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Neighbor's cat harming our cat and killing birds-what to do?

 
Posts: 96
Location: Central Indiana, zone 6a, clay loam
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A couple months ago, we started seeing a cat hanging around our yard we'd never seen before. Our cat (indoor/outdoor) is not fond of this cat, as he has attacked her, plus she just doesn't like other cats. This has caused a great deal of stress for her and us. She acts nervous all the time and has gotten into fights several times trying to chase him off. She now wakes us up, wanting to be let out to so she can run him off. We really don't want her getting stressed, especially since she has asthma that stress worsens. It has been life threatening at times. We also really don't want her or the other cat getting injured. Just keeping her inside will not work, as that seems to stress her out even more. The other problem with this cat is that he is killing lots of birds. We have gone to great lengths to make this a safe place for them, including having our cat wear a Birds Be Safe collar (super effective, can't recommend enough!). This is very upsetting to me that they are now being killed by this other cat. I find feathers most days.

We're kind of at a loss about how to fix these problems. We talked to the neighbors and shared the concerns about our cat getting hurt and being stressed out. They told us that their cat is supposed to be indoor only, but is very good at escaping through some hole in the crawlspace that they're unable to find. They said they'd try to keep him inside, but we have seen him more frequently since that conversation, basically everyday. Given that their dogs are often out wandering in the street, I don't think they will make much effort if any. I didn't check, but it seems likely this cat is not neutered, which would explain the escaping and wandering. They also did not seem to care about the fact that their cat is harming ours, suggesting that's just how cats do. I find this strange, since if a dog was roaming and hurting other people's pets, this would be treated much differently. We have not talked to them about the bird issue. Theoretically, it seems like they would be responsive, as they have tons of birdhouses and feeders in their yard and have said they want to create a bird-friendly place.

A major concern with how we address this is that since we are doing things in unconventional ways with our homestead, we want to make sure we don't annoy any neighbors and give them reason to call the department of sad. That would disastrous for us. So any solution must take that into account. I cannot emphasize this enough.

Talking to them theoretically seems like the best solution, but as I've said, it has been unhelpful so far. We don't see them outside much and are hesitant to go knock on their door for fear it might seem confrontational. When they first moved in, they were very friendly to us. We have done our best to be neighborly to them and told them if they ever have an issue or need anything, to please talk to us. Many times, we have found their dogs wandering, caught them and brought them back. Nonetheless, at some point, something seemed to shift and I started getting strange vibes from them. They seem mildly avoidant of us. My partner (a recovering alcoholic) suspects they may be heavy drinkers and this leads to the carelessness. It seems the weird vibes toward us really picked up after we found their very young children (4 and 6-ish) playing in the road. No parents anywhere in sight. This is a very busy road with a curve that people fly around at ridiculous speed. So I stayed with the kids, keeping them out of the road and trying to get them back into their yard until my partner could go knock on the door to get one of their parents. If it weren't for the covid, I would have been more direct and walked them back to the house and found their parents myself, but was torn because of trying to respect social distancing. My partner said the dad seemed hungover and apologized to us, then we could hear him yelling at the kids once they were inside. There have been other indicators of trouble in their household, but I don't want to get too carried away with talking about that and speculating as to what's going on. I've wanted to talk to them and ask if they were okay, but the few times I do see them, they basically just say hi and show little interest in further talking. So I haven't.  

We have been making a habit of hissing at the cat whenever we see it and are considering a squirt bottle with vinegar. I'd really rather not do the latter, but we have to find a way to keep this cat from harming ours and killing our bird friends.

I would appreciate suggestions for things we can do ourselves to get this cat to stay out, independent of any action or inaction by the neighbors. Other than a fence, which we can't manage right now. I would also love suggestions for how to talk to them about this issue. I really feel it's important for neighbors to have open lines of communication about any issues so that things stay harmonious, but I don't know how to communicate with these folks.

For reference, we live in city limits, but in a lower population neighborhood. Our yard is one of very few with something other than lawn, and thus very attractive to birds and other wildlife. Also, we have trained our cat to stay within our yard, so there's not a double standard at play here of our cat going in their yard.
 
pollinator
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Where I live cats get eaten by coyotes, hawks, badgers, etc all the time. So if the cat that adopted us just stopped showing up begging for food we wouldn't be that surprised.

If you hadn't ever spoken to these people there would be no problem with you taking care of the cat however you wanted. I'd probably live trap it and take it to the pound if I were you. However, now if the cat goes missing they'll be looking right at you.

You say you can't not let your cat outside but I'd say at this point you can't let it out either. Just keep your cat in, she'll adjust. Id stop feeding the birds if it's attracting them to their demise too. These answers suck, I get that. However, you can't control your neighbor, only yourself.

If the kids seem otherwise fine I would not be calling CPS on them. However, if you suspect they are being abused I'd call and report that. Course they might retaliate
 
pollinator
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Hose. So long as you live where the hose is not in danger of freezing, nail it with a stiff spry from the hose everytime it is in sight.

Second option, trap and turn in to local shelter. IF they have stated it is "supposed " to be indoor, it is likely a shelter kitty. They don't sound like they "care" enough to search for a missing cat. If asked play dumb and mention the eagle you saw the other day, or screeching tires that may indicate it was hit.

Truthfully, these are all likely scenarios for their cats disappearance.

I think, based on your description, communication in any meaningful way is a lost cause. BUT if you have legitimate concerns for the children's safety and welfare - contact whatever stands for Social services in your area.
 
gardener
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In a broad sense, I agree with lorinne.  Because I have no idea who your neighbors are ...I have never met them...it is impossible for me to judge.   I would have no problem speaking with any of my current neighbors.  At one time in my life, a  hyperaggresive cat from a mile away vanished...and I am very much a cat person.  No matter what action you decide upon, avoid starting a war with them.
 
pollinator
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John F Dean wrote:At one time in my life, a  hyperaggresive cat from a mile away vanished...and I am very much a cat person.  No matter what action you decide upon, avoid starting a war with them.



I'm with you.  I'm as big an animal lover as you'll find, but if another animal is terrorizing one of mine, on my land of all places, it is going with animal control or I'm going to have to shoot it.  You already warned them and they seem content to ignore the warning.

I don't have the same problem because my dogs would handle it, but I'm assuming you don't have a dog, and this alone isn't a great reason to get one.  It will solve your issue though.
 
pollinator
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One's home is supposed to be the one small place on the planet where one has peace and can relax. That is true for every inhabitant in that home. If it were me, I would do whatever it takes to get that peace back. If the neighbors are not taking responsibility for their property (which their cat legally is), then I would do what Lorinne suggested and first do the hose correction and if that didn't work for some reason, trap it and bring it to animal control. Cats are very responsive to corrections, however, so I imagine that if you time it well, the hose correction would work well. I would also attach a sound while doing the hose squirt, something like "ksht" so that should the cat ever show up and you can't get to the hose quickly, the sound on its own will act as a correction (due to past experience with the hose). Not only is it not okay that the cat terrorizes yours, but it's also not okay that it hunts so many birds. Cats are predators, yes, but not every cat hunts birds. I have had quite a few cats, and once I let them know that the killing of birds is out of bounds, they stopped and we got the occasional squirrel and rat as presents instead. I was okay with that and let them know the presents were appreciated. :-)
 
John F Dean
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There may be another solution. I once had a neighbor that lived close by who had a cat who was aggressively courting my cats. He had not been fixed.  With the help of a live trap, he went to a vet and the problem was fixed. I don't think the neighbor even noticed. Of course, I did not take him to the local vet.
 
pollinator
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Yeah a good jet of water will get it running at least on first sight. Motion detecting sprinklers around the perimeter?
 
pollinator
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I love cats. But... I loved my cat, much more than other cats.

When we moved here, the neighbour cat was super territorial. My cat had no idea what this asshole's problem was... he never fought anything in his life...

I chased that cat with a cordless skilsaw, hedgetrimmers, chainsaw, etc. If I saw him 500 metres away, I made a beeline for him. He stopped coming anywhere near my cat and the areas I occupied, in less than a dozen doses. I was dead serious about doing him harm, and he knew it.

My cat was locked up at night once I quit for the night, usually by 11. He didnt mind, and this was probably key.

If that didn't work, I would have bought a live trap to avoid risking any of the other neighbourhood cats... and then quietly buried him somewhere. I would definitely have lost sleep over this, but my obligation was to my cat. I am very glad it did not come to this.
 
pollinator
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I trap and kill any cat on my farm.
No discussion.

But on Youtube i saw a video where these Uni students progresivly filmed their efforts to stop a cat walking all over their car.
Eventually they had a series of detectors and water spurts that the cat could not avoid.
The cat finally stayed away.
 
pollinator
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Saw a study (South Africa) on how much wildlife is killed daily by pet cats monitored by cameras on their collars and was surprised by the numbers. Apparently mice counted for a small percentage while birds and amphibians took the brunt of the damage. Something like 9 varmints per day on average. Our two cats are converted outdoor, semi-feral pair that we have managed to turn into fairly tame house cats. We do allow them access outside to a catio type enclosure (about 100 square foot) so they get to enjoy the sun and grass, but are protected from all of the dangers outdoor cats endure. Anything that gets into the house or enclosure is fair game.
 
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there were a couple problem cats on my street. killing chickens, kittens and wreaking havoc. sad as it might be if owners cannot keep them under control they need to be removed especially if killing livestock.
this one cat we had coming around attacked my Sylvester and three visits to vet to get him patched up cost a pretty penny.
 
Heather Olivia
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Thank you everyone for the suggestions so far! Seems the hissing is starting to deter him a little, but I suspect he may just be getting better at not being seen and still getting birds. For now, I think we will step up the attempts to deter by using water, as suggested. Still conflicted about catching it and taking it to the humane society. That is what our plan was until we learned it was theirs. I don't know if I would feel comfortable with it at this point. Catching it and ensuring it is fixed could be an option, though it probably wouldn't solve the bird problem.

You say you can't not let your cat outside but I'd say at this point you can't let it out either. Just keep your cat in, she'll adjust. Id stop feeding the birds if it's attracting them to their demise too. These answers suck, I get that. However, you can't control your neighbor, only yourself.

If the kids seem otherwise fine I would not be calling CPS on them. However, if you suspect they are being abused I'd call and report that. Course they might retaliate


We only let her out when we can watch her now. For a number of reasons, it would be nigh impossible to keep keep her indoors right now. We stopped feeding the birds long ago when we realized it mostly attracted huge swarms of house sparrows, starlings, etc and made the birds we want more vulnerable to predation. The plants and habitat are what is feeding them, so there's not much we can do about that without destroying what we love about this place.

I agree calling CPS doesn't seem in order at present. I think they're mostly good parents, maybe stressed out and not doing their best lately. I worry sometimes about the more neglectful seeming moments, like the road incident. The retaliation is definitely a very real fear if it did get to the point I felt I needed to call. I know it's anonymous, but they'd probably know it was us. But that's kind of a whole other issue. I may need to start a thread about it later, as it is a situation I have encountered before.

I don't have the same problem because my dogs would handle it, but I'm assuming you don't have a dog, and this alone isn't a great reason to get one.  It will solve your issue though.


You're right, we don't have a dog and I bet it would fix the problem, along with several others. I have considered getting one, but much as I would love a dog, I don't think we have the resources or energy to give one the kind of life it deserves.

I chased that cat with a cordless skilsaw, hedgetrimmers, chainsaw, etc. If I saw him 500 metres away, I made a beeline for him. He stopped coming anywhere near my cat and the areas I occupied, in less than a dozen doses. I was dead serious about doing him harm, and he knew it.

My cat was locked up at night once I quit for the night, usually by 11. He didnt mind, and this was probably key.


I wouldn't have thought to get that scary with it, as I love animals, but you make a great point. They can definitely sense intent, so we need to make it clear we aren't joking around. Like you said, I love my cat more. And the birds too.
We definitely bring our cat in for the night, usually before twilight. She got bitten by a coyote the one time we were late getting her inside, so never again.

Saw a study (South Africa) on how much wildlife is killed daily by pet cats monitored by cameras on their collars and was surprised by the numbers. Apparently mice counted for a small percentage while birds and amphibians took the brunt of the damage. Something like 9 varmints per day on average.


Yes, it is alarming the impact that cats have on wildlife, especially birds. I wish more people were aware of this and taking action to reduce the harm. Feral cats are obviously a major contributor. I read that cats kill something like 1-4 billion birds a year in North America and have caused 33 species to go extinct. Obviously, keeping cats indoors is the best solution, but I really have been impressed with this Birds Be Safe collar. Our cat hasn't gotten any birds since she started wearing it. Doesn't work for rodents, though. Now if we could just get the neighbor cat to wear one...
more about the impacts of cats on wildlife and how to stop it here

Another option I've been half pondering is relocating our solar electric fence to the perimeter facing the neighbors house, but where they can't see it. It might take a lot of work to get it set up, as there are lots of shrubs, brush, etc to contend with. I wonder if the cat would just jump it though. We could only make it knee high, as we'd need to be able to step over. And I doubt that would stop a determined cat. I fear it would create some liability or other issue too. It seems like potentially a lot of work that could be ineffective and/or cause conflict.

there were a couple problem cats on my street. killing chickens, kittens and wreaking havoc. sad as it might be if owners cannot keep them under control they need to be removed especially if killing livestock.
this one cat we had coming around attacked my Sylvester and three visits to vet to get him patched up cost a pretty penny.


Sorry to hear your cat got injured. That sounds awful. Hope he's better now!
You bring up another very valid concern, which is that we plan to get chickens in the future. Obviously, serious predator proofing their run is essential no matter what, but I don't want this cat hanging around stressing chickens.





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