Case study 10: CPWs for couple feeding stray cats in garden

(Statement by CPN recipient) ‘My wife and I each received a Community Protection Notice Warning Letter from a Police Community Support Officer telling us to stop leaving cat food outside as this could attract insects and vermin. The warning said we were to stop doing this with immediate effect.

We have four cats – all of which are indoor cats and do not go outside. A few years ago we started feeding two other cats that had been abandoned by their owners. We tried to entice them indoors but they preferred to live in the garden. We provided them with shelter (two small kennels) and food, and took them to the vets when needed. A third stray joined them. We thought we were doing a good thing.

Our neighbour, however, took great exception. Occasionally the outdoor cats stray into his garden, but his main complaint was that the cat food attracts flies. Nobody else complained to us about this. We tried lifting the plates as soon as the cats stop eating but occasionally a plate had been left outside.

I am 51 years old and my wife is 50. Neither of us has been in trouble with the law before (not even a motoring offence). Now we are being treated as criminals.

We have lived in our house for 14 years, but I became frightened to go into the garden in case my neighbour or the police were spying on me. My wife wants to sell up and move to the countryside.

Nothing further came of the matter until two years later, when the Community Police Officer who had issued the CPW knocked on the door to say that ‘a neighbour’ had again complained about us feeding cats outside. It was the first time he had spoken to me. I explained that the whole situation had caused me great anxiety which had culminated in me having a mini-stroke. He seemed a bit shocked. Since then we have heard nothing further. Both the stray cats we were feeding sadly died.’