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I know that this matter is not strictly "interPERSONAL", but that's the problem -- I know there's a cat but I don't know who the owner is.

All I know is, the home owner association I live under is the stereotypical one run by spiteful old people. We do have a mailing list, but posting a complaint/plea there would more likely cause them glee than give me a straight answer.

We are 37 households, and only we and 2 others have (small) kids -- the rest are pensioners. We are talking with only two other households; there is not a lot of communal spirit here -- the first HOA meeting I attended, about a week after we moved in, made it clear to me (in ways I shall not go into here) just how hostile, ludicrously infantile, and petty these people are (even towards each other, not just "newcomers"). Later, I requested that the run-down communal play area receive a bit of maintenance, only to be shot down rather rudely. I am decidedly not in good standing in their minds, and that is why I cannot think they would be very inclined to help me avoid their cat's poop in my garden.

I don't mind cats (or dogs, birds, etc.) but I very specifically don't want a pet in my household. Yet I have a problem that I'm unsure of how to deal with in a reasonable way. This is all in Denmark, so US laws and customs may not apply.

This year, a cat has been pooping in our garden, and ripping out grass or whatever else was around the scene of the crime, to cover it up. I obviously don't want this to continue (I would like my garden un-ripped, and my two small daughters would prefer it un-pooped-in also). It also has been leaving little puke pies around our cars in the drive way, which are quite disgusting, too.

But how do I stop the cat? I have tried planting "scaredy cat" plants, whose smell were supposed to discourage cats from coming near, but they don't work. I have also tried putting down metal webbing in the flower beds (because I heard that they don't like to step on such things and/or can't dig in it), and while that worked I can't extend that practice across my entire lawn.

Local law says that it's the responsibility of the pet owner to make sure that one's pet does not annoy others. This means I should go talk to the owner of said cat and ask them to keep the cat out of my garden. To which I would object: (a) I am convinced that no cat owner would agree to confining their cat because it roams in places that other people don't want it to; and (b) I don't even know whose cat this is! I have caught a glimpse of one cat, and followed it to the garden of a neighbour who has a cat door in their front door -- I am aware that this says absolutely zero about whether it's their cat or not. I have obviously not been able to read the chip or tattooed number in the cat's ear either.

How can I ask my neighbors - so that I will have an honest answer - who is the owner of this trespassing cat?

  • Please refrain from using profanity, as it is strictly against site policy. – scohe001 Nov 16 '18 at 19:31
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    @only_pro please look at the earlier revisions of the question. While the title and final paragraph have changed, the majority of the question is still telling us about the cat--which is fine if this asking about how to stop the cat (not IPS). But it's asking about how to deal with the neighbors without telling us anything about the neighbors at all. Has OP never even talked to their neighbors? Are they best friends with some neighbors but not others? What do those relationships look like and what are the neighbors like? – scohe001 Nov 16 '18 at 20:35
  • Please don't write answers in comments, and remember that answers here must be about interpersonal skills - that is, interactions with the neighbors, not the cat. If you are interested in providing cat deterrent suggestions, OP has posted a related question on Pets.SE here. – Em C Nov 17 '18 at 17:58
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So the hurdle is that no one would claim ownership of a cat that's been causing trouble in your yard (and possibly other yards) - no cat owner would want that sort of negative attention. But people surely would claim ownership of the cat if they thought it was getting praised.

Note that you might have to lie or hide your intentions at first to try this. Also this may not work if the neighbors are already aware of your distaste for these cats.

Try approaching any neighbor (preferably start with the more approachable neighbors) that you suspect might know who the owner of the cat is, or better yet who you think the owner is. Do not immediately bring up the cats, but rather make small talk with them and then casually inquire about the cat.

Oh by the way, have you seen this cat with the [insert positive quality here]? [Insert a positive statement here - (My children think it's adorable.) or (It looks so much like my pet cat from my childhood!)].

If they tell you they have indeed seen the cat you can ask:

Oh? Do you know where it lives?

This makes it appear that you're not interested in the cat owner but just for the cat.

If they haven't seen the cat or don't know where it lives, just drop the subject and try with another neighbor.

By approaching the neighbors in a friendly manner and not revealing you have an ulterior motive they are more likely to tell you the truth.

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Begin with the end in mind.

You want the cat to stop pooping and making a mess on your deck, who owns the cat is irrelevant. To consider this fully, would your end goal change if you owned the cat?

Again, begin with the end in mind.

Assuming it was your cat (which it isn't) you'r (or their) ownership doesn't really extend to controlling the cat's potty policy. So, communicating with the owner isn't going to result in obtaining your goals. At best you will triangulate the problem between you, the cat's owner, and the cat. From what I know of triangulation, involving a person who can't control another's behavior only complicates things, and increases stress, anxiety, and worry.

Finally, begin with the end in mind.

You want the cat out of your yard. That way it cannot poop in it. Look into the workable suggestions for your yard.

Sometimes the best interpersonal policy is not to force upon a person the responsibility for something that is out of their control.

You may not have considered it, but you're implicitly asking them to get rid of the cat, which is the only way they could assure this kind of problem doesn't occur again. While people do ask these kinds of things, they are only accepted when something of even more interpersonal value is offered in return (like a move in among romantic relationships).

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