A Dundee mum has urged people not to entice cats with treats after her family was “deprived” of their own pets when they began visiting other homes.
Nicola Butler was eventually forced to rehome her cats with other family members after her felines repeatedly went missing from her home in Douglas.
The 39-year-old said her cats have been disappearing since May 2018 when her black domestic cat, Indy, failed to return home on a number of occasions.
A similar pattern began to develop last year with their ragdoll cat, Belle, who was also going missing.
Before she knew it, the cats were disappearing for entire nights.
The family quickly discovered both pets were going to the same address in the neighbourhood to be fed.
‘This has been going on for years’
“It did not occur to me that after our care, money and training that someone else would enjoy our pets more than us,” Nicola said.
“This had been going on for years. We tried to ask politely for the person to stop feeding Indy when it first started and then the same thing happened with Belle.
“It has unfortunately got to the stage that we’ve recently rehomed the animals with other family members.
“We were seeing less and less of the the cats as they were being kept inside the other property at night on occasions.
“As a family we obviously still held that legal responsibility for them and we were worried about their diets and just generally the confusion it was causing them.
“By having them with other family members we could ensure they were safe.”
Nicola believes taking in the cats is classed as theft and has spoken to the police but to no avail.
The mother-of-four now wants to highlight the “grey area” the family discovered during their own experiences.
She added: “Whilst some may feel feeding a cat is being done with the best of intentions you’ve got to respect this is someone’s pet.
“We’ve seen first-hand the problems this can create and on doing my research this is a more common problem than you think.
“There seems to be a grey area as to what people do in these situations.
“As a family we were gutted we had to rehome the cats but we are just thankful we can go and visit them as much as we can.”
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn urged people not to feed cats that they don’t legally own.
He added: “Many cats like to explore their surroundings and will often spend long periods away from home.
“They are more likely to do so if they are being fed by different people.
“Our advice is not to feed cats you don’t own, which will help increase the chances of them returning to their proper home.
“The cat could have allergies or be on a special diet so while people may mean well they could cause harm to the animal.
“Unless a stray cat is injured or sick, we cannot rescue it. If you believe there to be a welfare concern, please contact our helpline on 03000 999 999.”
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland confirmed they were aware of the incident before advising it was a civil matter.