Cat in neighbour's apartment (UKfilter)
January 11, 2018 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Our lovely cat has managed to sneak out of our apartment. He also seems to have managed to sneak into our neighbour's apartment - we can hear him meowing through the door. But the neighbour hasn't been home for a few hours - what do we do now? We're in the UK. Cat picture and details inside!

Our cat (this is him) is a ninja and sometimes manages to sneak out of the apartment when we come home without us noticing - we have no idea how he does this, but he's lightening-fast and his fur is a similar colour as the carpet in the hallway... sigh. We live in a house with 10 rental apartments, and we're in the UK.

Here's our reconstruction of what happened today:
- I came home at ca. 5pm, and he probably must have slipped out of the apartment when I came in.
- Didn't notice he was missing until I wanted to feed both cats an hour later and only one of them showed up!
- Went searching for him in the apartment and the communal hallway.
- Heard him meowing through our neighbour's door - he must be inside the neighbour's apartment (this was at 6pm). Neighbour is not home.
- Posted note to neighbour's door, thanking them for keeping our cat safe and to please contact us.
- Called landlord to see if they have our neighbour's phone number, but no luck (different landlord).
- Neighbour hasn't been home so far, it's now 8pm.

Best case scenario: neighbour had some errands to run and will be back in a couple of hours.

Worst case scenario: our ninja cat managed to sneak into neighbour's apartment without neighbour noticing, when neighbour left for a 3-week holiday or something. Ahhhhh!

If the neighbour isn't home by, say 10pm, what do we do? Like, how does this actually work? Do we call a locksmith? But they won't let us into an apartment that isn't ours, I suppose. Do we call the police at their non-emergency number? Something else? UK-specific advice please.

Thank you! Will post moar cat pictures when cat is back!
posted by CompanionCube to Pets & Animals (23 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Can you call your landlord?
posted by Hanuman1960 at 12:32 PM on January 11, 2018

Is it the case that you and your neighbor have different landlords? Does your landlord have any contact information for your neighbors landlord, to help you get in touch with your neighbor? (Or in the case that they won't give your neighbor's information to you, could they contact your neighbor and give them your contact information?)
posted by yuwtze at 12:39 PM on January 11, 2018

Tried calling our landlord, but they are not the neighbour's landlord, so they didn't have a contact number (or a key, for that matter). They didn't have the other landlord's contact info either :-(
posted by CompanionCube at 12:40 PM on January 11, 2018

Have you tried any other neighbours to see if they know them and when they might be back?

You could call 101, you get put through to a police desk at your local station, and they can tell you your legal options for this; there might be an animal welfare law that allows you to break in after a certain number of hours.

Or, call the SSPCA (Scotland) or RSPCA (Rest of UK) as I'm sure this happens a lot - be prepared for getting through to a call centre with the RSPCA, and the phone answered by someone who struggles to deviate from a script. If you're in Scotland, it used to be that you left a message at the SSPCA and they got back to you.
posted by sarahdal at 12:40 PM on January 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Just a reality check - If your neighbor left at 6 pm, it is highly unlikely that he was just leaving for a 3 week vacation and very much more likely that he will be home eventually tonight. The cat will be fine even locked in overnight and for quite a bit longer if he has access to water (eg someone left a toilet seat up). It is good to have plan but it is probably just fine to wait until morning to implement it.
posted by metahawk at 12:44 PM on January 11, 2018 [18 favorites]

In my city, you can look up an address on a property search site (through the city) and find the address of the property owner. Do you have something like that in your city? Certainly not a first step but worth doing if they aren't home by tomorrow.
posted by ancient star at 12:58 PM on January 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Do you have a neighborhood Facebook page?
posted by Riverine at 1:25 PM on January 11, 2018

Thanks for the comments so far. Updates: Have figured out contact details of the neighbour's landlord (it's a company, so can only contact them tomorrow morning). Have also contacted police - they're getting back to us with info when and under which circumstances they would be able to force the door. No further leads through other neighbours or facebook.

If people have other ideas, let me know!
posted by CompanionCube at 1:36 PM on January 11, 2018

Whoa. Police got back to us and told us they cannot force the door under any circumstances related to a pet, even after several days when the cat would be in danger of dying. Trying to not freak out and hoping we'll get neighbour's landlord to open the apartment for us tomorrow morning, or the neighbour comes back before that :-(
posted by CompanionCube at 1:43 PM on January 11, 2018

i know it feels terrifying to hear your cat and not be able to see him and know 100% that he is okay but he is probably not in any grave danger of anything other than a good case of wild exploration excitement in a new place. i personally would wait until tomorrow morning to see if the neighbor really is gone for a while or not, because if the police/fire brigade/whoever has to come break into the neighbor's apartment at 10pm, they then may return home later tonight to a visibly damaged door, fearing a home invasion, to find out that they now have to call an emergency locksmith to have their home made safe again.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:47 PM on January 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

Do you know how the cat got in? If you can figure it out you could try luring your cat back out through the same way with smelly food or treats. I have faith your Neighbours will return soon or your cat will escape.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 1:54 PM on January 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Cool your jets, they will come home and you will be reunited with kitty. Leave a note on the door and wait it out.
posted by pintapicasso at 1:56 PM on January 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

I agree, put a note on the door and all will probably be well. On the off chance they don’t come home tonight and you can’t get ahold of their landlord, you could try calling your local humane society. They might have different rules than the police for rescuing an animal in distress.

Also, do you know anybody else in the building who is friends with the neighbour? If so, that person might have a key for safekeeping.
posted by rpfields at 2:00 PM on January 11, 2018

The cat will be fine there even overnight. If I were your neighbors and you forced my door I'd be beyond pissed off about it. Like, furiously thinking of suing you pissed off. I'd be livid if you got into my apartment without permission even without forcing it after a couple hours because that's not OK in my book. I would understand if I were gone for several days and action was taken but would still expect you to try very hard to get my permission. For all you know that's not even your cat, it's their cat or they are pet sitting or fostering.

Just trying to give you some perspective - this seems like a crisis to you, but in the grand scheme of things it isn't.
posted by fshgrl at 2:00 PM on January 11, 2018 [15 favorites]

Is there not an alternative window open where he might've got in to the neighbours from?
(perhaps you can borrow a meat slicer? sorry, just trying to cheer you you up - I'm sure he'll be fine)
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 2:01 PM on January 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the support - I wasn't actually thinking about forcing the door tonight (more like, if the cat has been in there for more than 24 hours without the neighbour returning), but it's a bit terrifying to hear from the police that they will actually not do anything...

Just a bit of further info - I know this is formally threadsitting but I'm trying to answer your questions:
We very certain that the cat actually got in through the front door of the apartment, there's no other way in from the hallway. I think the most likely scenario is that he slipped in when neighbour opened the door, or that neighbour let him in to keep him safe.

Also, closer inspection yielded that there is a small gap under the neighbour's door. So now we're giving our cat water and food by the spoonful through that gap, meaning he will be fine for a while.
posted by CompanionCube at 2:10 PM on January 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

I know you're stressed about this, but a cat can go a day without food and even water if necessary unless it is diabetic (and even then, a day would probably still be mostly okay).

If your neighbor doesn't have a litter box, you might not want to make this situation worse than it's going to be.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:33 PM on January 11, 2018 [15 favorites]

If your neighbor doesn't have a litter box, you might not want to make this situation worse than it's going to be.

This. I’m not suggesting you deliberately starve/dehydrate your cat, but your panic is disproportionate with the amount of time that has passed. Your neighbor is very likely to come home to some cat pee or poo (and in the case of the former, the smell will linger horribly). Don’t make that worse by giving more food/water than is truly needed.

And make sure your hysteria is 100% under control when you finally do speak to this neighbor. It’s not his fault you have a poorly-contained pet.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:55 PM on January 11, 2018 [16 favorites]

Yeah, you might want to work on an apology gift if your cat has soiled your neighbor's apartment in the interim.

Also, this might be a good motivation to organize some sort of building-wide contact list--important for this and other kinds of emergencies.
posted by TwoStride at 3:09 PM on January 11, 2018 [14 favorites]

Please tell us the outcome. I'm hoping your poor kitty isn't trapped for too long!
posted by Halo in reverse at 6:09 PM on January 11, 2018 [7 favorites]

So, weird question, but are you completely sure your neighbor doesn’t have a cat? Is your cat’s meow distinctive enough that you’re sure that’s who is in there? I’d hate for you to spend a bunch of time waiting on the neighbor and later find out that your cat got out but is somewhere else.
posted by Secretariat at 9:34 PM on January 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hi all. Yes, we are certain it's actually our cat (we can see his paws through the gap under the door).

Neighbour hasn't been back over night, cat is still trapped. But we were able to contact the property management company this morning and they will ask the landlord of neighbour's flat to contact us. So there's some progress. Will give an update when we have kitty back!
posted by CompanionCube at 1:09 AM on January 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

The cat is back! Safe and sound. And no damage to the neighbour's property. Kitty is enjoying his breakfast and seems quite content: pic. Thanks all!
posted by CompanionCube at 2:52 AM on January 12, 2018 [27 favorites]

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