My Neighbor Feeds My Cat
Picture added by Admin - cat going to a neighbors - photo by Andreas.
My neighbor feeds my cat and I don't like it. As far as I know they don't lock Mary Lou in (my cat) or try and keep her but just feed her. I would rather they didn't as I am frightened that they will keep her in the end. I don't know how often she is fed by my neighbors as she is out a lot anyway. Sometimes she seems to spend the whole night at my neighbors' place. Or my cat is out and about but as it is very cold I don't think that is the case. Is there anything I can do to stop this and do I have any legal rights? Are they doing something illegal?
This is a fairly common situation. If cats are outdoor cats they will gradually migrate to whatever situation, place or home that is the best to meet their needs. Humans due the same, we look to improve things for ourselves as well. There is no absolute right of possession of a cat despite the law, which treats animals including domestic animals as human property no more or less than a piece of furniture. As far as the law is concerned we do own our cats but in practice because a cat is a living creature they can come and go as they please if the cat is not an indoor cat. This tells us that the law is out of date. We keep and care for cats in practice but do not own them.
There was a recent criminal case in the UK (a burglary) in which the judge, in summing up said that if a personal item was stolen of little monetary value but high sentimental value the sentence should reflect that. An example might be a picture of a relative. This approach or concept should be carried forward to the law on keeping animals. Cats carry a high level of sentimental value. Cruelty to cats should be heavily punished not only because of the pain suffered by the cat but also the distress caused to the person. Under the current law a cat that is hurt amounts to criminal damage and possibly cruelty ( both separate criminal offences) but the compensation would be next to nothing because in the eyes of the law a moggie cat has little or no value (a purebred might be worth say $3-500). In civil law it would be trespass and/or interference with goods. Compensation should be higher to reflect both the suffering of the animal and the emotional distress of the human keeper.
As to your problem, the problem is yours I am afraid and there is nothing that can be done on a legal basis. Your neighbors have not stolen your cat and cannot therefore be prosecuted for theft. Neither have they committed cruelty or harmed the cat (the opposite it seems). Your cat prefers your neighbors' place and/or the food is better. Cats are very motivated by the quality of food available and a stress free environment.
Your complaint that "My neighbor feeds my cat" can only be stopped if you made your cat an indoor cat or created an ambiance that suited the cat better than that of your neighbors plus throw in some superior food to boot. She would then be very likely to hang around. Instead of being full-time indoors consider a large enclosure if there is sufficient space and funds. If Mary Lou is locked in, to stop her going to your neighbors, and the environment remains the same (i.e. not completely to her liking) then that would, on the face of it, be cruel. Hope this helps. Sorry it isn't better news.
A good toy can help make the environment better for our cat and this one is meant to be very good:
Picture is published under creative commons: