The Sacred Path

Journeys through the mist

A sad and frustrated kitty

The other day, an animal control officer came to my door and told me that a neighbor had complained that my cat, Sidney, was “doing his duty” in the neighbor’s yard. I was somewhat surprised since the first thing he always does when he comes in is head to his litter box. The animal control officer told me that if I didn’t keep him out of the neighbor’s yard, that they would set a trap and then I would have to pay a fine to get him back, if they caught him. She also explained that I had to keep him in my yard. Has anyone ever tried to keep a cat inside a yard, fenced or not? Sidney climbs chain-link fences like they aren’t even there. How is one to do this, and given the number of cats that are in my yard on a regular basis, it is apparent no one else does, or knows that they have to.

I’m a little disappointed that the neighbor, whoever it is (they won’t tell), didn’t come and knock on my door and tell me about it. I’m not sure what I could have done, but I would certainly have gone over and cleaned up the mess, even though there is no proof that Sidney was the only cat doing it. I don’t doubt the neighbor saw him do it, but have they just missed the other cats doing it, or do all the other cats in the neighborhood not do it? Perhaps Sidney is the only “bear that shits in the woods” – or in this case, a neighbor’s yard.

Sidney’s Zen place is outside in the summer, laying under the bushes taking a nap, having “chase the leaf games” with the wind, and visiting his furry little friends across the street. He cannot understand why he cannot go outside anymore and in fact, he is begging me right now. It’s almost more than I can stand.

I suppose I could build him the kitty equivalent of a prison exercise yard, because that is now what he is, a prisoner no longer able to enjoy the freedoms he has been used to and loves so much. At least till I get an escape proof exercise yard build for him, his days will be spent in the house eating, sleeping and begging me to let him out. I play with him, but it’s just no substitute for playing with the leaves and the wind.

My furry little friend’s predicament has me thinking a lot about freedom right now. We so take it for granted, and most have become very complacent about the dangers to our freedoms. Perhaps most are just too far away from the fight that brought us the freedoms we have and that are slowly and systematically being taken from us, or perhaps no longer care.


  1. Hi Richard – that is a sad predicament, to have to keep your kitty indoors. I couldn’t bear it if I had to keep my dog inside, especially this time of year when the weather is so great and there is so much to explore. Have you thought of getting an electronic fence? I just googled it to see if there is such a thing for a cat, and yes indeed, there is at: It isn’t too expensive and being the clever engineer that you are, I’m sure you could install it yourself. We have 3 acres including the neighbor’s here up on the hill and we got together and installed a fence around both properties for our dogs. It didn’t take long to train them and now we can let them out anytime of day or night and not worry about them wandering down into busy traffic, or back behind us where there is 25 acres of open land (and lots of coyotes, etc.). Sidney might do very well with a fence. It’s too bad though, that you can’t find out who the neighbor is so you could at least discuss the situation first. Good luck – I feel for you – and Sidney!

  2. I love kitties, and I feel for your little beast. I don’t have one now because here in the desert they are snacks for coyotes. In fact someone who’d recently moved here wanted to sue the city because a coyote took off with his cat. So, those who do have them keep them indoors. Many have covered patios, or fenced in areas so they can at least experience the outdoors, while others put them on a leash and a really long rope. I suppose that’s better than not being outside at all, but it’s so un-cat-like to be confined this way. I hope, if you do get your yard built or use Melynn’s suggestion, that your Sidney will have some leaves in with him. I’m sure you explain things to him as best you can. Blessings upon you and Sidney!

  3. Hi Richard. Bummer! When I moved out of the city and more into coyote country, I built my cats their Cat House. 🙂
    It is small, but they are elderly and it keeps them safe from the coyotes and the birds safe for them. They were used to having the run of the neighborhood in the city, and it took a while for them to adjust to the more circumscribed outdoors, but they did adjust. And the one who was always hiding in the bushes now lies in the sun smack dab in the middle of the cat house, asleep with one foot in the air, because she knows she is safe in there.

    My cat house is 4 X 8, with two levels so one level is always in the shade (it gets really, really hot here…) and is at the end of a 2X2X6′ tunnel. Everything is made of wood and chicken wire. The litter boxes are also outside in a “litter box house” and the entire thing is accessed via a cat door. They come and go as they please, and they spend a lot of time outside in the fresh air.

    Except right now….there is a rabid bobcat in the area that is attacking animals outside, and while I think the cat house is secure against a coyote, I don’t know about a rabid bobcat….so last night at 10:30 PM I nailed a piece of wood over the exit from the litter box house, that leads to the tunnel to the cat house. I’m sure they are unhappy about that, but I have to go get them rabies shots before I let them go out there again.

    Chicken wire and wood can make a large, secure play area for your kitty, and he will adjust in time to that.


  4. Hi Rich,
    I agree with Mary Ann. I recommend that you build Sidney a good sized cattery with one wall against your house. When I lived in the city I had one for my two cats. As well as a gate on the outside of the cattery they had access through a window that I could open or close because it was built with one wall against the house. The cats looked it. I had climbing platforms and hidey houses in it as well as their toys. Remarkably neither cat showed signs of thinking that their cattery was a prison.
    All the best to you and Sidney always 🙂

  5. Discovered your blog through the forums and immediately came to this posting. I can’t imagine how I would cope with having my two cats cooped up inside all the time. We would all go nuts. When they want outside (while we’re sleeping) they ‘knock’ on the glass door right beside our bed. Hard to ignore.

    Hope you come up with a solution. I believe cats were born to be free. Too bad the neighbor didn’t take the time to talk to you instead of calling Animal Control.

    Come and visit My Mewses, Marco and Polo, on my blog:
    Blink of an eye.

  6. Thanks so much for the comments and the ideas. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that Sidney has adjusted reasonably well to the situation. I explained the situation to him in a journey and he seems to have understood.

    With the way my house is situated, a pen for him will have to be out in the front of the house which I’m sure the neighbors would love looking at, but I might do it anyway with a tunnel up to one of my windows so he can come in and out as he pleases.

    Melynn, thanks for the link on the invisible fence, I’m definitely going to check it out.

    I bought him some new cat toys, but he has never been much for toys although one of them he does play with. He likes it much better when the play involves both of us, so the one with the ball on the end of a stick works well in that regard.

  7. I hope that Sidney was not caught by the trap. It is such a beautiful cat, the police should not complain about him.

  8. Good afternoon,

    My DixieRose, who’s been an inside kitty since coming to live with me, sends her regards and condolences to Sidney, along with an assurance that inside life isn’t so bad. I do keep the bird feeders filled outside the windows so she has kitty-tv to watch – lots of pleasure for her and no danger to the birds.

    I didn’t come here meaning to leave a link, but I was most taken with your last paragraph. Perhaps it’s the approach of the July 4th weekend that has many of us musing over freedom(s), but you might enjoy my post from today, entitled “Imagining a Ban”. Devoted to an examination of current ban-lifting in Cuba, it can be found here:

    And, my compliments on your site design. I’m especially fond of the colors.

    Again, regards to you and Sidney.


  9. whooops not sure if comment went through as my details are still in the little windows and i see no message that it’s being moderated – me thinks it just vanished into cybersoace


    what a gorgeous cat you have

    i would up and move to the country!

    it’s dogs crapping on the pavement and in the parks that gets me.
    no such issues with felines

    how much is the fine?
    usually fines are ridiculously low aren’t they?
    just pay the fines!
    start a Sydney support fund

    if it’s too expensive – why not get a cat cam!
    [wonderful German chap has made the things and shows you how to make yr own too – it’s on my blog somewhere!]
    see where he goes and write a note to all those he pops into

    start a support group with all the other cat owners – strategise

    here in South Africa we have more pressing problems than neighbours cats shitting in our gardens!

    you could move to a third world country – then your kitty will have endless places to explore and loads of rats to chase – mind you there are predators too in many areas that a kitty might make a tasty morsel for
    life is very trying at times!
    hope you sort Sydney’s house arrest out sooonest

    oh – cat shit must be jolly good fertilizer!

  10. hoh,
    You ended up in my spam filter, but I’ve de-spammed you so now all is well.

    The problem isn’t the fine, but the fact that if they get three complaints, they put the animal to sleep.

    I think a move is in my future, but there are a few things that have to happen first.

  11. I would be so frustrated. Why are some people so “shady”. I cant believe they would be so nervous about a confrontation that they called the “animal cops”. Riduculous. Id be knocking on some doors to figure out who the rat is.

  12. Thanks Jenifer, I actually know who they are now.

  13. Hi,
    That is a crazy rule. I think your only chance at sanity is to get involved with the law makers and change the law. That’s what I would do. Cat’s can’t be controled like that?
    Wishing you the best,

  14. I had this same problem severa years ago, and we found a solution that worked great for us.

    1. We chose a good outdoor potty spot that we wouldn’t mind the cats using. Cats prefer someplace that feels somewhat sheltered, yet is large – like a small garden bed.

    2. We dumped some nice, loose soil over the spot, then added a bag of NON-CLUMPING kitty litter on top, over an area approximately the size of 6 kitty litter boxes.

    3. We scooped a poop from the cats’ indoor kitty litter and set it on top of the new site.

    4. We went and got the cats one by one and showed them the poop, then encouraged them (very, very gently!) to cover it up.

    5. To clinch the deal, we planted catnip plants all around the entire site, except in the exact area where the litter was.

    The cats were SO pleased! Because the site was pretty, being under a huge tree and near a flower garden; because they finally had the approval they wanted to dig in this, their own garden; and probably because of the great positive feedback from the catnip, they completely stopped pooping in the neighbor’s yard. They also created a richly composted soil that made the next years’ catnip grow beautifully!

  15. Sandy, that is a very good idea, and I have just the place for a private kitty garden.

    Thanks so much for posting this idea.

  16. Oh poor kitty. I own cats and dogs. The last cat I had lived to be 18 years old and I never tethered him. We were lucky, there were few complaints over the years. I hated the thought of tethering a cat. It felt awful in my soul to do such a thing.

    Now I have two new cats. A male and a female. We have a huge yard surrounded by a six foot picket fence. The female cat stays within the boundaries and never tries to jump the fence. Our male cat however is quite another thing. He will jump the fence every chance he gets so we have to tehter him. I swear, it hurts me more than him to have to do this, but I love him so much and since he was adopted from the humane society as all of our pets have been, I don’t want to see him end up there again. He came to be at the humane society because he was wandering loose. He is a personality plus, plus, plus cat and he is the nurturer of all our other pets, cats and dogs alike. He’s a lover boy and a snuggler with a purr so loud I can hear it thru the earplugs I wear at night.

    I know you’d probably rather not tether your kitty either. I know the conflict of emotions when considering it. I’m sorry you’re facing this challenge. We love them with all our hearts and I’d rather tether than to have an angry neighbor put out poisonous food.

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