Out Damn Cat.... what now?
November 23, 2009 8:46 PM   Subscribe

I sprayed my neighbour's cat with the hose and now he's missing. What should I do?

My neighbour Andrew has a cat and I've told him a number of times that I don't like the cat in our yard as I am highly, highly allergic and the cat sits on our outdoor furniture and if I leave our picnic rug for the baby to crawl on... on that too.

I have to admit that I despise cats for their wanton killing of native fauna too. So I sprayed it good and hard (the hose was on the "jet" setting... because that's the way my husband had left it, not because that was my choice). Andrew, my otherwise lovely neighbour, had told me to spray Pedro when he came over. I had asked if he was sure. And he said that his whole family had water pistols for stopping the cat from doing things around the house.

So, I sort of chased the cat around the yard, till it left, with the hose. Last I saw he was on top of our shared perimeter fence but I didn't have my glasses on and didn't look too closely.

That was this morning around 08.30hrs. It's not 15.30hrs and Pedro has not returned. Andrew and his adult daughter (who had a loud party last night with a cackling hyena stopping us from sleeping.. and smokers who stopped us from having our windows open...but I digress..although that should explain the extremely bad mood I was in.)

Pedro has never been in the front of their property apparently. And that seems to be the way he went. Andrew's daughter is furious... apparently she was on the other side of the fence and saw the whole thing... or "experienced" the whole thing probably. Andrew said there was a vast amount of water on his property and he worried I had drowned the cat.

My question is... how should I proceed? I've sort of looked for the cat... but I'm a bit stuck with two kids and even if I did find it, could hardly pick it up and carry it home. If the cat is gone forever, what should I do? And if the cat does return home, what should I do? And what if they don't tell me if Pedro comes home, should I enquire? Should I offer to buy them half a new cat? When is it too soon to suggest that?

I've already said I'd keep an eye out for him and said they're welcome to come over to our yard to look for him. I often hear them calling for him... so he's frequently doing his own thing somewhere where he shouldn't, I guess. But I suspect I may have contributed to the loss of this cat. We live near a very busy road, and on a reasonably busy road.

Help hivers.... I know it's only a cat... but he is their precious pet and they're really nice neighbours. They've scoured the block and there's no sign of him.
posted by taff to Human Relations (49 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My opinion is that people who let their cats be outdoor cats - even if the neighbors complain about it - accept a certain amount of risk about their cat's activities. This cat go scared by an environmental factor - this time it was you, but it could have been anything: car, truck, coyote, another cat, etc.

Yes, the jet setting and the chasing was a little harsh, and it's not likely to make you seem like a good neighbor, but I don't think this was borderline abuse. The cat ran away because cat's sometimes do that. It will probably come back, but it may not. NOT YOUR FAULT BUT APOLOGIZE ANYWAY, PAY NO MONEY
posted by Think_Long at 8:52 PM on November 23, 2009 [4 favorites]

It's a cat. Cats are really good at hiding when they don't want to be found. Once Pedro's ego heals and his fur dries, he'll be back around. Till then, keep an eye out but don't go scouring the neighborhood. That might work for finding a dog; finding a cat? Not so much, in my experience. YMMV.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 8:54 PM on November 23, 2009

I wouldn't worry too much until you hit 48 hours. Cats sometimes go away for a while. Check in with them tomorrow after dinner. If he never returns, write them the sorriest "I'm sorry" card and offer to take them to get a new kitten whenever they feel ready.

(FYI, by "spray the cat," I think he means, "aim away from the cat and then lightly flick water its way in a light shower of water" rather than "do bodily injury to the animal with a consistent stream of high-powered spray.")
posted by salvia at 8:54 PM on November 23, 2009

No, I wouldn't offer to "buy them half a new cat". (Are you serious?) Also, spraying the cat will only make it not come into your yard when you are standing there with the hose.
posted by whiskeyspider at 9:02 PM on November 23, 2009 [6 favorites]

[comment removed - save GRAR for metatalk or email, answer the question and be decent please. thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:02 PM on November 23, 2009

He'll come back when he's ready. Don't worry too much about it. Unless, of course, the water pressure was up really high and he got hurt. That's not cool, and he won't be making himself visible.
posted by pintapicasso at 9:06 PM on November 23, 2009

I know it's only a cat...

Yeah... to them it's probably not. And in any case it's a living animal that can feel pain and fear. It sounds like what you did went way beyond behavioral training. You owe it to the cat, no less than to your neighbors, to do everything you can to find it and - if it's still alive - get it home safe. Do the things ErikaB suggested, and for god's sake apologize to your neighbor's daughter.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:06 PM on November 23, 2009 [7 favorites]

It's not itchy and mildly inconvenient. It closes up my airways and my eyes... my whole body swells and I need to go to hospital for nebulised salbutamol, cortisone and oxygen. It's pretty much anaphylaxis. But that's not my point. I sprayed the cat with the garden hose.. from a distance, might I add... and he's missing. And I like my neighbours and don't want to upset them.. further. The cat I struggle to care about meaningfully. But he is very precious to them. And I care about that.

And I didn't mean to hurt him at all. I don't think I did. I think I frightened the wits out of him. It's only a garden hose with a nozzle setting... "jet" may make it sound a lot more powerful than it actually was.
posted by taff at 9:06 PM on November 23, 2009

Keep an friendly eye out for the missing cat, as you would for any neighbor's missing pet. An outdoor cat gets into a lot more trouble than a little water, trust me. Unless you dunked the cat in the pool and held its head underwater, all the while avoiding the incredible scratching that would result, I very very very highly doubt you drowned the cat. Did you go overboard? Definitely. Drowning is a very big stretch, however.

Outdoor cats disappear. Usually they came back. Sometime they don't. I had one go missing for three months once. It happens, and a little water (or a lot) shouldn't scare him away from home permanentely. Cats are weird, but they do need to eat.

Unless the cat it found dead under a bush and a necropsy reveals he drowned, you are not responsible for this. Be sympathetic, and apologetic for playing a part in this. If you want to help look, by all means call the shelters and vets. But don't offer any money. You can't replace a pet anyway.
posted by cgg at 9:07 PM on November 23, 2009

Don't worry about it, don't do anything. You did what Andrew told you to do about his problem animal. Anything else that happens is none of your business. Outdoor cats can disappear for days at a time for any reason or no reason. I know because this has happened to me many a time. He made the decision to let his cat out in the first place, not you, so don't feel bad that he's out there calling for it all the time. The cat's disappearance probably has nothing to do with you at all. Also, trying to chase down a cat who doesn't want to be caught is really, really hard. It's hard and there's no reason for you to even try it.

Re: Going halvsies on a new cat: your relationship with Andrew sounds a little strange already so I wouldn't complicate it any further.
posted by amethysts at 9:13 PM on November 23, 2009

All excuses aside: You took out your frustrations about a lot of things (some of them unrelated) on a cat. Help your neighbors find the cat (whether it's putting up fliers or whatever), and apologize to them. It will help if you can manage to sound sincere.
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:17 PM on November 23, 2009 [10 favorites]

I like my neighbours

Not sure about that one from reading the above question - which is filled with resentment towards them and their lifestyle. Whether this is justified or not, I'm cannot and will not judge.

I suspect your feelings around this resentment resulted in you giving kitty a good dousing, and your subsequent guilt around the relatively undeserved spraying (and possibly some of the other feelings you've been having) have prompted this question and your anxiety.

My advice is to let go of both. The cat has (if only temporarily run away). Cats do that. If Andrew was truly concerned he would have made sure Mittens didn't go into your yard. You're not responsible for him running to the front yard. Don't feel guilty; growing up we had neighbours who poisoned pets on their property. Explain to Andrew that you missed Mittens mostly, so the water went everywhere.

But by the same token, if you're frustrated about other neighbourly goings-ons, don't take it out on an innocent cat, deal with them separately, later, if you can. As part of your future "making good fences" neighbour activity, I would offer to print out notices once it's been 48 hours, and be sympathetic in general. But not now, it's only been a few hours, that's nothing in cat time. Don't let your guilt or anger overhwhelm you. You're okay. :)
posted by smoke at 9:40 PM on November 23, 2009 [8 favorites]

I've sort of looked for the cat...

Very telling way of phrasing it.

but I'm a bit stuck with two kids and even if I did find it, could hardly pick it up and carry it home.

Pick the damned cat up and carry it home, and then deal with the health consequences. You caused this, after all, and you need to fix it.

Should I offer to buy them half a new cat?

I suggest you not take this tone --- which shows that you think you're very cute --- with the neighbors when discussing this situation.
posted by jayder at 9:44 PM on November 23, 2009 [11 favorites]

You did NOT cause it. The neighbor 100%, without question, caused it. Do not try to fix it. I know I'm on the anti-animal side of things, but you repeatedly noted a health concern to a neighbor who refused to do anything about it, and now, through actions you were told to perform, the cat is gone. I'm all for checking in after 48 hours and apologizing, but assuming the cat returns, I would also explain that you will spray the cat with the hose in the future if it is in your yard, and if this is an undesirable result for them, they should keep it out of your yard.
posted by brainmouse at 9:55 PM on November 23, 2009 [7 favorites]

This is really not enough time to be worried about a missing cat. I know that when it is your cat, it is worrisome, but 7 hours is not excessive for a cat. He has certainly been in the front yard before, whether or not the owners know it.

That said: don't use a hose on a cat. It's excessive, and won't really do much to teach him anyhow. (Your neighbour no doubt thought that you would spray it with a spray bottle, like he does, not with a hose.) And don't, as people have mentioned, get angry about a cat -- who isn't doing anything deliberately -- because its owner is a jerk.

Don't offer to pay half the cat. A pet is not just a thing that people can replace like a stereo. Don't look for the cat, because it will not be coming up to you with love, you will just scare it away. Do offer to make posters after 2 days.
posted by jeather at 10:02 PM on November 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

First of all - my gardeners once hit my cat with the hose - I know this because she hides under the bed when the gardeners come. The cat will come back if it wants to - have faith.


Now. I'm not piling on, but I am going to tell you something you want to hear, or else you would not have asked...

Your intention was to deter the cat from your property, instead, you frightened and possibly hurt another living creature. Of course you feel badly. That's your gut talking, it's understandable.

Make peace with this in your heart. Forgive yourself. It sounds like you took out some stuff on a creature that didn't exactly know any better. It happens, but it's better if you forgive the cat and forgive yourself. Trust me on this.


My cats are indoor/outdoor - their choice, not mine. It's a risk, your neighbor knows this. His daughter has lost a member of her family, she's not really seeing it like that right now. In fact, the grief from losing a pet... wow. Wow.

I know you know.

The Dad effed it up when he told you it was OK to hose the cat. Spritzer or water gun - YES. Hose - no way! I bet daughter is angrier with Dad than anyone else. Tread lightly here.

You could post flyers around the neighborhood as a gesture. If you've already apologized, remain respectful. This is more a family issue, a family tragedy.


Lastly. Cats are strange and wondrous creatures.

Cats will go off to die if injured - if you did that, you know where your responsibility in this lies. If the cat was only scared, he might come home, or he might go find a more welcoming home. His return might depend how happy he was generally at home, not on what you did.

FWIW - I know you hate cats, but it sounds like this one gave you the opportunity to learn a pretty valuable lesson about actions, consequences and the ways of nature.

Wherever the cat is, hope he's safe and happy. It's the best you can do right now.
posted by jbenben at 10:25 PM on November 23, 2009 [5 favorites]

Yes you hate cats and you were in a bad mood. You took it out on an animal. I don't buy your "oh my husband left it on the jet setting" bullshit and neither do your neighbors. Particularly since the daughter caught you in the act.

What should you do? Go to your neighbors and apologize. Profusely. Don't be surprised if your "really nice neighbors" treat you like dirt. You targeted their pet with enough force to flood their side of yard; you hit that animal beyond reason.

All you can do is apologize and accept that they probably won't forgive you. Expect your neighbor relationship to decline.
posted by 26.2 at 11:19 PM on November 23, 2009 [4 favorites]

Someone else's pet was on your property, even after multiple warnings to them about keeping their pet off your property. Any legal (non-animal-abuse as defined by law) deterrent is valid, especially given your health issues.

Totally not your fault, it's their own dang fault they didn't control their pet. Yeah, you feel bad b/c they're unhappy now and you like your neighbors, that's what apologies are for. But they also need to learn a lesson about their own responsibilities to their pets.

As mentioned before, do not give them money. Your obligation starts & ends with an apology to help maintain your friendship, and that's it.
posted by jpeacock at 11:30 PM on November 23, 2009 [4 favorites]

Yay, Pedro has returned! Andrew just rang me to tell me. He's perfectly well and they're very happy to have him home. Apparently Andrew has been in the dog house all day for telling me it was ok to spray the cat. I have apologised profusely and sincerely and promised to NEVER spray the cat again, no matter what he does.

I was wrong to spray the cat that much and I'm really sorry I did it. I've felt quite sick about it ever since Andrew told me he was missing. I was happy to be unpleasant to the cat, but never cruel.

For those that got annoyed at my tone with the "half a cat" thing. I meant to say, in an apparently offensive short-hand, that I would accept half responsibility and compensate for a new cat, if and when they had decided to get a new one. I wasn't putting much effort in to my language with that part because it was kind of a secondary issue and I was pretty sure it was too soon to mention the replacement cat.

When I said I sort of looked for the cat, what I meant was... I had two sleeping children in the house when Andrew rang me... so I looked around our yard and over the other boundaries and up the sides of our house. I couldn't do any more or go any further as I had the kids in the house. I couldn't do more at that time. And, as I said, if I had found him... I would have ended up in the back of an ambulance with two small children if I'd picked him up. I don't have a lot of time after contact with cats(and horses), before my airways close up.

I have struggled to be compassionate to this animal... this species... and I'm going to work on that. Thanks for all your support.. and even your criticisms. I largely deserved most of them. You're a lovely bunch of folk and I wouldn't have you any other way. Thank you from the bottom of my bottom.
posted by taff at 11:40 PM on November 23, 2009 [8 favorites]

Unless hoses in Oz are significantly more powerful than the ones here, I'm finding it hard to imagine a scenario where spraying a cat with a hose, or even chasing it around the yard spraying it, could do any real damage. Do you have a fire hose? A steel-cutting waterjet? No? Then no worries. (Obviously, since it came back.)

You say it's not the point that you basically go into anaphylaxis when you encounter a cat, but maybe it should be. Do your neighbors know this? If not, they probably should. You've apologized to them, but have they apologized to you? If they keep letting their little bundle of send-you-to-the-hospital wander into your yard, I say start spraying them with the hose. (Or, if you're not allergic to dogs, get a dog. A big one. That lives outside.)
posted by hades at 12:49 AM on November 24, 2009

AWESOME. I hope you check this post!!

#1 - Obvs, get a plant spritzer.

#2 - Can your neighbor put some barrier up that makes jumping over the fence undesirable? That.

#3 - I mentioned cats are wondrous - did I also mention they were smart and alien??

That cat loves your yard because you hate him. I don't know why cats do this - but they do. It's a talent.

You want my advice? Talk to the damn thing. Pick up the spritzer, explain why it's not welcome - and then spritz! Guess what? You'll only have to do this once or twice. The cat may return, but once you make the spritzing motioning (even without spritzer in-hand) the cat will wince and run. They love to test boundaries, tho, so don't make it into a game. Just make it an automatic thing. But do explain it each time - cats understand intention. I also suspect they understand spoken language, and speak at least five languages - but I have no direct proof.

Congratulations. Well done. Good Luck!
posted by jbenben at 1:05 AM on November 24, 2009


I meant, "cat loves your yard because you are allergic" -- same thing from a cat's perspective.
posted by jbenben at 1:17 AM on November 24, 2009

Yay! I'm late to the post but I'm happy to hear that Pedro was found.

I still think you are missing the mark a bit in your empathy towards someone's pet cat. You mention "compensating for a new cat" and a "replacement cat" in your most recent post and both phrases still made me think that you are thinking of the animal more like a stereo, as someone mentioned above, than say, a child.

A pet cat is a pet cat, and a child is a child.....I know there are differences between these two things. But when talking about someone else's pet cat it's probably better to lean more toward the idea that they think of the cat like a child, than they think of a cat like a stereo. You probably wouldn't call a child replaceable or think of compensating someone for a lost child, and I'd say it's a good idea not to think of a companion animal that way either.

I have struggled to be compassionate to this animal... this species... and I'm going to work on that.

It's perfectly okay to not like cats, and understandable when you are so allergic to them. But it's also good to hear that you are trying to be more compassionate toward the species! Yes, they will kill many other wonderful creatures without reason....that's in their nature. They do it for the same reason that the birds sing, and the same reason that rodents do their cute little rodent things, and the same reason that lizards sit out in the sun and look cool. But the cat's wanton killing could be blamed more on humans than on the cats themselves. We domesticated them after all, we brought them with us wherever we went on this earth, and some choose not to keep them indoors at all times.
posted by Squee at 1:27 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, I second hades' recommendation of getting a pet dog that lives in your backyard, if you can.

Here's a list of other possible ideas...

Also, you might be able to forgo buying a spritzer, and simply turn on your hose when the cat enters your yard (don't spray it though). In my experience, cats don't easily forget traumatic situations that happen to them...and now that the hose incident has happened, simply hearing your hose turn on *might* send him running the next time he's in your yard.

When one of my cats was a kitten, she got a plastic shopping bag caught in her collar, freaked out and ran....the bag stayed with her as she fled all over the house until we were finally able to catch her and remove it. Sixteen years later, just the mere sound of a crinkling plastic bag would still send her flying out of the room.
posted by Squee at 1:35 AM on November 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'd just like to point out that getting a dog could escalate the conflict. There used to be a neighborhood cat that would sit on my parents property in clear view of their usually well behaved dogs. The dogs would bark at the cat and only the cat for the entire time. The cat was on their property, the dogs were properly contained yet it was the dogs who were in violation of noise ordinances. It was eventually resolved after a lot of conflict. Also you have to consider the fact that the dog may injure or kill the cat leading to more drama.

It is the cat owners responsibility to keep the cat off other peoples property. No one should feel obligated to take action to keep other peoples animals off their property. I don't care what kind of animal it is. If the animal causes injury to someone while they are on that persons property there is a good chance that the pet owner will be liable. Cats have no special right to accommodation. If it was the neighbors pit bull, python, tiger, or chimpanzee I seriously doubt anyone would be on here trying to explain how they should make piece with the wonderful animal because it knows that you hate it/are allergic to it. Instead people would be telling them to call animal control. Control your animals.
posted by Procloeon at 2:23 AM on November 24, 2009

Procloeon, you are right that a pet owner should control their pets. And I think it's disrespectful to Taff that the neighbors don't seem to take her allergies as seriously as they ought too, and it would be best for Taff, the neighbors, and the cat itself if the cat were kept indoors at all times. But there's a lot of varying viewpoints about indoor/outdoor cats and to my limited legal knowledge, I don't think there are any laws regarding the issue (perhaps I'm wrong though). Taff cannot do anything to force her neighbors to keep their cat indoors at all times. So we are suggesting things that she can do, that she does have control over, to hopefully help her situation.

A little bit of research can go a long ways, and could possibly prevent more drama that would be caused by calling animal control or prevent harming the animal.
posted by Squee at 3:07 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

a motion detection water sprinkler might solve a multitude of problems here.

(I'm not allergic but I don't like alien cat poop in my yard.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:17 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nice that the cat returned. But considering your question and the answers you marked as best answers, don't you think you're just seeking validation for your actions? Your "question" is full of excuses. You told your neighbour you didn't like the cat, you're allergic nearly to the point of death, you despise cats in general, you were told to spray the cat, the hose was on jet because of your husband, etc. etc... So you chased the cat around and sprayed him so much your neighbours wonder if you were trying to drown it.

Seems to me like you know you went overboard and are just trying to get some people to justify your actions.
posted by splice at 4:04 AM on November 24, 2009 [7 favorites]

Pat yourself on the back.

The cat was in your yard. People have no right to allow their animals to run free throughout the world so they can kill birds, dig things up, and deposit feces at will. The cat was in your yard, and you did what it took to scare it off and, hopefully, keep it from coming back again.

If you're worried about the owner: don't. By letting the cat roam free, he has taken the risk that someone will scare it, poison it, or strike it with a vehicle, or that a large bird of prey will peck it in the head and kill it. If you are worried about the cat: don't. Poison, vehicles, and large birds of prey are a much bigger risk than a crazy neighbor with a hose who, rightfully, does not want cats in her yard.

I say this as my cat meows at me. I love cats, but many animal owners are rude and inconsiderate. It's your yard.
posted by massysett at 4:26 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

And I highly doubt you went overboard with the hose. Cats can be incredibly stubborn animals. Water teaches them a lesson. A garden hose with a nozzle on the jet setting is not going to harm the cat physically. If it harms the cat psychologically, then that cat has no business being outside.
posted by massysett at 4:33 AM on November 24, 2009

You might have better luck dredging up some sympathy for your neighbors if you realized what you did was animal abuse. Perhaps I'm being sensitive because my cat is old and fragile and could easily freeze to death or badly bruised after being drenched and pummeled - regular rain doesn't usually soak all the way into a cat's fur, but a directed hose will. Chasing the cat around went above and beyond - I bet all the neighbor though you would do was a quick spritz, just for a second. I feel like you have justified your actions because the cat was "trespassing", but I doubt the law (at least in the US, probably other places) would see it in that way - it would still be animal abuse to torture a raccoon that wandered into your yard, right?

Be extra apologetic to your neighbors, and maybe bring over a cat toy or a treat as a peace offering.
posted by fermezporte at 4:42 AM on November 24, 2009

As hades suggests, it is pretty ridiculous to suggest that you might have "drowned" the cat or even injured it with a garden hose. That being said, a garden hose is probably overkill - a plant sprayer would probably do the trick.

I think you acted pretty much within your rights, especially considering your medical issues with cats not to mention the fact that you received permission from the cat's owner beforehand. For the future, you might consider treating your lawn or porch or chairs with cat-repelling smells. For instance, bitter apple spray. There are also motion-detecting ultrasonic cat repellers that you could install on your porch.

Good luck living in harmony & health (or at least coexisting) with the local fauna.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:58 AM on November 24, 2009

You were told to spray the cat if it came on your property. That's what you did. It's not your responsibility at all to look for the cat and it's especially not your responsibility to buy them a new cat. That might sound cold and un-neighborly, but I can't see anything in this situation that you did wrong.
posted by joshrholloway at 5:05 AM on November 24, 2009

For an outdoor cat, definitely not animal abuse. Cats will engage in mortal combat with each other outside. Your typical garden hose is not going to do much of anything besides piss it off. The neighbor told you to spray it, you sprayed it. And sprayed it. Hell, if the thing was ticking me off, I'd probably hit it a few times for it to get the idea.

Your neighbors are insane, and are manipulating you because they see you as an easy mark. They may not be doing this consciously, but they are. It's your property, you need to assert your property rights. Be a good neighbor, but don't feed the crazy people's crazy time.

On the Geck Comparable Scale of Irresponsibility, spraying a cat with a water hose is like a 1.5 out of 10. Repeatedly spraying a cat is like 3 out of 10. Letting your cat roam outside is probably a 6. They get into stuff they aren't supposed to get to, harass the local wildlife, and even shit in my garden. Yes, I've seen this. Bastard.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 5:12 AM on November 24, 2009

People do no have a right to release their pets in my yard, particularly when it is your "plan" for caring for your cat. If I let your cat in my yard, I am extending you a courtesy. Pet owners miss this point. If I ask you to get your cat out of my yard, it means your "outdoor cat" needs to be an indoor cat. Your desire to let your cat roam does not require me to pick up poop out of my children's sand box and re-upholster outdoor furniture annually.

That said, motion-detecting ultra-high sound devices work over small areas like sandboxes and chairs, and avoid fights with unreasonable people.

I never tried the hose, but sounds like a good idea as long as the owners aren't around.
posted by alcahofa at 5:30 AM on November 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm glad the kitty came home! I just want to reply to a few comments on here, though, that unless the neighbors keep their cat inside full-time there's really no way to "control their animal." Cats will go where they please, it's not like you can watch them the whole time they're outside, and they're much less trainable than dogs. Probably this particular cat will never come near you again, but the automatic sprinkler system suggested above is a good idea and might help make everyone happy.
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:40 AM on November 24, 2009

For those suggesting a plant spritzer, do you have specific brand suggestions that will spray from ten feet or more away? Obviously the OP cannot get closer due to her allergies and she needs to continue to spray the cat when it comes in her yard to deter it. Mention to the neighbour that you will use the one they provide as long as it spray from far enough away and until they give you an effective one the hose will be the default.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with a garden hose, if the cat is too fragile to endure getting wet then the owners should be responsible and make it an indoor cat. It is incredibly rude of your neighbours to keep inflicting dangerous and escalating reactions on you out of their own reluctance in being responsible pet owners.
posted by saucysault at 6:05 AM on November 24, 2009

you're a kitty - Cats can be effectively controlled by either keeping them indoors or only allowing them outside on a leash or under direct, constant close supervision. Cats will not go where they will please, they will go where their owners allow them to go. I don't think the cats need to be trained as much as the humans do.
posted by saucysault at 6:11 AM on November 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Get it out of your mind, despite what some people are claiming, that you seriously injured this cat with the hose. I'm well versed in the jet setting from many years as a kid playing with a hose. I had a dog who I could point blank hit with it and she'd just wag her tail (yes, I know a dog is bigger than a cat). While it's the highest pressure setting, by no means is it a high pressure flow and I doubt you were close enough to the cat to do anything more than piss it off. The fact you had to chase it around should show that it wasn't more than a very large irritation to the cat. Had you really hurt the cat, it would have zipped out of the backyard from the first hit of the water and not looked back. In my opinion, short of catching the feline by surprise, I doubt there are any other more appropriate settings for this type of situation.

You did not injure the cat. Obviously, you didn't drown it. You did the perfectly smart thing by grabbing the hose and spraying the cat. Hopefully, it'll be enough of a learning experience for the cat to want to stay away from your yard in the future. Also, hopefully, it'll be a learning experience for your neighbor who needs to realize that cat owners need to keep their cat indoors. Cats have no right to enter onto other people's property.

It's great that this had a happy conclusion for your neighbor, but don't let other posters here guilt trip you over what you did. I love cats, one of my dearest pets was a cat, and I would do the exact same thing.
posted by Atreides at 6:21 AM on November 24, 2009

I think that aside from apologizing where there was no need you did the right thing here. Next time just make sure you have a gentler spray setting on your hose before you douse the little fucker.

Also cats cannot understand you, and they wouldn't care if they could.
posted by BobbyDigital at 6:38 AM on November 24, 2009

Motion-detector sprinklers sound like a genius idea, set up so that the cat gets nowhere near your outdoor furniture. If you're that allergic, it's got to be worth it.
posted by palliser at 6:40 AM on November 24, 2009

For those suggesting a plant spritzer, do you have specific brand suggestions that will spray from ten feet or more away? Obviously the OP cannot get closer due to her allergies and she needs to continue to spray the cat when it comes in her yard to deter it. Mention to the neighbour that you will use the one they provide as long as it spray from far enough away and until they give you an effective one the hose will be the default.

Supersoaker would probably work.

A few more suggestions: if kitty likes it when you lay out a picnic blanket for the baby, why not get one for the neighbors to put on their porch? That might make their property a little more attractive to him. Also, keep in mind that kitties are actually attracted to people who ignore them or are jerky to them--in cat language, avoiding eye contact means that you're comfortable with another cat. So it could be that what you see as communicating to the cat that you don't want him around is actually communicating "Hey! I'm comfortable around you! Come sit on my territory!"

Outdoor cats disappear. Usually they came back. Sometime they don't. I had one go missing for three months once. It happens, and a little water (or a lot) shouldn't scare him away from home permanentely. Cats are weird, but they do need to eat.

For future reference, outdoor cats are usually savvy enough within their territory to be able to come home if they feel they can. Disappearances of outdoor kitties is often due to either their getting stuck somewhere (garages, et cetera) or their feeling too afraid, for whatever reason, to come home. If this cat ever disappears again, I'd advise the neighbors to look in garages, sheds, or under porches--their own and the neighbors close by (the "territory" of a cat is usually about the size of a city block, so he's not likely to go far).

As the current owner of a formally feral cat, who has tried repeatedly to keep him inside 24/7 without success (well, we have him down to about 45 minutes a day, but he still occasionally pees on things and knocks stuff over when he's angry about it), I empathize with the neighbors here. Cats can be extremely willful about going out, and it takes a lot of time and patience to keep them in even if you want to--and I understand that it's much more socially acceptable to let cats out in Australia than it is here in the US. I'm not saying that the neighbors are right not to try to accommodate you by keeping the cat in, but it might give you some peace of mind to start taking a claritan every day to at least give you some mild respite from symptoms, particularly if they're so severe.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:32 AM on November 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

> what you did was animal abuse.

Maybe if we were talking about somewhere cold, like Montreal. But in Sydney, it's the start of summer. The overnight low temperature is in the mid-low 60s, and it's up in the high 80s/low 90s during the day. Any cat so fragile that it can't survive a soaking in that weather shouldn't be let outside in the first place, unless the owner wants it to die.
posted by hades at 8:40 AM on November 24, 2009

I love cats -- well, I love my cat. My neighbor's outdoor cats, though, I merely tolerate. Right now they're attracted to the giant litterbox sand dune that is temporarily not a brick driveway. They also love our falling-apart shed with all its entrances, egresses, and recesses (like under the floor or above the ceiling). Nor do I like them on the porch furniture because of their shedding.

I just can't see how residential water pressure through a garden hose -- even on "jet" setting -- is enough to permanently injure a cat at any range other than point-blank (at worst, I can imagine an eye injury, but don't think it's likely). The cat probably got the message and won't be back for a while. As for whether he'll be back "home", that's up to him, but he's probably waiting until dark to slink in safely.

Getting back to the neighbor cats. They also have dogs and in the summer of '08 they were constantly in our yard ... pooping. They didn't want to poop in their own limited backyard, and freely dumped all over our lovely wide open spaces. This was bad enough except I tended to find the piles while crossing the yard in the dark or while carrying stuff, and one of those times I landed on my keister and another I twisted my back trying to stay up. I got really, really pissed at the neighbors. I yelled at them. The thing is, while they eventually put up a fence, they now act pissed at me -- as if they were entitled to let their dogs run as they please, and it's my fault for not being enough of a dog lover to just smile and pick the feces out of my boot. You know, fuck them. If you're a responsible dog or cat lover, you wouldn't let them run loose -- it's one of the top ways that pets get killed.

You have no responsibility to bend over backwards for these people.
posted by dhartung at 9:37 AM on November 24, 2009

Here's another cat-lover telling you you did nothing wrong. You talked to the owner and did what he suggested.

If the cat comes back into your yard: remember that you don't need to soak the cat, just getting a little water on him is sufficient; and try to do it without letting him see you -- so he thinks he's getting sprayed by The Hand Of God. You want him to associate being sprayed with your backyard, not with you, or he'll only avoid your backyard when you're outside.
posted by phliar at 12:47 PM on November 24, 2009

Thanks again everyone.

For the people that are still angry, and the person who thought the nasty mefimail was warranted...

I did feel bad. I didn't come to have my guilt assuaged. I came for suggestions on how to proceed... it was labeled human relations as I wasn't sure of the etiquette... especially because I dislike cats so much. I needed help to be tactful and advice on being sensitive.

The cat makes me very dangerously ill. I didn't label as correct the answers that agreed with me, if you look closely. I labeled as best answers ones that chastised me, and ones that predicted the right outcome... AFTER it had occurred.

The cat is fine. I won't spray it again though. But I will talk to Andrew about his responsibility to keep Pedro indoors, or at least off our property.
posted by taff at 1:36 PM on November 24, 2009

But in Sydney, it's the start of summer.
Ahh, I missed the location. But it was really the chasing around part that bothered me. I would also suggest a very tall, smooth (not chainlink) fence and asking your abutting neighbors not to lean anything against it.
posted by fermezporte at 4:24 PM on November 24, 2009

What a relief that the cat came back. Just wanted to mention (as other people have) that spraying the cat will really only keep the cat out of your yard when you're there - and there are almost certainly other neighborhood cats coming in and out of your yard all night. Since your health is seriously affected by cat dander on your furniture, it might be worth looking into cat proof fencing for around your yard. There is some information about constructing cat proof fence here (this is specific to keeping cats IN, but should be reworkable to keep cats OUT) and here. These people sell cat-proof fencing, (sadly, only in the US and Canada), there might be some useful information on their website.
posted by periscope at 6:32 PM on November 25, 2009

I'm a cat lover, and to my mind you did nothing wrong. Your severe allergies are worth a lot more than the poor widdle cat's ego. Hopefully he wont be trespassing illegally in your yard much more.

Oh, but the girl, yeah I guess she hates you.
posted by wilful at 8:45 PM on November 26, 2009

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