Neighbors are complaining about my cat. What can I do?

No matter how you feel about it, neighbors complaining about your cat is not pleasant. Try these expert ideas to keep them happy:

  1. Build an outdoor cat enclosure to give your pet a safe time outside.
  2. Install a cat fence, so your pet stays in a protected environment.
  3. Create a garden cat run on a wire.
  4. Agree on a humane plan with your neighbor.
  5. For indoor cats, use play therapy.
  6. Apartment dwellers can put down thick rugs/carpets.

Just so we are clear, I am going to take a stand in this article.

I have read a lot on the Internet about how “cats are wild animals and have the right to roam.” Also, about how neighbors are being crazy, ridiculous, b*tchy, etc.

I agree that cats should have time outdoors if that is their owner’s decision. I also agree that many neighbors can be “over the top” in their reactions.

BE THAT AS IT MAY… I am going to opt for consideration and empathy.

In other words, I suggest we look at this from your neighbors’ perspectives, to “walk a mile in their shoes” so to speak.


Outdoor cats

Complaints I have been told about over the years and found in articles and forums include the following:

  • cats pooping in neighbors’ gardens (this is a biggie by the way)
  • felines digging in neighbors’ flowerbeds
  • pets stressing out neighbors’ pets to the point of causing them health issues


Why worry about my outdoor cat?

In addition to solving the issues of your complaining neighbors (and the consideration and empathy I spoke about earlier), you will be keeping your pet safer and healthier.

Free-roaming cats are more likely to

  • Have unwanted health conditions (feline AIDS, parasites, ticks).
  • Be hit by vehicles.
  • Have a greater chance of unwanted litters (for reproductively intact felines).
  • Become killed or hurt by other animals.
  • Do damage themselves to native wildlife.

Also, many local councils and government organizations (such as Animal Control in the US) have the right to trap your beloved pet and take it to the animal pound/shelter.

Not only that, but in many areas, your neighbor has a legal right to trap your animal and bring it to the animal shelter.

According to the, cats which are free-roaming are considered stray. As a result, it is not illegal to trap them.

Animal shelters are not “cat hotels” with 5-star conditions; they are often overcrowded. They have been described as “kitty jail.”

Many of their occupants are  community cats (feral or stray). These felines can have any number of diseases/health conditions which you DO NOT want for your pet…not to mention the fines/fees you will have to pay to get your pet out.

Here are some suggestions about how to compromise.


1. Build an outdoor cat enclosure

Even if you have a small garden or yard, you will most likely be able to find some space for a kitty playground.

Keep in mind, too, that you can build up as well as side to side, since cats are pretty good climbers.

There are many ready-made cat enclosures for sale. Here are two articles which rate them:

Pet Life Today + Afia Village.

If you are into D-I-Y (or have a partner or friend who is), you can put lots of love and care into a cat enclosure for your kitty.

This Cairns Regional Council in Australia site has a PDF booklet or PDF factsheets which you can download giving great guidance about cat enclosures. They are free, with no need to give any personal information.

Here is another Australian government site with more free, no personal info needed options.


2. Install a cat fence

A cat fence could be as simple as attaching lengths of PVC (plastic) piping to your existing fence or as complex as installing a wireless system.

Let’s look at some solutions to stop neighbors complaining about your cat.


Additions to existing fencing

One option is to create an overhang by adding a wide band of mesh or other strong material to the top of your current fence. In general, this is done via a bracket system.

An overhang will prevent your pet from jumping over the fence. Of course, this only works if the fence is higher than your cat can jump.

To keep the add-on in top condition, clear it from accumulations of ice and snow.

Another option is spiky strips all around the top of your fence, but make sure they are nothing that can injure any person or animal, including your cat.

This choice will work as long as your cat cannot stand anywhere near the spikes.

My neighbor did this to his fence. Unfortunately, he put his fence on top of a wall. The wall was wider than the fence, so the neighborhood cats just balanced on the edge of the wall and hopped over the spikes.

Option three is cat fence rollers.

When the weight of your cat’s paw lands on this add-on, it simply rolls, so there is nothing for your pet to grip.

See more about fence add-ons in this Veterinary Hospital article.


Freestanding fences

Metal poles supporting thin mesh are placed all around your garden or yard, creating a barrier. Even if you have a fence, these can be used by placing them just inside the existing structure.

Since the mesh does not support your cat’s weight and the poles are slippery, your pet should not be able to get out.

An advantage of this option is that the thin mesh tends to become invisible, blending in with the landscape.


Wireless fences

Composed of transmitters and receivers, wireless fences work by sending your cat warnings.

Step 1: Your cat wears a collar containing a receiver.

Step 2: You place the transmitters indoors or outdoors to create an invisible boundary.

Step 3: Your pet approaches a boundary, triggering motion sensors.

Step 4: The transmitter will contact the receiver in the collar.

Step 5: The receiver will emit a sound, vibration, or electric shock. (Your choice)

The success of a wireless fence depends on both your cat and your choices. Electric shocks can hurt. However, they are the most effective deterrent (stopper). Some cats will even feel emotional trauma at the sounds heard or vibrations felt.

So, it is not possible to say for sure what your personal result will be.

You can check out this option further with the fences rated in this Catological article.


3. Create a cat run

Usually, a cat run is a large cage in which your pet can run around. This is not what I am talking about. I am thinking of something I have seen used with dogs.

In the garden is a long, horizontal wire. The wire is held up by a series of poles in the ground.

Attached to the wire is a chain. The chain can slide all along the length of the wire.

The other end of the chain is attached to the dog’s collar.

In that way, the dog can run from end to end and side to side as far as the chain length permits.

The poles I have seen are usually straight, but there is no reason why the pole could not be bent or circular, especially given the lighter weight of a cat.


4. Agree on a plan with your complaining neighbor

In spite of the risks, you would like your cat to have the freedom to roam wherever he or she wants. However, you don’t want your neighbors to be bothered, so they feel the need to complain.

In this case, the best suggestion is to speak with them and work out a deterrent plan.

Remember to acknowledge your neighbors’ complaints and show you accept their validity. This will go a long way to soothing the situation, as well as prove that you are serious about finding solutions.

Below are some humane tactics to scare your cat into leaving their garden or yard. You can agree with your neighbor that they can use one or more of these options on your pet.


Water is an effective deterrent.

In this forum, like many others, the suggestions were using a garden hose, sprayer bottle, or water pistol to encourage a cat to leave a garden.

An article on the VCA Veterinary Hospitals website also supports using water in this way.

Vigilance is the key. In other words, once is not going to do the trick.

Your neighbor will need to be on the lookout, spraying over and over until the cat gets the message.

Yet, it can be effective. One of my daughters has a dog who likes to beg for food at the table.

The family consistently used a spray bottle. Now, the dog just sees someone hold up the bottle and trots off.


Another option is sound.

Using a fly swatter was another forum idea. The suggestion was to slap the fly swatter on the ground, the wall…anywhere BUT on the cat.

Since fly swatters make a lot of noise and look aggressive, the thought was that the cat would be afraid of getting hit and run away.

This VCA Veterinary Hospitals article agrees with the idea of using loud noise as a deterrent.


At the end, get it in writing

Once you have worked out a plan, write it down.

Both you and your neighbor(s) should sign this agreement.

This could be helpful in case things don’t work out according to plan, and your neighbor decides to involve the local animal control.


Indoor cats

While most  neighbors’ complaints are about outdoor cats, some are  about indoor ones.

The complaints tend to be from neighbors in apartment buildings.

For example, one forum post told about a downstairs neighbor who complained about cat noise, specifically, “cat paws running back and forth.”

The person posting agreed that their cats make noise, especially since one of the cats is quite big and heavy.

Here are the suggestions I found for indoor cats.


Consider the feeding schedule.

The idea is to feed your cat twice a day, with the second feed close to your bedtime. Hopefully, the full stomach will encourage your cat to sleep better during the night.


Increase their exercise.

Tired cats will sleep, even at night.

Make it a habit to give your pet an extensive play therapy session close to the time you would like him or her to go to sleep.

In another of my articles on this site, I explain everything you need to know about play therapy (suggestion #2 in my article).

After a play therapy session, you will need to give your cat some food. In effect, then, you are combining two ideas in one.


Reduce the sounds.

Thick carpets will really help muffle or deaden any nighttime paw sounds.

If you don’t have carpeting, by closing doors, you can reduce the area your cat has to run around, while leaving him or her enough space.

Should you decide to put carpeting, closing doors will give you a smaller area which needs to be carpeted.

The carpeting does not have to be wall-to-wall. Area rugs/carpets will also work very well.


At the risk of being repetitive…

In my opinion, responsible cat owners do their best to make sure their neighbors have nothing to complain about regarding their pet(s).

By truly honoring your neighbor’s feelings, I believe you will be able to find a compromise to solve your situation.


Writer: Lisa Aharon

lisa aharon