The Cat Stalker Returns
August 14, 2014 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Seven years ago, I posted about a cat from my house's previous owners who'd been relentlessly stalking my house, eventually ripping through a screen to get in and shit all over the floors (and I'm quite allergic). Three years ago, I moved 35 miles away to my current house. Last week, she found me, and she's stalking my house 24/7.

When she first saw me come out of the house, she gave me the same "Wait....what...what are you doing here?!?" confused stare she'd given me at the first house. I don't know what/who she expected, or what trail she was following. This is a deranged animal.

At night, I keep hearing thudding noises all around the house. She apparently (I haven't spotted it visually) is hurling herself against windows. It's turned into a Stephen King movie.

Important point: the previous owner of my first house (the cat's owner) had moved elsewhere in the same town, and had tried to take the cat with her. The cat was never abandoned, the owner was quite fond of her. But cat was apparently attached to house, and that attachment has apparently passed to me, though not in any sort of personal way, hence her "what is this dude doing in my house again?" reaction to me. I'm sure there's some sort of cat logic operating here.

But I can't give her away, she'll just come back. I can try to find her owner (I'd rather not, she tried to serve me a summons once to testify in some frivolous lawsuit she had going), but she'll just come back. I can't call SPCA, she'll just come back. Do I just wait out her biological clock (she can't have many years left)? She appears reasonably well fed, so apparently someone nearby is feeding her.
posted by jimmyjimjim to Pets & Animals (29 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Can you follow her home and talk to her new owners about keeping her inside? If she's still truly feral / ownerless can you find a rescue or no kill shelter to trap and take her?

I laughed at the absurdity of this. Poor kitty and poor you! Maybe a new Bulwer-Lytton entry for next year, though ...
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 8:43 AM on August 14, 2014

If Buttons Bellbottoms' suggestions don't work, and if you are a dog lover, I'd suggest acquiring a dog which despises cats. Even a deranged cat should be discouraged by that.
posted by bearwife at 8:46 AM on August 14, 2014

Her owner is a loonie who I prefer not to engage with, and seeing as how she was aware of the cat attachment problem at my old house, yet kept letting the cat out anyway (again and again), I don't see that as an option. Not sure how I'd "follow her home", either. She's not going home. She's right here.

Also: I'm not a dog lover. Can I rent one?
posted by jimmyjimjim at 8:48 AM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

What did you do with the cat the first time around? Did you keep feeding it? It seems completely implausible that she would follow you otherwise. Are you now in a place with an animal shelter or cat rescue group? Call them. You don't have to deal with the owner necessarily (how are you even sure it's the same cat?).
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:49 AM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

A can of ssscat or a water sprinkler on a sensor system?

Spray the exterior of your house with an enzymatic cleaner? (are other cats spraying your house?)

I would try also filing a complaint with animal control / SPCA. You can say she'll just come back but at least its been documented.

Maybe the cat has not been neutered? They might also do a catch n release neuter which might calm her down.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:52 AM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

3 red balloons: I never ever fed it. Why would I encourage it? RE: the previous situation, honestly, I can't remember what finally happened, maybe we just co-existed. It was a while ago. As for implausability, hey, maybe I'm trolling AskMeFi. But I'm not. As for being sure it's same cat, this one is distinctive in both appearance and behavior (if it's not clear enough from the situation, she's a real "character").

St. Peepsburg, I'm LOL-ing at the stalker documentation idea. Perhaps a restraining order? Will look into ssscat, thanks. Will also ask about neutering, but something tells me that's a slingshot countermeasure to a missile-wielding opponent.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 8:55 AM on August 14, 2014

If you're prepared to fight dirty then put spikes on the windows.

They also often dislike double sided sticky tape.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:59 AM on August 14, 2014

3 red balloons - I just reread my old thread, sorry, I'd completely forgotten I'd put out food. It was only tiny dabs, for a short time, to test the valium transmission scheme. The bait kept being stolen by other fish. I'm pretty sure the cat never felt the least bit fed/nurtured by me. She would go into Navy Seal crouch mode every time she spotted me (still doing that now). There wasn't much in the way of affection on either side.

Sticky tape going up NOW.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 9:00 AM on August 14, 2014

Trap the cat and drive it to the closest available animal shelter.
posted by edbles at 9:02 AM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Please bear in mind the two central points of fact: 1. I'm severely allergic (cat's NOT going in my car), and 2. The cat will keep returning
posted by jimmyjimjim at 9:09 AM on August 14, 2014

Are you sure it's the same cat? Thirty five miles is a exceedingly and unlikely a distance way for a cat to just magically follow you specially as the attachment seemed to be to the house and the relationship you had with it was strained to say the least. If you are not a cat person then cats can very easily look the same feral cats even more so. My Dad could never tell our 2 grey tabby cats apart growing up and he lived in the same house with them.

I ask that because if it's not the same cat it may well have an owner in the area that you can talk to, if it is the same cat what ended up happening to it, did it get new owners? Can you talk to them?

If the cat is feral call your local feral cat rescue/TNR group they might be able to help with a non-euthanasia based solution or at least offer some ideas. If you are so inclined call animal control, if the cat isn't ear tipped they will kill it if it's feral(most likely humanely) so you won't have to worry about it returning. If feral cats are a problem in your area, removing one will only mean another one will move into the empty territory.
posted by wwax at 9:14 AM on August 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Again, appearance and manner of this cat is distinctive. Cat doesn't appear feral. Wasn't feral in previous always knew where its owner was at that time (a short distance away). Haven't had a cat problem in this house aside from this one. Being 1. allergic, and 2. terrified, I'm not getting close enough to examine ears or collar (if any).
posted by jimmyjimjim at 9:18 AM on August 14, 2014

There is a Wikipedia article "cat repeller".
posted by XMLicious at 9:26 AM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't see how this cat could come back if you call the SPCA and persuade them to take the cat away.
posted by Nevin at 10:23 AM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Earlier this summer someone posted an AskMe to identify a purse they had seen a stranger carrying on the subway. A few answers went back and forth discussing that many of the details the OP had mentioned were common design features, and people suggested this purse or that one. Eventually the OP responded to one of the suggested identifications with gleeful confirmation. That was it, for sure!

I watched this with curious amusement. As an attorney I am intimately familiar with the pitfalls of memory and eyewitness testimony. The fellow-human-being in me felt happy this person had found an answer that satisfied her question, but the expert in me couldn't help but assess the low odds that the purse she finally settled on was actually the purse she had seen briefly in the subway. If you're curious to read about the subject, I would point you toward the popular work of Elizabeth Loftus.

The reason I mention this is that, as others have said, thirty-five miles is a rather long distance. You say the distinctive appearance and manner of this cat are how you identified it. That may be accurate. However, it is also what a lot of people say when they feel completely confident about their identifications that are, in point of objective fact, totally wrong. And the consequence of this isn't to argue with you about whether or not this is the same cat—because really, what the heck do I know about it? it may well be!—but simply to plant a seed of rational doubt in your mind that if maybe there is a chance this isn't the same cat, then maybe there is a corresponding chance that calling animal control or SPCA will not be futile and might be worth trying.

Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 10:52 AM on August 14, 2014 [19 favorites]

If you call the ASPCA and the cat doesn't have tags, they will hold it until it is adopted or euthanized. This is not your cat, so it wouldn't be right to euthanize.

Can you repel it with sprinklers? The Scarecrow's range (motion detecting sprinkler) can be adjusted from about 6-7 feet to 1000 feet. It's very efficient and doesn't waste water.
posted by zarq at 11:00 AM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

[jimmyjimjim, this needs to not be a back-and-forth conversation. Please just let people answer and take the useful suggestions - let the rest go. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 11:15 AM on August 14, 2014

This is kind of sad. That poor cat just wants a comfortable place to sleep, and maybe a little affection, and probably some good food. She sounds like a tough little thing. If you want to put a little time into it, you might be able to find a person nearby who would adopt the cat, take her inside, and let her have a genuinely welcoming new home.

It would take a little engineering, depending on how skittish the cat is. Maybe trapping would be needed. On the other hand, it might be that a friendly neighbor just feeding her a little would convince the cat that this other person was her real friend, and she could have a safe place to hang out, away from you, where her company would actually be appreciated.

One thing to consider: I've heard that cats are often attracted to "non-cat-people" because they find them less scary. This has to do with eye contact -- looking directly at another creature, in a cat's world, is tantamount to stalking and hunting it. Since this cat seems particularly fond of you, she might be particularly susceptible to this kind of behavior. So, I'd advise your recruited friend to avoid eye contact.

Since this cat is so desperate and at the same time so low-maintenance, and since you are so allergic that you absolutely can't help her (even if you did, you wouldn't be much help if you had a fatal allergic reaction a few days in), you'll probably only have to ask a few of your neighbors to find one who's willing to embark on this project. Really, if you think of it from the point of view of the cat, it's a pretty touching story.

This is kind of your opportunity to be a hero to this creature that's crossed your path, if you can just find the right person to help out.
posted by amtho at 11:54 AM on August 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

I meant to say: even if the cat insists on mainly being outside (perhaps not the case, and some cats change preference as they get older), a little comfort could probably persuade her to use another place as home base.
posted by amtho at 11:56 AM on August 14, 2014

You moved 35 miles away and the cat found you again, at a house it never lived at? Maybe this cat is trying to tell you something? Would you be open to engage with it in a spiritual sense? I mean this is one seriously determined cat, that it would search for you like that is quite remarkable!

It does not sound like you observed it displaying the same behavior towards other people/houses, or have you? For some reason this cat chose you. Help it on its path and try to find someone who would be willing to adopt the cat. (If you don't know anyone, ask around the neighborhood, the vets in the area, on social media etc.) I agree with amtho in this regard. How is your body language? Are you avoiding eye contact? Stare it down, it might start liking you less.

I am against any dirty fighting, that's just mean. Harming it is only inviting bad things into your life. (I am glad the comments suggesting that got deleted!)
posted by travelwithcats at 12:12 PM on August 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

Those motion-activated sprinklers are really quite startling and effective. I have one to keep three cats (one to the left of me, one to the right of me, and one across the street) from using my David Austin roses as a lovely arbor under which to leave their revolting cat shit.

But this is a persistent cat and I think you're going to need a more permanent solution. Like finding her a real home. Have you tried contacting a cat rescue? Asking your friends if anyone wants a super-friendly kitty? If nothing else you could live-trap her and have a non-allergic friend transport her to a no-kill shelter.

I don't know why people are doubting that it's the same cat--how many of us have had even ONE strange cat trying to bust into our homes? If the OP has had TWO, what are the chances they are different cats?
posted by HotToddy at 12:33 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Our house in Japan was plagued with feral cats. We lived about a block from a large tourist-trap fish market, and a colony fed off the garbage there. They came to our house to mate ("Oh, your house has always attracted the strays and also wasps for some reason," a neighbour said to us.)

It was impractical for us to care for these strays, but they were pretty noisy and dirty, and also would occasionally die in various nooks and crannies.

We tried a chemical repellent, which helped keep them away from close to the house, but they still congregated in the yard.

So we got a dog and the problem stopped.
posted by Nevin at 12:37 PM on August 14, 2014

If you are allergic to cats I assume you are also allergic to dogs.

Assuming you don't want to resort to violent means like a slingshot (my father's preferred weapon for yowling cats on our garden wall), then maybe try some wild-animal urine powder around the boundaries of your yard. You can order it online in various places. It's supposedly good for scaring off nuisance feral animals.

If it isn't the same cat, then this story is even stranger, because why are you constantly being stalked by random cats?

Another theory is that your disturbed neighbor found out where you live and dumped the cat there. Depending on how disturbed she is, that could be possible.

If you have any non-allergic friends who will help, you could also go ahead and trap the cat (the trap won't make you sneeze) and then have the friend drive it to the shelter. If it's as weird and offputting (and not young) an animal as you say, it will probably get euthanized (if it's not a no-kill shelter). I am not sentimental about euthanization of strays, although I know many people are, but you can try to take it to a no-kill shelter if you prefer.
posted by emjaybee at 2:22 PM on August 14, 2014

Call animal control. That is all you need to do.
posted by biscotti at 2:58 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Are there any feral cat groups in your town? There are a couple in my area that are on Face Book and will really try to help people who have cat problems and don't know what to do. They often will find someone to trap/spay the cat and try to find it a new home. You can beg for an indoor only but it's a toss up on who'd be willing to take the cat in. You do have a compelling story though so it will catch more people's attention.
A part of me really wants you to "Call "insert local news station" for help!". I apologize for finding this so creepy and charming that I really want to see it on film but I could totally see this going all over the news and you ending up on the Today Show or something.
If you want a more direct solution, get a super soaker gun. It's not nice but when my grandfather was threatening to shoot the stray cats with a bb gun years ago, the super soaker was an effective non-lethal replacement.
posted by stray thoughts at 4:07 PM on August 14, 2014

I would call the SPCA.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:58 PM on August 14, 2014

I'd send an email to Alley Cat Allies and find out if there's anyone local who can help you with trapping and controlling this nutty cat. Just because there's no official animal control group doesn't mean there's no local rescue groups that might be able to give you a hand.
posted by schroedinger at 6:22 PM on August 14, 2014

I read your post from seven years ago, and I would suggest using the solution that finally worked then, namely, contacting the cat's owner.

I get that you are not crazy about this option because that person tried to serve you with a subpoena to testify in some frivolous lawsuit. But although not an ideal solution, it still seems to be your easiest option. If the cat comes back, just call the owner again. It just takes a few minutes to call, right?
posted by merejane at 6:29 PM on August 14, 2014

In your previous post you said the owner and cat were separated because the cat disappeared right when the owner was moving. Simplest answer: the owner moved close to where you have now moved. (Is 35 miles still within the same town? It would be where I live.) Or they've moved again and it's close to you. Call the owner.
posted by Violet Hour at 1:15 AM on August 17, 2014

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