Dear Annie: My problem certainly is not unique, yet I'm at my wits' end on how to handle it.
I love all animals dearly, but my favorite is a cat. I've had cats my entire life. Almost all have been rescues. I take great care to make sure they are fed, are given shots and go to the vet when they are sick, and I provide a safe and warm home for them. I currently have six cats, and all are house cats.
My problem is a neighbor who lets her cats run loose. One in particular sprays my front door and my basement windows. This creates a problem when my male cats, who are all neutered, see and smell him and, in turn, spray back. (My vet explains that it's a male territorial thing.) Her cat is also neutered, by the way.
I have combatted this problem by buying expensive urine-cleaning solution and using it on whatever my cats spray — which is always near a window or door. I wash drapes, rugs, furniture, floors and whatever else I must. However, the damage the outside cat has done is costly. He has ruined my front door, the window frames and the porch. They are deteriorating in spots where the urine has saturated them. My new Pergo floors are warped from where my cats have sprayed back by windows and doors. I took up all my carpeting for this reason.
My male cats are also on a medication that is supposed to deter the territorial behavior. However, with this cat constantly outside, I'm fighting a losing battle.
My neighbor believes that cats should be free to roam in nature. She has lost cats to coyotes and disease, but she is a free spirit and believes that her cats should be, as well. She can be very nasty. She has confronted us on a couple of issues (not about the cats), and frankly, she is quite impossible to deal with. I have never spoken to her about the cat, but I have spent thousands of dollars on this matter. My cats are being medicated at great expense every month.
I love cats; I'd never want to see her cats hurt or get sick. I don't believe there is a workable solution, but I needed to at least vent. Is there a way that I do not see? What do your other readers do in such situations? I will have to replace my entire front door and the screen door, as well as my Pergo floors. — Put-Out Neighbor
Dear Put-Out Neighbor: I have no quick fix to offer you, though I suspect and hope some readers will, and if I hear of any good solutions, I will print them here.
In the meantime, you might try befriending your neighbor. You know you have at least one thing in common — your love of cats. Perhaps you could start there, complimenting her on one of her cats or asking questions about them. Then you could gradually get around to what's really on your mind. Let her know of low- or no-cost spay and neuter clinics in the area, if her other cats aren't fixed. (The ASPCA has a database of them: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/low-cost-spayneuter-programs.)
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]