There is no doubt that this is a tricky problem because you do not want a dispute with your immediate neighbour. And any dispute that might arise must not escalate. Secondly, quite a lot of people in America don’t like domestic cats wandering around their neighbourhood. There is a general trend towards keeping domestic cat indoors full-time. The back story, therefore, is potentially a difference in opinion about domestic cats and whether you like them or dislike them and whether they should be allowed outside or kept inside. This can add fuel to a neighbour dispute.
The next tricky issue is proving your cat scratched your neighbour’s car. The neighbour might claim that your cat did but it does not mean that it happened. The picture on this page is ostensibly of cat scratches on car paint but I’m not sure that they are. And even if the scratches look as if they’ve been made by a cat, were they caused by your cat or another?
The truth of the matter is that when cats jump onto the hood of a car they will invariably do so with precision and there will be no need to use their claws. And, whenever domestic cats jump on cars, 99% of the time they will not leave any scratches. They might leave some paw prints if they been walking on muddy ground. But I agree that sometimes cats will scratch cars. I just think it is rare.
I find it hard to visualise the kind of situation which would arise where a domestic cat would scratch car paint. It would have to be an exceptional situation. Domestic cats will normally only jump onto a car when they want to get warm from the engine heat on a cold day.
The point that I am making is that a claim from your neighbour that your cat scratched your car should lead to the initial conclusion that they are wrong in their assessment. But you don’t want an argument with them either. The scratch marks may conclusively prove that they can’t be from a cat’s claws. You’ll have to argue your case politely ?.
If there is some doubt and it is possible that your cat caused the scratches there is a responsibility on the cat’s owner to do something about it. But it is going to be expensive to remove scratch marks from car paint.
After discussion with your neighbour, if you agree that your cat possibly or probably did it then you should offer to have the car repaired and ask your neighbour to get a couple of quotes. This will only apply if your neighbour was reluctant to use their car insurance to cover the cost. They might be reluctant in order to protect their no claims bonus. It is also possible that their car insurance does not cover cat scratches.
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From the point of view of the neighbour making the claims, they can get very moderately priced surveillance cameras nowadays which work wirelessly and which network with a smartphone. This will enable them to monitor your cat to check whether he/she is scratching their car.
Or they can even rely on something cheaper which is a motion sensor camera i.e. a camera trap camera. These are very cheap on Amazon and they work at night. This will check their neighbour’s cat’s movements and provide some decent evidence for or against.
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Preventing it happening
The next issue is how to prevent it happening again. The answer depends upon your neighbour’s attitude. If he or she is laid-back about the problem then things can carry on as normal because, as mentioned, the chances of a cat scratching a car are fairly remote in my view.
If your neighbour is very sensitive about the problem then more drastic steps will have to be taken. This might mean keeping your cat inside, full-time. This would be the solution your neighbour would prefer. Or keep your cat inside full-time and add a garden enclosure or a catio. As mentioned in previous articles there is a greater obligation upon cat owners to provide an enriched environment for a full-time indoor cat in the interests of their health and welfare. Cats need to express their natural predatory instincts.
This would be a complete solution but a lot of people would not take it up. And to do it all on the back of the possibility that your cat scratched your neighbour’s car is unreasonable. The question then is about hard proof if you going to take hard, difficult and expensive steps.
And I don’t think putting mothballs around your car or peppers on the hood or and things like that are going to work. In other words, I don’t think that you can use repellents to keep your neighbour’s cat got your car. It’s too inconvenient and unrealistic in my view.
In my considered opinion I think the best way to stop your neighbour’s cat jumping up onto the hood of your car is to frighten them when they are on the hood if you are lucky enough to be there when it happens. And it is quite possible that you will see them it. This is because once they are on a car they will normally settle down for a while. There’ll be an opportunity to see what is going on. And if they are on the car you should shout at them. Make some noise so that they associate the car with an unpleasant experience. You should not harm the cat in any way as it would be a crime.
If a domestic cat is going to jump up onto a car, they invariably choose the hood or bonnet. This could be covered although I’ve not seen a cover is specifically designed to fit the hood of a car. It depends on how sensitive the car’s owner is about protecting their car. And once again it depends upon how certain you are that a cat is jumping up on your car.
I had never heard of a cat scratching someone’s car until I read Dave’s comment, which gave me the idea for this post (the link opens a new window and the section about his car has been emphasised by me).
Dave does not like cats or dogs. He trapped the cat that he says scratched his car and took him/her to a pound. He stated that the cat’s owner should prevent her cat from jumping onto his car. He says the problem is with the cat’s owner and he tried to get the owner to agree with him but failed. So, he took drastic action. And it was drastic action as cats in pounds can lose their lives to euthanasia.
This cat owning neighbour is one who is likely to make the life of a cat owner difficult or even hell. If they take such drastic and unnecessary action it will be hard to deal with them and realistically the only safe thing to do is to make your cat a full-time indoor cat.
My personal response would be that neighbours should compromise. As a colleague said, live and let live. Give and take. But cat owners do have a responsibility towards their neighbour’s property. And non-cat owners have the same responsibility. Cats are a form of human ‘property’.
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