Missing cats are not uncommon and owners are left thinking their cat ran away, or even that it “wandered away to die”. In fact the pet may have been the victim of foul play.
Suppose you let your cat outside. In some areas there are laws requiring your cat to be kept on your property, these laws are very common in Canada and the United States, while other areas have no laws requiring the cats movements be restricted. Laws or no laws, there are no rules saying that an other person has to like your cat.
Even other cat owners may hate your cat coming onto their property and eating their cats food, fighting with their cat, or what not. Other people may just hate your cat pooping in their yard, howling at night, spaying their steps, or chasing the birds.
Most people either do not know who the owner of the problem cat is, or do not care, they only see the cat as a problem and want it gone.
What Can Happen
These people sometimes do the right thing, and take the cat to the local animal shelter or pound. In these cases the owner of the cat has the opportunity to claim the cat back. The owner usually has to pay a fine to recover the cat, and as a result many cats go unclaimed. Still because there is a chance the owner will get the cat back, and let it out again, some people simply do not follow the right protocol and deal with the offending cats in a less than legal way.
Many cats are picked up and dumped in other parts of town or the country. These cats seldom find their way homes and are basically punished for something they didn’t know was wrong in the first place, punished because their owner let them roam. A few are picked up and taken to the shelter eventually but their owner may not realize it is their cat due to the location of the finder , some remain as strays, suffering until they die, some turn up on farms where survival is tough and they are often chased off or killed by the resident animals, or the farmer.
Worse still people torture and kill them. Some people become so angry at the cat (rather than the irresponsible owner) that they take all their hostilities out on the poor animal. It is not uncommon for cats to be tortured and/or killed. People intentionally set out traps baited with food to draw cats in. And yes, if your cat is off your property, trapping is often considered legal. It is what happens afterward that is usually illegal. We should note that some areas do have laws permitting stray cats (essentially any cat off its owners property) to be shot.
Many owners act too late, they let their cats out and one day we read in the newspaper about a problem in a certain area where cats are going missing. This probably happens more often than we know, because to coordinate an awareness of disappearing cats takes a series of people to report their cats missing, and many cat owners simply do not report their cats as lost right away.
What Is Suppose to Happen
What should happen is one of two things, the offended neighbor should try to find out who owns the cat and ask that the animal be kept indoors, or kept in its own yard. Unfortunately most people do not want to risk an angry confrontation.
The other alternative is that the neighbor should take the cat to the shelter and leave a message with them to pass on to the owner that if the cats roaming is a problem. The shelter will not reveal who turned in the cat. Of all the cats turned into the shelter only a fraction are claimed.
Owners should be aware that not everyone likes their cat, and some may even hate it. Their cat might not even be the problem. Stray and feral cats are active at night but go unseen as the mess in peoples gardens, however your friendly cat may get the blame for their activity.