Mail Carrier Threatens to Stop Deliveries Due to Troublesome Tabby

by Britt
Photo credit: Thorsten Roth /

It’s a stereotype we’ve seen in movies, cartoons, and television shows: the age-old view of the dog chasing the mailman. This has led to (understandably) more rules and restrictions regarding what is permitted and when a postal worker can deny mail delivery due to safety concerns. But what if that safety concern isn’t a dog at all? What if it’s a naughty cat keeping the postal workers away?

This is the reality for a couple in Staffordshire, England. Lee Haynes and Jo Woodley’s three-year-old tabby Ernie’s antics have recently led to a letter from Royal Mail advising they will suspend mail delivery if the situation isn’t addressed.

The letter stated: “I’m writing to let you know that we’re experiencing difficulties in delivering mail to your address because of the actions of at cat at your property. Your cat is behind the letterbox clawing at mail and fingers. The risk of injury requires action be taken by you to ensure the safety of our delivery staff.

It goes on to state that the couple has 14 days to install a mail cage behind the letterbox, arrange an alternative delivery point, or take steps to keep the cat away from the letterbox during mail delivery.

For those who share their hearts and homes with a tabby cat, this may come as a surprise. While some cat breeds are known for their sass and trouble-seeking personalities, tabbies are generally seen as friendly, affectionate, and happy cats. But, like any stereotype, there will always be those that exist outside the box.

When asked about Ernie’s behavior, Haynes said the cat wasn’t trying to cause trouble or harm anyone. He saw mail delivery as a game.

“Ernie spends most of his time lying down but he’s fascinated by the letterbox,” Haynes explained. “As soon as he hears it he’s there like a lightning bolt. His paw comes out the letterbox to try and grab whatever’s there, but maybe he’s accidentally grabbing the postman’s fingers. He doesn’t use his claws, just the pads of his paws to try and grab the letter. But I wonder if the postman thought he might scratch.”

The couple purchased and installed an external mailbox in response to the threat of their mail delivery being suspended. However, they report that Ernie is quite disappointed that his favorite game has come to an end.

Experts state that the behavior is likely a result of typical cat hunting instincts. When Ernie sees the mail moving through the letterbox, he tries to “catch” it as he would a small rodent or other prey in the wild. It’s the same instinct that draws many cats to interactive toys with moving elements like feathers that spin or mice that peek out of their hiding places.

In fact, providing an opportunity for your cat to exercise these hunting instincts is an integral part of offering the enrichment necessary for a happy, healthy life. BUT we recommend searching out a toy or product designed specifically for cats, not your postal worker’s fingers!


Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs – Indiana and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.

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