Should you be upset if your cat spends time with your neighbours?
No, you shouldn’t be upset and should accept it all things being equal. I call them timeshare cats. Having read the article, if you disagree, please tell me. The scenario: you let your cat go outside and he is gone for ages sometimes. You are concerned that he might be spending time with neighbours. By tracking him using a radio transmitter you discover that he does spend time with neighbours over the road. You talk to them and they own up but they are not trying to take your cat from you. They are neutral about the visits. They accept them but would be just as happy if your cat did not visit.
He does it twice a day some days. Are you upset and even jealous that he has taken his affections somewhere else? Do you feel rejected and hurt? Do you think he does not love you anymore? The fact of the matter is that you can’t be upset or feel those possessive human emotions. You need to accept it provided the neighbours treat him well which must be the case otherwise he would not visit and like it.
There are three problems with cats staying with neighbours for part of the day. The first is the emotional difficulty of dealing with it. People like to think that their cat only loves them. It is a possessive, jealous human form of love and bonding which domestic cats don’t seem to have. Probably half the world’s domestic cats are community cats sharing their time between different shop keepers and neighbours. I am referring to developing countries where cat ownership is more loosely interpreted. I think we have to put aside any emotional hurt we might feel.
The second problem concerns feeding. It is likely or possible that your cat is searching for more food or better quality as if he is on a hunting expedition. If your neighbours feed him he may end up upping his daily calorie intake which may, in turn, lead to unwelcome weight gain. If that is happening you’ll need your neighbour’s cooperation to stop feeing him, which may lead to a less than friendly discussion. Their lies a potential stumbling block in neighbourly relations. It is possible that your neighbour’s pet food is better quality which your cat prefers. The fix for that problem is clear: buy better quality cat food if you are the cat’s owner.
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The third issue is that your cat may be crossing roads to visit neighbours. Every time he visits them he may be in jeopardy of losing his life or suffering serious injury. It depends on the topography of the neighbourhood and the amount of traffic etc. but there is a genuine issue here which is highlighted by your cat’s visit to your neighbour.
There must be many hundreds of thousands of examples of cat visitations and there is one online today (see photo above). Tigger, a red tabby bold boy cat wandered through the open door of the home of John And Alex Sanders one day as if he owned the place. Tigger was tagged which allowed John and Alex to contact Tigger’s owner one street over.
Neither the owner nor Alex and John could change Tigger’s routine visits which often amounted to twice daily visits followed by the occasional sleepover. During the coronavirus lockdown Tigger stays with Alex and John between 12-2pm, 4-6pm plus some overnight stays. He usually visits twice a day.
Both neighbours have come to accept the shared arrangement which is the best idea. You have to give cats free rein to do what is natural to them because if you try and stop it the outcome may well be worse than the status quo.
Cats don’t share the possessive nature of humans. They are happy to timeshare their human homes. The question is whether people can deal with it emotionally. What have you done or what would you do?