Sage Advice: Catting Around Causes Fur to Fly

By Amy Dickinson | November 7th, 2018

A family cat can't stay out of the neighborhood's way


Cat_Fight Image

Dear Amy: My wife and I recently learned that our cat “Pumpkin” has taken to entering a neighbor’s house through their cat door and picking fights with the neighbor’s cat – inside their house!

This resulted in the neighbor’s cat having to be taken to the vet.

Pumpkin has been an outdoor cat for 10 years. The neighbors are new to the area.

We are, of course, appalled by our cat’s behavior, but we are at a loss as to how to stop it, short of keeping our cat inside. Keeping him in full time would be awful, because when he wants to go outside, he yowls most pitifully and is aggressive and destructive.

Our neighbor has respectfully communicated the trouble Pumpkin has caused, requesting most recently that we keep him inside on a night when she would be out of town and unable to break up fights between the two cats.

Stopping this problem requires one of us to give up some freedom.

Either we have to keep Pumpkin inside, or our neighbor needs to give up her cat’s ability to come and go freely through an open cat door.

It does seem a little unfair that we would have to keep Pumpkin inside so our neighbor’s cat can go outside whenever it wants. We know we need to communicate respectfully with our neighbor to find a solution. Any ideas?

– Peace-able Neighbors

Dear Neighbors: First of all, I want to thank “Pumpkin” for providing fodder for the most unusual question I’ve ever tackled in this space.

Secondly, even though I admit to enjoying the idea of Pumpkin and other neighbor cats convening in your neighbor’s kitchen late at night to play a few rounds of poker and smoke tiny cigars, you should take your cat to the vet immediately to be neutered, chipped and tested for disease.

Your “outdoor” cat might not ever adjust to being inside full time, but it must be stated that cats – yours and theirs – are easy prey for coyotes, cars and feline leukemia, to name a few hazards.

The solution here is for you to invest in a new cat door as a gift for your neighbor. You want to get the kind that has a computer chip on it, matching a chip on that cat’s collar, so it will only open when that particular cat approaches. Not only will this keep your cat out of the neighbor’s house, but it will also keep other animals such as raccoons from entering their kitchen through the cat door.

This is going to cost you. But it will cost less than a lawsuit. Your neighbors have been great up until now. Don’t count on this lasting.

Until you can make these arrangements, you should ask if your neighbors would be willing to adhere to a basic schedule and latch their cat door closed, perhaps at night. You will then have to keep your dude on a leash if he needs to go out on their cat’s schedule.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2018 by Amy Dickinson

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