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Unread 01-08-2016   #1 (permalink)
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Default Unanswered: PLEASE HELP! - Complicated situation and abusive neighbors.

I have 3 male cats. 14, 9, and 4.5 years old.


The 4.5 year old was a stray cat that I took in about 2.5 years ago.
He was rake thin at the time, and there was some difficulty integrating him both because they are all males and because the 9 year old is VERY big (and alpha).



History with my neighbors:
About 1 year and 3 months ago now the stray began spending almost no time at home, which coincided with installation of central air-conditioning and me stopping him torturing/killing a young rabbit. - He would come home for 5 minutes only to eat a little food (not enough for a full day's worth though).

I noticed that every time without exception he was going to my neighbors house, and I soon realized that they had been feeding and treating him like he was theirs. - They are mid 50's and retired.
I wrote them a very angry letter about this, demanding that they stop it, explaining that I was actually responsible for saving their cats lives 1 time (when they went overseas without arranging proper feeding), and confronting them about prior disrespectful behavior. - I am a very tall and athletic male with long hair (and numerous times they had treated me like I was unintelligent or malicious).

To cut a long story short:
They complied with my demand to scare him back into my yard at the time, and everything was fine for many months after (he soon realized there was nothing to worry about).



CURRENT HELL:
Over the last 2 months he has spent progressively less and less time here (always going back over to the neighbors house during the day).
I have had numerous serious health issues recently and whilst it was upsetting to me I didn't have the energy to confront them again.
And there is no doubt whatsoever they are petting him (even if not feeding him now).

Admittedly there is still conflict between him and my alpha, and I have done absolutely everything I can think of to try and get them to be
friends. In reality however the conflict hadn't changed in any noticeable way (and I work from home so I do see what happens), and I have just realized that it is in actual fact my neighbors being aggressively inappropriate again.

Combine the above with the fact I have had to force him to stay home for extended periods (due to extreme heat here in Australia), and he now genuinely hates me. - He obviously can't understand it's dangerously hot outside (because it's cool inside).
I will go into further complications below, however I will mention that he clearly has numerous psychological issues from spending his first 2 years as a stray. For example: He will run away if I try to give him ANY form of good food (like any kind of lean meat). If I do manage to get him to eat it (and I have had to actually place it in his mouth many times), he will eat it and THEN run away.
People I spoke to about this said that it was likely personal preference however I proved them wrong when I tested it with tuna (and I have done this countless times now). He will eat the bad/cheap pet food tuna, and then second I switch it out with real tuna he will run away.
I have tried about 70 times (being very patient) to get him to accept good food, and still (2.5 years later) he can't eat it.



Specific Complications (and how the above relates):
1) To coax him back here I have tried more frequently to get him to eat good food. This has resulted in him running away more (straight to my neighbors yard), who are then interfering more. - I have no doubt they choose to think I'm abusing him or something.

2) Whilst I am aware of the law (and that cat's are technically property), my local police (I live in a small town) are utterly corrupt and COMPLETELY discriminatory. - I do nothing criminal whatsoever but have been treated like I am one many times (I reported someone explicitly threatening to kill me one time and they threatened to arrest me if I didn't leave the station).***I had proof the guy illegally had a gun also.

3) I thought maybe I should keep him inside for a month or so (and really tackle the eating issue for example), however I have to block the cat-flap to keep him in. This results in increased tensions between him and my alpha, and staggering jealousy when I let my other cats out manually (opening the door). He starts meowing uncontrollably (looking unbelievably sad), and each time I re-opened the cat flap out of pity (though partly because it began interfering with my ability to work also).
Each time this happened he invariably spent more time at my neighbors house, and today he spent most of the last 24 hours there (I have him blocked inside again now).



FINALLY:
I have a lot of civil legal experience and I could take legal action against them, however I can't see a judge taking it seriously.
I am EXTREMELY worried that my neighbors will reach a point where they sadistically think "he is abusing the cat so now he is ours", and possibly even doing something like reporting me to animal-authorities (I have owned cats my entire life and would literally never abuse or hurt one).
There are so many complications here and I genuinely have no idea how to approach this (and it's really hurting me).

PLEASE help me here.

Sorry for this being so long.
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Unread 02-24-2016   #2 (permalink)
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The only advise I can think to offer is this: cats are highly territorial creatures. I don't think the main issue here is your neighbours (although they are not helping). If the stray rescue cat is not spending any time in the house, it may be because he does not feel like he has his own space. Cats can live in harmony together, provided there is mutual respect and they understand each others territory. When you adopted the stray, all the stuff already in your house would have been marked with the other cat's scents. Basically telling the new cat "all this stuff is mine".

The rescue stray needs to feel like there is part of the house that is his. I would try to find an area of the house that is not used as much by the other cats (they don't rub against furniture or spend too much time in the area) and try to associate this area with positive experiences. Play, food, nice temperature, quiet ect.

Also, try and work with your neighbours. Perhaps ask them if the stray has something in there house he is attached to that they could spare. Bringing "safe" smells into the area will increase the desirability of the area you have allocated the the rescue stray. You could also get the cat to rub against objects spreading scent.

Play is a great way to build a bond with the cat and build confidence. get some toys and scratch posts too. I use a stick with a 1.5m piece of string attached with a small soft object tied to the end. Mimic a small animals movements to get the strays attention. If the stray catches the string, this is a positive experience.

Basically, you just have to make your house better than your neighbours'! Good luck!
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Unread 02-25-2016   #3 (permalink)
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Hi,

This post is about 1 1/2 months old now but I really do appreciate the response. I posted this on multiple forums and the time and you genuinely wouldn't how vicious and idiotic the responses I got were (by people who clearly treated a cat forum like their own personal club house).

You clearly actually bothered to read the post and I appreciate that.

Update:
Things did get better for a while. I kept him and my alpha together inside much more but my alpha responded by becoming more aggressive (which I only became aware of recently). He had been blocking the catflap (preventing him coming in), and a couple of times the main area my stray slept it smelled like urine. - Which I know for sure was done by my alpha.

Back then I also restricted my alphas diet (to even the physical odds) but stopped because he gained the weight "fair and square".
After realizing he had been more aggressive recently (in secretive ways), I have decided that regardless of him getting large honestly, he wasn't a stray and I can't allow him to be aggressive like this.

The only solution I see now (as it really has gotten bad recently) is to keep both of them inside for a month or 2. I need to get the stray to gain weight and I have to calorie restrict my alpha (so he loses some).

Long story short:
I think you are absolutely right about everything. When my alpha has no physical way to claim to everything in the house then the stray will feel like it's his home.

Hi,

This post is about 1 1/2 months old now but I really do appreciate the response. I posted this on multiple forums and the time and you genuinely wouldn't believe how vicious and idiotic the responses I got were (by people who clearly treated a cat forum like their own personal club house).
**Attacking those that need help.

You clearly actually bothered to read the post and I appreciate that.

Update:
Things did get better for a while. I kept him and my alpha together inside more (to monitor things) but my alpha responded by becoming more aggressive (which I only became aware of recently). He had been blocking the catflap (preventing him coming in), and a couple of times the main area my stray slept it smelled like urine. - Which I know for sure was done by my alpha.

Back then I also restricted my alphas diet (to even the physical odds) but stopped because he gained the weight "fair and square".
After realizing he had been more aggressive recently (in very secretive ways), I have decided that regardless of him getting large honestly, he wasn't a stray and I can't allow him to be aggressive like this.

The only solution I see now (as it really has gotten bad recently) is to keep both of them inside for a month or 2. I need to get the stray to gain weight and I have to calorie restrict my alpha (so he loses some).

Long story short:
I think you are absolutely right about everything.
When my alpha has no physical way to claim to everything in the house then the stray will feel like it's his home also.
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Unread 02-25-2016   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for responding. I didn't notice the date on your original post! oops!

Sounds like a good plan, but he will need A LOT of stimulation to keep him from going crazy if he is used to being outside. Allocate as much space as possible for him and give him some things to climb too if you can. Try and include a window for him to look out of. And maybe slowly introduce him to the alpha cat and others through smell and then sight later on. Each time they encounter each other in whichever way, perhaps make it feeding time. Then they will learn to associate each other with something awesome! Hope all turns out ok
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Unread 02-26-2016   #5 (permalink)
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Sorry I have no idea why my above response had a duplicate in it.

Very good idea about feeding them together.
I had the stray quite far away from my other cats so he felt safe (to eat) but I just put him directly next to the alpha for this meal (monitoring them). It's the first time in quite a while that he has eaten his whole bowl in 1 sitting.

Space isn't too much of an issue because we live in a 4br house (just us).

Thanks again.
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