Arlo and Simba
Fiona Keddie Ord took to Facebook to issue her plea on the community page YourAmersham as her two cats – Simba and Arlo – have been wandering off for long periods of time. She believes they are being fed at other houses, which she fears is encouraging their continued absences, as well as affecting their weights.
The original post said: “A gentle and polite request. These are our beloved cats, Arlo (right, white socks) & Simba (left, no socks). Simba often wanders from home for days because we suspect he is being fed treats from other homes. If so, please do not.
“He is fed the correct amounts of healthy food and additional food is not good for cats. We have to take him for his yearly health check and can’t because he is irregularly home. These cats are well looked after.
“You should never feed other owners’ animals. They may need specific foods, they may become overfed. If you come across an animal that seems mistreated or not looked after, take to a local vet to track owners or report. Do not assume and feed treats. Thank you.”
Since posting the plea online, Fiona has received numerous comments about the situation.
As one user asked: “Would it not be better to keep them at home so that you can take them to the vet for their check ups?”
However, Fiona responded by saying that “I’m not keen to keep them banged up in the house, we live in such a beautiful area where they roam freely. They come home for food and in winter, they are indoors much more for sleep and cuddles but I wouldn’t agree that is the answer.”
Most people seemed to share her concern, explaining that they had faced similar issues with pets and animals of their own.
One user, Paula Crease, wrote: “As a fellow cat owner, I really can’t understand why people do this. It’s obvious these are well-fed and looked after animals and not strays or mistreated animals looking for food. Cats love a wander, especially males, I know people like to be kind, but really? Even buying food? I have several visitors to our garden (because I have two females!). But always shoo them away! Maybe some people just aren’t educated on cats and think any cat visiting them is hungry or lost?”
Another, Sharon Cooper, added: “100 % agree. They are so beautiful. People think they’re being kind but feeding them is really not helpful. Cats sometimes crave attention and affection which some who don’t understand cats misinterpret as hunger, unfortunately.”
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“Thanks for sharing this,” wrote Jules Hargreaves. “I have a fat bob because of multiple feeding homes… won’t keep a collar on so can’t label the little b****r. I also suffer from the multiple headaches when people feed your cats they go to the preferred brand and this creates a complete nightmare to manage.”
According to the RSPCA, feeding other people’s pets is generally a bad idea and should actively be discouraged.
As their website explains: “Feeding someone else’s pet usually comes from good intentions and is considered a nice thing to do for an animal. Although it’s a lovely idea, there are reasons why this can be damaging for the animal.”
They warn that “many cats will take advantage of an extra meal even if they’re well fed by their owners, it doesn’t always mean they’re hungry and underfed. Feeding somebody else’s cat can cause a number of problems such as giving the cat something it’s allergic to, causing them to eat too much and could stop them from coming home to their owners for meal times.
“It can be very distressing and frustrating for cat owners when other people are feeding their pets. This means they have no control over what or how much is being fed and may mean their cat doesn’t come home as often which can make caring for them properly more difficult.”
Their advice to people is that it’s important to try and find the owner of any cat you think may be a stray. To do this, you can:
- Ask a vet to scan for a microchip
- Create ‘found’ posters
- Advertise on social media and other online resources such as Pets Located.
- Contact their cruelty line for advice if you’re worried about the health of the cat, for example, if they’re very thin.
They also advise owners that if their cat has an allergy it may help for them to “fit a ‘Don’t feed me’ collar, but do ensure any collar worn is a snap-safe quick-release type to avoid nasty injuries.”
As animal charity, PDSA (The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) warns, overeating is dangerous for any animal, including cats. Currently, over a third of cats in the UK are overweight and obese cats are at risk of health problems such as diabetes, cystitis and arthritis.
This is another reason why people should not be feeding cats that do not belong to them.
Fiona has since issued an update on the situation, praising people who have taken her warning. Speaking about why she posted her message on Facebook, she explained: “Our cats will not keep collars on so it was the only way I could reach out to the community.
“People just think it’s an act of kindness but too many treats or, in some cases, certain types of food, are bad for certain animals and only the owner will know of any specific dietary requirements as well as monitoring food intake.
“All that health stuff aside, we want to see our cats come home too. They are treated well but will of course be tempted by someone else feeding them naughty and nice treats.”
Adding to her original post, she has since posted:
“Update: A HUGE THANK YOU to all those who must have taken note of this request. Simba is now frequenting home again as a result. We all know cats wander and can be cheeky but it’s really important to not feed other people’s pets, even though it seems like an act of kindness.”
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