Silly moo up the road is feeding my greedy cat

Stray Cat

Cat lovers know that people don’t own cats. Although the law says that we do. The law is outdated; old-fashioned and rooted in a time when attitudes towards companion animals were less refined and developed.

We are simply companions with our cat. The relationship is mutually supportive. The behavior of many cats reflect this non-ownership. A lot of cats that are allowed outside treat neighboring homes as part of their home range. They wander. They could be called community cats. They are part of the community although they have a base home – the “owners”.

The wandering community style cat will be fed by others. This is a natural consequence of a cat sharing the companionship of various people in an area. Under these circumstances, it is not right for the so called “owner” to complain if someone else feeds her cat.

To complain about someone else feeding her cat is to force their ownership upon the cat. The complaining “owner” is really trying to assert her ownership rights and is upset that her cat finds someone else’s food preferable.

On the website there is a thread entitled: “oh my god my neighbour feeding my cat at it again..” Every comment to the article supports the woman who is complaining that her neighbour is feeding her cat. They provide advice on how to stop her. What is all the fuss about? Why all the anger?

The owner writes:

total nightmare. silly moo up the road is feeding my greedy cat…

The “problem” of someone else feeding her cat is not a problem from the cat’s perspective. It is natural for a cat to search for food etc. and not be confined by walls and doors. The problem is that there is a challenge to the woman’s “ownership”. She is half way to losing her cat, she thinks. This is really a people problem not a cat problem.

I would suggest too that if a cat that is fed by several households becomes obese as a result the cause is not the fact that there are several sources of food for this cat but because the food is overly appetizing. It is what we call “moorish”, The problem of overfeeding is not caused by the cat being unable to self-regulate feeding.

The idea of community cats is much less common in the West than in the Middle East and the East. This is probably because with respect to domestic animals the idea of ownership and possession is more important in the West.  But the domestic cat does not recognize the idea of ownership. In countries like Morocco and the Southern Mediterranean countries there are many community cats. They are not obese.

The true relationship between cat and person is one of loyalty and companionship but not true ownership. In the West, the so called “owner” will be the cat’s primary companion and probably only companion but if that relationship weakens the cat may well find other companions and become a community cat. What prevents the cat wandering and doing this is conditioning. Cats are used to being in one place and are familiar with their environment. They will usually stay in that home but a more confident cat and a cat that is less than content may roam and develop into  a community cat.


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Silly moo up the road is feeding my greedy cat — 38 Comments

  1. Years ago I had a crazy lady come driving up in my yard where she demanded I quit putting food our for her cat. I told her I didn’t plan on stopping. Back in the day I’d shake the cat food bag then yell kitty kitty and clap my hands. I had quite the gathering back then.

    • I don’t know if you agree with my assessment of cat ownership. You probably do. People complaining should look to see what they can do to change things or accept the situation.

      • She didn’t even stick around long enough to describe her cat. I fed lots of neighborhood cats. We still put a small bowl of food out every night from where I live now. I just can’t bear the thought a cat may be hungry.

        • Perhaps another reason why women complaint when another person feeds their cat is because they feel guilty. They may feel that they have failed.

  2. We had a cat in Frnace when I was young called Basil and we fed him decent wet cat food and he seemed pretty healthy until the ladies accross the street started feeding him something which made him get so fat. He got so over the top fat it was just ridiculous and we begged the ladies not to feed him but they did anyway. The worst part is that he got run over when crossing the road to their stupid house. Poor Basil.
    I”m a bit torn on this article to be honest. I hate those ladies to this day. They did something very wrong in my opinion.

    I’m going away for 10 days and leaving tonight and quite nervous about leaving my cats – even though they are in good hands – I will miss them and the longest I ever went away for is just one week so this will be the longest trip away to date. Anyhow I won’t be around for 24 hours or less while I take a 12 hour train journey and get myself a bit set up in Slovenia where I’m going. I’ll be with 5 cats so it’s not the desert by any means. By the time I get out to the countryside there will be a total of 7 cats. I won’t be all alone with just humans, thank god 🙂

    • Have a good trip Mark. I agree that a roaming cat may eat too much because he eats at various houses, but why do cats do that? The domestic cat’s wildcat ancestor does not get obese.

      I feel I am correct on the issue of “ownership”. Cats don’t act as if they are owned hence wandering and forming new companionship.

    • I hope your trip goes well Marc, your cats will miss you but they like being in their familiar surroundings so won’t feel as bad as you do going off leaving them.
      It’s nice there are cats where you are going 🙂
      Keep in touch when you can xx

    • I would be so very anxious too, if I were in your shoes. Can’t help it. I was in treatment for 60 days, and fought with my conscience every day. To leave them, in my mind, to betray? them was the worst. Worse than even the loneliness of not being with them, especially my red tabby (you know, Shrimp). I could’t sleep well without him on my belly. His warmth and his deep rumblings as he fell to sleep. The bestest sleep-aid in the world.
      And his little snores. 🙂 No wonder you have anxiety about your ten days away. Seven was bad enough, no doubt. You have the neat ability to talk to them on the phone or skype. That is really cool. With you sensitivity, I bet you leave things behind, besides your heart, that remind them immediately of your scent. That and talking to them must be reassuring, and you always come home. So, make sure, Marc, that you return! ha!;)

      Hope you have good time to relax with Gigi, Molly and Lilly before you potovati v Slovenijo. Wir werden dich vermissen. Miau!

      • I only mentioned my cat, because I do know how much you miss Red. i just want you to know that een though you will never be able to replace him, maybe someday soon you will find another little red tabby personality and face, akin to his. I hope so with my heart. I wish the best for you in your journey!

      • I agree, Caroline. Good comment I think. I can totally understand Marc. I find that my cat prevents me from going away. Unless I am really keen etc. to go away, I won’t because I don’t want to leave Charlie. Too much worry and anxiety. I’d be thinking about him etc. which, in a way, spoils the holiday.

        • Yes, and I hope that Marc has not only a wonderful holiday, but also a sweetly memorable time while there. and then to think that after the flight back, he has such a joyful reunion awaiting him at home as well. (I secretly hope that a small miracle happens!)

  3. Truth be known, Shadow, Yellow’s companion and best friend, is not my cat. He belongs to the next door neighbor who has two kids and two dogs. Sometimes three dogs. They know he lives here. He makes token visits to his other home. But he lives here, on my property, with Yellow. They know it, and being, I guess, a modern busy family, they have never said they prefer I stop feeding Shadow. In fact, if I leave over night, the man of that house feeds my outside cats in the early morning. I give instructions for Shadow and Yellow’s meal, and for Marvin. Separate parts of the property of course. When the neighbors are gone for days, we feed their dogs. And chickens.

    I really had no choice. Once Yellow invited Shadow to the feeding trough, there had to be enough for two. So it has been now for years.

    I remember more than twenty years ago now, in a different city, different time, a neighbors cat did start asking for food at my house. And course, I complied. That cats owner was furious with me, but the cat kept coming around. I tried to not feed it, but it clearly did not want to go home, what was a decent person supposed to do? That lady ended up moving away, she took the cat with her, sad ending.

    Cats make their own choices.

    • DW, I think yours is a classic example of how cats decide and they are not owned. People need to accept that. This is hard for people because they like to own and possess things.

      Cats do migrate to what is best for them, just like people. It is natural and to be expected. I can tell that your home is very cat friendly so if a cat is a wanderer and if his home is less good, hasta la vista, baby applies.

    • DW, what you describe is exactly what happened in our front yard. The neighbor two doors down has a wonderful ten-yr-old son with a tuxedo kitten, half-grown, abused (not by him), and neglected (again, not by him). “Oreo” soon started hanging out over here, wanting in after a month or two of feeding him on the front porch. I think I’ve mentioned him before, he used to hiss any time you talked, stroked or fed him. He started meowing at the door, so being good-natured, I let him in(shishing all the way!) Then, while I was away, my housemate took him to the vet, got vax and had him neutered. When I returned, the neighbors had moved two blocks away, and Oreo would travel back and forth, eventually choosing to belong with my cats. not there. Unbeknownst to me, my housemate put the cat in my name at my vet’s rather than his own. Irritating but moot to my dilemma. Here it is:

      I like Oreo’s little human friend who moved two blocks away, and I don’t care for his mother, who treats animals as an afterthought w/o real care for their welfare. I know from talking to him that he loves and misses his Oreo. I want to figure out a way to give him back, yet still give Oreo his choice in the matter. What do I do? Just b/c my housemate paid to have him neutered and shots while I was away doesn’t matter to me in the least where the boy is concerned. Any suggestions? TIA, Cal

      • Note: Oreo has grown into a handsome Angora-type cat. He handles the winter cold well when out. But he prefers to sleep right smack on top of me with Shrimp. I am so fond of him, he’s such a good boy, and gets along so well with Shrimptaro. I’ll be sad to give him up if I have to (why should I?). The boy I’m sure is brokenhearted. When I approached his mother about the neutering a long time ago, she bluntly stated that she had her hands full (four young children, one behaviorally-challenged) and couldn’t be bothered about such things. When I asked her son if he’d like to tell me how he felt, his mom cut him off and said he didn’t have a voice. Wow.

        So you see, I need to work something out so that her son benefits as well. This could potentially be terribly heartbreaking for him, and it seems that his feelings are already not validated by his mother.

        • Firstly, I’m glad Oreo was neutered. However that played out, in the end, it is a good thing.

          I would talk to the boy about cats. Tell him everything you know. Especially about their independence and about community cats in general. Invite him to spend time with Oreo as much as he wants. Oreo may want to live at his house again someday, meanwhile you will share.

          No way I would kick Oreo out of your bed! I know it is hard and you feel guilty, but leave it in the cats paws. He knows what he is doing. That mother was right. There is no room in her heart with all those other moving parts to deal with.

          Kids do best with honesty. They understand it better than adults really. The boy in his heart already knows it. If he spends quality time with his visits, he may win Oreos heart back. What is best for Oreo is that he gets what he wants.

          Best wishes and tell us how it goes.

  4. What if the owned cat you are feeding has a food allergy, diabetes or other condition? My sister’s neighbour wrote “don’t feed me – I have allergies” on her cat’s collar. She gave her closest neighbours a pouch of safe treats because she knew the cat would still visit them.

    One of my first cats was the neighbourhood scrounger. She worked out a visiting timetable. As a result she received invitations to children’s parties and family barbecues.

    • What if the owned cat you are feeding has a food allergy, diabetes or other condition?

      This is a danger for a community cat but cats live with these sorts of dangers.

      When a domestic cat becomes a community cat he partially enters the world of the wild cat where there are more dangers.

      It is a cat regressing back to his natural roots.

      Sarah, I hope you are well and that the job is going OK. Happy Christmas too.

  5. Thankfully we’ve never in forty years had cats who eat anywhere outside, I’d worry if they did, that our cat caretaking was lacking.
    We feed one cat here, Narla, she’s out long hours and her ‘dad’ knows we feed her because we told him and he is happy about it, but she won’t come into our house.
    We know all the cats in our neighbourhood so we know if a hungry cat comes along he’s either neglected or a stray.

  6. I have a situation with Houdini, one of my neighbor’s cats. He is outside a lot and begs for food. Ofcourse, I feed him. He’s quite old, and I became aware that Melina, his person, was feeding him only dry food.
    I spoke to her about 3 times, telling her that poor Houdini was hungry and showed her that he only had a few teeth and those were in poor condition. She won’t accept that he can’t deal with all that dry saying, “He does well with it and he just likes your food better”. Well, ofcourse he does, IDIOT, he can eat it!
    At least she doesn’t mind that I feed him. So, he’ll eat well with me.

      • The most common excuse that I hear from people who only feed their cats dry food, is because wet makes soft stools; therefore, a messier and smellier cleanup.
        I agree a little with that but, ofcourse their cats would have firm stools BECAUSE THEY ARE DEHYDRATED!

        • Correct Dee. I think word has gradually got out that dry cat food eaten all the time is unsuitable and it does dehydrate the cat at least slightly because cats are poor water drinkers and don’t compensate properly. That is one of the problems. Vets push Hills Science Diet all the time and never mention the downside as far as I am aware.

          Dee, changing the subject, if you want an avatar attached to each comment against your name have a look at this page:

          ….if you want help with creating a clean, simple image (it has to be because of the size) then just ask.

          • RIGHT ON Michael!

            With the exception of one of their products that can be a lifesaver for a very sick kitty that is off his or her feed. Most cats love A/d and I keep a carton of the stuff ever since Dr. Hush Puppy had some nasty oral surgery- and he wouldn’t eat. I brought out the A/d (suggested by a feline vet friend who hates Hills also) and he thought it was better than sliced mice. YUM.. It is also easy to mix it with water into a really easy texture to load into a syringe if that’s necessary.

    • I don’t understand how people can have an animal companion, say they love him, but be so blind to his needs. I see this a lot, especially with declawed cats that are obviously in pain, but their human doesn’t notice. I’ve also been in homes where the cat’s water dish was bone dry. “Oh, he’s fine. He drank from the tap in the bathroom this morning.” I refilled the dish and the cat drank a copious amount of water. He only gets dry food, so it’s no surprise he was thirsty. Except to his human who claims to care about him, but by her actions shows she could care less.

      • Fake humans comes to mind. The word “love” is much overused and abused too.

        A lot of these people who say they love their cat simply don’t. They seem not to know the meaning of the word “love”. There is a lack of genuineness amongst people who declaw and say their cat is a member of the family etc.

  7. This same situation exists in the assisted living facility where I work as a physical therapist assistant. I asked the patient I was working with if she had a cat, because I saw a bag of cat treats on her table. No, the cat wasn’t hers, he lives across the hall, but if she leaves her door open a crack he comes in and hangs out in her apartment. And she gives him treats. He comes for the treats, but more than that, I think. He must enjoy her companionship, since he stays around, according to her, even after he gets his treat. I wonder how the cat’s human across the hall feels about this. I assume he knows.

    • I agree it is more that just about food. If a cat wants to eat at two or more homes, the people who live in those homes including the cat’s owner, should get together and work out a decent diet that matches the situation.

  8. I keep Monty in his own yard. No worries about neighbors feeding him. But he does eat a surprising amount of vegetation back there.

    • There was a story recently about the remains of cats found in Chinese graves from 5,000 years ago and it was decided that one of the cats had eaten lots of grain throughout his/her life. I think cats can eat quite of a lot of plant material (although grain is not plant material as far as I am aware) and be OK, indeed thrive. Wild cats eat herbivores and there is quite a bit of plant material in the stomach of a herbivore, which is eaten by the cat.

      • Monty just always thinks he’s starving. The cat grass and cat nip I bought have caused him to lose interest in the Christmas tree, which is good.

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