This is a true story about naughty neighbors, property rights, and feral cats. Could there be a more purrrfect combination??
Names have been omitted to protect the crazy. Be sure to read until the end, because the way this escalates is insane. I have never experienced someone go from zero to ‘full Karen’ in a matter of seconds. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Who’s in the wrong here? Are you “Team Feral” or “Team Screw That!”?
May 1st, 2022 I rented a new house on the water with my husband and two small dogs. It’s a gorgeous property, and everyone on the street has been absolutely amazing. We had never felt so “at home” so quickly in a new neighborhood! But, when things seem too good to be true, they usually are, right?
Let’s fast forward to now…
Several Weeks Ago
One of our next-door neighbors told my husband that she had begun feeding a feral cat. She’s an animal lover and apparently this isn’t the first time she’s cared for animals that she’s found, or that have been dropped off on our street. I’m an animal lover as well and I really enjoy stories of people nursing sick animals back to health or finding homes for those in need. However, there is a certain way to go about these types of situations.
For those of you that may not be familiar with the term “feral”, or don’t know what a “feral cat” is, LawInsider.com defines it as “a cat that is free roaming, not socialized to people and not an owned cat.”
Up until this point, I hadn’t really seen the cat that she was feeding. Maybe a few times sitting in her yard, or once or twice running through ours. No big deal. She then disclosed that the cat was pregnant and had given birth to a litter of five kittens.
This is where the story takes a turn…
June 4th, 2023 – Feral Kittens Living On Our Property
We noticed that this new family of wild cats had chosen to make the marsh in our backyard their new home. That same night our neighbor began texting me pictures of the mother cat and her kittens on her deck.
“I’ve been feeding a stray cat…”, her message began. “Last night she brought her kittens to meet me, hehe…They had their first dry food and evaporated milk last night…How effing cute!”
Of course, I responded saying they were adorable (because they were!), but I also explained that as cute as kittens are, they were now living on our property which we were not okay with. I asked her what her plan was for removal.
She went on to explain that they had originally been living under another neighbor’s pool house, and that the owner of that property had kicked them out when she discovered them. I don’t blame her. Feral cats are a problem.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “Free-ranging cats are associated with a number of sociological and ecological conflicts. They impact people directly through the spread of parasites and diseases, damage to gardens and property, and noise nuisances.
Cats also cause conflict through their direct and indirect impacts on native wildlife through predation, competition, spread of disease, and impacts on species survival (e.g., nest failure, injury, behavioral changes). Removing free-ranging cats is the most effective strategy for addressing cat-caused damage. Such removals could include adoption, placement in a longterm holding facility (e.g., cat sanctuary), or euthanasia. Owned cats should be kept indoors or otherwise under their owner’s control.”
She then continued to text me, sharing stories of other strays she had rescued over the years. I continued to be cordial, supporting her efforts, and ended the conversation saying that if I was able to help catch them in any way that I would. She responded with a big “THANK YOU!!!!”
June 5th, 2023 – Getting Irritated
The following day, I took a picture of the mother cat sitting in our yard and sent it to our neighbor. I let her know that the whole family was just out and that my husband was already starting to get irritated. She said she knew.
He’s an animal lover as well, but like most people I’ve talked to, he doesn’t care for, or appreciate wild cats on the property.
We exchanged some pleasantries about how cute the kittens were. I was trying my best to keep the conversation light about the cats. Our relationship had been wonderful up until this point and I was hoping that this new issue wouldn’t ruin our friendship.
June 8th, 2023 – No-Kill Shelter Called
I received a text message from her saying, “FYI…I have contacted a No-Kill cat rescue and have been put on a waiting list. I will keep taking care of them until they can get them.” This seemed like a step in the right direction, however hearing “waiting list” made me uneasy. I know how long waiting lists can be. She said that she told them her neighbors were not cat friendly in hopes that this would make them come sooner than later.
Let’s get something straight. My husband and I are absolutely cat friendly, however that applies to domesticated cats and responsible owners. We have zero problem with people who have cats as pets. Domesticated cats are ones that have had their shots, their flea and tick treatment, have been spayed or neutered and stay on their owner’s property. Keep in mind that my neighbor doesn’t own these cats. They are wild and she’s been feeding them. That does not establish ownership.
She sends another text: “This cat was dropped off and had kittens. I have a HUGE heart and will try to do what I can for them. I DON’T want them harmed.”
My response: “I don’t want them harmed either. I just want them out of our yard. I’m an animal lover too!”
I also decided to send her a follow up message to try and better explain where we were coming from, because I didn’t want us to come off as complete a**holes.
I told her that one of our biggest concerns were fleas and ticks because one of our dogs is allergic to most flea and tick medication. He had a fever and got a horrible infection with the last one we tried. Feral cats living in the marsh are absolutely going to have fleas and tick, and who knows what else. I told her that I would love nothing more than for the kittens to be adopted and that I didn’t want this to come between us as friends and neighbors. I thanked her for calling the rescue.
June 12th, 2023 – “Working On It…”
I alert the neighbor that all the cats are heading her way. She’s gotten them into the routine of leaving our yard at certain times of the day to come up on her porch and be fed. I try to text her when I see them going in hopes that she will have the opportunity to catch them.
She tells me she’s not home, but goes on to explain that the rescue has asked her to feed them wet and dry food and give them plenty of water. She says she’s going through six cans a day; three in the morning and three at night.
I ask her if she has plans to trap on her porch for the rescue to pick up. “Working on it…”, she replies.
I’m really getting irritated now. She doesn’t seem to have any solid plan in place for these feral cats and I shouldn’t have to put up with them living on my property – not even for one day.
June 14th, 2023 – No Dogs Allowed?
It’s later in the evening and we see the cats roaming around in our backyard. My husband decides to let our two Chihuahuas out to chase them away. “Go get ‘em!”, he yells. “Get those cats!” Our 11-year old doesn’t do much except get excited, bless his heart. Our other 14 lb. pup barks and runs after them, causing them to retreat back into the weeds they came out of.
Instantly our neighbor appears on her deck and yells something in his direction which sounded like, “What the f*ck?!?” My husband yells back, “What? What are you talking about?”, honestly surprised at her reaction.
She runs back into her house.
My husband tries calling her. No answer. He tries again. She’s not picking up. One more time. Nothing. So he sends her a text message asking if they can have an adult conversation about the cats. Again, no response. Mature, right? This was getting ridiculous.
June 15th, 2023 – “Let The Games Begin”
We wake up with the prior night’s events still on our mind, and upon glancing out our back door we just happen to see the mother cat SITTING ON OUR DECK. They have never gotten this close before, and this was too much. We had been nothing but nice up until this point but this was the straw that broke the cat’s, er…camel’s back.
So, my husband sent her another text message which said, “Hey [neighbor’s name], If you want to continue caring for these wild cats please remove them from our yard and find a way to keep them on your property. In 24 hours if they are still in our yard, we’ll be taking matters into our own hands.”
Guess what her response was. “Hmmmm…Let the games begin!!” Seriously?
She then went on to say that they had caught one and already took it to the rescue, and that it was heart wrenching…That they are still nursing and that they are getting several traps next week… Blah, blah, blah. I was done with excuses. Who knows if any of that is even true.
Everything after her “let the games begin” comment fell on deaf ears. We were blown away at the childish way she responded and how she refused to talk like adults.
Later that day my husband had an idea. We had been doing a ton of research on how to get feral cats to leave your property and several articles suggested scare tactics. His thought was to setup some targets in our backyard near where the cats where living and do some target shooting with his BB gun. Maybe that would scare them off our property and signal to them that it wasn’t a safe place to live. So, I set up some old cans near the marsh and did just that.
Now let’s get this straight: We never had any intention to actually shoot the cats. Also, keep in mind that we are allowed to shoot on our property and if we did in fact want to shoot the cats, we are legally entitled to do so. They are invasive, wild animals on OUR property.
So, I’m out there for maybe five minutes shooting at the cans before I hear our dogs barking inside, indicating that someone was at our door. Keep in mind that I don’t even see the cats at this point. There are nowhere to be found. I figured it was her, but it was actually her husband. I stayed in the backyard, while my husband went to answer the door.
HERE’S WHERE IT GETS WILD
While my husband is chatting with her husband out front, she comes out on her deck and proceeds to go ‘FULL KAREN’ on me. Here is a just a portion of the craziness that ensued:
Her: “Hey! Hey! What are you doing???”
Me: “Target shooting.”
Her: “Oh, right where the cats live?!”
Me: “Yeah. Why not? They shouldn’t be in our yard.”
Her: “We are DONE. You are f*cking COLD HEARTED. I’ve just seen a side of you I’ve never seen before, and I can’t wait to tell everyone about it! I WISH I COULD PICK YOU UP AND F*CKING STRANGLE YOU RIGHT HERE IN THIS F*CKING BACKYARD!!” (making strangling motions with her hands and walking towards me) “I COULD JUST CHOKE THE F*CKING SH*T OUT OF YOU RIGHT NOW!”
Me: “Why? I’m not hurting them. I’m just trying to scare them away, and I’ve asked you several times to remove them from our property.”
Her: “This is too much! I can’t believe you!! We are SO done!!”
Me: “I don’t understand why you don’t just trap them on your porch when you feed then and take them to the Humane Society.”
Her: “I saw what you did last night, sending your dogs after them.”
Me: “Why didn’t you answer our calls last night so we could just talk about it?”
Her: “I’m an OWNER. I’ve lived here for 27 f*cking years and you just f*cking RENT.”
She continues to scream and cuss at me for several more minutes before storming off into her house.
I am amazed that I was able to hold it together. I somehow remained calm throughout the entire verbal attack and didn’t raise my voice once, or use a single cuss word.
Upon going inside, I burst into tears. When my emotions run high, the tears flow.
I go to the front door and interrupt the conversation between my husband and her husband to let them know what just happened with tears rolling down my cheeks.
Her husband is the complete opposite of her: calm, quiet, level-headed. When he hears about the target shooting he throws his hands up, says he’s done, and begins to walk away but we ask him nicely to please hear us out. He obliges and the conversations ends with him saying that he’s getting 3-4 traps next week and that they will take care of it. We thank him for communicating with us and he goes home.
I go back inside and see her taking pictures of the cans I had set up for target shooting. A typical ‘Karen’ move. Then I receive another text message:
Her: “Sunday June 4th was our first sighting of the kittens. Thursday June 8th was my first call to the refuge.”
Me: “I understand that. I’m just trying to scare them off our property. I would never hurt an animal. Scaring them seems like the best way to make them leave without them being hurt. You could go buy your own traps right now if you really wanted to relocate them that bad. I really don’t see anything wrong with what I did. I’ve never cussed at you or yelled at you and that really hurt my feelings.”
Her: “We have a trap. Seen a different side of you. I will spread the word.”
Me: “So why don’t you use the trap? I’m asking honest questions. Saw a completely different side of you as well. I don’t care who you tell about me.”
So…who’s in the wrong here? What would you do in this situation? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Drop us a comment on social media.