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I'm living in my apartment for 4 years with my cat and my girlfriend. I have a balcony and since I do I put my cat's litter in there, and I have always left the door to the balcony open so that my cats can go poop and can also walk around without me always opening the door.

I don't mind my cat spending time with my neighbours, on the contrary me and my girlfriend are both working all day so I'm very fine with my cat being not being alone the whole day in my apartment.

But it came to the point where my cat is spending all its time at my very next door neighbor, who is retired and lives alone. I only hear her once a day when she come to do her thing into the litter... My neighbor is feeding her and my cat is getting very fat. She keeps giving my cat some stuff like yoghurt or tuna (from human tin can) and that kind of stuff, no surprise : my cat keeps coming back to her, but it needs some special food for sterilized cat. As you can imagine, what I offer in abundance (sterilized cat food) can't beat what my neighbor has to offer... At the beginning I was fine with it, my cat is a being and I like the idea of her being free to choose whoever she wants to live with, even though it makes me sad, she can choose to live with the old granny next door.

Here's the problem, few weeks ago my cat had some stuff into it's fur, the neighbour came to my place to tell me that may be we should look at it and bring her to the vet... We did it and the vet told us that it was because of the way she was fed. So I came to my neighbour and told her that she had to stop feeding her and that we were going to feed her again. That lasts few days where my cat was curiously way more at my place (what a coincidence!)...

Few weeks later I came to my neighbour to tell her that I'd like to give her the cat for real, so that it was official and I didn't have to think about it anymore as a responsibility of mine. For instance I would be able to go on week end and vacation without thinking of the cat, and I would stop cleaning my cat's poop for nothing. But she didn't want to, she told me it was too much responsibilities and that she would stop feeding her (which she didn't).

My question is the following :

How can I get her to stop feeding my cat, without being rude since I already ask her twice. And without jailing my cat.

My question is not :

  • How to feed my cat ?
  • How can I be more at home ?
  • Is my cat a good person ?
  • Shall my GF become a housewife to keep my cat away from the granny next door ?

Answer shall not include :

  • Keep your cat inside !

PS : For what I know I feel like my cat made a slave out of the neighbor, she only have to start meowing for the neighbor to do whatever she want to. What she indeed can not do with us.

PS² : I'm in a good relationship with my neighbor, not to the point where I leave her my keys, but one day I forgot my key and she allowed me to escalate her balcony to get into mine and open my door from the inside.

70

Clearly, the answer is to tell your neighbor that your cat has a medical condition, and needs a special brand of food. Buy an extra bag or two of that food and give it to your neighbor and tell her that if she wants to feed your pet, to use this food instead, so that your cat's medical condition may improve.

Now your cat has love, your cat is healthy, you can go on vacations, and your neighbor can share her love - everyone's a winner.

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    I think this is the best and realistic approach, and in the end, my cat might even come back to my place some times to times because we will both give it the same food. – YCN- Apr 4 '18 at 10:06
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    Upvote and it's what I would answer. Caveat, though, you can't force your neighbour to use the medial food & she might just decide that "the cat doesn't like it" & continue to feed the cat badly. – Mawg Apr 4 '18 at 13:10
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    Good answer, stress how the regular food was causing the poor thing medical problems so she doesn't revert to the old food when she runs out. – Lord Jebus VII Apr 4 '18 at 16:23
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    Stating something as "clearly true" diverts the need for explanation. Our site strongly recommends you back up your answer with personal experiences or references wherever possible – Jesse Apr 6 '18 at 6:56
57

Congratulations, you are a cat owner

This is hardly an interpersonal problem, and it has little to do with your neighbor. She is under no obligation to take over full care of your cat and you can't "force" her to adopt it. If you don't want the cat to go there, ask her not to let the cat in.

However, the real problem here is that you nor your girlfriend have enough time to give the cat attention. You leave the door open so it can go outside, and outside it goes, to the places where it gets attention and food.

If you neighbor stops caring for it, it will find a new place where it gets attention and food. Either force it to stay inside, or accept the fact that if you don't have time for it, it will find a different place to spend most of its day.

NOTE: This answer was to the original question, which was drastically different and basically asked "how do I force my neighbour to adopt my cat?". I'm leaving it here for posterity, but it no longer really answers the new question.

14

If I understand well, your neighbour feeds your cat because this latter comes to visit her, and she feeds your cat (way too much). To me, your neighbour is acting out of kindness and doesn't realize that overfeeding your cat has bad consequences on him/her (maybe she thinks that she needs to take care of him/her because you and your girlfriend are away the whole day).

What I would do if I were you is to go talk to your neighbour. You could tell her you noticed that she's taking care of your cat. Explain her kindly that your cat's bad condition is due to the overfeeding - he/she has food at your place plus hers (the fact that she's giving way too much food is something too but if you want to explain her gently, maybe it's not worth mentioning it in the first place).

That being said, I can't accept the idea of giving her the ultimatum to either adopt your cat or stop taking care of him/her. Cats and sentients beings and worth being considered as well. If I had to draw comparisons, I'd say my cat is like my own child, as I consider her as a member of my family. And I wouldn't offer my neigbhor to adopt my child because this latter prefer my neighbor's pecan pie. You can't tell your neighbor to take your child to the doctor because he gave him/her too much sweets.

(I just saw your comment on Theik's answer) So what you could do is to tell her you noticed that she likes the cat, so it's legitimate to assume she wants the cat's good. Offer her to welcome your cat (from time to time, not permanently) if she wants to but kindly ask her not to feed the animal, because getting too much food makes him/her sick. If she can't accept this deal, then ask her not to take care of your cat. If again this doesn't work, then just stop letting your cat go outdoors but accept the idea that your cat will suffer from it since he/she's used to go outside and that you can't prevent your cat to go check on other people if he/she wants to.

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    Your opinion on comparing the cat to a sentient being and to a child / member of the family sounds valid to me. As long as the owner takes the responsibility to adopt and take care of their pets, it cannot be just part-time. Just like a child requires full time attention, a pet should be no different. They're often left alone all day long as we all work and they do not deserve to be simply overlooked. – Jules L Apr 3 '18 at 14:52
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    Since you already brought up the comparison with children: if OP's child were diabetic and the neighbour would continue giving them sweets even though OP specifically asked them not to because it's bad for the kid (as indicated in the Q)... and if the neighbour continued to hand out the sweets because the kid "is just so cute"... then the solution would be to lock up the kid? Sorry but... WTF? That neighbour is an a-hole with extremly poor self-control who's intentionally harming a living being against better judgement... – AllTheKingsHorses Apr 4 '18 at 8:58
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    @AllTheKingsHorses that's a very good point you've made here. However, even if the neighbour shows very poor behavior & lacks of self-control, I wouldn't say she's being mean on purpose, idk that for sure. She seems to be retired so may suffer from loneliness (so welcoming the cat becomes very tempting), plus elder people don't often consider pets as sentients animals or think it's bad that they're overweighted (at least in my country, which is also the OP's one). – avazula Apr 4 '18 at 9:50
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    @avazula Unfortunately this all revolves around free will and consequences. Usually, if you want to be attributed the former you need to bear the latter. (Hence I found OP's idea to hand the cat over to the grandma pretty funny.) However, animals and old people are often treated as weird edge cases: animals can't be held responsible and can be treated however you like; old people can't be held responsible and can treat you however they like. To me that's a case of perverse incentives... – AllTheKingsHorses Apr 5 '18 at 13:01
4

Note about cats

Even though it's always a bit preferable to let cats go outside and not "jail" them inside an apartment (depending on how big your apartment is), cats are perfectly able to remain healthy and happy as indoor cats. Thing is, habbits. Cats are habbit animals, and you can always re-educate it to not go outside anymore. Sure it'll beg to go outside for a few days/weeks, but once its accommodated to its new lifestyle, it should be fine. Not telling you to give your cat the perpetuity sentence, but you know, just saying.

You own a cat and you need to give it the attention it requires, several vets including my favorite and current one told me that a happy cat is a cat that gets at least 30-45min of attention/playtime with its owner per day, with "Food As A Service" and the cat should never have to beg or hunt to find its food, this is very important because if you give your cat its food only to its demand, it will obviously go elsewhere where food is. Give it toys that allow it to play by itself without needing you all the time (that's where you can be creative with that), and use lasers/interactive toys with it when you're in your daily 30-45min of playtime, it's your responsibility as a cat owner after all.

I own a cat myself and it is an indoor-cat, he is very happy and healthy, he does have a special kind of fiber-rich diet because he would tend to eat a little too much, so the vet made us feed it these. His fur is shiny and silky smooth. And my gf and I play with him very often.

I personally have toys that make bell-ish sounds and when the cat hears it, it just barges in the place in sub-second times.

About neighbours

Now as mentionned before, this is hardly an IPS question, unless you would like advice on how to deal with this situation with your neighbor who refuses to fully legitimately become your cat's owner, or fully stop feeding it behind your back, which you cannot force her to do.

And I think a good first step is to directly explain to your neighbor that paying vet fees and special diet food to your cat is not compatible with the way she decides to feed your cat. But the best way to keep your cat is to take care of it as well as you can, cats go where the love and food is.


Edit: read the new comments and agreed with what was said, especially the fact that your cat made a slave out of your neighbor, and you should tell your neighbor that your cat is really not unhappy and just being overly greedy and gluttony on food.

Maybe try getting it fiber rich diet like I mentioned in my post earlier, in an unconventional type of plate, I for example have a cylindric plate, in which is stored its food, and the cylinder is pierced at only a few places, so the cat has to work and make the cylinder roll around on the floor to get its food at the same time, this keeps your cat occupied to preserve its primal "hunting" instincts and lets you control its weight.

3

My summary of the current situation:

  1. You like to let your cat wander free
  2. Your neighbor likes (over)feeding your cat when it wanders free
  3. Your cat's health is at risk if it's overfed, and it's already had a vet-worthy problem due to this overfeeding
  4. You've already explained the situation to your neighbor once, and they did stop feeding the cat for a short while after you talked with them

Let's be real here, your cat LOVES eating, and your neighbor seems to love all the affection your cat shows them when they feed it. It's a perfect storm of grandma-syndrome (feed the grandkids tons of cookies and sugar,) just with a cat.

Assuming good faith, the most obvious conclusion I've reached is that your neighbor really doesn't understand how serious the health problems of overfeeding will be for your cat. Either that or they have absolutely no willpower. I think the first conclusion is more correct.

To deal with this, you'll have to bring up the seriousness of the over-feeding problem, and you'll have to keep bringing it up until your neighbor finally understands the severity of the issue. This may take some time - habits take time to break even with a lot of desire, and your neighbor really doesn't want to stop getting love from your cat.

That being said, it may be the case that your neighbor can't/won't ever stop feeding your cat for good. You will then have to choose:

  1. You can keep reminding your neighbor frequently enough that the overfeeding doesn't pose a serious health problem. The previous reminder worked for a while, so if you're willing to keep reminding your neighbor, then the cat should be more or less okay.
  2. You can keep your cat inside. Yes, I know you said that wasn't an option - too bad, the situation may demand it. As much as it's better for your cat to wander outside and have fun, it's the wrong thing to do if it's guaranteed to results in your cat dying or suffering.
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    "Either that or they have absolutely no willpower." You might be surprised how many pet owners have absolutely no willpower regarding this. A good proportion of dogs and cats I see in my neighborhood is just fat. And I was astonished when my aunt fed her dog, who already got treated for diabetes, scraps from her plate. – Roland Apr 4 '18 at 8:04
  • @Roland It's definitely a possibility. Hopefully it's not the case, since that would probably restrict OP to either letting their cat suffer or keeping it inside. – Jeutnarg Apr 4 '18 at 15:09
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You could ask her to take the cat to the vet for you, or perhaps you could go together. Hearing the vet (doctor in the surgery setting) discussing the health problems of the cat might make it clear to her how important it is to stop the feeding. You could also ask the vet to confirm that the food you are providing is the appropriate food. I don't think giving her some of your food will help as it may blur the lines. Could you give her a couple of toys to interact with the cat differently and help it to lose a bit of weight at the same time?

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