Neighbour is stealing my cat

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llitam12
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Neighbour is stealing my cat

Post by llitam12 » Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:51 pm

Hello all,

If anyone has any advice on this, please share!

Since the end of the summer, I have started seeing my cat, Lenny (neutered male) less and less. It started with one day where I wouldn't see him increasing to two and then three, then he would reappear have food and leave immediately with no desire to stay in the house. Nothing in the house had changed at all to upset him and he's a cat who likes his home comforts - with the colder weather setting in I started to get concerned thinking he was out all night or someone else was keeping him in..

Everyone in the street knows he is my cat, he's got a collar on and is clearly well fed and in good condition. Last Saturday one of my neighbours spoke to my mum and mentioned that 'they were keeping him in and had been for weeks' saying 'he's' lovely he stays in overnight, in fact, he's in there now on my son's bed'. My mum told my neighbour that we had been looking for him and I had been missing him, wondering where he was going and to put him out and not have him in.. my neighbour brushed this off and said oh it's okay we don't mind...
That evening quite annoyed I went and knocked and politely asked for him back (the daughter went and got him from her bed upstairs!!) - I told them 4 times not to feed him or have him in, as I felt as if I had lost my cat they responded with excuses of 'oh we're fond of him and I don't like to see them out in the night' but obviously he has a home with me and would be in here was it not for her keeping him in.

After this, I kept him in for a week and let him out this morning, he's been around most of the day like he used to be then this evening there is no sign of him again and I know for a fact he is in their house.
I am thinking of knocking and asking again and saying if this continues I will take it further and report you to the police for theft.

Has anyone ever had this? or had any advice? much appreciated if anyone can help!

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Re: Neighbour is stealing my cat

Post by Mollycat » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:18 am

From what you say your neighbours are acting selfishly but they are not forcibly taking your cat, he is willingly choosing to spend more time with them. It's naughty of them to feed him and close the door with him inside, but they are not grabbing him from your garden and keeping him prisoner against his will. I could be wrong but that seems to me a hard case to bring legally.

I have been on both sides of the argument, we took on a rejected 18 month old who was never happy with us and eventually just left. We searched but given that he had never really settled we accepted that he had either found a home he preferred or met with an accident trying. Years later we had a walk-in determined to move in with us and our resident cat, we spoke with his owners and they said their house was chaotic and noisy and the cat liked it quiet and they let him choose us with their blessing. They were a bit more upset when their other cat chose to follow 3 years later but in the end it was her choice and we all had to accept it. Incidentally after he moved in with us he still had 3 or 4 more people he would visit and we just let him get on with it.

I have also had cats that come to sleep (if they are locked out at night) or chill in my garden or cuddle on the sofa with me but they were never fed or locked in and we were just a nice family to visit and spend time with. Catshares, if you like. The cuddles without the responsibility or cost, some with the owner's knowledge and agreement. My mum had a catshare and all she was expected to do was ring the owner if he didn't want to leave by 10pm to let them know he was safe with her for the night.

Short of keeping your cat indoors or fencing off your garden I don't think there is much you can do about these annoying disrespectful people, I know this isn't what you want to hear but maybe the cat has some right to a view on the matter too.

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Ruth B
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Re: Neighbour is stealing my cat

Post by Ruth B » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:45 am

It's a tricky situation. A cat is still classed as a free spirit in law, which while it means you aren't as responsible for damage they might cause, there are also down sides, one being that if a cat chooses to go elsewhere there is little the authorities will do about it. If someone finds a stray cat they are obliged to make a 'reasonable' attempt to find it's owner before claiming it as their own, but that isn't the problem here, your neighbours know the cat is yours, nor are they actively taking him from your property and confining him against his will. So I doubt you would get much help from the police.

Do you have a cat flap for Lenny, can he come and go as he pleases, if you have explain to your neighbours that he is never shut out and can get in whenever he wants to. If you haven't you might have to start keeping him in more at night yourself, let him out during the day, but keep him in during the evening and over night. Unfortunately if for some reason he has decided her really doesn't want to stay at home might mean he just refuses to come in early.

The only other thing i can suggest is to get a 'Do Not Feed Me' collar and then tell the neighbours that he is on a special diet and warn them tat giving him food or treats could be detrimental to his health, if they do care for him they will understand and not feed him, which might mean he stops going there. It's a bit sneaky, but it might work.

Unfortunately cats will be cats, and there is little we can do to change this unless you are willing to confine them to your own house and cat proof the garden. At least you kow where he is likely to be and that he is safe and warm when not with you.

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Kay
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Re: Neighbour is stealing my cat

Post by Kay » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:46 am

is it a company thing, perhaps? are you out all day, and he wanders off looking for company? or perhaps as there are children in their house he likes being around them - some cats do

I can never understand why obvious cat-loving families don't visit their nearest rescue and find a cat of their own, though -do any rescues near you produce flyers you could pop through their letter box?

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Re: Neighbour is stealing my cat

Post by Amber_Kaddu » Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:04 am

What a dreadful situation and sadly seems to be happening more and more

We've got friends who this happened to, their cats had a perfectly good home with them, and then the neighbours over the back started feeding them and despite them going round and asking them politely not to, the neighbours carried on and eventually both cats moved out, it was especially sad as one cat they'd had from a kitten. I don't understand why these people cannot just go to their local shelter and adopt a cat or three instead of "pinching" somebody elses

With regards the law I'm not sure if a cat can class as being "owned" I know dogs class as property in terms of law but I'm not sure cats do

Is it possible for your boy to just become a house cat? I know he shouldn't have to but if thats the only way to prevent him being taken in by your neighbours?

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exlibris
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Re: Neighbour is stealing my cat

Post by exlibris » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:49 pm

Kay wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:46 am
is it a company thing, perhaps? are you out all day, and he wanders off looking for company? or perhaps as there are children in their house he likes being around them - some cats do

I can never understand why obvious cat-loving families don't visit their nearest rescue and find a cat of their own, though -do any rescues near you produce flyers you could pop through their letter box?
Good point - the kids will be making a hell of a fuss over him. If your Mum's on friendly terms she could say "oh dear, this poor thing in the shelter needs a home", if they start talking of "not wanting to be committed" she could start mentioning the other side of cat ownership, the serious side of potential behaviour issues, vets bills etc. At this stage I dare say she doesn't realise she's stealing your cat.
Also.....is Lenny being fed chicken or salmon by them? Lots of unhealthy treats? This could be another reason he's being seduced over to the Dark Side, so to speak.
Fuss and fancy food tends to wear off as kids get older and food gets expensive.
It's lovely that they like cats, but they really need to adopt. The kids would love a kitten, and hopefully they have learnt a bit from looking after Lenny.
You could try befriending your neighbours. They might not realise how awful it is to have your cat taken away :( They probably think they're helping!

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Re: Neighbour is stealing my cat

Post by llitam12 » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:36 pm

Hi all,

Thank you so much for the replies, they have helped me view things from a few different angles. Len turned up this morning for food around 8.30 once he was in I put a tag on his collar which reads DO NOT FEED OR KEEP ME IN! after that he's been around sporadically throughout the day (I'm wondering if they saw it) and then came in early evening for food and I've kept him in since this evening. I spoke to a friend about it and if it continues she recommended knocking again and saying can you not have him in, if he gets in say via a cat flap can you please bring him back up the road to me - the onus is on them then to return him if they have him in, I shouldn't have to keep calling there really.

Mollycat - yeah I see what you're saying in terms of the legal side, I wondered if it was worth a try.. I was just so frustrated because this family has their own cat which they are extremely fond of. When I called at their house to retrieve Lenny last Saturday they told me their cat (Sammy) and Lenny do not get on at all and have come to blows to the extent where she has to ensure they are separated in her house. I just thought why on earth would you have someone else's cat in that fights with your own cat and plus if Lenny got injured I would have to foot the bill I'm sure!
Unfortunately, Len doesn't handle being kept in well, he's very much a free spirit!

Ruth B - Yeah I can see what you're saying, pros and cons definitely and no, in theory, they aren't physically taking him - very good point. I'm having a cat flap put in this week to give him the freedom to do what he wants and yeah tonight he's in with me. I've put a tagged collar on him today and I'm hoping that does the trick now.

Kay - I was working quite long hours earlier in the year, so I got a second cat to keep him company, and they were really close, very playful for months then after he started going missing and when Lenny would come back he was quite hostile toward my other cat, however after keeping him in for the last week they are back to best buddies now.
'I can never understand why obvious cat-loving families don't visit their nearest rescue and find a cat of their own, though -do any rescues near you produce flyers you could pop through their letterbox?' This baffles me as well although they do have their own but that's also a good idea as we have a cats protection about 15 mins away!

Amber - It's just gutting really after you invest so much love into a little mog and then he's wandering elsewhere, and I don't know how people can't see why they're not doing anything wrong. Lennys a bit of a roamer and can get destructive if kept in for long periods, unfortunately.

Exlibris - Yeah they've already got their own cat, which they're really attached to and I just think imagine if the situation was reversed, how they might feel. He has gained a lot of weight to be honest... I think he was cashing in on double dinners here and there. I was and still am on good terms with them but it's all just really frustrating when they know where he lives and that I've already asked not to have him in or feed him.

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Kay
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Re: Neighbour is stealing my cat

Post by Kay » Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:28 pm

then I think you need to make these people realize how much his absences upset you - are you any good at turning on the tears? they sound basically good people, who are far more likely to be sympathetic to grief than anger, especially as they have a cat they love themselves

I do wonder though if one of their kids has bonded particularly with Len and is putting pressure on Mum to let him in - I wonder where he sleeps when in their house? on a bed, perhaps?

I'm with exlibris - a kitten would likely make Len redundant in whatever role he has there

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