What to Do if Neighbors Complain

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Not everyone appreciates the company of cats, and some behaviors—like marking and scratching—can annoy even the most devoted cat lover. When neighbors complain about community cats, it’s important you address them: these low-key complaints can escalate into something bigger and that’s bad for the cats. Here’s what to do if neighbors complain:

Have a conversation. Often, having a calm conversation about a neighbor’s complaints and showing that you are willing to work together to address concerns will go a long way in resolving many issues. Our negotiating tips may help. If you feel you are unable to have a polite conversation with them, consider finding a mediator to help. A mediator might be another neighbor, or you might reach out to a member of our Feral Friends Network* who lives near you.

Tell them about community cats and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). Hopefully you’ve taken pro-active steps to educate your neighbors about community cats and TNR. If you haven’t, take a look at our information on Educating Others.

Address the complaints. Once you hear what your neighbor’s complaints are, think of ways you can address them. Some things that may help:

  • Offer humane deterrents. If your neighbor complains about cats coming on to their property, humane deterrents can help keep cats away from areas they aren’t wanted. See our humane deterrent options. Remember: You may need to try several deterrents or a combination of deterrents until you find something that works best.
  • Do TNR. If your neighbor complains that the cats are too vocal, are spraying or marking, or that there are too many cats, TNR will help. See our step-by-step guide to TNR.
  • Follow best practices for community cat care. If your neighbor complains about mess, cat food attracting wildlife or insects, or cats seeking shelter in areas they aren’t welcome, be sure you are following our best practices for community cat colony care. (You’ll find even more community cat care tips in the “Colony Care” section of our “Community Cat Care” information.)

It’s a good idea to get your complaint resolution agreement in writing. It may come in handy if local authorities become involved.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, complaints can escalate. Learn what to do if low-key complaints turn into violent threats or trouble with animal control.

*Feral Friends are not representatives, employees, volunteers, or agents of Alley Cat Allies. Learn more in our FAQ.

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