Cat Lover’s Dilemma. Advise and Win a Prize!

Advice needed on how to deal with this “cat dilemma”. Best answer in a comment wins a prize πŸ™‚ The prize is an Amazon cat bowl. Big deal. Sounds rather poor but they are nice bowls:

USA BowlNeater Feeder for Cats, Cat Bowl, Bronze

UK BowlAndrew James 4 Day / Meal Automatic Pet Feeder / Bowl with voice recorder Includes 2 Volume Reducers + 1 Adapter Tray

If a visitor from a country other than the USA or UK advises and wins you can select something of a similar value that I can pay for and which can be delivered to you. Sorry for the extra work but I don’t see a better solution. PoC does have some great visitors from far away places other than the UK or America.

Rules! – Michael decides! There will have to be at least 5 comments (otherwise it can’t really be a competition) and please make sure the email address on the comment is good so I can contact you. Thanks. I really hope there are at least five comments….

Cat Dilemma

Cat Dilemma

The Dilemma

Jenny loves cats and all animals. She has a cat companion called “Alfie”. A neighbor, Ethel, has two very nice but defensive cats that she lets roam outside as they please. Her cats are called “Marty” and “Maggie”. As Ethel is not at home much the cats get lonely and like to visit houses. They visit Jenny’s home and come inside through the cat flap (door) and eat some left over scraps of food. Alfie gets upset so she closes the cat flap permanently.

However, Marty and Maggie still turn up. They wait outside and look in the window. They wait for a long time. Jenny can’t stand seeing them in the cold so she still feeds them outside her home. They are always hungry but slightly overweight. They like Jenny. As it is cold she feels like letting them in but she thinks of Alfie and how it might affect him.

Jenny finds out Ethel’s phone number and explains what is happening. Ethel says that Marty and Maggie are getting fat and that she feeds them dry cat food and some wet. Marty is almost diabetic her vet has told her. She asks Jenny if she would please stop feeding her cats.

As Ethel lives in a very large house with a nice large garden, Jenny suggests that Ethel keep her cats in and perhaps constructs a catio or cat enclosure. Jenny tells Ethel that this would allow her to monitor her cats’ food intake and it would protect them from potential accidents on nearby busy roads. Jenny leaves voice mails telling Ethel that the cats are at her place and can she stop this.

Ethel does nothing to change things. Neither does she return the calls.

Should Jenny continue to feed Marty and Maggie? What should she do?


Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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25 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    Hi, I have noticed that I don’t seem to have announced the winner of this competition. It was awarded to Marc for his totally novel solution. I discovered Amazon did not deliver to Switzerland! So I sent a bottle of wine and some cheese instead πŸ˜‰ Marc enjoyed it, he said.

    All this happened before Christmas. Cal’s comment made me revisit the page.

    Sorry I forget to announce it here. I get pulled in different directions.

  2. Cal says:

    I have not yet read the above comments, but will. ( just want to leave an unbiased comment, e’en tho naive. No longer feed, but leave a note suggesting that the dry should be cut back to 1/4 c. p day (and a high-quality wet, which her vet is probably already telling her). Remind her as well, that kitty is better off inside with carpeted towers and such, access to stairs if possible (with food dishes at the bottom, unless she or “mom” has arthritis. Leave it at that, and w/the card, send her a plate of your favorite brownies/cookies laced with catnip. –for the human, not the cat. (It acts as a wonderful anxiety-reducer in humans.

  3. Michael says:

    Hi, I have read all the comments. I have come down to two possible winners. I’ll make a decision tomorrow all being well. Sorry for the slight delay. The answers are a high standard on a difficult problem.

  4. Michael says:

    Great comments. Thank you. I’ll be reviewing them towards the end of week beginning 3rd December. In other words in about 4-5 days time.

  5. Rose says:

    Oh yes try to involve Ethel’s vet and communications would really break down between her and Jenny once she found out. Being bad friends with neighbours makes any problem ten times worse.

  6. Marc says:

    She should find out who Ethel’s vet is and tell him to explain the whole thing to her about building a catio and monitoring their intake. Maybe the vet could also talk about dry food a bit more. The only other solution is for jenny to put food outside for them so poor Alfie gets left alone and they can eat wet food only outside. Hopefully her wet food will be so good they wont feel like eating any dry food at home. Fight back with better food and get the vet to tell Ethel to sort it out.

    • Marc says:

      Sounds like Ethel listens to her vet. He or she is the key. If it is England then keeping them in or at least the diabetic one, until its healthier, perhaps a catio, is the only way to be sure its not eating elsewhere. Seems like only the vet could convince her to keep that cat in. When both cats are healthy then they can of course go out again. Jenny shouldn’t really feed them by this time because the vet should have told her what food to feed them so they are not getting dry food.

      • Marc says:

        argh – spelling – last sentence again: Jenny shouldn’t feed the cats anymore once they have been let out again with a clear bill of health, since whatever they did indoors to get healthy will clearly continue and jenny should not interfere with that.

      • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

        A borderline diabetic cat isn’t going to get healthier, given too much of the wrong food he will eventually become fully diabetic. Ethel is probably following a diet plan her vet recommended for him.
        I don’t know of any UK vets who would tell someone to keep cats in which were used to going out, the stress of their loss of freedom could cause anxiety problems, cystitis for example, in cats used to using outdoors, not litter trays.
        This is not a veterinary problem, it’s a neighbour problem and those neighbours need to come to some agreement for the good of their cats. Like doctors, vets are sworn to keeping their clients health records confidential, they won’t discuss clients business with anyone else apart from the RSPCA in a case of neglect or cruelty. Ethel’s cats are not ill treated, they are simply doing what cats do and Rose is right, Jenny should not have started feeding someone else’s cats.

    • Hairless Cat says:

      Hi Marc,

      Talking to the vet is a great idea – one that didn’t occur to me.

      Someone has to get through to her. Someone she’d listen to. The vet is the key and I think you’ve just solved the puzzle.

      Well done.

      =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

  7. Rose says:

    I think because Jenny’s cat Alfie has a cat flap and because Jenny is more concerned about Ethels 2 cats being hungry than them coming into her garden, that this is in the UK, because here we are much more tolerant of cats than people in the USA are.
    We’d never dream of calling the RSPCA which I take it is our equivalent of Animal Control, because cats have a roaming commission here and it’s understood most are allowed to go out. We’d not be happy imprisoning our own cats and the RSPCA wouldn’t expect anyone to do that. In fact I don’t suppose they’d respond to any call because there is no cruelty involved.
    If Jenny stops access to her house by closing the cat flap for a while and stops feeding Marty and Maggie they will stop coming, they don’t go because they are lonely, they go because they know they will get extra food. Once that stops they will go elsewhere and that isn’t Jenny’s problem. I can’t understand why Jenny knowing they were Ethel’s cats started feeding them in the first place. She has encouraged them. She should have put her own cat Alfie first and must do so now before he starts having anxiety issues from seeing Jenny feeding other cats. Ethel is angry at Jenny now, Jenny has pushed her too far with repeated phone calls,she needs to apologise to Ethel for encouraging her cats and to tell her she has stopped feeding them. Ethel’s cats are well cared for by the sound of them and Ethel of the opinion as are most UK people that cats are entitled to roam. Both being obvious cat lovers may with time be on better terms again and it’s always good to have a cat loving neighbour on hand for times of emergency care of each other’s cats.

  8. Ruth (Monty's Mom) says:

    Of course she needs to stop feeding the cats. Since the neighbor won’t keep them in, can she take measures to keep them out? When we added the section of fence to our back yard to completely enclose it for Monty it was as much to keep the neighbors’s little dog out as to keep Monty in. Oscar the dog would run into our back yard and bark at the back patio door. Naturally, Monty didn’t like this, and I feared for Oscar’s safety if he ran over while Monty was outside. For us this was an easy fix, since only a small section was not already fenced. Also, a dog is probably easier to keep out than a cat. But it might be worth looking into. If she builds some type of enclosure, encompassing the area by the door in question, it keeps the other cats out as well as giving her cats a safer place to play. Not seeing the space in question, I don’t know how practical this is. We happened to have almost everything my husband needed on hand already. The new section between back porch and garage latches into place and can be unlatched and lifted out by my husband when it needs to be removed to get the lawn mower through there. I realize putting in an enclosure and making it semi-permanent at the same time is tricky and could be costly. For us, it solved the problem of wandering Oscar while lessening, though not eliminating, the chances of Monty encountering another cat in his yard. If the feeding stops plus the cats encounter a barrier, that should be the end of the matter. As much as it is painful to see cats being allowed to roam, you really can’t stop it unless you want to risk the cats being seized, taken to the pound and probably killed.

  9. Michael says:

    Thanks for the high quality comments so far and the time taken to produce. Much appreciated. I think the dilemma is not that unusual in the way it mixes several factors.

    • Hairless Cat says:

      Hi Michael,

      You’re welcome. You and your writing deserve high quality comments.

      =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

  10. Hairless Cat says:

    Hi Michael,

    First, this isn’t for the prize. I’d rather see someone else win it, so count me out of the drawing.

    There are three issues that need to be addressed as far as I can tell.

    1. The resident cat is upset by the presence of the other cats. Solution: Stop feeding the visiting cats.

    2. One of the visiting cats is nearly diabetic. Stop feeding the cats.

    3. How to get the neighbor to better look after her cats without having them end up in the pound.

    Halting the feeding of the visiting cats should work. If it doesn’t work, perhaps something further needs to be done, but that’s risky for the visiting cats.

    Since repeatedly asking the neighbor to stop letting her cats wander onto her property and with good reasons (see number 1 and 2), the neighbor cut off communication. That’s a major problem since the cats are still visiting and Jenny is stuck living to a person who won’t listen to reason and who is rude and selfish.

    Jenny could get a petition but shouldn’t turn it into the authorities on risk of the visiting cats ending up in the pound. Who knows what bad things will happen to the visiting cats if they get put in the pound?

    So, take a copy of the petition signed by several neighbors to the lady’s house so she can see that other neighbors are disturbed by the wandering cats.

    If that doesn’t work, she should call animal control and City Hall for advice. She should ask what will happen to the cats if she takes the advice so that the cats don’t just end up in a cage (or worse – put down).

    Perhaps the authorities could be coaxed into just giving the neighbor a call or sending a warning letter. That’s risky too. If there is another complaint after the warning, her cats might be taken away and put down.

    Jenny needs to familiarize herself with the local animal laws.


    We have had a similar problem on more than one occasion and our cats FREAK when another cat appears at the window. I don’t like it but I don’t want to blow the whistle on the visiting cat because something bad might happen to it if I do.

    On the other hand, if the visiting cat kept upsetting my cats on a regular basis, I would end up in Jenny’s situation and would take the advice I’ve given above.

    Again, stop feeding the visiting cats is my main bit of advice.

    Good luck to Jenny if this is something more than a hypothetical situation.

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

  11. Dee says:

    I think, sometimes, we need to “pick up the slack” when a pet owner is a little less responsible than we think they should be. I don’t think Ethel is a bad person or doesn’t love her cats. She, obviously, cares enough to have had vet care and learned that Marty is potentially diabetic and cares about his diet. I think, perhaps, she doesn’t have a clear understanding about cat behaviors. To stop feeding Marty and Maggie doesn’t necessarily mean that they will go away. More than likely they will wait outside a while and, after not being fed, will go to another neighbor (who may not be as tolerant or kind as Jenny). It seems prudent to me to assertively pursue a compromise with Ethel. By this, I mean: Jenny should request that Ethel provide the food (type and amount) that she thinks her cats should have and allow Jenny to continue feeding at a scheduled time. At the alotted feeding time, Alfie can be diverted to another area of the house for that short period of time. This way, at least, the cats are fed, Alfie is only inconvenienced briefly, Ethel won’t have to worry about her cats overeating, eating the wrong food, or going from neighbor to neighbor, and Jenny won’t have to feel guilty or sad for not feeding Marty and Maggie.

  12. If this was the United States I’d say call Animal Services. Otherwise…

    I would ask around my neighborhood and see what kind of support I could get from my neighbors. If support could be gained from the neighbors, perhaps a petition could be put together or at least some type of written letter. Her cats are invading this woman’s privacy. She should have the right to ask for help from some civil service? If nothing else, I would plaster the town with photos of her cats with big words like ‘they broke into my house’ or some such thing to get attention. To get them woman to act you got to have leverage.

    I hope you follow up on this story so we can see how it turns out. Love the cat pix!

  13. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    Jenny should stop feeding Marty and Maggie, she must harden her heart because if Marty is almost diabetic the extra food might tip him over the edge into diabetes. It is also unfair on her own cat Alfie who is obviously stressed in his own home. It will be very hard for Jenny at first because Marty and Maggie will wonder why their extra rations have been stopped, but they will eventually get the message and stop coming.
    Ethel also needs some gentle calm advice from someone other than Jenny because she will now be thinking Jenny is interfering and telling her what to do about her own cats and she wouldn’t take that kindly.
    Do Ethel and Jenny have a friendly cat loving neighbour who can sit down with Ethel and explain that cats shouldn’t be out wandering when no one is home? That even if Jenny has stopped feeding Marty and Maggie, another cat loving neighbour might encourage them by feeding them.
    It would be too hard on Marty and Maggie to be kept in an enclosure as they are obviously not young cats and are used to their freedom, but Ethel needs to understand she has a responsibility for their welfare and leaving them out while she’s not at home isn’t a very good thing to do, they are much safer indoors. Maybe if Ethel takes advice well, she and Jenny could come to a ‘time share’ arrangement, where when Ethel’s 2 cats are in the house, Alfie can have his cat flap open and enjoy some freedom without fear of Marty and Maggie intruding into his territory.
    It will all need handling by a kind and understanding person who loves cats too and it can be done that way peacefully and to the advantage of all three cats.

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