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 The law is outdated; old-fashioned and rooted in a time when attitudes towards companion animals were less refined and developed.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 netmums.com 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.