Ask Maxine

Katie Thomas

Tired of running down rabbit holes when you ask Google a question? Want a succinct, personalized answer to your specific question? Meet Maxine, your new go-to for answers to those sometimes puzzling questions. We think you’ll find her advice relevant, maybe even endearing.

Dear Maxine:
My neighbor’s cat keeps invading my yard. In particular, I catch it using my vegetable garden as a bed, scratching post, and litter box. I live in a pretty big neighborhood, and lots of people have pets, but I think this cat belongs to my next-door neighbor. We’ve never really met and I don’t have her contact information. But I’m nearing the end of my rope – it’s gross finding kitty poo when harvesting my vegetables. What’s the best way to handle this seemingly feral feline?

​​​​​​​​ --Carrots over cats

Dear Carrots:
Short of fencing your garden, which still might not keep the cat out, here are some choices.
First, it’s always neighborly (and Bozemanly) to try talking to the neighbor. If the cat has a collar, try to get a hold of it and see if there’s a name and number listed. If so, call the person and let them know, politely, that their cat is being… impolite. If this doesn’t work, knock on your neighbor’s door and ask if this is his or her cat. If it is, let them know that this is an issue and give them a chance to make it right. Odds are they’re unaware, and would appreciate the opportunity to remedy the situation.

Second, you could always turn the hose on this cat. That wouldn’t cause it any harm; it would just send it sprinting.
As a last resort, you can call whisker patrol (aka, Animal Control). Pursuant to Bozeman Municipal Ordinance No. 1754 (Code of Ordinances, Chapter 8), “It is unlawful for the owner of any animal to fail to keep such animal under restraint or to permit such animal to run at large upon the streets and public ways of the city.” Furthermore, “‘Animal’ means any live creature, both domestic and wild, except humans… and includes fowl, fish, and reptiles.” In short, that means that within city limits, your cat (or chicken, or lizard, or chinchilla) is supposed to be on a leash if it’s off your property.

Assuming Animal Control traps the cat, getting it back will likely cost the owner of the cat upwards of $200 in fines, between the city, which can cite them for “Cat at Large,” “Nuisance,” and “Unlicensed Animal”( if that happens to be the case), and the animal shelter’s temporary “boarding” facility, where such delinquent animals are dumped off by Animal Control. So think about living next to someone you’ve done that to before calling, unless you really want to stick it to them. Just consider your future karma.

Maxine is a lifelong Montanan with a background in both language and unsolicited advice-giving. She spends her free time doing field research and writing critiques on American culture, ideologies, psychology, and relationships, and is happy to provide solicited advice to our community’s questions. To submit your question to our advice column, put “MAXINE” in the subject line and send your email to

This was made by