Dear cat-hoarding neighbor,
You like cats, or at least I assume you do, if the 20-plus cats roaming your yard is any indicator. It’s not so much that you have so many cats that bothers me — it’s that none of them are fixed. I hear the screams of the females as they are mated every single heat. I think the gene pool is getting a little smaller these days, too, as half of the last litter had some issues, like the little grey kitten with the weird eye.
I also really wish you would feed your cats and make sure they have clean water. They always seem to love the summer, when I water my flower beds, because the braver ones run right up to the water hose in my hand and start drinking like they’ve spent their life in a desert. Their coats are usually dull and dirty, which is a sign of a pretty miserable cat. They always have fleas, and some of them are even a little bony.
My neighbors’ children like to name your cats, which I doubt you have done, since you have so many. They have favorites, and they have taken in a few of your pregnant females, making sure they had enough food and water until their babies were big enough to find homes for. Don’t you ever wonder where your cats go?
Over the past two years, two neighbors have set traps and sent countless cats to the shelter to find new homes. Between another neighbor and myself, we have rehomed at least 12 cats and kittens. I know you have seen the numerous ones who have been run over in front of your house, especially the ones that expired in your yard. I suppose that’s another one of the major things that bothers me. You never seem to bury your cats.
I was driving home the other day, and one of your cats had been hit and was lying in my ditch. She was a pretty cat, grey and white. I made sure you knew she was there, and thought you would give her a proper burial. Unfortunately, you just decided to shovel her out of my ditch and into yours. When I got home to see the vultures picking over her like common roadkill, I had to do something, so I buried your cat. I gave her a proper burial and spoke some kind words over her grave. That was clearly more than you were willing to do.
I grew up on a farm. If we had to shoot a dog or cat or other animal who was threatening our livestock/poultry/etc, we didn’t bury it. We let them go “back to nature” in the woods. That’s because we lived IN the woods — surrounded by acres and acres of woods, creeks, pastures, and plowed fields as far as the eye could see. They weren’t our pets, and, as far as we could tell, weren’t anyone else’s, either.
Well, you don’t live on a farm. You live in a neighborhood, and it is assumed that all of the cats you keep on or around your property are under your care. You owe it to them to see that they have food, water, appropriate medical care, and a burial if they die. (Seriously, how hard it is it dig a hole?)
You weren’t interested in the reduced cost spay/neuter program that’s offered in our area. You didn’t want any help with flea prevention, and you also weren’t interested in rehoming any of “your” cats. Sadly, local animal control authorities haven’t seen fit to remove these poor cats from your care. I am hoping that you might see this open letter and realize how your level of “care” isn’t fair to your cats. I guess you think they’re fine, all living outside. Only a few of them seem to be really starving, so they’re getting food somewhere, right?
Well, scavenging the dumpsters down the road, the neighbors’ garbage, and snatching up the occasional bug or mouse isn’t sufficient. This past summer, I saw a few of them eating one of their fallen brethren. The cat had been there a little while, and was pretty flat from you running it over when you left your driveway, but your other cats were clearly desperate for something to eat.
One of your cats wandered to our yard in search of food and water. He wasn’t as skittish as some of them, and I was able to catch him. I put him in a carrier and brought him over to your house to talk to you about him. You looked outside at me and the carrier, but you wouldn’t answer your door. I took him to the humane society to find a new home.
I think you just like holding the ownership title to these cats. There’s no way you really care about them, or you wouldn’t let them live in such a horrible situation. I know you knew how cold it was several nights over the past few weeks, because you set up a heat lamp to protect your exposed pipes around your well. Sadly, you didn’t set one up for the dog you have tied up in your backyard. The cats are all loose, so they were able to benefit some from the lamp, but mostly they get under other people’s porches, under the hoods of their cars, and anywhere else that might offer warmth and shelter.
I just want you to know that several of us in the neighborhood care about those cats. We will keep finding better homes for the mamas, the kittens, and the others that are brave enough to come close enough to touch. We’ll keep reporting you to animal control, and we’ll keep trapping the cats who wander through our woods, our yards, and under our porches.
And even though I really find you despicable, I will keep being nice to you in hopes that I can bring you over to the side of spay/neuter and at least convince you to provide enough food and clean water for your cats.
Your cat-loving neighbor
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About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of one dog, Axle, and one cat, Toby. I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.