How do I talk to my neighbor about her cats?

Hi everyone,

I’d appreciate some perspective and advice on how to approach this situation.

My neighbor has two cats, one female, one male. I have seen them around since they were kittens and they are outside very frequently. I know for a fact the male isn’t neutered because I checked, and I’ve also caught him spraying on my deck. (This really ticked me off but I don’t blame the cat for doing what is natural behavior for them.)

They look well fed so it’s not like the neighbor is totally neglecting them. And the male was hanging out with a radar dish collar on yesterday and a stitched up cut on his side. So obviously she is willing to get them vet care when needed. Still not fixed though.

Although I will say I have provided shelter for the male during bad weather.

Now I know indoor cats vs. outdoor cats is kind of a controversial topic. I personally believe that it’s better to keep cats inside and all my cats have been indoor cats, and have gotten along fine. But, I don’t want to raise that argument with her. I’d rather just convince her to get her cats fixed. (There’s no way to tell with the female, but since the male isn’t neutered, I can only believe that the female isn’t spayed.)

Do any of you have any advice on how I might approach her? I live in an apartment complex, so I would prefer to stay on good terms with my neighbors. She’s pretty young, so I would like to assume the best and chalk it up to lack of education about being a pet guardian (I don’t like the term “owner”) than just not caring.

The cut on the cats side and the radar dish collar might just be the lead in. I wonder if the cat was fighting with another non-neutered male/female or how he got the cut.

I agree- I always kept my cats inside for their safety. She is taking them to the vet (wonder if the vet has brought up the idea of neutering- if not they should have).

I think I would try the safety angle-if your neighbor truly cares for the cats and wants them to be safe from harm she should have them neutered so that they stay closer to home etc…

I would agree. Maybe ask if he had been in a fight and mention that getting toms neutered is a good way of reducing that sort of thing happening.
Perhaps ask if it was a fight over the female cat if she was in heat? just to sort of hint that both cats should be neautered?

Honest answer? None of your business. Sorry, that’s just how I feel about it, they aren’t your cats.

But, if you feel so strongly about it that you feel you must speak to her about her pets, I’d say the straightforward honest approach (with a bit of diplomacy) is always best.

Well, the fact that the male was spraying all over my deck furniture does make it my business, in my opinion. But I truly do appreciate your point of view, Mason.

And I’d also say the fight is your way in. Getting him fixed will reduce his aggression. I’d say the female is a problem too. Cause if she isn’t then your neighbor could have more cats later.

If there’s a vet school anywhere near by sometimes they’ll spay or neuter for cheap to let interns and students practice. Or even sometimes they have weekends where you can bring your cat in. Just a thought, in case cost is her issue. You’d have to ask a specific school about their policies though. =)

The only thing I would mention is that my male cat is neutered and he still sprays, although it probably doesn’t smell as bad as if he wasn’t neutered. He started doing it inside when he was threatened by other cats next door who used to gang up on him, but since they have moved he only does it on the bushes in our garden.
A friend of mine (bizarrely) only got her male cat fixed but not her female, until the second litter of kittens and then she realised that she should get the female done too.
Giving people advice on how to look after their pets is a touchy subject, maybe mentioning the spraying issue would be a good opener rather than starting off with the neutering issue right away.

There are no vet schools here, but I am pretty sure that our local Humane Society does an income based spay neuter program, and there is a local vet that has low cost spay/neuter events. I think what troubles me most about this isn’t the welfare of these two cats (not that this doesn’t really concern me), but also thinking of all the kittens that will be born and will die if these cats aren’t fixed.

I’ve read that male cats that are neutered before 6 mos sometimes stop spraying, but not always…and cats that are neutered after that tend to continue. Learned behavior maybe? Dunno.

I would ask conversationally why she didn’t have her cat neutered and mention that cats that are neutered and spayed tend to live longer, healthier lives. If she choose not to because of costs you can maybe name some places that do it low cost, if it’s for some other reason then there isn’t much you can do about it unfortunately as it is her decision in the end.

You can maybe find a way to keep the cat away from your deck then from now on. :shrug:

:hug: Bless your heart for caring so much for animals that aren’t even in your care. :hug:

If it were me, I’d say something like “I was wondering if your male cat (insert name) was neutered as I caught him spraying on my back patio?” And then that could start up the conversation and you can get a feel of how she’ll react and go from there. Just a thought I had, hope it helps. Good luck.

I think this might be the way I do go. Thanks everyone for your advice. I am not pleased with the spraying, and some of you mentioned he may not stop, even if he’s fixed. I think that’s true. Spraying is a built in territory marking behavior, and actually female cats do it too. But, I am more concerned than anything about his well-being. The male is the one that seems to be left out the most often. I actually bought him an outdoor cat heating pad and left it out on my deck when it got really cold in the winter (and some of the strays in my neighborhood use it too), because I came out one morning and he was huddled up against the house trying to stay warm.

But still, I don’t think the neighbor leaves him out because she doesn’t care–I just don’t think she thinks about it. Because he is well fed and looks healthy…

OMG! You live in ID and the cat was outside??! :help:

Yep. In my opinion, that does make it your business. If a cat started spraying my stuff, I would be at their door immediately letting them know what the cat did, and the fact that it did it simply because it is not fixed. Also, when there are a bunch of kittens running around the property, it will become a problem. My neighbor’s had unfixed cats, and next thing you knew we were overrun with kittens. They sat on my cars and coughed their furballs up on the hood of my car.

I am surprised your apt. doesn’t have a problem with it, esp. since the spraying can kill landscaping.

I like Bailsmom’s approach - it focuses on the main problem (spraying) without blaming the owner for bad care of the cat. Particularly since cats can spray after they’re neutered.

It definitely is your business if the cats are on your turf! One of the problems we’ve found is that un-neutered/spayed cats outdoors are subject to a fatal disease known as feline AIDS and leukemia. The males contract it by fighting for females from infected males, then it’s spread to females and their unborn kittens. After awhile, a whole colony has it. They live but it attacks their immune systems just like humans. It is NOT infectious to humans from cats. Most humane society organizations do have free clinics for neutering and spaying.

When we moved onto our property, a year ago, we found a whole colony of gorgeous, white cats! We thought, well, they’ve lived here a long time and we’ll just feed them and allow them to live on. We’ve been taking them to the spay/neuter clinic and getting them fixed one at the time(three so far). However! All three were infected with feline AIDS and all three had feline leukemia and had to be put down. We will continue this regimen until we have either eliminated them or find some that are disease free. I IS my business!!!


A neighbor of ours has 2, male, un-neutered outdoor cats and she just refuses to have them fixed. I did tell her about the viruses and the infected colony that her cats eat and socialize with but she is oblivious! Since the clinic is free and her cats are outdoors and do eat on my porch, I WILL take them and have them fixed, too!

I agree with Knitting Guy. The cat roaming is your business. The cat’s sexual situation is not.

If you have a leash law for cats trap it and turn it in to the shelter. Hopefully after a few hundred dollars in bail they will get a clue. (But don’t hold your breath, my sister’s neighbor begged her to stop turning the cat in because it was too expensive. I guess she can’t figure out to not letting the cat roam would be free.)
I don’t even suggest trying to talk to them about it because cat people who let their cats roam have a way of justifying and rationalizing it that doesn’t fit with any definition of common sense.
The fact the cat has a cut, which it probably got roaming, and is still roaming with a cone tells me they’re not going to stop allowing it to roam.

Since fixing probably won’t fix the spraying and may give the owner more of an excuse to let it roam you might compound your problem by focusing on something other than the problem.

It’s not like people have never heard, “Have your pet spayed or neutered”.

Living in city or suburbs, we kept our cats in. Out in the wilds of Western Washington, we let them come in when they wanted to. Our neighbors cats wanted to come in when ours did, to our house, and they weren’t neutered. When my husband went over and offered to do it himself . . . by this I mean HIMSELF, they took the two males to the vet and had the deed done. The last straw had been when they sprayed our new sofa!

I feel badly for animals that are allowed to run freely in built up areas, as there are all kinds of things that can happen to them. Our last five cats all lived to be over twenty, one of them was 23 when we took him to the vet, because he just couldn’t ‘be’ anymore. We still miss Chester, he was amazing, and such a lover boy.

Hope this all works out for you, your neighbor might just need a gentle push to do the right thing.

We had to put our last cat, Baby Joe, to sleep after he began experiencing some very nasty consequences of FIV. We don’t let our current cats roam anymore. We let them outside, but only in our yard under supervision (literally walking around the yard with them) or in their super-sized dog crate. We had no idea about the kinds of things cats can get if left to roam. The results can be very, very tragic.

Thank you everyone!

Jan–yes, he was stuck out in the freezing cold.

mwhite–the cat I have now is an indoor cat only & she was a rescue from a feral colony that a friend of mine began trapping in Olympia, Washington. Most of the cats were euthanized and most of them had FIV and/or Feline Leukemia. My cat was trapped as a kitten and was sick. I had her tested for these illnesses and she was negative, so I paid to have her treated for her other health problems (worms, upper respiratory infection, ear mites, fleas and an eye infection). She has repaid me with loyalty and love and affection. I wish I could save them all.

Mike–I appreciate your opinion although I have to disagree with you to an extent. I realize I can’t force my neighbor to fix her pets, and that a lot of people are going to rationalize their way around it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try to educate people. I have a major soft spot for critters (my husband says it’s too soft), and with statistics like these I have to try. I don’t consider taking the cats to the shelter an option. We do have a no-kill shelter in the area, but there was a recent hoarding case, and they are overfilled, and the other shelter isn’t no-kill. I don’t want these cats put down if it can at all be avoided.

Deb–If I lived out in the boonies, I might let my cats out, but even then you got wild critters and diseases. My cat is perfectly happy being inside. (In fact, she did get out once, and went about 15 feet from the back door and FREAKED. She was so frightened. I went and picked her up to carry her in and she was shaking. Since then, when we open the door, she runs and hides under a chair until it’s closed.)

I agree with Knitting Guy. The cat roaming is your business. The cat’s sexual situation is not.

Wow, I’m just glad someone actually got my point.