the 10 years we've lived here, I can't fit a flap to the front of the house because I have an indoor cat. I personally think they're crazy, DP suggests that we go and speak to them again and give them an ultimatum, either they stop taking her in or they take her on as their cat and deal with the costs incurred. I just want my cat back home

jennieflower Mon 11-May-15 20:58:35

12yo Dd has worked herself up into hysteria over this tonight, she's pretty inconsolable

thecatneuterer Mon 11-May-15 21:02:51

I would try keeping her in at night and get her another litter tray, which may be the answer to the weeing. You should have one tray per cat ideally. If she will tolerate that and it does use the tray, then I would go to talk to the neighbours.

LillyBugg Mon 11-May-15 21:03:38

Could you get one of those flaps that works based on a micro chip scanner? Then your indoor cat wouldn't be able to get out.

This is so awful, I'd be devastated. I don't agree with your DH that you should offer her up with all the associated costs, they might take you up on it and then you lose your cat and think of your children!

cookiefiend Mon 11-May-15 21:13:42

Could you just knock on their door every night and say you are worried have they seen her. Surely this will annoy them enough eventually and they will give up. Get tearful DD to go?

jennieflower Mon 11-May-15 21:14:25

I'm definitely not up for signing her over to anyone, we did manage to get her in early last night and kept her in with loads of treats and a fresh litter tray of her own but she went out this morning and we haven't seen her since, we've all been out calling her this evening but she must be in their house, she has always come when called in the past.

thecatneuterer Mon 11-May-15 21:33:25

Well if you can keep her in at night without too many problems then I would just go and ask them to give her back and not to encourage her into their house.

jennieflower Wed 13-May-15 19:49:15

Update.

On Monday night we were out calling her but she didn't come home, the neighbours will have heard us as we were very obvious about it, yesterday morning I looked out of the window and saw the neighbour leaving for work, DD ran out and found our cat on their doorstep, she'd just been put out so DD brought her in, in front of the neighbour and made a big fuss of her.

We're keeping her in for now, she has a litter tray and we've shown it to her but she's weed in DD's bedroom twice, she's not happy about being kept in sad and spends a lot of time waiting by the door. Last night at around 10pm I heard the neighbours outside calling her! They're crazy! I wanted to go out and tell them that she was at home with her family but DP pointed out that they haven't given us the courtesy of letting us know she's safe when we've been out looking for her so we don't owe them anything.

The plan of action is to keep her in for a week or so, then if she still wants to be outside we'll start letting her out supervised but bringing her back in, if the neighbours carry on trying to take her in we'll stop being polite and point blank tell them to stop. DP, like me, isn't very good at conflict and said he won't be going round to speak to them because he doesn't want to get into an argument so I guess it's down to me. I could probably do with a bit of help formulating a letter to them when the time comes as I'm pretty sure it isn't over yet.

LillyBugg Wed 13-May-15 20:19:58

I don't want to be dramatic but is this not becoming a police matter? They are trying to steal your cat, it's theft. I know you don't like conflict but I'm sure a short sharp 'this is our cat, continue trying to take her and I will be taking it up with the police'. It's ridiculous, who steals a cat so blatantly?! I'm mad for you OP!!

fenneltea Wed 13-May-15 20:56:14

Is there any chance you could cat proof your garden? I know it would be expensive, and you shouldn't have to; but it would solve the problem once and for all if you could contain the cat in your garden.
I think if I were you I'd try to keep the cat in for longer than a week, I'd confront the neighbours if they start shouting for her and let them know that she isn't allowed in their house anymore as you don't know where she is.

They really need to go and get a cat of their own.

Haffdonga Wed 13-May-15 21:07:17

I'd keep her in whether she likes it or not. She'll get used to it. Older cats can get a bit confused and less good at making their way back home. Exactly this happened to my aunt's extremely elderly (22 year old) cat who moved in with a neighbour (we assume) for longer and longer periods of time until eventually he never came home again. sad

Gabilan Wed 13-May-15 21:14:12

"The plan of action is to keep her in for a week or so"

Sounds like a good idea. Try to work out why she doesn't like being in, fix that for her and then keep her in if you can. At 18 she won't want to be out too much anyway.

"I don't want to be dramatic but is this not becoming a police matter?"

I'm not sure it is. I think, though I'm prepared to be corrected, that unless you have some sort of proof of ownership, e.g. if it's a pedigree cat and you bought it from a breeder, cats aren't really owned as such so you can't legally be done for stealing them.

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