Since we live so close to them, it would be wonderful if all neighbors could get along.
But just because they live in the same general vicinity does not mean they’ll share the same values, admitted the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor poggyrs recently moved to a new home and immediately noted how their neighbor was treating their cat as an indoor-outdoor cat.
Unhappy with how they were treating the cat, the Original Poster (OP) warned them of what they would do if they saw the cat exploring outside again.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for threatening to take my neighbor’s cat to the pound?”
The OP repeatedly saw a cat outside their new home.
“Just over a week ago, my husband and I (28 Non-Binary) purchased our dream home in a small, wooded neighborhood.”
“The first night we woke up to our cat screaming at the window, tail fluffed up, because there was another cat outside.”
“A few days later, I noticed birds were no longer coming to the feeder I set up. On investigation, I found a gorgeous blue jay dead a few feet away, feathers strewn about.”
“Obviously thinking this was a stray cat situation, I set up a humane trap. It took less than a day to catch her and take her to the vet.”
“Our vet said she was already spayed and had a chip linking her to our next-door neighbor’s house.”
The OP attempted to return the cat to its owner.
“Perfect. I took the (presumably) lost cat to return her home to her relieved owners.”
“They were not relieved. Evidently, Sadie is an indoor-outdoor cat.”
“I explained that she had killed a bird in my backyard and that our house already has bug issues, so decaying carcasses are going to make that worse, and requested that they please keep her on a leash while outside.”
“(This is the law in our county anyway, but I didn’t want to be hostile so I didn’t mention it).”
The situation escalated.
“She said I couldn’t prove it was her cat who killed the bird and called me ridiculous for the leash idea (despite the fact that I explained my cat goes out on a leash just fine).”
“I asked her to please keep her cat indoors if she is unable to keep her off our property.”
“No dice. So I elaborated, saying that I will continue leaving out the humane trap on our porch, and she can pick up her cat at the pound when she wanders in again.”
“She told me to f**k off and shut the door in my face.”
“This was not called for as she was being super hostile the entire conversation and I was the only one trying to meet her halfway and come up with solutions (leash, keep her inside).”
The OP wasn’t getting the warmest reception around the neighborhood.
“My husband and friends think she was totally out of line.”
“But, while we were on a walk this morning, another neighbor approached asking if we were the a**holes who just moved in.”
“We turned around and walked back home, but I assume it was because word got around about the cat situation.”
“So, am I the a**hole for wanting to keep a predator from killing wildlife on my property?”
After receiving feedback, the OP shared two points of clarification.
“To address a common question, I live in a suburb about 15 miles out of the state’s capital. It has a 50/50 suburban/rural atmosphere (lots of trees and older ranch homes mixed with higher-end treeless HOA neighborhoods; I live in an older ranch).”
“It’s about half a mile away from my previous home, so I’m familiar with the area.”
“It appears there is also a lot of confusion about the pound. My intention was never to have the kitty put down, only for her to have to pick her up and learn her lesson.”
“I see now that it’s an easy mistake to make, and of course, if someone insinuated they were going to put down my cat, of course, I’d be upset!!”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some understood why the OP was so frustrated about the cat.
“The neighbor be like, ‘Bro, it’s just the culture, bro, my cat, like, he’s a free being, like, cats can’t be owned, bro, so let my cat f**k up your yard and murder 11 birds a day and also harass your indoor cat. Don’t take him to a shelter, bro, that means ignore the law just do exactly what I want or you’re causing a problem for everyone don’t you get the culture.'”
“NTA. Keep trapping and don’t return the cat next time. Let the owner keep picking him up.” – Shork_Poulder
“I think it’s also worth mentioning that if OP has a male cat, seeing other cats through the window can cause him to spray and get aggressive. Even if the cat is not male, it could cause a lot of distress.”
“Cats are very territorial, seeing another cat on their property makes them quite distressed. There are few scenarios where I will side with someone that intentionally puts their cat (or any pet, for that matter) in danger, whilst also managing to endanger any other adjacent wildlife.” – hthratmn
“You do realize that outdoor cats are largely responsible for killing off billions of birds and have resulted in the extinction of over 33 different animal species. They’re not meant to be here. Small cats like the ones we keep as pets are the product of British colonialism. They actually belong in the Fertile Crescent area and were brought to a bunch of countries by the British to deal with mice.”
“Guys, stop condoning this behavior. There’s no excuse. We have Google and millions of pages of information at our fingertips. I learned how to make saag paneer by doing a 10-second internet search today.” – Attackoffrogs
“Go ahead and tell her it’s illegal in your county. The humane trap seems reasonable since she won’t cooperate. And the other neighbor is an AH.”
“But it’s someone’s beloved cat. Maybe don’t use the word predator; you’re not wrong technically, but it’s not how you gain cooperation from others. Just say you want to protect the birds on your property.” – practicalcat50
“My next-door neighbor started feeding four feral cats last winter that were roaming our neighborhood and now they essentially live in our backyards. I have an elaborate bird feeder set up that I put up during the lockdown and they have been decimating the birds and other small animals in my yard.”
“I tried talking to her about it, she apparently caught them to get them spayed, but she said they don’t like being indoors.”
“They have killed one of the cardinals that have been raising babies in my yard for years. Cardinals mate for life, so it was pretty devastating. I find dead uneaten animals all the time, I openly chase them out of my yard when they are there, or rescue animals that they have caught and are tormenting.”
“She doesn’t like it, but although I am an animal lover, cats are an invasive species that we introduced into the natural environment. The whole thing is so frustrating.”
“Op, NTA. I’m so tempted to do what you are doing, but they are unchipped and the shelter would probably put them down.” – Sleeplesshelley
“Turning an animal roaming at-large into the county/municipal shelter is not ‘stealing.’ It’s using the system as intended. The lost/roaming animal is in a safe environment for the duration of the stray hold period, if the owner chipped it, they can be contacted, and if the owner didn’t chip it, they still have a location they can go to look for their pet.”
“Because allowing domestic animals to roam at large is illegal in most places, there may be fines associated with picking up your wandering pet, but those fines go to maintaining the shelter.”
“Frankly, if one of my dogs ever got loose, I’d be deeply grateful if someone brought them to the shelter. My dogs are registered in our municipality as well as chipped and always wearing collars with my number on them. If they’re at the shelter, they’re not being flattened on the highway or shot by cranky neighbors for crossing their property or being eaten by bears.” – hellhound_wrangler
But others thought the OP needed to accept this as a part of rural living.
“ESH. I personally fully agree with you that it’s irresponsible to have ‘outdoor cats’. It’s bad for the environment, disrespectful to your neighbors, and unsafe for the cat.”
“That said, in some areas, especially rural ones, outdoor cats are very much baked into the culture. It sounds as if you are new to this community and didn’t really bother to get to know your neighbors or ask questions about local norms before you went into imposing your personal values on everyone else.”
“And honestly, not every battle is worth fighting. If you live in an area where lots of people have outdoor cats, are you going to spend the rest of your life in a miserable feud, dropping cats off at the pound left and right? It might be better to have peace with your neighbors and the annoyances of outdoor cats.”
“It’s also not cool to waste your local animal shelter’s resources when you know full well where this cat belongs.” – Outrageously_Penguin
“YTA if you just take the cat to the pound. You can be p**sed, but what you can’t do is steal someone’s pet because you don’t like what they’re doing. Having their pet stolen is not the prescribed punishment for violating pet-related laws/ordinances. Call the county if you have a pet problem.” – BigBigBigTree
“YTA, because you actually can’t prove it was their cat killing the bird and because your bug problem is not your neighbor’s problem.”
“That said, where I’m from, cats can and do and are legally within their rights to roam freely and everyone would think keeping it on a lead is ridiculous (you ever tried walking a cat?).”
“You can get noise deterrents which the cats can hear but you can’t protect the birds, by the way.” – BenynRudh
“YTA. You buy a home in a rural area and in two days are trying to tell the neighbors that their cat shouldn’t be killing bluebirds. And threatening to steal the cat if they let their cat be a cat.”
“And yes, YTA for trying to change the nature of a predator.” – fuzzy_mic
“YTA for how you handled the situation. You’re new to the area, and instead of talking nicely with the neighbor, you were rude. I would have had the same reaction as the neighbor.”
“Now the neighborhood has labeled you as ‘that’ neighbor. So don’t expect people to be welcoming, as they can make your life difficult.”
“If you live in a rural/suburban area, expect to see cats and wildlife roaming around, and yeah, they kill birds too.”
“Search for sprays to keep cats off your property instead of antagonizing the neighbors.” – NonaYerBiz
“So first, a motion-activated sprinkler would likely deter the cat from your property, and would additionally help deal with the other felines and predators that absolutely are in the area. Landscaping for more dense cover for birds to shelter in will help protect them from all predators.”
“I agree cats should be kept indoors if at all possible. It is better for all concerned. However.”
“There is a reason TNR (trap-neuter-return) programs and managed feral cat colonies are successful. They keep the population down, keep the cats healthier than unmonitored populations, and keep fertile populations from moving in (because cats have territories) and reproducing, which IS DEVASTATING to local wildlife.”
“You’re going to waste shelter resources to take a cared-for cat away from its territory? To what purpose? So when your neighbor retrieves it and either let it out or it gets out, you’re in the same situation? What are you going to do if someone ditches cats too savvy to be caught in the trap in your neighborhood? What happens when they start reproducing?”
“You’ve made an enemy of a neighbor (apparently more than one) because you decided to be demanding and rude about what is a super common thing. It doesn’t matter if you’re right. This was a point where diplomacy was necessary and you blew it.”
“(You really can’t be sure the cat killed the bird. You COULD have said it was keeping birds from your feeder. You also should have asked around before using a trap to catch the cat.) You’ll have to work hard to fix it, if you intend to live here long-term.”
“YTA.” – ARookBird
The OP came back with an update.
“It looks like a pretty even ESH/YTA/NTA split, which is sort of surprising.”
“I’m going to do what a commenter suggested: buy one of those rainbow collars that warn birds for her, bring her cookies, and apologize for the miscommunication.”
The subReddit could understand the frustrations of someone else’s cat being in the OP’s yard, but they were divided on how to treat the cat beyond that point.
Some understood the OP’s threat and encouraged it, as the cat was causing trouble in the neighborhood, but others thought the OP was quickly becoming one of “those” neighbors who was making assumptions about the neighbor’s cat without actually witnessing anything.