My Cat Keeps Going to the Neighbour's House

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My Cat Keeps Going to the Neighbour's House

Post by gemjii_01 »

So, I never thought I'd have to come to a forum for this issue but I'm running out of ideas (not that I had any in the first place) on how to remedy this issue.

I currently have two cats living in my house, both two years old, that have been living with me since they were 8 / 9 weeks old. They're actually related (mother's are sisters) but that's not too important. When they were introduced they lived alongside my older cat, who would've been about 11 at the time, but he passed two months ago. I mention that because that's around the time when I noticed this issue.

These neighbours are next-door, and their back veranda overlooks my backyard, and my back fence comes right up to their veranda. My cat, Erwin, had always gone over to lounge on their veranda and I never minded because he stayed outside and only really ventured out to soak up the sun and whatnot. My other cat, Levi, never goes outside the yard. He's very homely and pretty much stays inside all day.

After Fluffy, my older cat, passed away and my grandma (who lived with us) went into nursing, Erwin hasn't really spent much time at home. I didn't notice at first, because we have a fully-furnished but uninhabited upstairs where he used to hang about and sleep, but I realized a few weeks ago that he isn't staying up there anymore. Now, I'd noticed the neighbours feeding him once or twice and I've always told them to stop but they're that type of old-people who don't really listen to you, so they'd either ignore me or just forget or cave to his mewing. He's been going over more and more and it's gotten to the point where I have to physically lock the cat-door to make him stay inside, because I can only call him over for breakfast and dinner and as soon as he's got it he shoots right out and over to their house.

It's like he doesn't live with me anymore. I feel like I'm the neighbour getting visited by someone else's cat. And Erwin's not as affectionate as he used to be. He wasn't overtly cuddly to begin with, but he won't even entertain the idea of curling up on my bed, in my room or anywhere near me. And what's worse, is that the neighbours let it slip that he comes into their house at night and sleeps with them in their beds! And worse, still, is that the nieghbours have a cat already and they have a cat door built in, so Erwin has access whether I like it or not, and the poor other cat probably has to deal with my buddy invading his space all the time.

And for those who are wondering, he and Levi get along just fine. They play fight sometimes but never go out of their way to avoid one another and aren't overtly violent. They're perfectly content sitting together and hanging around the other. I'm only away from the house when I'm at school and whenever I decide to head to the shops, but I'm usually at home so I don't really consider his need for their company justified. And I had to call him (loudly) for a good 10 minutes after school today because he would not leave their house. (read: it took 10 minutes of me screaming for them to get the hint and shoo him off).

To them this doesn't seem like too big of an issue, but my cat is never at home, barely lets me pet him and only comes home for food, meanwhile for them he cuddles up in their living room and sleeps in their beds and eats their food! Is there anything I can do to get my cat back? Or any way I can approach them that'll make them stop letting him into their house?
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Re: My Cat Keeps Going to the Neighbour's House

Post by Lilith »

Hi there. What sort of a relationship did Erwin have with your Grandma? Did he spend some time with her? It's interesting that this behaviour started after her death, and it's also interesting that the neighbours too are elderly. Perhaps he's missing someone elderly and just enjoys their company. Also, they're home all day - even if a cat just curls up and sleeps, it knows there's company in the house. Perhaps he misses this too.

I realise it's easy, in the chaos left behind by a bereavement, to miss minor details about such things as where a cat sleeps, and you're in full-time education too. Cats often change their sleeping places, but once changed, being creatures of habit, they don't half stick to them.

This sounds like a chapter of accidents; Erwin, catlike, has created his own routine after the upheaval of your Grandma's death, and the people next door are obviously a bit daft about him and can't refuse him food and shelter. On the one hand, if my cats roamed, I'd much rather have neighbours who loved them rather than hostile ones; on the other, no, I wouldn't like it either if they fed the cat after being asked not to. I'd resent it very much!

The trouble is as well, 'screaming' for him to come home is going to make him think that you're angry with him. What happens when you finally get him back? Do you make a fuss of him, praise him?

I feel that you're going to have to compete for his favours here. Pamper him. Talk to him. Feed him all the foods he likes best. I know he doesn't accept much affection from you at present, but try to butter him up in other ways.

Trouble is, cats are like this ... there's a wonderful children's book called 'Six Dinner Sid' that describes the situation perfectly:

Many cats do play away from home and there's not often much can be done about it.

I wish I could help more than this, and hopefully other members will be along with more advice soon.
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Re: My Cat Keeps Going to the Neighbour's House

Post by Kay »

I really think you need to sit down with this pair and find out what they think about the situation with Erwin - do they think he needs them to fuss and feed him? or do they admit they need him more than he needs them? do they understand that it makes you sad to have so little of his company? ( I'd emphasise very much the sadness and not let them see your anger)

it could be they think they are doing him a favour letting him in, and don't realise you are missing him - or it could be they are chosing to believe this, and so need to be put straight (gently) - or it could be their own cat gives them a lot less affection than Erwin does

a silent war between you and them won't help the situation, and it could easily escalate if you fume in silence - time to try some diplomacy I think - and good luck with it
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Re: My Cat Keeps Going to the Neighbour's House

Post by Mollycat »

I'm going to apologise in advance because I don't want to cause offence or an argument but I'd like to offer a different angle on this. i genuinely don't mean this unkindly.

When I was with my last partner, we had an older cat called Sarah who was perfectly happy with us. A big young tom cat started spending a lot of time in our garden and Sarah didn't mind him at all, and he defended the garden from other invaders. We never fed him and he was shy of us, but he just liked hanging around. We traced his owners, and their response was astounding: he came from a noisy chaotic household, he liked peace and quiet, was 3 years old and his original name was Archie, and if he preferred our house then he was a cat and it was up to him. I was really touched by their understanding of his issues and respect for his needs, and recognition that they could not provide what he wanted, as well as Sarah's acceptance. So he stayed and became our Henry.

It strikes me there have been a lot of changes for Erwin. Maybe he is just happier with the neighbours now. I do understand your frustration, but I think the part that concerns me is where you are keeping him locked in to stop him going where he wants to go. I'm wondering about Erwin's best interests and what he wants. I wonder what Erwin senses from you - anger and disappointment, or love and affection? They are extremely sensitive to our moods. Yes I have also lost a cat who just liked it better elsewhere, he didn't come and go though, he just left home one night and we never saw him again, but we had him as an 18 month old rescue dumped in favour of a pregnancy, and he never settled with us. I went looking for him but we all knew he had just moved out.
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Re: My Cat Keeps Going to the Neighbour's House

Post by Janey »

Similar to Mollycat, our current cat turned up when we were having a break from adopting older cats for a lot of years and going through lots of losses, to then fostering (which I found hard and gave up). She was hanging round for a few months, so I made enquiries and took her to be checked for a chip etc, and the owners were traced and she'd actually been missing for 6 months! When the owner came for her she snapped at her and didn't want to leave. As it turned out, in conversation, the owner had 6 kids, 6 cats/kittens a dog, and various other pets, lived on a busy road and was kept in. So we sussed she wanted a quiet, only pet home where she could go out. The owner took her home, but a year later she turned up again, but looked thin and had a flea allergy - she'd escaped again and come to us. So they took her back but just a week later it happened again, so feeling sorry for her, we asked if they minded her coming to us and they said she's obviously happier with you in a quiet home, where she can go out and handed her over. We didn't actually want a cat at that time so I tried to rehome her, but eventually she ended up staying. I would be really upset if any of my cats did this, and I do feel for you, but I also think that cats do sometimes choose other homes sadly, for various reasons. When you think about it we choose the home for the cats and they don't actually get a choice. It sounds to me like he is probably missing your grandma, and this elderly couple probably remind him of that loss.
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Re: My Cat Keeps Going to the Neighbour's House

Post by Catotum »

I sympathise wholeheartedly. Your neighbours are at fault, not you. I've had exactly the same problem with an adoptee of mine. Yes, your cat has had upsets but no, them alienating him is not acceptable. My cat just got fatter & fatter until I was almost screaming with frustration. Worse, to get to the house in question, he had to go along a path where idiots with dogs walk with them off the lead. A security fence on one side, a high wooden fence on the other.

I'd be prepared to bet most of the problem is caused by the availability of food.

If you can't face your neighbours over their activities, try writing to them. Point out that his diet is all to bits with their feeding & he doesn't know where he lives. Include photos of the amount of dried food that constitutes a DAY'S worth of meals - make sure to include something to show the scale. Most non-cat people have no idea how little a meal of dried food is & heap so-called biscuits on their visiting pets, giving them enough food for a couple of days. Point out that you pay all the vet's bills & they are making the cat fat & you worried. Tell them to consider adopting their own cat if they want one but please to leave yours alone.

At home, try one of the pheromone diffusers. Feliway have recently produced a sort of mummy-cat pheromone diffuser, Feliway Friends, which might make home seem much more relaxing. Don't confuse this with the old Feliway diffuser.
And, as others have said, fuss the cat to pieces! You could try rewards, too. Have you tried the new dried chicken or duck little cubes that have NO additives? Once cats have actually tried them, they love them. No appreciable calories & what a reward when he comes to you. Feed just 3 or 4 pieces at a time, individually & by hand - whenever he comes in. If he thinks they aren't food, a brief touch of the cube to the lips releases the aroma & after that, they're hooked!
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Re: My Cat Keeps Going to the Neighbour's House

Post by Jessie17 »

IM LITERALLY GOING THROUGH YOUR EXACT SITUATION. My cat has been with me for three years! But we recently moved to a new house and he kept visiting the neighbours and I usually wondered why. Come to find out the woman that lived there would usually lure him in with food and allow him to chill in their house. She was told not to do that and that she should get her own cat but she said “I don’t have time for one” and laughed it off. My cat could be chilling outside sometimes and she’d be doing everything to lure him in. One time he was trying to go out and she pushed him in. She was warned not to do that anymore, however her husband asked if he could play with my cat outside because he really likes the cat so I allowed that. My cat has formed an attachment with them, everytime he goes out he goes to their garden and cries for them
To open the door. It makes me so sad sometimes. And I feel like I’M the neighbour too. My cat is not shy at all, he is very loving and shows love to everyone! Which is probably why this happened. As loving as he is, he barely shows me as much love as he used to anymore.
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