What is the moral thing to do here?


My neighbor claims my cat jumped over her fence and knocked over and broke an expensive statue. Now my cat is not the only cat that jumps over her fence - there are at least 2 other cats from surrounding houses that jump over her fence in the same spot.
She’s demanding I pay around $150 for the statue but there’s no evidence my cat actually did it, or any evidence a cat even did it at all.
I told my neighbor she needs to provide evidence that my cat did it and I think she needs to show evidence that the statue is indeed worth $150 before I hand over money. Because I don’t know her well and what if she has made the story up to just get money?
She seems to be going about it in the wrong way, like whenever she sees me she doesn’t say hi it’s just “when are you giving me my money?”

Part of me feels bad for not paying but I’m a bit of a pushover. I have trouble standing up for myself. What is the moral thing to do here?


offer to pay half and keep your cat indoors.


I wouldn’t pay it… There’s no evidence that you have anything to do with it! $150 is a lot of money.


It would be heroically moral for you to, in charity, give her the $150 with a smile and a “if you have any other problems, please let me know” note.

But being heroic is expensive. In plain justice, I don’t think you necessarily owe this woman anything, if it is true there are two other suspects. :wink:


Heroically moral will only be effective if you’re genuinely, sincerely, honestly, out of flourishing love from the bottom of your heart you want to give it to her.

But judging from her attitude, it doesn’t seem fair if she’d deserve that. No humility in the way she asks for that money. So, I’m inclining towards NO, don’t give her what she wants, unless she can proof it.


I would offer her something just to keep nice feelings in the neighborhood. I would also suggest you keep your pets on your own property.


I think this is the correct way of looking at it. You have said you are willing to pay if it can be shown that you are responsible.

First there is the question of who is responsible. Has she actually said that she saw your cat do it. If so, is she certain the cat she saw was yours?

Second is the question of the value of the statue. I can think of two valid approaches. She could show you a listing or advertisement which indicates the price, and you could either purchase a replacement for her or just give her the money. Alternatively, she could purchase a replacement statue and present the receipt to you for reimbursement.

If she doesn’t answer these two questions which you have asked, you are not obligated to pay.


Good neighbours are built on the foundations of a high fence. Give her nothing, she has no proof, Most people are out for what they can get. Don’t be a push over to a nasty little women. She will back off and if you are lucky will never speak to you again. If not this will be the start of a feud that will make the McCoys look good. It is all adventure. Look out for cat baits, scattered poisons, malicious gossip, videotaping that will make Watergate look good, and other gifts of living close to other people.
As a good catholic always turn the other cheek. You are lucky to have an enemy so close you will get a chance to forgive her nearly every other day. People are so much fun to deal with. Thank the Lord I am a lawyer and have learnt to trust no one and like even fewer.


Spend some think thinking on a deeply philosophical level how you would want her to act where she you and you her. Do that. My guess is that you’ll either be able to create a positive relationship or you’ll learn why you would have a different desire for her action next time. :slight_smile:


Ask her if she would like to join you on Judge Judy’s Show.

That shows you are willing to let a third party decide the matter. Is she? :D;)


You can’t pay her anything if she does not prove that the statue is worth $150. Her broken statue is not a blank check.

Then you also need to know how she knows it was your cat. If she didn’t see it and there are other cats around, then I don’t see how she could have a case. (Unless, perhaps, your cat is regularly in her yard, and no one else’s cats are regularly in her yard. If that is the case, then perhaps you should pay, provided she can demonstrate the value of the statue to you.)


As long as we are talking about proof, how is the OP going to prove the neighbor trapped her cat and released it 200 miles away? Ah, the lengths people will go through to keep irresponsible pet owner’s cat feces out of their kids sandbox…:wink:


Sorry to join late. One item, I’m surprised no one else mentioned: If you pay her $150, what is to prevent her from coming back a week later and saying your cat destroyed something else, valued even more? After all, there’s precedent for your cat destroying valuable items, which you have essentially admitted responsibility for at least once before…

Pay her nothing. If need be, write her a respectful hand-written note, telling her that there is no evidence Fluffy is responsible.

PS – don’t go on Judge Judy (even in jest!)! No less a great jurist/legal mind, Judge Joseph Wapner – and we all ought to know who he was – did not like her and believed her demeanor to be antagonistic and disrespectful of litigants, and injurious to public perception of judges. I happen to agree with him.


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