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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone

Many apologies for just jumping in and asking for your advice when I've only just registered, I hope I'm not being rude. However I'm getting myself into a bit of a state over my "problem". It may seem trivial, but I'm hoping that you as cat lovers will be able to give some good advice.

And just to warn you, I'm prone to rambling, so sorry in advance for what is bound to be a long post...!

In January 2000 we rehomed a cat (Carrots) from the RSPCA. He has access to the outside via a catflap and as soon as we put it in all the other neighbourhood cats (and there are lots!) tried their luck at getting into the house. They had no chance, Carrots kept them out very enthusiastically (we'd been told he didn't like other cats at all).

However, a few months later in October I got up in the night a couple of times and thought I saw a ginger cat disappearing out of the door. I put it down to my sleepy imagination! But in the November we went on holiday - a neighbour looked after Carrots and told us when we got back that she'd seen a ginger cat in the house.

After that I saw him frequently, he was often in the house when I got back from work, but would dash out as soon as I got through the door. But... bit by bit he got braver. He'd stay in the house if I was there, but run off if my partner came in, but then got used to him too. Same with the Small Child! He obviously wasn't a stray, and I guess we should have thrown him out there and then, but he seemed to get on ok with Carrots and we figured that if Carrots didn't mind him hanging around then we didn't either. We never encouraged him or fed him, but of course he soon started nicking the food too.

So, that was over 3 years ago. Since then, this cat (who we jokingly called Sooty as he's ginger, and which has unfortunatelystuck!) has just moved in full time. We found out that he belongs to one of our neighbours and tried to tell her that her cat was practically living with us but to be honest she's not "all there". She first said "don't think you're stealing my cat" but when we mentioned him again a few weeks later she just said that he was "wild" and she hardly ever saw him and didn't know where he went!

This lady has 5 or 6 cats now - from what I gather Sooty is about 9 years old and she's had him as a kitten, but has gradually added to her cat collection. I don't really know why Sooty moved in with us. It's quite a noisy household! However, he's quite a sensitive and very affectionate little cat - I know that she got another new cat just before Sooty started visiting us, so I wonder if he just reached his tolerance threshold as far as other cats in the house was concerned and didn't want to live there anymore. At least three of her other cats are male, and quite "dominant" amongst the neighbourhood cats. It's a bit of a mystery since I wouldn't even say that Carrots and he are friends. They seem to tolerate each other - they play fight together a lot (which sometimes gets a bit over-enthusiastic) and sleep on the bed together occasionally, but there's not huge amounts of interaction, grooming etc.

Anyway, whatever the reason, Sooty likes it here. He's the most adorable cat. Incredibly affectionate and cuddly. It may sound silly but he and I just "bonded" (Carrot's is more of a daddy's boy!). If I cry, he'll appear from nowhere and lick my tears. He sleeps under the quilt next to me at night. He and Carrots both go out to pee, and for a wander occasionally, but at least 90% of the time they're in the house. I know that he goes back to his "proper" owner very occasionally to grab some food (she was moaning he treat the house like a hotel!) but then Carrots eats at all the neighbours' houses too! The difference is that I know he isn't actually LIVING with someone else. I think it was when Sooty brought us his first mouse (yuck) that I really realised that he sees this as his home. I just can't emphasis enough the fact that he actually 'lives' here rather than just being an opportunist nicking the food!

OK, that's the background - I warned about rambling!

My problem now is that we're hoping to move house later this year and I just don't know what to do about Sooty. Practically everyone I've asked has said "just take him" but I still feel uncomfortable. I'd kind of kidded myself that she didn't care about him, but not long ago she was looking for him to have his vaccinations done, so she's obviously reasonably conscientious, which makes it even harder. I'm afraid that, even though we told her several times that he was with us a lot, the last time we saw her we said we hadn't seen him for ages just because if I decided to take him I didn't want her to put two and two together.

In an ideal world, I'd just explain the situation and ask if we could take him with us. I like to think that a good owner in her situation would see that he's happy living with us and would say yes (it's not as if she has the pleasure of his company any more!). I just really don't see that happening though. I also thought of maybe offering to "buy" him and giving her some money - she might be the kind of person that would agree, but personally I'd be offended if anyone did that to me. And of course, if I ask and she says no then it really would be immoral of me to just take him - and she'd know it was us too if he didn't turn up for his weekly feed!

Another option is just to leave him, after all he's not our cat or responsibility. But I just couldn't do that, not in a million years. It would be as if I was abandoning him - I'd never ever do that to Carrots, and Sooty doesn't understand that he's not really "ours". Of course, maybe he'd just trundle off quite happily and find another friendly neighbour, but I couldn't live with myself if I just left him. Particularly since he and I are so close (he's sleeping next to me as I type!).

I'm desperate to know what I should do. I've tried to look at it from the perspective of "who would suffer most if I just took him, Sooty or his 'owner'" - if he belonged to someone who was more concerned about the fact that he wasn't around much, and tried to keep him with them, then I'd feel very differently (I'd be gutted if anyone stole my cat) but I honestly can't help feeling that in this case it would be Sooty who would suffer.

What do you think I should do? It'll be months before we move so I've got some time to think, but I've been thinking for ages now and haven't reached a conclusion. The only way forward that I can think of is to ask her now whether we can keep him - if I explain the situation and she says 'no' then I assume she'll make more effort to keep him with her to make sure we don't take him. If she didn't, then in a few months time I would maybe feel happier about taking him anyway.

Grrrrr it's a dilemma! It makes me wish we'd just thrown him out to start with - not really though, I'm too in love with him to wish that!

Once again apologies for the incredibly long long post - and from a "newbie" too!

Ali
 

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Ali I am so happy you decided to join the forum! I hope you will come back to post often.

I really enjoyed reading your story! I think Sooty should defanetly stay with you. I belive this because if one of my cats was living 90% of the time with another family I would be frantic with worry and would never allow it. It sounds like your neighbor doesnt really care to much.

So the dilema is do you take him without telling her or do you risk loseing him by asking her? Good question! I can not think of a good answer though. The moral thing to do would be to ask her and explain to her how much you love him. However if you really think she may try to keep him and you would lose him.... Ok my advice is just take him. Dont leave a forwarding address, and if she finds you tell her you havent seen him. She doesnt even miss him so for all she knows he was hit or the humaine society picked him up. I think he is better off with you.

(are both your kittys nuetered? just curious is all :D )

Welcome to the forum!!!
 

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sooty knows who he wants to be with and that's you. When you move take him with you, and don't look back. If Sooty didn't want to be with you.................he wouldn't be.
 

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I guess I'd think of it this way. If you barely ever saw Carrots and had to go repeatedly to the same neighbor's house when looking for him, would you still consider him yours? I'd think about this lady. From your story it sounds as if she doesn't really consider him hers anyway. Maybe she just likes to take care of cats and wants to make sure all the ones around each other are vaccinated so they don't spread diseases. It's a possibility -- some neighborhoods with lots of cats around have a "grandma" like that. She also sounds like she's used to not having him around. If he's always around you guys and giving you lovin' -- then she's not getting any of it. He knows who he loves, who he lives with, and where he belongs. It sounds like you do too.

It's tricky though -- you don't want to feel guilty. I really hate to sound sneaky, but my heart is in the right place and so is yours. Next time you're talking to her, I'd try to find out how much she cares about the cats that she feeds and vaccinates. If they have stories, if she likes having them around, and then ask her subtly if she's seen Sooty lately...things like that. Act like you know nothing, but try to figure things out about her that might give you some answers. If she said "yeah I don't see him much he just kind of showed up and I started feeding him"...then you'll know for sure what to do. You'll also know what to do if she says "I really love him and miss him and I hope he comes home soon." I would bring it up casually and carry on the conversation casually, and go from there.

That is my advice to you, because if you weren't confused, you wouldn't have posted. But if it were me, I know I'd take the cat.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks so much for your friendly welcome - and well done for managing to get to the end of my post without falling asleep!

Well I guess the advice you all gave is exactly what I wanted to hear really. I like to think I'm a pretty "moral" person, which is why just lifting Sooty without telling his owner doesn't sit comfortably. But then another little bit of me is saying that it would be equally wrong (and more so) to just leave my little bundle behind. Apart from anything else, I don't think I'd ever have a proper night's sleep again.

So I think my plan is this - if she ever mentions to us again the fact that Sooty is never around, I'll come clean and say he's still living with us, and just beg and beg to keep him (after all, where's the point in her paying his vet bills if he's not with her??!). If she says yes, all well and good. If she says no and doesn't prevent him from coming to us, well I'll take him anyway. At least I'll know I tried. And if she never asks again, I won't bother asking and just take him.

There, sorted!

I just told Sooty what you all said - he yawned very happily, patted my thigh, and went off to sleep on his bean bag!

And Lilly - yes, both the boys are neutered.

Thanks once again!
Ali
 

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In that situation - Cat chooses you, other cat likes/gets along with him, "original" owner a basket-case cat collector - I'd take him and run.
 

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I agree with all of the above. Sooty chose you to be his people. You are his family now. Your plan about dealing with the neighbor sounds good too.

It's a bit of a mystery since I wouldn't even say that Carrots and he are friends. They seem to tolerate each other - they play fight together a lot (which sometimes gets a bit over-enthusiastic) and sleep on the bed together occasionally, but there's not huge amounts of interaction, grooming etc.
Don't let Ginger fool you! By Carrots letting Sooty into the house, letting him sleep on his bed, sleeping with him, playing with him...those two are best buddies. Especially if they groom eachother. They are best buddies. :D
 

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AliH, Yes, this is a moral decision, but I don't think it's as clear cut as everyone else does. An irresponsible owner doesn't take her cats to the vet for vaccinations. My dearest friend moved with her kitty family to their first real home, (that is, they bought it), and discovered that her favorite cat, her special baby, was missing. For a week, we discussed what she had done to find the cat, and shared information on IM. (She's in England) This cat had been allowed outside when she lived out in the countrysice, but this was a more urban setting. So, the cat bolted when someone answered the door.

Finally, she heard from the neighborhood children that an elderly man had him. She went to his apartment-just down the block, and he wouldn't answer the door. She went to the police and they had a "It's only a cat" attitude, and wouldn't help. She has repeatedly taken back her cat, and the man keeps putting great smelling food out, hoping to catch him. He finally did when someone left the door open. He knows she owns the cat, but still refuses to answer the door. He's elderly, so he seldom leaves the house. I'm guessing that he puts the cat in another room and closes the door so the cat can't get out. Weeks have passed now. I'm so angry I am tempted to call the police in her city. I can't afford it, but my heart is aching for my friend.

I am very upset, but my friend can't even talk about it. So, with this so close to me and my dear young friend, I cannot just say, "Take it!" This lady might not be friendly to people, but if she cares about her cat, that doesn't matter. I also don't think that having 5 or 6 cats make a person a cat collector. I think the moral thing to do is to visit her, tell her how attached you nave become to Sooty and ask her permission to take him. It might be that she treasures that cat more than you or anyone knows. Sometimes elderly people forget what they said, but that's common. As long as she loves the cat and is taking care of it, noone should have the right to take it. If someone took my cat, even if the cat wanted to leave, I'd be crushed, and if that person moved and took the cat, I would have no choice but to call the police. What would you do in that situation? I know you have a good heart. Please think about this, pray about it, and talk with her. For your sake I hope she says "yes."
 

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Several years ago, when I was 15, this half-grown kitten started visiting us. She was so needy for affection and sweet that we looked forward to her visits. But they kept getting more and more frequent. She'd come to our house and cry incessantly at our door, and she'd look right at us while she did it. She wouldn't leave. Oh, I wanted that kitty so bad, but we couldn't have her.

She was still pretty young to be wandering the neighborhood, and her desperation had me worried. So One day I picked her up and took her home. Knocked on the door and waited for a while. I was about to give up when the curtain shifted, and soon the door opened. The man who opened the door looked annoyed. I asked him if this was his cat, even though I knew it was. He hesitated and finally said yes. I told him she was over to our house wanting in, and I thought she might be lost. He finally realized I was wanting him to take the kitty, and he did, gruffly said thanks, and shut the door.

She kept coming back. I took her back another time. This time, the curtain moved, but the door never opened. We didn't know what to do about the kitty. One day my uncle was visiting, and the kitty was there. My uncle had met the kitten a few times and liked her. Somehow, the decision was made then and there that he would take the kitten home with him, and he did. The grownups were confident in that decision, but I was pretty conflicted, even though it was pretty clear the owners didn't care that much about her.

Obviously, Sooty's owner cares about him. (By the way, does Sooty have another name that she calls him?) She asks about him, and she takes him to the vet. I understand that the fact that he spends most of his time with you could suggest that she doesn't care too much, since she's letting him do that, but I don't agree. Some people have outdoor cats, and what they do while they are outside is beyond the owner's control. Some of her cats may spend their time hunting, and Sooty spends his time hanging out with you and Carrots. But the only way that Sooty's owner could stop him from doing this is by locking him in the house. And for a cat that's been allowed outdoors all his life, being locked indoors would be torture.

Who knows why Sooty started spending his time at your house? Maybe he particularly enjoyed Carrot's company, or maybe yours. Maybe his owner wasn't able to spend as much time with him as you are. Maybe his house was boring. Or maybe it was too crowded with the other kitties and all. Now, I in no way want to trivialize the obvious love he has for you, and I recognize that he does in fact live with you as if he was yours. Who knows why he started living with you, but obviously he now considers your place to be his home. But that doesn't change the fact that he does have a "proper" owner. And the fact that he returns there now and then, even if just to eat, suggests that he wasn't mistreated or anything in that house.

So as much as I agree that Sooty is your cat in spirit, I can't confidently say "just take him." Since you do have a few months to work on this, go slow. Talk to her about the bond that Sooty and Carrots have formed. Maybe invite her over for dinner, so that she can see Sooty in your house, comfortable and happy. Maybe be so bold as to buy Sooty a collar (matching collars for Sooty and Carrots, even?)? Try to start off with indirect hints that Sooty now belongs with you. Maybe it'll work. If it doesn't sink in, then you'll have to be more direct. I really hope that this woman is reasonable, and that she sees things your way... that she has Sooty's best interests at heart, because I think it's obvious that he would prefer to be with you.

Good Luck with whatever you choose, though. And keep us updated.
 

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Thanks all for your replies, and Jeanie and Amber for putting a slightly different perspective on things.

You've hit the nail on the head and the reasons you give for not just upping and taking him are the reasons why I'm feeling uncomfortable about it. You've made me think about it again more seriously.

There's no doubt, I am definitely going to have to see her. She's not a little old lady - in her 50s I'm guessing. But she always seems slightly mad. This sounds nasty (it's not meant to), she's a bit "rough", and I'd be scared of approaching her about this! However, needs must I guess.

Jeanie, the situation here is very different to the old man in your story, since I never deliberately tried to keep hold of Sooty, and the lady never came looking for him. But it's true that the only way she could stop him coming to us now is to shut him in, and that would be awful.

OK, I will go away and think about this some more. The fact that he still visits her, even if it's not often, means that she WOULD notice if he disappeared altogether, and I'd hate her to worry that something awful had happened to him. I'm just going to have to be brave, be honest and upfront with her, and hope for the best. I quite like the collar idea - it's a cheeky thing to do, but it may be the opening for the conversation that we need. Mmmmmm not sure yet.

Thanks so much! I will definitely let you know how we get on.

Ali and Sooty (oh, who's 'real' name, incidentally, is Sonic !)
 

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What would you do

Just another little suggestion... you were afraid of insutling her if you offered to buy Sooty. Perhaps you could offer her some money to cover any fees she may have paid recently for injections or other vet's bills.
I do hope she agrees to let you keep him. Keep us posted.

Seashell
 

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Seashell, it's interesting you mentioned about the vets bills. I've sometimes thought of that as being a good excuse for bringing up the subject with Sooty's owner.

A few months ago Sooty didn't seem very well one evening. He just sat hunched up all evening, didn't want to eat, and I couldn't get a purr or a cuddle out of him. I started worrying about what I'd do if he didn't improve (Carrots would have been at the vets the next morning) - would I take him to the vets myself, or go and speak to his owner? The problem with taking him myself was that I didn't know at the time whether or not he was vaccinated - the vet would have been sure to ask and it could have affected a diagnosis.

As it turned out, the next morning he was as right as rain but I've often thought that him being ill would have been the perfect opportunity to have approached his owner and offered to take him myself and pay the bills since he was always with us.

When she was looking for Sooty that time to take him in for his injections she asked Simon (my boyfriend) if he'd seen him. It's a shame I hadn't been there because again that would have been a good opportunity to have asked her if she would like me to take responsibility and pay for it since he "lives" with us.

We de-flea Carrots regularly, and of course always do Sooty at the same time. I thought of asking her politely if it was ok to do this since he is with us so often (another hint that he's well and truly with us) but she might be insulted if we imply she doesn't deflea him (chances are she does it too!).

Oh well - if he's ever sick again I'll definitely speak to her.

This thread has definitely been useful for me - thanks! Although I still feel I need to do everything in my power to make sure Sooty gets to stay with us, I also realise now that I also need to do the very best I can to make sure that his owner is in agreement.

It'll probably be springtime now before I bump into her again (no-one goes in the gardens until the sun shines!) but I'll let you know how we get on!
 

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One more thing.........!

I know I said I'd be insulted if anyone offered me money for a pet - but to be honest I think I'd offer to buy him anyway if I got desperate enough (a final resort if she said no to start with). It would be worth a punch in the mouth if she eventually agreed!

I'd better start saving now - I'm too embarrassed to say how much I'd offer to give him, but it would be far more than I can afford and more than any sensible person would pay for a cat!!!!!!

Mind you, I'd have paid someone to take him away when he was purring at 1,000 decibels and patting my eyes (WITH CLAWS!) in an attempt to get under the duvet at 6am this morning !
 

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Your love for Sooty is shining through your words. But your moral standards are also shining through. I so hope she lets you take him. God bless.

About my friend! Please don't misunderstand; I just wanted you to know how heartbroken my friend was when the old man took her cat, not to compare you to him. He knows she wants him desperately.
 

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I was going to suggest the vet thing too, except you said she'd just recently taken him in. But - not that I would want him to get sick - it would be the perfect opportunity, wouldn't it.

Good Luck figuring this out!
 

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Jeanie, don't worry, I wasn't annoyed at your post! In fact, even though the situation IS very different, it did make me see things from a different angle. Even though Sooty's real owner obviously hardly sees him, she knows he's still around (though she just thinks he's "wild" rather than realising that he's spending 90% of his time with us) and maybe she WOULD be desperate to get him back if he just disappeared altogether.

One other thing I've thought of - at least if I DO ask her if I can have him, and she says no, and then I do the wrong/right thing (depending who's asking!) and take him anyway, at least she'll guess, if he disappears, that we've taken him without permission. It would still be rotten for her, but at least she'd know he was safe. Not much of an excuse, but another good reason to ask her anyway, even if I do get desperate and take him.

He's such a cutie. Last night I popped to a neighbour's - he walked up the street with me (we're in an estate so it's pretty safe), waited outside the door, then walked me home! In the evening's he sits in my car parking space till I get home, then dashes up and down the path in excitement. I don't kid myself it's love - more to do with dinner I think! But what a sweetie!

Amber, thanks for your good luck message!
 
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