Can you trust your neighbour to look after your cat?

Can you trust your neighbour to look after your cat when you are away?  This story will tell you that you cannot. That does not mean that you have to totally write off the idea of your neighbour taking up cat caretaking duties while you are away but it might put you off.

A person in Jackson, Mississippi went away for four days. She’d made arrangements for her neighbor to pop in to the house once or twice daily to clean the cat’s litter box and feed her cat. These are the basics and no more. The neighbour had offered to do this.

Neighbour agrees to look after your cat but fails

But guess what? You can guess. When she returned home after her four day trip, it was clear that the neighbour had not put a foot inside her house. He or she had completely ignored her responsibilities to the detriment of the welfare of the cat. This could have ended tragically.

The cat’s owner (I have assumed that she is a lady) was naturally very upset with her neighbour. This is a shame because neighbours really need to get along.

The cat’s owner had bought a gift while away to give to her neighbour but decided against it. Neither would she pay her any money. She was concerned about how to deal with the matter.

Should she simply ignore her irresponsible neighbour or confront her? Note: as far as I am aware there were barriers such as sudden illness which would have prevented the neighbour from carrying out her duties.

What would you do? I think you have to discuss the matter with your neighbour. You have to find out what went wrong and why it happened and decide where the truth is as there are bound to be lies.

There may have been an agreement to pay for the service and that needs to be discussed. I’d discuss the matter but in a non-confrontational manner. You can’t afford to fight with your neighbour for years.

I have always felt with conviction that it is not a good idea to let your neighbour look after your cat or cats while you are away unless you know them very well indeed and have had good experiences in the past.

The story I have recited is not uncommon apparently. One problem is that the cat owner’s expectations are higher than those of the neighbour looking after her cat.  There needs to be real clarity as to objectives and standards which could make the arrangement too formal. However some sort of written agreement might be suitable for the avoidance of doubt and to avoid excuses. Agreements are useful to focus minds.



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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • My neighbor is my SIL and she is specifically excluded along with her husband and any children living now or who man be born along with the same about her husband. I'd say NO. My inlaws and most of their kids are some of the worst animal abusers I have ever had to deal with.

    • Interesting comment. I don't know anyone who I could absolutely trust to look after my cat. It has to be a special person I think because the standard is very high.

      • I have a cat sitter that I trust 100% sadly he has moved but I would pay extra mileage for the peace of mind. Most cat sitting services now include social media updates during visits usually with pictures of short videos.

  • I actually trust no one to care for my cat, and when I've had to in the past, I saw evidence that wasn't serious, for example not cleaning her box or giving her wet food, but just confirmed that no one cares for our pets like we do.

    I might be considered co-dependent, but I avoid leaving my cat in anyone's care. I can leave her overnight by herself, with food, water and toys, but check the room carefully to make sure that there's nothing harmful. One example would be cords for blinds. I always tie those up, so she can't hang herself by accident. Even feathered toys can be a danger. I recently bought a new one, and found one of the large feathers pulled out, lying next to the toy. She could have ingested this, and been in serious trouble. I remove anything that's breakable, like a water glass or bottle and any kind of strings, ribbons, and such.

    I take care of her as if she were a toddler, and we know the trouble they can get in to, if left to their own devices.

  • I had the young girl across the street look after Monty while we were all away over the Thanksgiving holiday. Usually my sister is here in the upper flat of our duplex so she is a built in cat sitter. But this time we all went because my father recently passed away and we felt that mom would want us all there with there. We discussed bringing Monty but decided it would be too traumatic for him. Some cats travel well-- I had one as a kid who would gladly have went anywhere we went! But not Monty.

    Maile (the neighbor girl) used a key I left with her, always coming in the front door, and she took care of all Monty's needs beautifully. I knew she would because she takes care of our neighbor Dick (who has had a stroke) when his wife has to travel. Maile tends to their house, yard and garden during this time too. I figured if she could care for a human and their entire household inside and out she could care for one small black cat. She is a sweet girl and a very gentle soul. And she's quiet. Monty likes people who are not too loud.

    I went over to pay Maile when we got back and she said over and over what a good eater Monty is. (He didn't get barrel shaped by walking away from food.) She said he kind of came to expect her and would be there waiting in the front room by the time she had come up the front steps and gotten the door opened.

    When I went back to my house I used the front door. Sure enough, although he had just been fed Monty came running! He saw it was me, looked disappointed and walked away. I guess he thought the new food giver who came through the front door was going to stay around in addition to his usual food giver.

    • As usual, Ruth, a great comment. You have a very reliable cat sitter who is a treasure. This is important. Once you have one never let them go. That's the saying ;)

  • Hell no because they barely take proper care of their own cats,in fact if the health department was called on them the cats and 2 dog's would most likely be removed from the home so no I would not trust them to look after my cats!

    • [First para deleted as rude]...... Like your article about the Egyptians. It was 3 MILLION mummified cats found. And they didn't worship them like gods, they raised them for animal sacrifices so people could use YOUNG mummified cats as prayer-note envelopes to contact Bastet. Get at least your facts straight about the history cats, if not your supporters that torture cats to death for money.

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