Even if your neighbor’s cat is cute, you may not want it hanging around your house. Check out these options:
- Find out if something has happened to your neighbor.
- Investigate whether or not your neighbor is taking good care of their pet.
- Your neighbor’s cat may be running away from a new child at your neighbor’s house.
- Get rid of the cat with unpleasant smells or noises.
- Make your pet door exclusive.
When most of us describe cats, we talk about animals that are very independent. They come and go as they please.
Besides the basic necessities (food, water, etc.), cats seem to need nothing and no one.
Most of my cats have certainly fit this description!
However, the research shows a different picture.
A very recent study shows that domestic pet cats “form secure bonds with their human caretakers”.
When reunited with their caretakers, the cats behaved very much like infants do when reunited with their primary caregivers (most often mothers).
So, the solutions in this article are listed with this fact in mind.
The order is from ideas which obviously affect this bond (#1) to those that may or may not (#6).
1. Your neighbor’s cat is in your house because something has happened to your neighbor.
Have you seen your neighbor around lately, especially if your neighbor is elderly or often unwell?
I read about this situation:
An old woman couldn’t pay for her rent and utilities, so she would leave her house to stay with friends.
During that time, the woman’s cat would come crying to the neighbor’s door, trying to get in.
Suggestion: Play detective
Take a walk over to your neighbor’s house. Does it look lived in?
Knock on the door; ring the bell. Does anybody answer?
Sadly, the reality is that sometimes, people living alone get into trouble, and no one knows about it.
Yes, we all have mobile phones, but there are situations in which a person can’t even get to their phone to make that emergency call…or even use the 911 emergency number.
For example, in the U.S., there are about 50 million Americans who cannot use the 911 service because they are deaf, deaf-blind, or have a speech disability.
True, there are various apps and other solutions, but they do not work all the time or for everyone.
Try checking several times at different times of the day to speak with your neighbor (or at least someone at that house).
If you are unsuccessful, please report it to the police. You may save a life.
2. Your neighbor is not taking good care of their cat, so their bond is not so secure.
We know that cats will act like they are starving even when they are getting plenty of food.
So, your neighbor’s cat eating ravenously at your house is not a good way to tell about the care they are receiving.
Look, instead, at their physical appearance
- What’s the condition of the cat’s coat (fur)? Does it look healthy and groomed?
- Does the cat look like it has any untreated physical injuries?
- In general, does the cat look well, with good energy?
- Is the cat behaving strangely in any way? Is it particularly aggressive or fearful?
Suggestion: Chat with your neighbor
After you make your assessment, speak with your neighbor.
The cat seems fine
In this case, just explain to your neighbor that their cat is visiting you frequently.
Did they notice that their cat was gone for lots of the time?
Do they mind that you are giving their cat attention…and perhaps even food?
Listen to what your neighbor has to say.
Perhaps your neighbor’s cat is in your house because your neighbor is away a lot for work, and the cat is lonely.
Maybe the cat is a stray that the neighbor was feeding, so not really their pet at all.
I adopt cats that wander into my garden. I feed them outside.
Other cats tend to wander in for the food, too.
Maybe your neighbor’s cat is just an opportunistic eater.
The cat does not seem fine
In this situation, you need to go gently. Don’t assume that it is a case of abuse or neglect.
It may be that your neighbor just can’t do their best for their pet.
Some reasons for this could be age, illness, physical disability, and even finances.
When you chat with your neighbor, explain what is happening and what you are seeing in a factual, non-judgemental way.
Again, listen to what your neighbor tells you.
Perhaps you can work together to care for the cat, a sort of co-ownership.
In either case…
If your neighbor is ok with you hosting their cat, ask about any food allergies it might have.
Also, find out about any ongoing medical conditions it has and medicines it is taking.
Suspect animal abuse?
3. A new child at your neighbor’s house has weakened the human-feline bond.
My relationships are not static, and I suspect yours are not either.
They get stronger and weaker, depending on a wide range of factors.
Same for cats.
It could be that your house has become a refuge for your neighbor’s cat because a new child is now at that house.
Effect of age on human-cat relationships
In a recent California study, researchers surveyed 865 families.
They found that the age of the human affects the cat-caretaker bond.
Here are some significant results
32 percent of cats surveyed behaved very affectionately toward adults
27 percent of the felines were affectionate toward 6-12 year olds
14 percent of the pets showed affection toward children aged 3-5
As we can see, feline affection tends to decrease as the age of the human decreases.
In other words, cats are likely to be less affectionate to children, especially younger ones.
Maybe your neighbor has just had a new baby?
The study also checked cat-human fearfulness with children who were visiting the families.
Roughly 12 percent of half of the cats (469) were afraid of those children.
Perhaps your neighbor has family or friends with children staying with them for a while?
Of course, not all cats are unaffectionate or afraid of all children.
My daughter and her family have a cat named Julius.
Julius’ mother (a garden cat) abandoned him. He joined the family as a kitten when their first child (a son) was about three years old.
My daughter always describes him as ‘the middle child’ as she now has a daughter, too.
Julies is affectionate to the point of being a pest. He lies on puzzles as we are doing them.
Julius perches on the edge of the bathtub at bath time…sometimes falling in.
He wants to be wherever the family is…especially the children.
Julius’ behavior is strange to us (and perhaps to you) but is actually supported by the above study.
The study found that the best situation was when the cat came to the family as a kitten and grew up with the children in the household.
Suggestion: Educate your neighbor
If a new child is the reason your neighbor’s cat is often at your home, I suggest telling your neighbor about the study’s results.
Your neighbor might be totally unaware of the effect the new child is having on their pet.
Once they have the new information, your neighbor can take steps to reassure their cat and strengthen their bond.
4. Other changes that could be why your neighbor’s cat is in your home.
Another new pet, home renovations (noise, smells, strange people, etc.), a new brand of cat food…there are virtually endless reasons why your neighbor’s cat prefers your home.
Suggestion: Be ‘nosy’
Ask your neighbor, “What’s new?” to find out possible reasons why their cat feels it needs to find another home.
Be persistent, and get to the bottom of the situation.
The solution may be obvious—for example, in two weeks, the builders will be gone.
On the other hand, you and your neighbor might need to find a creative option to solve the issue.
5. Your neighbor’s cat is just friendly.
Despite their general reputation, some cats are just very social creatures.
Even though everything is great at your neighbor’s house, and the fact that you don’t feed this pet, their cat shows up at your home like clockwork.
Congratulations! Consider yourself on this feline’s ‘friend list’.
For reasons known only to itself, your neighbor’s pet cat likes you and your home.
It could be that there is more ‘action’ at your place: more people, more activities. Their home is quiet…and therefore, boring.
Perhaps your home smells nicer.
Cats use their sense of smell to get their most important information about their environments.
It might be that your home smells way more pleasing than your neighbor’s home.
Suggestion: Inform your neighbor
Your neighbor will probably appreciate knowing where their pet has ‘disappeared to’ for a large part of the day.
You can also try to find out whether their cat is just being friendly, or there are other reasons for this ‘in your house’ behavior.
If there are other reasons, have a look at the other points in this article for more guidance.
6. The ‘vibes’ at your home are nicer than those at your neighbor’s home.
Science now supports the old wives’ tales about cats being able to sense positive energy.
Here is some of the scientific support
I. A review of the literature posted on the Oxford Academic Bioscience website reports that studies show:
- An animal’s heart rate lowers when it is stroked.
- When dog owners think of their pets as social partners, the dogs’ morning cortisol levels are lower. [Cortisol is a hormone connected to stress in biological organisms. Lower cortisol levels = lower stress levels.]
- Positive human-dog interactions increased the phenylethylamine levels in both species. [Phenylethylamine is a neurotransmitter (a brain chemical). It helps us be more attentive and focused. This helps us complete tasks and achieve our goals.]
II. Information on the U.S. Library of Congress website cites research showing that cats are sensitive to tone of voice. Speaking to them softly and calmly is recommended.
III. Research at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan (USA) reported that cats can ‘understand’ human emotions from different types of cues.
The experiments showed that cats can correctly read visual, postural, and vocal cues of happiness and anger.
They are ‘modestly sensitive’ to these emotions in people unfamiliar to them (the experimenters) and those familiar to them (their owners).
Suggestion: Check your neighbor’s vibes
Is there tension at your neighbor’s house? Perhaps financial or relationship issues?
Maybe a long-term illness causing significant worry?
Perhaps lots of shouting or a tension which is knife-cuttingly thick?
Of course, you don’t want to pry, but you do want to make sure your neighbor knows how their pet is responding to what’s going on.
After considerately speaking to your neighbor, you may wish to suggest that their cat can continue to relax at your house as needed.
Easy Methods to Stop Your Neighbor’s Cat Coming Into Your House
While it is nice to be understanding and helpful, their cat is not your responsibility, and if you don’t want it hanging around your house, you are fully in the right to make that happen.
Smell as a deterrent
Many on the internet suggest using a citrus-scented spray because cats appear to hate this smell.
Citrus oil is by far the most popular; scents such as lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit. You can also buy citronella oil.
Some people also use oils like lavender, peppermint, lemongrass.
You just put a few drops in a glass of water, put the mixture into a sprayer, and spray the access points (doors, windows, etc.).
It’s a good idea first to clean away any feces which the cat may be attracted to or bathroom scents that may already be in your home.
The idea is the smell in your home is what repels the cat; so never spray the solution directly onto a cat or its coat.
NOTE: There has been a lot of discussion as to whether or not essential oils are toxic to cats.
A London Veterinary Practice has investigated the literature on this topic.
Their conclusion is that the data is inconclusive.
So, use with caution—especially if you have cats in your household.
And if you do...take into consideration that your cat(s) are not going to like the smell either!
Buying smell pet deterrent products
I have spent ages looking for products you can buy, as it would be so convenient if there were good ones out there.
However, after speaking to other cat lovers and reading through loads of online reviews, they all seem to be mediocre and not as good as the homemade solution above.
Sound as a deterrent
As soon as your neighbor’s cat comes in, bang loudly on a pot, blow hard on a whistle—in short, make a LOUD, HIGH-PITCHED NOISE.
Again, take into consideration any cats in your home.
Perhaps try keeping them in other rooms while you use this idea to get your neighbor’s cat out of your house.
Eye-contact as a deterrent
Use your role as the alpha to stare down your neighbor’s cat as soon as it comes in.
Better yet, try to catch it outside and begin the staring contest then.
I did this several times with unwanted garden cats.
I combined my stare with showing my teeth and making low-in-the-throat growls like I had heard cats do.
It usually worked.
Limiting access as a deterrent
Just how is your neighbor’s cat getting into your house?
Chances are you are not letting it in yourself; it is getting in through your pet door.
You are in luck! Pet-doors are now ‘smart’ and can be configured to let only your pets in.
Some pet doors open via a ‘key’ which is attached to your pet’s collar.
Others are triggered via an internal pet microchip (injected by a vet).
Read more about the different features and brands here.
Water as a deterrent
Probably the last thing to try is spraying the cat with a water bottle, as it’s a more aggressive way of getting this pet to stay away from your home.
Be aware that it may also annoy your neighbor that you did this to their cat.
This method may also not be enough to work on its own, but should work along with other methods.
Cats don’t like to get wet, so it’s more of a way of training the cat to stay away.
What’s not allowed
You should not use any form of physical contact, such as hitting the neighbor’s cat with a broom.
Capturing the cat with bait and a trap for any reason (such as giving it to an animal shelter or taking it far, out into the woods and dumping it there) are out of bounds.
Writer: Lisa Aharon