Ok, readers, I’m going to need your help on this one. It has to do with our neighbors directly across the street. A little back story:
Last fall, maybe 3-4 days after Olive was born (at home, remember, so we were HERE), I was home alone with her when someone started pounding the SHIT out of my front door. Now, it was an angry, unfriendly “knock” from the first knock, so my inclination would have been NOT to answer it anyway, but since I was alone, half-dressed, and nursing a newborn (and also had maybe been downstairs 1-2 times since her birth), I obviously ignored it.
Well, I didn’t exactly ignore it. My bedroom window is above and kiddie-corner from our front door, so of course I was carefully trying to see who the hell it was. The “knocking” (because, really, it was more like pounding) went on for a long time. It FELT like 20 minutes, but it was actually probably more like 5-7 minutes. POUND POUND POUND. Brief pause. POUND POUND POUND. It went on MUCH LONGER than a person would normally knock and wait for an answer.
From my perch, I finally saw my across-the-street neighbor, arms folded across her chest, as she stormed around to the BACK door to do more pounding. We’ve lived in this house for almost 7 years, and we’ve never had problems with this neighbor. But we never (ever, ever) SEE them. In all those years, I’ve never even seen their black-out shades open. Not ONCE. Nope. They live in that house with ALL the shades pulled 24/7/365. They have a 7th-ish grade daughter that I see coming and going, but that’s the only sign of life over there.
Anyway, I didn’t answer the door, and a few days later she caught up with David and aired her grievance, which is basically that our cat is sometimes in her yard, and she’s “actively trying to trap it” and turn her in. She insists that she WILL turn it in (which would cost us headache and $$), even though she knows it’s OURS, because it’s “illegal” for our cat to be in her yard. She cites leash laws, which are probably true; I haven’t fact-checked.
She also BAITS her traps with fish oil and has turned in, according to her, FIVE neighborhood cats SO FAR. (That was as of last fall; who know what the count is now.)
Ok, so yes. Our cat is an indoor cat that quite frequently gets outside. You guys, she is SO FAST. She gets past David and me… the kids don’t stand a chance, and don’t even THINK a visitor to our home can stop her from getting out. (We have visitors in and out of here pretty frequently; friends dropping stuff off, neighbor kids, etc.) Late last summer, we (read: *I*) got really lazy about chasing her down every time she escaped. I was mongo pregnant AND contracting at every move, and the more she got out the more wily she became… and yes, we basically gave up.
It should also be stated that, while I’m sure the cat goes in her yard at times, she mostly sticks around our yard, hiding in our bushes. She’s pretty timid. (But pretty hard to catch, as well.)
Anyway, after the neighbor was here, we reset our game and stepped up our efforts to keep her in. In fact, it became very stressful, especially for the kids, when she got out. They’d be sobbing “the neighbor is going to TRAP HER” and frantically trying to catch her. GOOD TIMES.
Well, then it was winter and the cat didn’t want out.
But now it’s not winter again, and the cat sneaks out.
And my neighbor was over here again the other day and WOW. She’s PISSED.
She told me my cat “sprays” on her porch (she’s a spayed female so NO) and uses her garden as “a potty” and that my husband and I were now responsible for coming over and cleaning out. She also said the cops are getting mad at HER for turning in so many cats (which she BAITS, remember, which is possibly why she has this problem to BEGIN WITH), so she’s going to have to come up with “other methods” of dealing with it. (I took this as a death threat.)
I tried to explain to her that our cat isn’t MEANT to be outside, but that we have a houseful of little kids and that she simply escapes. (This cat is SO FAST, you guys. Honestly.) I told her we were sorry, that I didn’t actually WANT the cat out because we live on a fairly busy road. She told me to get a leash. I responded that we’re not LETTING her out, that a leash isn’t going to fix anything because she darts. She claims that “cats don’t just dart out.” She says she has 5 of them and they never EVER get out. I told her we’ve had cats in the past that didn’t escape as well, but this one DOES. She repeated her “cops are getting mad/death threat” explanation.
This all happened while ALL FOUR of my small children looked on. I asked her “So, even if you KNOW it’s our cat, if you catch her in your trap, you’ll turn her in.” Without missing a beat, she said YES. She was FURIOUS, you guys. Almost looked like she was going to cry. Kept saying my cat uses her garden as “a potty.” I mean, my cat had, at that point, escaped the house 3-4 times in 6 months, so I hardly doubt we’re talking about MOUNDS of cat poop here (especially since her cat box is still… USED.)
I finally got pissed and mouthed off a tiny bit. I thanked her for doing the neighborly thing (yep, I said those words. “Thanks for being so neighborly…”) of baiting our cat to her yard and turning it in, and I ended the conversation. She STOMPED away.
So. What do I even DO? Our cat continues to get out. She got out probably 8-10 times today. We caught her every time, but we were all home, so there were plenty of us to do it. Often, if it’s just me and the baby (or even if Marin is around), I simply can’t chase her for 20 minutes, leaving Olive unsupervised.
Our kids are pretty gaga over our cat, so they would be devastated if something happened to her.
Plus, the whole thing feels so GROSS. I HATE having bad blood with people who live so close. It’s like the big black rain cloud over our otherwise happy existence here. It’s STRESSFUL, because as I said, the cat is FAST and she’s MOTIVATED to get out, now that it’s so nice outside. Ever since the neighbor was here, there’s TENSION in our house, as we’re all so afraid of the cat getting out. It really sucks.
Last fall, I had the idea of making them some cookies and adding a fun, lighthearted little note apologizing for our cat going in their yard, being sincere and kind and trying to smooth things over. Now that I’ve spoken to her about it myself, though? I’m nearly positive that a gesture like that wouldn’t help. I’ve talked to her other neighbor (who lives behind her and has for 15 years), and he agrees. He ALSO has a cat, and he says she’s crazy and won’t budge. (He also, hilariously, goes over and sets off her traps whenever he sees them. But his yard is up against hers, so he can do this easier than we could.)
(I’ve seen her “traps”. They look like basically pet taxis that must slam shut when the cat goes in. BECAUSE SHE USES FISH OIL TO BAIT THEM OMG.)
So, my question has two parts:
1. What would you do about the neighbor? My natural inclination would be to… do NOTHING. And yet, there’s that whole “the cops are mad so I need a new method of dealing with the problem/death threat” aspect.
2. What can I do to keep the stupid cat from escaping? We have a water bottle by the door and have tried squirting her when she’s near it… but we also have like 5 doors, so it’s hard to train her from going near ALL of them.
[Edited to add
3 4 things:
1. I just remembered I HAVE had another negative interaction with this neighbor. Once, when Marin was maybe 18 months, he (the man that lives there) was out in their yard with their dogs. (Another weird thing: they have several dogs, which I also never EVER see.) Marin saw the “puppy” and started tugging on my hand to walk over there. So we did. As we approached their front lawn (he was on the side of the house) I called out “Hi! We’re here to say hi to the doggies.” And he WHIPPED AROUND and shouted at me “Please leave! My dogs will attack you! Please leave!” and just then his dogs came TEARING at us, teeth bared, and he did some sort of whistle/call and they stopped immediately. I was PISSED (we retreated immediately). I kept thinking YOU HAVE ATTACK DOGS AND YOU LIVE ACROSS THE STREET FROM THREE SMALL GIRLS????? But only one of the dogs is big and “attack-like”, and like I said, I see those dogs MAYBE 2x per year. Also, I don’t think he even KNEW we were the neighbors from across the street, as it all happened too fast. Weird.
2. One of the only details I know of these people is that he’s some sort of retired military. Now, my dad is retired military, so normally this wouldn’t phase me AT ALL, but there’s just something off/dark about these people. I feel like he’s probably got a bunker in his basement or he’s training his dogs to kill zombies or something. We went trick-or-treating there only ONCE, and I’m not sure what it was, but the place gave me the MAJOR CREEPS. However, it’s easy to forget that they’re creepy since we NEVER see them, ya know?
3. They have one daughter, a child they fostered-to-adopt. They also sometimes have other foster kids, high-school-aged only. I don’t think they get many placements, as there’s only been a few times when I’ve seen other (again, older) kids over there, or a teen’s car parked out front (like a teen friend visiting the teen foster kid). Also, this is a small county, and I know several of the social workers in town (and used to be bff with the human services supervisor, before she moved), so…. I’m not TOO worried about Mr. and Mrs. Creepy being foster parents. But STILL.
4. We had a cat disappear several years ago. NOW I’m wondering if they did something to our cat… or if our cat is ALIVE and in that house. HRRRMPH.
I’m adding these three things for context, because it might make a difference in your response. Basically, in a nutshell? I’m a bit afraid of these people. I’m pretty sure my upper limit of asshole-ish things I might do to handle the situation (call the cops, call a lawyer, etc) and THEIR upper limit of asshole-ish things (KILL MY CAT) are very different upper limits. They would out-do me in a SECOND, I fear. SIGH.