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Dilemma: The Saga of Specter the Random Cat

If you follow me on Twitter, you may already be familiar with the saga of Specter. (And if you don’t follow me on Twitter, shame on you!) If you’re sick of hearing about this, feel free to browse the blogs I love to find something more interesting to read.



About a month ago, my son came into my office late one night. “Um, Mom? There’s a cat on the kitchen counter.”

I walked to the kitchen just in time to see a tail disappear through the dog door into the basement. Then I freaked out. Even though I hate cleaning, I’m really picky about my kitchen counters. I wipe them down about 400 times a day. Oh yeah, and Jayden is allergic to cats. And now there’s some random stray cat just hanging out in my house like it lives here? Oh hell no.

I started thinking back to all the times my dogs were out of food in the morning, even though I’d filled their bowl before I went to bed. Just how long has this thing been coming into my house? And why have the dogs never noticed?

About a week later, my smallest dog, Moxie (chewer of shoes for those who have seen pics on Twitter) ran into the kitchen and started yapping like crazy. I realized that the other 3 dogs were in my office with me, which meant that the cat had been making the crunching sounds I’d heard coming from the kitchen. Poor Moxie is now a paranoid wreck, barking every time I walk toward the kitchen, the air conditioner kicks on, etc. And the other dogs look at her like she’s nuts because they haven’t seen the cat yet.

I named the cat Specter, since we never know it’s in the house. I’ve also decided that something has to be done – I’m completely over finding paw prints on my stovetop and counters (shudder). Yet here I am a month later and I still haven’t figured out how to get rid of the cat.

The Dilemma

In my kitchen, there is a door (with a dog door) leading to my basement. In the basement, there is another dog door leading to a fenced area outside. The cat is either climbing or jumping the fence and coming in through the dog door.

I do have little metal guards that go into the dog doors to prevent anything from coming in or out. But if I use them, my dogs can’t go outside to pee during the night. (They’re little dogs with little bladders. They pee a lot.) Plus, since Specter appears to be living inside the cardboard mountain in the basement (no, I still haven’t gotten rid of it), I can’t block the outer dog door without potentially trapping him inside the basement.

Part of me feels bad for trying to get rid of Specter. He’s obviously been coming in (unbeknownst to me) for quite awhile; otherwise he wouldn’t be brave enough to laze around on my counter like he owns the place. In his tiny cat brain, he probably thinks he won the lottery – as long as he waits until the house is dark and quiet, he can eat all he wants, and there’s more food the very next night! And my basement is warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

But Jayden is allergic. And I am NOT a cat person. And I have four dogs. And a thing about my counters being clean. So Specter needs to find a new house to sneak into. I just don’t know how to communicate that to him since (1) he’s a cat and (2) I’ve never managed to actually see him. Well, other than his tail.

I’m turning to you guys for advice. How do I get Specter out of my house for good? Is there some kind of cat sedative I could feed him to knock him out and take him to the Humane Society? And please don’t suggest shooting him – I hate cats, but not that much. Please help!

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!


  1. Hmmm that's so weird! All I can think of is maybe just try leaving a door that leads to the outside open?

  2. I have been away from Twitter for the most part this week, dealing with a friend's mom's death, so I hadn't seen you talk about the cat… but holy god that's funny. I LOVE your son… "Mom, there's a cat on the counter". LOLOL That's awesome.

    Ok *stifles giggles*

    My best advice is a humane trap. Set it with a can of catfood, preferably somewhere your dogs can't get into it because it sounds like Moxie is neurotic enough and you don't want to send her into a total mental tailspin, she might graduate to eating real shoes. Maybe on the counter, since he seems very comfy there?

    Then take him to the humane society. Chances are pretty good he's actually someone's cat, and they let him out at night thinking he just roams the neighborhood. And they're right… he roams right into your basement. LOL

    My mom used to share a cat… she called him Ghost. He'd hang out at her house most of the day, then wander up to the neighbor's in the evenings. One day the neighbor dropped by and said "Oh, we have a cat that looks just like that one…"

    I love cats. They're such crazy critters, and they have a way of just moving in and taking over that makes me laugh. (I have five at the moment). But I have sympathy for the allergies thing, so yeah. Humane trap.

    Good luck!

  3. edwardra3 says:

    My buddy had a cat that adopted his family, but they already had a cat, so they just accepted it.
    I would recommend calling the Humane Society. They have people trained for catching animals. Or an exterminator that does live capture. I absolutely would NOT try to catch a feral/stray cat on your own.

  4. callmewhatyouwantevencheap says:

    You're funny! I am not an animal lover at all, but a cat sedative! Lol! I guess it would work, but I wouldn't try that.

  5. Awes, I actually saved two cats myself.

    The best way is to call an organization near you like Friends for Animals or Humane Society. They'll set up a trap in your home then they'll put Sepcter up for adoption. Make sure they take the cat to a no kill shelter!

  6. I volunteer at the Humane Society in my area. You might want to call yours and see about renting a have-a-heart trap. We rent traps for a $100 fully refundable deposit.

    You can set the trap up in the kitchen or wherever the cat likes hanging out. Put some food in there and the next morning you should have an end to your cat problem 🙂

  7. Cassandra says:

    Live animal trap and a can of tuna. It worked when we needed to rid our neighborhood of the stray who was digging up my flowerbeds and tormenting my dog. Where I live you can rent them from the humane society and then bring in the cat inside the trap when you return the trap.

  8. You opened yourself up to that one with the doggie doors. Only way you'll be able to get rid of him is to close off the doors or catch him and take him so far away that he can never find your house again. So you think it is a stray or someone else's cat that they let run loose?

  9. bogofdebt says:

    If you go to a vet, they can usually offer some suggestions on cat keepaway. I had some issues with stray cats in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, I couldn't use it as I have a cat. If I go in this week again, I'll ask them what it was called again. And I've heard that planting lavendar is usefull–cat's don't like the smell of it.

  10. Veronica says:

    You poor dear! What a bizarre disaster.
    A) A Havahart trap for the cat then take to the SPCA? Sometimes you can borrow the trap from someone who had trapped a raccoon or woodchuck in the past.
    B) Locking pet doors. They aren't cheap either but you will prevent other random animals from coming in to your home. First it's a cat, next it could be a raccoon or possum.

  11. jesort415 says:

    This is funny! Anyway can you move the food to a new location? Maybe if the cat comes in and thinks there is no food he/she will stop coming in. I have no idea how cats work. Growing up we had siamese cats…beautiful cats but mean as h*ll, they turned me in to a dog person.

  12. Be careful with trying to trap it with tuna or cat food because you might just attract other cats that normally wouldn't bother with your house.

    The only true way is to close off access somehow. Sounds like that's not an option.

  13. I just have to say that I love that picture. Very funny stuff. Good luck on your feline trespasser!

  14. can you close the dog door and use those mats that are advertised for your pets to go on?

  15. Omg that is really awful! I would hate it if random animals came into my house. I already hate it when skunks come in the backyard. Not cool.

    LOL at your reaction…it would be mine too. OH HELLLLLLLZZZZ NO!!!!

    I'm a dog person. So I would be really neurotic about it. I like everyone's suggestions.. NAY to the mats for dogs. I have a small dog and yes he has a small bladder. The other option would be to put all of your dogs on schedules so they go whenever you let them out. I only have 1 dog and it's easy for me but I would imagine 4 dogs may be a bit much to get on the same sched.

  16. there are the dog collar / dog door combo, that has a magnet (or something of the sort) in the dog's collar so that only they can get through the dog door. that way the dogs can still use the doggy door, but all other animals are locked out.

  17. I never had pets growing up, and still don't have any. But, my sister n law has two dogs that I dearly love. I'm not fond of cats for the very reason that they can climb on the kitchen counter and anywhere they have a mind to go. It sounds like the humane trap is the way to go. Good Luck!

  18. I have a friend whose Mother was feeding a few stray cats that lived in the neighborhood. It turned into a nightmare. So far they have trapped about 20 cats and kittens and brought them to the Humane Society. Get rid of it as fast as you can!

  19. utahprogressive says:

    This is, for me, the funniest cat story ever! But I'm a cat person. I have 4 already. I'm on my way the being the crazy cat lady! Definitely check with the humane society, see if they can help. Also, check around the neighborhood, see if he belongs to anybody.

  20. Oh, my gosh, I would be so creeped out. I looked around a little and apparently they do make cat traps:… I'd check that out. Then take the little bugger to the Human Society.

  21. Call the humane society, or whatever local organization would fit that bill. Best not to try to deal with a homeless cat on your own, as you never know what diseases it could be carrying. Find a way to remove it, not only for that reason, but the allergies. Being allergic to cats myself, I know that constant exposure to one might lead to all kinds of problems.

  22. The best way, pet the cat and make him/her another member.

  23. Teinegurl says:

    am i the only one a little scared and freaked out?? I don't have a fear of animals but i would be scared there is a strange animal this whole time and i didn't know about it! Andrea i think it's time to tackle the mountain of cardboard b4 i sign you up for hoarders : Boxes Edition! LOL i'm joking!!

  24. Hysterical! What did you end up doing?

    • Nothing yet. The local humane society doesn't rent out live traps, so I'm trying to find someone who will let me borrow one (otherwise they're like $40). In the meantime, my poor little dog is still barking her head off every time someone sneezes. *sigh*

  25. Can't you leave cat food outside so he won't come in?

    • Wait a minute…. So I'm supposed to buy cat food when I don't even own a cat? That option makes me sad! (And my response makes me a cheapass!)

      • I have to admit that I am biased here because I am a cat lady and my volunteer work with a rescue group helped me find my current job. but this cat is willing to brave FOUR dogs to get to some food. Poor guy is hungry! Isn't it cheaper to buy a $4 bag of meow mix and feed him outside than to trap him, at least temporarily? Daily Money Shot was in a similar situation – check out "it's not easy but it's right" on her site.

        • It doesn't cost anything to get a live trap and drive a few miles to the humane society. I wouldn't mind quite as much if Jayden wasn't allergic, but his eyes were swollen shut last night and I just want the thing away from my house.

  26. Thing?
    Wow, that is heartless and shocking.

  27. The thing is causing a medical condition & extra money for someone who doesn't even own a cat! After my kids grew up and the last cat died, I decided a house without cat hair on my furniture, cat hair on my wool coat or black pants, or paw prints on my counter (gross, where have those paws been?) — well, a catless house was just fine with me. I like them, I just don't want the things in my house!

  28. I’m in a similar but even worst situation. About 3 months ago I went downstairs into the kitchen and saw one of my boxers freaking out and sniffing like crazy, and of course first thing that came to my mind is there’s a friggn cat in my house. Sure enough he was underneath the dining table on a chair and I saw him just as he hauled ass out the dog door. So I thought it was just one but then my wife said one night she saw the cat poke it’s head through the dog door and ran when they saw her on the couch. Funny thing is, it was a different colored cat. So while looking outside the window a couple weeks ago I saw the cat I recognized, and I sh** you not, 8 other cats came crawling out underneath my neighbors vehicle. That means it’s a pack of 9 cats. No one I know on my cul-de-sac owns a cat, so that means they’re just roaming around jumping walls to go in and out of peoples yards scouting for food I’m assuming.

    My boxers are German boxers, not your typical smaller American / English boxer, and the biggest dog door I could find and installed didn’t work (even after all the “oh I have a german shepard, rott, etc etc, and it works great). They were cracking their shoulders on it every time they tried to go in or out and so I got rid of it and made a home made dog door for the sliding door. It works great but also eliminates any chance of a dog door that locks on it’s own when not being used. So the problem is still present and after seeing every other night 2-3 cats take off running when I open the back door, i’m at the end of my patience. Lord knows I’m dying for my dogs to catch them inside before they can get out and handle it for me. The smell of cats, and cat piss in my house is making me sick to my stomach. I have no issues about these cats being killed as any owner who willingly lets their cats run around the neighborhood isn’t an owner, and takes no responsibility for their “PET” because that’s all it is to them. I’m willing to shoot these things myself and end them for good but I’m looking for a kinder way of getting rid of them. I’m just curious if I trap these useless things if the shelter does something with them or just give them right back to the owner? If they just give them back to the owner, then it makes no sense in trapping them because the owners are just going to let them keep running around once they get them back.

    How people find this situation humorous is beyond me. I guess my only choice is traps, and if they don’t work or the owners just get the cats back, I’m going to be tossing 9 dead cats out in the desert very very soon after I shoot them 🙂

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