A neighbor (from a block away) went on vacation, and left their cat outdoors to fend for itself. Since then, it has been coming up to different houses, trying to get at food and/or enter the house.

It was our turn yesterday. Made a BBQ for dinner, and the cat came right up to us and wouldn't leave, obviously used to human contact and receiving food from humans.

I first picked up the cat and walked it down the street, leaving it on a bit of grass near some other houses. It was back 5 minutes later (and ran into our house). Also scared the little kids when it went under the table and tried to jump on them.

I then took a half-eaten chicken wing, picked up the cat, walked it a block and a half away, and left it with its dinner on the edge of a public park. This solved the issue for yesterday - but this morning it was back.

I don't want to harm the cat, and the neighbors (who are very apologetic) are coming home soon. So I just need a solution about ways to dissuade a cat of this nature from hanging around us. What should I do? And did I make things much worse by giving it any food (albeit, only provided a distance from the house)?

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    i can tell you that when it comes to cats they are #1 at beeing stubborn.you have two options try to get rid of the cat(and fail)or give in to the cat.it did take me 17+ years to get rid of my neighbours cat(it died before giving up). Aug 12, 2021 at 12:10
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    The poor thing is probably starving to be just abandoned outside for days like that. No wonder it's begging around the neighborhood.
    – Kai
    Aug 12, 2021 at 13:54
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    I composed the below answer for a general audience. I know you wouldn't hurt the cat (you wouldn't ask a question here if you were willing to hurt the cat), but other people with similar problems might think of hurting the animal. So, please don't think I am accusing you.
    – ck1987pd
    Aug 12, 2021 at 16:11
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    just to explain my comment about getting rid of my nighbours cat,when i got my cat electra 07-07-97 i got my sister a cat too.my sister is my closest neighbour,and her cat siri always wanted to come inside my house. Aug 13, 2021 at 5:43

2 Answers 2


All predators evolutionarily develop a risk-reward understanding. Lions don't attack elephants or giraffes unless they have to.

Cats, being one of the most most successful predators, have an excellent risk-reward understanding. They evaluate the potential risks and potential rewards constantly.

When the cat is starving, no risk outweighs the reward. Therefore, there is nothing you can do short of hurting the animal to prevent him from coming to you. While the humanitarian reasons for not to hurt an animal is obvious, there are legal repercussions as well. I am not a lawyer in any capacity, but to the best of my knowledge, according to the UK law cats cannot trespass. Therefore a cat being in your garden; unlike dogs, horses or other pets; will not create extenuating circumstances.

So, the only legal and humane approach is to rebalance the risk-reward scheme. You can reduce the reward by feeding the cat in your neighbour's garden. You wouldn't want the cat to associate your garden with food, therefore buying some cat food and feeding him in your neighbour's garden is the best approach. A full cat is a happy cat, so now the reward of coming to your garden is significantly reduced.

To increase the risks, there are several options. Most cats hate being sprayed with water so having a small spray can annoy the cat to leave your garden. If it is not enough, you can clap hands or take a stick and hit it on the ground a meter away from the cat. Cats understand our body language better than us so act as if you mean to hurt the animal. Also, eye contact is understood as a challenge in the whole animal kingdom.

A creative approach might be to play a recording of fighting cats. If the neighbour's cat believes there are invisible and hostile cats in your garden, he might want to avoid it. But this is a double edged sword, the cat might also feel threatened and ask your help if he trusts you. So, you can use this with the other options I described above.

To sum up, as long as the cat is hungry, he will keep coming. Any solution starts with feeding the cat. Ask your neighbour which cat food brand they use.

I hope this helps.


To add to C.Koca's excellent answer, please talk to the neighbors after they return. Leaving a cat without food and water for several days is absolutely not acceptable and this cat caused problems for several people in the neighborhood.

The solution would be to ask a friend or neighbor to come by each day and give food and water to the cat and clean the litter box. It doesn't take more than 5 minutes each day, but it avoids a lot of problems for a lot of people.

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