Woman issues flyer asking neighbours to stop feeding her cat. Who’s at fault?
The flyer that the cat owner distributed in her area is self-explanatory. She is basically asking neighbours to stop feeding her cat as he begs for food and she does not want him to get fat.
I think some of what she is saying is not entirely true (or they are exaggerations) and designed to add impact and get neighbours to take note and take action. For instance, her cat is not fat.
I understand her frustrations. If a cat enters the home of a neighbour, a poll run by the Daily Mail online tells us that 63% of them would feed the cat while 37% would not for two reasons: they hate cats (4%) and they don’t want to make the cat sick (33%).
Most people are understandably kind-hearted and decide to feed cats that stray into their home.
In my view domestic cats can eat for pleasure and if the pet food in neighbours’ homes is better than in theirs, they seek it out and return and eat it even if they don’t need it.
Who’s at fault? The cat owner who let’s their cat roam freely and enter the homes of others or the neighbours who feed the cat? Answer: they both are.
Nearly all the commenters say that the owner is at fault for not keeping their cat inside at all times. This is the current trend on the UK on cat ownership: keep them inside.
It is bad to feed a neighbour’s cat for more than one reason unless it is obvious that the cat needs feeding because of obvious malnourishment. That’ll be rare. But if the cat looks well fed, neighbours should gently shoo the cat out of the home. If you encourage them to come in, they may learn to stay. Great for the cat if their home less good than the neighbour’s but in doing the neighbour is slowly stealing someone’s cat. That’s immoral as well as illegal. There is another reason for allowing a visiting cat to enter and stay: the cat looks abused through neglect. Then there is a moral duty to let them stay and try and improve the cat’s health but it may well lead to a dispute with the cat’s owner.
If the neighbour has a cat of her own with a cat flap and the free-roaming cat comes in via the cat flap it should be changed to be one that reads the resident cat’s microchip and bars all other cats.
The conclusion is that despite the majority feeding wandering cats it is not a good idea and it should be resisted unless the exceptions above apply. Neighbours can make the cat’s visit less comfortable by presenting the cat with body language which makes it clear that they are unwelcome.
The problem is that the cat might be welcome because it is quite entertaining to have a feline visitor from time to time. I think it is better to think of the cat and their owner and not respond to one’s feelings.
Below are some pages on feeding domestic cats.