Cats often have second homes. If your cat is regularly visiting a neighbor’s home, it is likely being fed there. Some cats are greedy and will enjoy being fed twice. Others may prefer the food being offered by a neighbor.
It is not illegal to feed another individual’s cat. Unless the neighbor is willfully withholding or harming your cat, there is no legal recourse. Speak to your neighbor. Claim that your cat follows a strict diet and grows unwell if fed anything else. If this does not help, lock your cat inside. You’ll meet initial resistance, but the cat will adapt.
Approach this matter with caution. Your neighbor likely means no harm. They could just be lonely or may mistakenly believe the cat to be stray. All the same, you are responsible for your cat’s health and wellbeing. This means you must manage its needs, including its dietary needs.
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My Neighbor Feeds My Cat
It can be frustrating when a neighbor regularly feeds your cat. Felines are creatures of routine. Once a cat falls into a pattern of behavior, it will regularly follow it. This may involve visiting another home for feeding.
There are numerous reasons why a cat may visit another home for food. A cat will eventually eat with a neighbor out of habit. The behavior would have started for a reason, though. Explanations include:
- Gluttony – the cat is happily tricking multiple humans into feeding it
- Your neighbor offers tastier food than you
- There are multiple cats in your home, leading to food anxiety
- You are not home and your cat enjoys company before/after eating
- Your neighbor’s home is quieter, making eating more enjoyable
Whatever the reason, you’ll need to put a stop to this routine. If your cat eats twice, it will quickly gain weight. This is especially likely in older cats that are less active. As The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery explains, obese cats are likelier to develop diabetes.
Your first step to ceasing this behavior is a polite conversation with your neighbor. Ask them to stop feeding your cat, for its own good. It could all be a simple misunderstanding. Most people will immediately stop feeding another cat is asked.
If your neighbor refuses to comply with your wishes, things will become frustrating. In this instance, you will need to lock your cat indoors. Your cat will not take kindly to this at first. You’ll need to ensure your home and food meets all your cat’s needs.
Speaking to a Neighbor
Your first step should always be an honest and polite conversation. The issue can often be resolved without arguments and recriminations.
Check that your neighbor knows that your cat belongs to you. Your neighbor may believe the cat to be stray. They think they are providing a service by feeding a hungry feline. Explain that the cat has a loving home and is simply pushing its luck.
Next, ensure that your neighbor is willfully feeding your cat. If the home has a resident feline, the issue may not be as clear-cut as you think. Your cat may be gaining access through a window and eating another cat’s food.
In such an instance, the tables are turned in an instant. You are not the wronged party any longer. Suddenly, your cat is dominating and bullying a neighborhood pet. This is why a polite and calm conversation is needed. If your neighbor does not have a cat, change tack.
Explain that you are concerned about your cat’s welfare. Point out that your cat is gaining weight and placing its health at risk. Any right-thinking neighbor will immediately cease feeding.
If these pleas fall on deaf ears, take a different approach. You might need to tell some white lies here. In the case of an older cat, this may not be necessary. It depends on how good your relationship with your neighbor is.
All cats need routine and stability to be happy. Felines are rarely happier than when following a strict timetable. Most cats will build their schedule around feeding times. Play, food, grooming, and sleep is the ultimate pattern of behavior for most domesticated cats.
If you work all day, your cat will learn your rhythms. It will expect food at particular times. This can help an otherwise nocturnal cat keep to human hours. A well-timed dinner will see a cat sleep through the night, not disturbing an owner.
If the cat is eating earlier, this whole routine can be thrown off-course. The cat will not be hungry when you expect it to be. It may not eat at all at night. What’s more, it will enjoy a long doze after eating. This means the cat will wake up filled with vigor.
If the cat ate and slept early in the evening, it will be a ball of energy overnight. The likelihood is the cat will race around like a maniac. This sounds fun, but it’s infuriating when you’re trying to sleep. Despite being silent hunters, cats can make unholy amounts of noise.
Politely explain that your cat is keeping you up at night due to this changed routine. Use the analogy of playing loud music through a wall at night if necessary. Most people will understand and stop the feeding.
If necessary, use an emotional hook. Explain that your children return from school upset that they cannot play with their cat. It is busy eating with the neighbor or sleeping off its meal. By the time the cat wakes up, the children are in bed and unable to play.
Point out the obvious health concerns related to cats eating to excess. Cats need to follow a strict calorie intake to remains healthy. For the average cat, this is around 200 calories per day.
Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian confirms the simple link of excess calories leading to weight gain. In addition, this journal points out the risk of high-fat foods. Your neighbor may be offering fatty treats or food.
In addition, your neighbor may not understand the delicacies of feline nutrition. For example, many people offer cats tinned tuna. This is meant as an act of kindness. Most cats love the smell and taste of this tinned fish.
What cats like is not always what is best for them, though. Acta Neuropathologica explains that the mercury found in tuna has a detrimental impact on feline health. Mercury poisoning leads to muscle wastage and loss of coordination.
A saucer of milk is can be equally dangerous. Cats love dairy as it is fatty, but dairy does not love them. A stomach upset will follow, as most cats are lactose intolerant. You may be the one that needs to clean this up.
Claims of a specialist, prescription-only diet can be a powerful weapon in your arsenal. It’s even better if this is the truth. It likely will be, even if the diet is still an over-the-counter recipe. Senior cats often require a unique form of food with appropriately-tailored nutrition.
Explain that eating an inappropriate diet makes you cat unwell. If necessary, point out an ongoing health concern such as a chronic lung problem. It is not an exaggeration to claim that the wrong diet can be fatal in these cases.
Some neighbors may remain belligerent in the face of these claims. If the response is, “the cat likes what I feed it”, bring up stomach upsets. Again, this will likely be grounded in reality.
Cats experience gastric distress from eating too much, or varying food. An antagonistic neighbor may not be too concerned about vomiting or diarrhea in your home. Faced with the risk of the cat soling their own favorite rug, many people will change their tune.
We all need to pick our battles in life. It is not advisable, but you may decide to allow your neighbor to feed your cat. There are some advantages to this. Your cat will have company when you are out, for example. You also have a ready-made pet sitter if you take a vacation.
If this is your choice, make it part of your cat’s routine. Ensure that your cat is fed at the same time every day, without fail. You should also provide the food that you want your cat to be fed. Obviously, you cannot also feed you cat yourself if you make this choice.
You may also be doing a good turn, especially if your neighbor is elderly or infirm. The Handbook on Animal-Assisted Therapy confirms that animal companionship has a positive impact on seniors.
Again though, allow us to stress that this action is not advisable. If a cat is showered with attention and food elsewhere, why would it return to you? The bond between cats and owners is strong. The cat may eventually view a second home as a primary residence, though.
It is better to find a way to keep your neighbor from feeding your cat without harming interpersonal relations. Admitting defeat could be the first step to unwittingly and unwillingly rehoming your cat. A visiting schedule, without food, is a safer option.
Locking a Cat Indoors
Cats will never turn down the chance to be fed, so the onus is on humans. This requires mutual cooperation from you and your neighbor. Eventually, you may not have any choice. Your outdoor cat will need to adjust to a life indoors.
This will be frustrating for your cat, so prepare yourself for initial resistance. Cats that are used to roaming will require a period of adjustment. You need to make it clear to your cat that it is not being punished. You also need to ensure your home meets all its needs.
One of the reasons your cat is eating elsewhere could be the food on offer. Your neighbors may have been offering something more tantalizing than you provide.
If your cat is on a prescription diet, there is little you can do about this. You obviously cannot take your cat off a medical food plan. You may need to tempt you cat into eating again, though. Use sparing quantities of tuna juice or meat stock for this.
If your cat has no dietary requirements, try to learn what your neighbor was feeding. You may need to bite the bullet and change to this food. It could be more expensive, but cats are stubborn. If you want your cat to eat with you home, provide food that will encourage this.
You will also need to readjust your cat’s routine. Your cat is now used to visiting a neighbor for a meal. You need to ensure that cat knows this is no longer acceptable.
Cats are adaptable, as long as you remain consistent. Feed your cat at the same time every day. Tie the food in with other pleasurable activities, such as petting, grooming and play. Your cat will quickly re-adjust.
Your cat may not just be missing the food provided by a neighbor. It may have also grown used to additional companionship. Time alone can be hard for a cat to readjust to. Ask a friend or neighbor to visit your cat when it would ordinarily roam.
Cats do not need attention all day, every day. That quickly grows tiresome for a feline. Knowing that somebody will visit can brighten a cat’s day, though. It ensures the cat remains comfortable in its own home. If this visitor provides treats, so much the better.
The first step to stopping a neighbor feeding a cat should always be a polite conversation. This does not need to be a conflict. The neighbor may be acting with good intentions. If they refuse to comply, you’ll need to keep your cat away. This issue is a civil disagreement, and the law will not help.