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We Build Alaska

Ask a Cat: Dog poop, unwanted guests, and squirrels

Looking for advice? Need to share your feelings with an unsympathetic feline? Reach out anonymously here or e-mail

Dear Cat,

As the snow has melted in the last couple weeks it has become apparent that my neighbor has been taking their dog to shit in the grassy area between our two yards (its not really my yard or his, it has a utility box and we both sort of mutually maintain it during the summer). He did his spring clean up of his lawn last weekend and I’m not seeing any indication that he plans to tackle this area. It’s unsanitary and gross. Should I tell him to clean it up or just do it myself so it gets done?

Dear Human,

Suburban living really is a joy, isn’t it? The grass is greener until the neighbor’s dog decides it’s the purr-fect spot for their morning constitutional. Cat doesn’t know who is more annoying in this scenario, the lazy neighbor or the pesky dog.

As to your question about whether to confront your neighbor or to take matters into your own paws – that depends. Has this happened in seasons past? Is it possible neighbor will get to the mess this coming weekend? If this is an unusual transgression, it might be worth a friendly reminder of neighborly responsibilities. It’s still fairly early in yard clean-up season, so don’t lose hope just yet.

If you reach out to your neighbor and your diplomacy fails, you’ll find yourself with the choice of enduring the unsightly mess or taking matters into your own hands. If you find yourself armed with a shovel and a sense of civic duty, make sure to do it passive-aggressively and while your neighbor is in view. With any luck, your neighbor will feel a little shame and keep the area clear in the summer months to come.

In the grand scheme of things, it sounds like this green space is a bit of a grey area. There is no excuse for leaving dog excrement behind, but it does make sense that you would participate in maintaining it if you have strong opinion about the way it looks.


Dear Cat,

I don’t want to give myself away so I’ll just say, my “partner” invited their relatives to visit us this summer – two different groups accepted and all of a sudden we are hosting a total of three weeks in June. I am increasingly pissed off about sharing our modest space but I can’t think of anything to do about it that isn’t going to cause a huge fight between us.

Dear Human,

Cat empathizes deeply and they find little else more annoying than unwelcome houseguests. Realistically, I highly doubt that asking partner’s loved ones to reschedule or find new accommodations in the busiest tourist month of the year is realistic. While I find the prospect of hosting for three weeks about as appealing as expelling a hairball, I will do my best to offer advice.

Let’s start by assessing if this relationship is one you desire to be in, feel respected by, and is worth preserving. If you truly feel that your partner had thoughtful good intentions with their invite and there are no other concerns that feel like a red flag, then we can move on to problem solving the impending guests.

Cat will offer that purrhaps a partner that makes this type of offer/decision in your shared home without consulting you is worth taking a long hard look at.

That being said, let’s go ahead and proceed as if the guests are imminent and your relationship is staying intact. The way Cat sees it, you have two options.

Option one: you can excuse yourself for the duration of the intended visits by going on your own vacation or crashing with a friend.

The second (likely more practical) option is to have a very intentional sit-down discussion and planning session with partner. Out of town guests visiting Alaska often come with expectations to see the sights and make the most of the natural wonder. Fair play would dictate that partner is responsible for the majority of this responsibility. Make it clear that they will be responsible for the planning and execution of any excursions. Assuming you love this person, you can offer to participate or take up a few delegated tasks. Finally, Cat leaves you with the warning that if, during this sit-down, your partner indicates they expected you to take on these tasks, they should be thrown out with the used litter.


Dear Cat,

Should I be worried that there are squirrels living in my yard this year?

Dear Human,

Cat spends a lot of time pondering squirrels. From your human perspective, I’m not sure there’s a need for you to lose sleep over a few bushy-tailed interlopers. As a connoisseur of all manner of backyard critter, I have a love-hate relationship with them, but then again, I’m not on the hook for any property damage they might do.

For the most part, I encourage you to do as I do and view them as a source of entertainment. Should you find them squatting in your garage or munching on your insulation, you might need to escalate your worry to action. You can mitigate their squirrel shenanigans by investing in deterrent bird feeders or even sprinkling a little chili powder around your garden if that’s where they seem to be congregating.

For the most part, squirrels aren’t terribly high on the food chain and Mother Nature manages their population on her own. Besides entertainment value, you may rest easy knowing that they have their place dispersing seeds and aerating soil in the ecosystem that is your own backyard.


Featured Feline:

Raven enjoys leisurely naps and being the furry embodiment of the void.

Cat Chat:

A simple reminder this week to mind your own backyard (both literal and metaphorical) and not make a mess in someone else’s. 🐾

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