What can I do if my neighbour has too many cats?

This is a really tricky question although people tend to oversimplify it. First, what is too many cats? It is subjective. That’s the first hurdle but let’s say that without question your neighbour has too many cats. He or she may have, let’s say, 25 cats. Nearly everybody would say that is too many under normal circumstances living in a residential home in a residential area.

She has too many cats and she lives in Newcastle, Australia
She has too many cats and she lives in Newcastle, Australia. Image: 9 News (believed).

Nuisance? Healthy?

The question is whether your neighbour and her cats are a nuisance. Obviously if they aren’t a nuisance to the neighbours and healthy then there’s nothing to do or there is nothing that can be done unless there is a local ordinance (law) which limits the number of cats that a person can keep to a small number such as 4. Rarely, there are some cities and counties in America where they have limits like this. If one exists you can telephone the local authority and they should do something about it. But bear in mind the negative impact on neighbour relations.

If the cats are a nuisance, you CAN’T call the police because they will always be entirely disinterested in any case it is not a criminal matter. This is a civil matter.

Civil matter

A nuisance can actually be a civil wrong, specifically, a tort in legal terms. If you’ve got the strength of mind and the commitment you could sue your neighbour in the tort of nuisance after failing to get her/him to resolve the problem. I don’t think anybody would do that although there is a reasonable chance of success. It would mean spending quite a lot on legal fees and taking the matter to the County Court. It would cause a lot of disruption in the neighbourhood because not only would your cat-owning neighbour be highly upset, other neighbours would get to know about it and there may be some ructions in the neighbourhood.

None of your business

Some people would say that you should mind your business and do nothing about it. If a person has a right to own 25 cats where they live then you must respect that right. However, as mentioned, if there are too many cats and they are poorly looked after and they cause a nuisance then the cat owner has abused her rights and caused a nuisance to others. That is actionable as mentioned. The comments on the Quora.com website in general state that “it is none of your goddam business if your neighbour has too many cats”. I agree if the cats are well looked after and don’t cause a nuisance. If not, the advice is incorrect.

Local authority?

Rather than suing your neighbour, the local authority may help if the cats cause a nuisance such as despoiling the environment through faeces and urine and making noises at night et cetera. This would be a particularly poor situation in which the cat owner had not spayed or neutered her cats resulting in uncontrolled breeding. This means that the situation will deteriorate year-on-year. Under these circumstances the local authority might have an obligation to step in.

Type of property

This would certainly apply if the cat owner lived in a council or publicly owned property run by the local authority. Under the circumstances she would be in breach of her tenancy agreement and this would leave her open to action by the freeholder i.e. the local authority. Eventually they could kick her out of her home if she failed to comply with the terms of her tenancy agreement.

And, the type of property you live in dictates what can be done. For example, if they live in a freehold home which would be a house in the UK, you can’t do much about a person who has too many cats unless the cats are a nuisance. But if that person lives in a leasehold home something can be done. Leasehold homes are governed by the terms of the lease which is an agreement between leaseholders.

Those terms will definitely mention pet ownership and what can and can’t be done. Owning 25 cats in a leasehold property in the UK would be a breach of the terms of the lease. The other leaseholders could enforce the lease against her. Or they could try to because it would need the involvement of the management company and/or the freeholder to enforce the terms of the lease. They might be disinterested. But if the nuisance is bad enough, they would be forced to act.

Talk to the person

One thing you might do and probably should do is talk to the person who has 25 cats. This is almost certainly going to be fruitless and a waste of time because that kind of person doesn’t listen. It may achieve something if you are polite 😎. And you might take action yourself by taking the cats to a veterinarian to have them spayed and neutered. This would stop them breeding which would help to resolve the problem. It would upset the cats’ owner, no doubt, but it is direct action which can be the best way to resolve something sometimes. Although it may leave you open to a claim for compensation by the cats’ owner because you interfered with her cats and altered them.

Unhealthy?

If the cats are unhealthy and clearly neglected you could probably call the RSPCA in the UK or the equivalent in other countries to seek their involvement. They have an obligation to deal with animal welfare issues and in the UK the RSPCA still has, as I recall, the authority to prosecute people who abuse their animals. Neglecting cats en masse persistently is a form of animal abuse. This would be a crime. The police and/or RSPCA could be involved. They could prosecute the person. This is going to be a struggle to achieve because the police are disinterested as mentioned. If the problem is particularly bad the RSPCA would step in, I would suggest.

Conclusion

What can you do if your neighbour has too many cats? It depends upon the property in which they live as mentioned and it depends upon whether the cats are well looked after and healthy or if they are neglected, unhealthy and causing a nuisance to neighbours. You have to tick those boxes first. Then decide on the course of action.

Story

There is a story from Newcastle, Australia of a woman (see picture above) who has her neighbours in uproar because she allows her cats to apparently breed and wander all over the neighbourhood causing a nuisance. Neighbours say that they have lost count of the number of cats wandering around. They say that they urinate and defecate everywhere causing the neighbourhood to stink. One concerned resident said: “The smell, go out the back and smell up the drive… it’s just terrible and she doesn’t feed them.”

There are disturbances at night. The residents have complained to Newcastle City Council. The council said that they would do nothing about it. They posted on their website the following: “We will no longer be dealing with this type of request.”

And that is the end of the story! That’s why I wrote the article above about what you can do if your neighbour has too many cats! LOL.

Below are some more articles on cat hoarding. Although it must be stated that not all situations in which there are a lot of domestic cats are about cat hoarding. Sometimes people look after their large number of cats very well.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

‘Nice’ older couple gave up their rescue cat because they chose an apartment with better amenities

A ‘nice’ older couple adopted a nice looking former feral cat from a rescue centre. The rescue centre was very pleased and described them as a “really sweet older couple”. That’s the impression they gave and the shelter staff were very happy that Murdock had a new home. And then it went pear-shaped because Murdock was returned to them. We don’t know how long the cat was with this older couple but it seems that it was not that long before they decided to relinquish him back to the same shelter from which they adopted him because they had chosen a new apartment which had ‘unbelievable’ amenities.

Cat 'Murdock' returned to shelter as owner wants to rent apartment that bans pets
Cat ‘Murdock’ returned to shelter as owner wants to rent apartment that bans pets. Photo: Facebook.

ASSOCIATED PAGE: Second Floor Apartment Outdoor Cat.

This is the report by Kaye Larsen on Facebook (see below) and she rightly, in my opinion, questions how people can choose better amenities over their cat companion. This was a straight choice between staying where they were, where cats are allowed, and moving to what they thought was a better apartment with better amenities where cats are not allowed.

At the time of adopting Murdock, the older couple said that they’d love to give Murdock a forever home. It wasn’t a forever home. It was a temporary home. It was a failure as a rehoming exercise. Murdock ended up at the shelter in the first place because his original owner lost his home and his cats ended up on the street until a neighbour called the rescue, Fat Cat Rescue. Kaye says that this person’s home was repossessed and he put “all his inside cats outside to fend for themselves!”

The rescue centre trapped all six of them and I presume that they rehomed them in due course. And now they have to rehome Murdock again. This time to a true for ever home. Murdock has had a rough ride.

Kaye makes quite a clever and amusing comment at the end of her Facebook post when she says, “I hope your children don’t dump you for great amenities”. She thinks that what comes around goes around meaning that if you do something wrong you ultimately pay the price somewhere down the road. Kaye calls it the “law of fair return”. I agree with this.

Im Sorry..😒
This poor kitty is breaking all of our hearts here at Fat Cat Rescue.. Adopted from us almost a year ago…..

Posted by Kaye Larsen on Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Note: This is a post from Facebook. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.


Landlords banning pets

This is a good opportunity to briefly mention the problem with landlords banning pets in their apartments and houses. It’s very common. I don’t know how common it is in America because I could not find the information online.

In the UK only 7% of private landlords advertise pet friendly properties. That means that 93% of properties for rent do not permit pets. You can see the massive problem this creates for those who can’t afford to purchase their own property but who love companion animals. I suspect something similar is happening in America.

Sidebar:

Apparently in Japan because of small living spaces landlords nearly always forbid tenants to live with pets which results in domestic cats and dogs being abandoned onto the streets.

In the UK, as at January 28, 2021, the UK government has on their website a press release which announces “New standard tenancy agreement to help renters with well-behaved pets”. It goes on to state that responsible tenants in England with well-behaved pets will be able to secure leases more easily through a standard tenancy agreement. It is called a Model Tenancy Agreement. It forbids landlords issuing blanket bans on pets. Consent for pets will be the default position and landlords have to object in writing within 28 days of a written request to live with a pet from a tenant and provide a good reason why the request cannot be met.

Currently, it might not always be practical but people with pets do not have to accept the standard letting agreement. Every landlord in the developed world uses standard agreements when they let their apartments. In the UK it is called an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. There will probably be something similar in the USA.

These agreements can be amended by negotiation. The landlord is protected against damage to his property by the tenant because they pay a deposit. Landlords obviously don’t think that’s enough to protect them against potential damage by a companion animal. But there’s no reason why a person who wishes to rent an apartment cannot negotiate a slight increase to the rental cost to cover potential damage by their cat.

Cats are certainly far easier for a landlord to accept because they are quiet. Dogs as we know can bark and that can create a legal nuisance with neighbours. The only problem that cats can present to a landlord is peeing and defecating in the wrong place if the flat is unfurnished. If it’s furnished then of course a cat can scratch the landlord’s furniture. But this damage can be minimised and as mentioned the proposed tenant can offer a premium rental to cover those potential damages. That may encourage a landlord to accept the agreement.

Obviously, it depends on the market at that time. If it is a renter’s market because of a glut of properties the tenant can negotiate from a position of strength. The opposite is true of there is a shortage of properties.

The point that I’m making is that people with pets who need to rent properties should be open to the possibility of negotiating the rental agreement to find a way to take their pets with them.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

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