It sounds great right?
Your cat spends all its time with you for cuddles and kisses, and then when it’s mealtime, it pops off to one of the neighbours for a free dinner, saving you hundreds of pounds in cat food!
But for anyone who’s had to deal with their cat being fed elsewhere, you’ll know that this is just a fantasy and that it can actually be a very upsetting experience.
While it most commonly causes nutritional problems and weight issues for your cat, it can also lead to stress or feelings of rejection for the owner. You may also be unsure as to who they go to, which can be nerve-wracking so you’re considering buying a cat tracker to trace their movements.
Don’t believe us? Here are just a few reasons why a second or third helping could be detrimental to your cat – and you!
Why you should stop your cat from being fed elsewhere
Cats never pass on a free meal
Unlike us humans, the average moggy doesn’t really care about their ever-expanding waistline and so they’re unlikely to ever be shy when it comes to more food. If they can get themselves two or three extra dinners by popping their head into another location, they will do so, with absolutely no shame.
While you can’t really blame them for chowing down on the neighbourhood buffet, this unhealthy appetite often leads to obesity and a multitude of health issues.
Obesity puts not only huge stress on your cat’s major organs but also on their joints, which increases the likelihood of your cat developing painful arthritis in later life.
If you want your cat to live for a long time, letting them have four meals a day probably isn’t the best way to go about it.
It could have negative effects on your cat’s welfare
Every cat owner knows their beloved feline requires high-quality cat food to ensure they get the essential nutrients for a happy and healthy lifestyle.
But does your neighbour know that?
For example, a neighbour could feed your cat raw meat, which is a terrible idea for cats and even worse for those with poor immune systems. Raw meat diets come with an increased risk of contracting infections such as salmonella and E.coli, as well as diseases like toxoplasmosis, which can be spread to humans.
Many people also have cats with special dietary requirements to counteract sensitivity to certain foods or an existing health issue. This can suddenly make a non-clued up cat-loving neighbour into a potentially serious hindrance to your cat’s welfare.
A more common problem though would just be that they are using low-quality grub, because why splash out on a cat that isn’t yours? This could mean your cat ends up suffering from malnutrition, especially if they stop eating at home.
And remember, it’s YOUR cat, so don’t expect your neighbour to split the veterinary bill if your tabby gets ill!
They could start straying
If a cat becomes too used to receiving special treatment from another home, a few days’ vacations may well start to become part of their routine.
However, this can cause problems down the line, especially if your cat is deciding to skulk around for hours waiting for food from his ‘second owner’.
The longer a tabby spends out of the house roaming around, the higher the owner’s anxiety can become, particularly if they are not home after dark.
If your pussycat starts scouting out the neighbourhood too much, there is obviously an increased chance of it straying and experiencing all the dangers that come with it.
They could start rejecting you
Nothing hurts more than being rejected by your own pet.
But if your furry friend is off living their best life across the road, there is always the unfortunate potential that they may come to prefer life away from home.
This can get especially awkward if a neighbour then begins to treat your cat as their own, as you could end up in a situation where you have essentially lost your pet.
It’s a distressing and upsetting situation to find yourself in, but one you can easily avoid if you nip it in the bud early on.
You can’t count on a neighbour
Just because your neighbour feeds your precious pussycat, it doesn’t necessarily mean they feel at all responsible for them.
You can’t expect a neighbour to stick to a structured feeding schedule or to be forever accommodating to your tabby, so don’t start putting your feet up and saving yourself a few bob on cat food!
If you’re concerned about overfeeding, it’s unwise to start cutting back on your own kitty rations, as they may suddenly stop getting fed elsewhere.
How to stop your cat from being fed elsewhere
There are several steps you are going to have to take depending on the situation, from tackling the owners to ensuring your kitty is as comfortable as can be.
Find out where your cat is going
The first step to putting a stop to your cat’s 6 meal a day habit is to do some good old fashioned detective work by identifying who is actually feeding your cat and getting in contact with the culprits.
If you already know the naughty neighbours in question, then your job is a whole lot easier, you just need to have a polite word with them and let them know the situation.
But the average cat can roam for miles without you even realising and so it may not be as easy as just knocking on a few doors in your street.
Your best bet is to attach a message to its collar in a small tag tube. If your cat doesn’t have one, try using a paper strip with adhesive ends to create a makeshift collar on your cat for a few days, writing a message on the paper. Make sure to include some contact details and request that any current feeders get in contact with you.
Once they are in contact, it’s up to you what you want to happen. Do you want them to stop feeding them altogether, or do you just need to lay down some ground rules?
Don’t worry too much about putting the cat amongst the pigeons either, as most people are perfectly civil and won’t be offended by your requests.
And if they are, so what? It’s YOUR cat!
However, if you really don’t want to go through the hassle of getting in contact with people, there are also special collars you can purchase these days reading ‘Do Not Feed’ or similar, to dissuade others from feeding your cat.
It should help get the message across!
Alert neighbours of ownership
While you might be furious over the fact your cat has started hanging around with someone else, your lucky neighbour is not an evil mastermind. They’re just someone who loves your cat as much as you, or who can’t resist companionship.
In a lot of cases, such neighbours are unaware of who a cat’s owners are or whether they even have one in the first place thanks to your tabby’s Shakespearean-level acting when it comes to playing a starved, decrepit kitty.
Using a collar and identifying tag is the best way to let others know your moggy has an owner and may help discourage extra feeders.
But if you don’t want to dress your cat up in a collar, it’s imperative you have them microchipped, as you may get into a sticky situation later down the line where a neighbour believes they have ‘adopted’ your cat. A microchip is the best way of proving your ownership.
Spruce up your home
So your cat is spending all its time at another house, where it gets fed and cared for by someone else…
It should start to make you think – am I really offering them the best possible home?
Cats want nothing more than to be pampered with a life of luxury, and we promise you, if you set up the house exactly how they’d like it, you’ll soon have them eating out of the palm of your hand… literally!
Turn up the heat
Getting your house under the right conditions for your wantaway cat can be difficult, but one thing that’s very easy to do is to ensure your house is warm.
Cat’s love the warmth, so if your house is cold or you commit the cardinal sin of turning your heating off when you go out, don’t be surprised if your kitty has slinked off to a warmer abode.
Another way to win your moggy over is by making sure you have plenty of entertainment available for those hyper periods between naps.
Every cat on earth loves climbing up hard to reach places and hiding in crevices, so why not fill your home with them? Fun items such as cat trees and cat caves can be great for unused spaces and offer plenty of activity for your feline.
It will let them know that your home is the place to be!
A relaxing atmosphere
If your cat is seemingly always looking for an excuse to skedaddle, it might do you good to put your living situation under some constructive criticism.
Is there anything in the home which may be causing your cat anxiety or stress?
You may have another pet who bullies your moggy, a new person arriving in your home or your family’s busy and hectic lifestyle might be simply just too loud. These are all things that can stress out cats, as they don’t like change and just want the easiest life possible.
If there are any measures you can take to reduce such stresses – take them! Introducing routines and schedules into your cat’s life is imperative, and can help relieve the anxiety of any unavoidable changes that come into your home.
It could well be that the only reason your cat’s nipping off elsewhere is that it’s getting a fancier meal up the road! Try mixing up your kitty’s diet every now and then to keep it interesting and enticing for them.
Not spayed or neutered
If you haven’t gotten your pussycat spayed or neutered, it’s no wonder you’re having difficulty keeping them in the house. Cat’s are territorial animals and like to form strong bonds to lots of locations and assert their dominance, and it’s likely they are trying to mark a neighbour’s home as their own.
Spaying or neutering a cat will help deter the need to go scouting for new territory and will likely see them sticking close to home.