Is it me, or are my neighbors not making any sense?

My neighbors (a boyfriend-girlfriend couple and their son) have decided they’re not talking to me. They’re angry because their cat is missing.

Here’s the story:

About a week ago, I was in my kitchen, washing dishes, humming, thinking great thoughts, and generally just minding my own business, when I heard what sounded like a cat in serious distress.

I realized that the sound was coming from behind our building, so I walked out the back and looked for the cat. After several minutes, I saw that there was what looked like one of the alley kittens (no collar, no tags, a little dirty and ragged-looking) trapped in the scant few inches between my neighbor’s back door and the back screen door.

Our screen doors are flimsy pieces of crap. Almost every time the wind blows, the screen door flaps open. Sometimes it slams shut within a couple seconds, but sometimes it’ll stay open for several minutes. I thought that one of the umpteen bizillion alley cats in the neighborhood had been strolling along near my neighbor’s back door when the screen door slammed shut on him.

The cat was yowling away, obviously completely miserable, so I opened the back screen door and let it go. After the cat got out, he spent a few minutes being cute (rubbing up against my leg, letting me pet him, etc.), and then ran off.

Two days later, my next door neighbor wants to know if I’ve seen her cat. So, like a chump, I ask her to describe her pet. She shows me a photo of the very same cat I let out a couple of days before.

I tell her what happened, I apologize, and I offer to keep a lookout for her kitty. She says she understands (the cat was an indoor-only cat, and, since I’d never been in her house, I had no idea the kitty even existed, much less any sort of notion of what it looked like.)

Well, fine. Her cat hasn’t been found. I find out from her son (the kid’s around 5), that my next-door neighbors are really angry with me because of the cat.

I’m surprised–I’d gotten the feeling that, when I talked with my neighbor, she was upset that the cat was gone, but she wasn’t upset with me. I’d like to clear this up. I don’t really want to be on bad terms with my neighbors if it’s not necessary. (Not that it would kill me, but who needs the extra aggravation?)

I walk next door and knock on the door. The guy who lives there answers the door without the usual friendly greeting. He wants to know what the heck I want. So I tell him that I’m sorry about his cat, I know he’s angry, and I’d like to discuss it with him. He tells me that, yeah, he’d talk to me about it, all right, but not with the kid around. (His son was standing near the door.) He gently guides his son up the stairs with one hand, closing the door on my face with the other.

So…what’s the deal? I genuinely don’t think I’ve done anything wrong, here. Am I just clueless, or are these guys a little out to lunch?

I should add that I tried to talk to them today, when they were at home but their son was in school, and they still refuse to speak to me.

My reaction: huh?

I was hoping to be able to help out with a serious neighbor issue, but was stopped cold at the word “cat”.

Forget about it. Who cares?

No, your neighbors are not making any sense.


Never kiss an animal that can lick its own butt.

Sounds like they’re just looking for someone to blame. Heavens forbid they take responsibility for not latching the screen door. The cat was halfway out anyway. It could have just as easily not gotten caught in the door and ran away just the same.

I doubt you’ll change their mind so that they don’t blame you. I would say to forget about it and don’t approach them anymore. If you do confront them, all they’ll do is unleash their misplaced anger on you.

What really gets me is that my neighbors were gone for the day when this happened. That means that the back door would have (or should have, anyway) been locked shut when the cat got stuck. I don’t understand how the cat could have ended up stuck between a locked back door and a shut screen door if they hadn’t left the cat out to start with.

Curiouser and curiouser…

My WAG: Rather than take the blame for the lost kitty in their son’s eyes, they blamed you. (Never mind the leap in logic here; it’s just a guess after all.) This is why the son knows about how they’re mad at you, and why they don’t want to talk with you at all about it but at first said not around their son.

As to how the cat got out, here’s even more of a WAG - maybe they were mad at the cat and were punishing it or otherwise confining it there while they were gone. (Maybe it hasn’t been using the litter box, or has been destroying furniture.) You heard a cat in distress, no food or water or anything, and thought you were saving the cat. In this light, maybe you were.

After all, if the cat looked bedraggled and dirty after being penned up in there for less than a day, how well could they have been treating the cat?

If you’re really concerned about it, I would leave a note for them describing what you’re telling us here. Restate that you thought you were helping a cat in trouble, and there was no way you could have known it was their cat. Don’t apologize or anything, just say you are sorry their cat is gone and you will keep an eye out for it. (If you were hurt by their response, you can tell them you think they are being unfair to you.) This way you will know you did all you could and you can go on with a clear conscience no matter what.

If they still won’t talk to you, I would write them off. They are the ones being unreasonable, not you. If they are really upset at you over this, I would guess that sooner or later they would be mad at you over something else anyway. I can understand that they are upset because the cat is gone, but by refusing even to talk to you they are being immature.

Just throw some stray cats in their house, along with any other animal that is stray and nearby. ‘oh this skunk was near your door, I thought you let it out on accident’ or ‘who knew a rapid dog could do that much damage? it looked liked it could be your dog, so I let him in for you.’ I think most cat people are weird anyway. Don’t take this personally. You probably did the cat a favor.

Not sure how Mr. Kitty got caught between a closed door and a screen door, but it doesn’t really matter. The child loved the cat and was upset that Mr. Kitty was gone. You did the right thing by fessing up when asked and by trying to apologize. The ball is in their court now.

Only thing I can think of is that you didn’t make it clear that the inside door was closed when you explained it to them. Maybe they had left it open and it blew closed on the cat?

BTW, Gatopescado, must you enter every cat thread long enough to basically say “I don’t like cats?”. We get it already.

I agree with ewakko. Since you clearly made a mistake in this instance, change your policy such that you let any animals you find around their house into their house if you can.