Help needed - legal stuff

(68 Posts)
coffeeisnectar Wed 20-Apr-16 18:40:59

Yes, legal about a cat.

We have four cats. The 4 year old male used to live three doors down with a family which had three boys. They previously had an additional cat which was tormented by the 4 year old boy so much which culminated in the child throwing the cat down the stairs so another neighbour across the road took her on.

The boy cat was always out and about, used to spend his time breaking into other houses (including ours) for food. Used to literally inhale cat food when he had access to it here. He was a pretty aggressive cat and used to growl, bite and scratch. Basically he was quite antisocial in the neighbourhood.

Three months ago this family were moving out. The woman asked my dp if we would feed boy cat for a week (leaving him outside in January) while they moved and settled in and then she would come back for him. She said that the new house did not allow pets and that it was going to be hard to keep him hidden. We tentatively agreed but agreed between ourselves that if it got too cold we would let him sleep in the porch.

The day of the move, she dropped off a box of cat food. We looked for the cat but he wasn't about. She later messaged me to say that she'd taken him with her.

Three days later she called me and asked me if we would take on the cat. She said the cat was miserable there and that they weren't allowed cats and that it was best if he was back where he knew. I discussed with dp and the kids (we already had 3 cats) and then agreed. She turned up the next day with the cat in a carrier. No bowl or food. We went out and bought him new bowls.

In the last three months he's a changed cat. He's sweet natured, affectionate, calm and happy. He no longer breaks into other peoples houses and has stopped attacking people in the street. He no longer inhales his dinner but eats slowly and calmly. I've given him worming treatment, flea treatment and taken him for vet treatment to have a tick removed.

Today I got a text saying she wants the cat back. I've said no. She is insisting the cat is hers, that it was only temporary and that she will give me money for his food for the last 12 weeks. I said that as far as I'm concerned this was a permanent decision and if it was only temporary why has she not offered payment for his upkeep before now.

I am terrified she is going to just come and take the cat. He is so happy here and we love him.

How can I sort this out? The microchip is not registered to us as she has never handed over paperwork. I have registered the cat at the vet with us via the chip but I am scared that this isn't enough.

Help! What do i do? Does she have a leg to stand on? I have all the text messages from when she asked me to take him.

VegasIsBest Wed 20-Apr-16 18:46:15

It's her cat. End of.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Wed 20-Apr-16 18:48:38

I think that as she gave you the cat

"Three days later she called me and asked me if we would take on the cat. She said the cat was miserable there and that they weren't allowed cats and that it was best if he was back where he knew."

Then the cat is yours.

coffeeisnectar Wed 20-Apr-16 18:49:51

Even though she asked me to home him because she couldn't keep him?

So I've had him for 3 months and she can just swan in and demand him back? I find that really hard to believe.

coffeeisnectar Wed 20-Apr-16 18:52:23

Can I just add that in the three months I've had him she hasn't asked about him except for in the first week of him being here. She hasn't offered money. She has shown no interest in him.

I've just looked on her facebook page and can't find one photo of this cat that she had for FOUR YEARS. I've had him three months and taken so many of him.

SoupDragon Wed 20-Apr-16 18:52:24

She gave the cat to you. It is your cat.

coffeeisnectar Wed 20-Apr-16 18:53:15

So what do I do? If she turns up and he is out and she just takes him, what do I do?

SoupDragon Wed 20-Apr-16 18:53:29

I guess the problem is that you probably have no proof that she asked you to have the cat permanently. It will be your word against hers.

Sparklingbrook Wed 20-Apr-16 18:54:20

is the cat registered to your vets and microchipped to you?

Haffdonga Wed 20-Apr-16 18:57:36

Do you have the textx when she asked you to take him and is he microchipped?

coffeeisnectar Wed 20-Apr-16 18:59:06

I have text messages. I had said that if he and my other boy didn't get on I would need to rehome boy cat 2. She said if that happened then she would take the cat back. (which seems odd considering the reason she was giving us the cat was because she wasn't allowed the cat). I have worked hard to socialise all four cats together and they all get on well, the boys less so but it's all posturing and they generally skirt around one another without fisticuffs.

So while I don't have a text saying it was a permanent agreement, likewise she doesn't have one saying it's a foster arrangement. I wouldn't have agreed to that because it's taken so much work to get him into the agreeable lovely cat that he is. I'm not happy to hand him back only for him to be terrorised by the kids and left outside most of the time and nobody feeding him

I had him at the vet the other day and he has been scanned and they registered his chip to us. However, it's not registered to us in the main database. I need to sort that and will ring vets tomorrow to find out how to go about it.

coffeeisnectar Wed 20-Apr-16 19:01:02

Text message from her:

If for any reason it does not work out will you let me know first cause once we have been here a while I could ask to have him. Only if he cant stay with you guys.

That was in february

Sparklingbrook Wed 20-Apr-16 19:03:51

Definitely tell the chip company.

The cat is yours but obviously she could come along and take him she wanted. Are you going to keep him in for a bit?

Oh and apologies for not reading your OP properly and asking questions you already answered. blush

coffeeisnectar Wed 20-Apr-16 19:08:29

It's ok. The Op was rather long. As you can imagine I'm pretty pissed off right now and got carried away with the typing.

I will try and keep him in but he does like going out and it's rather hard to ignore a cat yowling at 2am sad I may try for a while and see how it goes. Can't guarantee anything though. I have four cats. The other night I opened the door to call him in and while he was trotting in two others shot out grin One came back in quite quick, the other decided that it would be fun for me to chase her round the garden for half an hour.

This woman says 'you've got loads of cats so we want him back'. We have four cats because people keep giving their cats up for stupid fucking reasons and suckers that we are, we keep taking them on. We only had 2 cats in November, we have four now. All our cats are rescues. We haven't had any as kittens.

thecatneuterer Wed 20-Apr-16 19:09:05

Legally - who knows? Chipped to her but given to you. It could probably be argued either way in court but the crucial thing is - it never will be. Court would be far too expensive with no guarantee of the required outcome. No one would go down that road. Equally police would take no interest and would say 'it's a civil matter' - ie to be sorted out by a court - which will never happen.

However if they come and snatch him back then you would equally have no chance of getting him back again. So in this situation I would say that legality has very little to do with anything - it's more of a 'possession is nine tenths of the law' type situation.

Fluffycloudland77 Wed 20-Apr-16 19:34:04

have you got any relatives the cat could go for a little holiday with?.

I'd report her to the police for harassment. But I'm a bit of a bitch like that.

coffeeisnectar Wed 20-Apr-16 20:08:38

Unfortunately not and it wouldn't be fair on the cat. He's lived on this street his whole life, been moved away and given to us. It's taken him a while to settle and see this as his home, I just couldn't do it to him even if I had somewhere else for him to go to.

He's such a sweet boy. He's sat with DD at the moment watching TV. He's so gentle and loving. I'd genuinely miss him so much, he's become part of our family. We love all our cats so very much. They are all different in temperament and personality and boy cat 2 and girl cat 1 are the most loving by far. I'd be devastated if she took him.

cozietoesie Wed 20-Apr-16 20:32:24

Has she mentioned money at all?

coffeeisnectar Wed 20-Apr-16 20:42:57

She mentioned it in the text asking for the cat back. She said she will pay for his food for the last 12 weeks. She hasn't offered this before. No mention of paying for flea, worming treatments or the bowls I had to buy because she didn't supply any.

I would have thought if it was a clear foster placement that money would have been sorted before now and offered on a regular basis not just when she wanted the cat back.

gamerchick Wed 20-Apr-16 20:48:46

Can you tot up everything you've spent on the cat and tell her how much he has cost you? It might put her off if she has to cough up a bit.

You need the chip registered to you, she can take you to court if she wants I think but I doubt she'll bother.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Wed 20-Apr-16 21:09:20

I wouldn't open door to her and if she kicks up a fuss I'd make noises about reporting her as he was neglected. I bet she'll back off.

bloodyteenagers Wed 20-Apr-16 21:23:41

I would text back
So if this wasn't a permanent arrangement in your eyes, how do you explain the text dated xx when you said if it doesn't work out, contact me for first refusal.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Wed 20-Apr-16 21:32:21

Legally, cats are possessions, so if she comes and takes the cat she would be committing an offence under the Theft Act 1968. It's also possible that she'd be charged with either handling stolen goods or obtaining goods by deception, although to be honest, cat thefts don't usually go to court.

Another relevant bit of law for you: The finder of a stray cat can become it's legal owner if the original owner intentionally abandons it; for example by failing to provide food, care or housing. It would be an offence under the Animal Welfare Act to fail to feed/house/care for a cat, so it would be unwise of the owner to suggest that they'd done this - so either they gave the cat to you, and therefore they are not entitled to him back, or they abandoned the cat and you became it's legal owner.

Without proof either way, legal ownership remains with the original owner for a period of 6 years, but proof of care/veterinary records/a microchip registration should be enough to prove that you are his owner, along with your texts from her, if that was necessary.

GruffaloMoggy Wed 20-Apr-16 21:37:26

Would the RSPCA be on your side, as its unsafe for the cat to go back with her family?

coffeeisnectar Wed 20-Apr-16 21:46:15

Thanks, I'm taking all this in and will get his chip on the database changed to us. He's registered with our vet as being with us and had treatment there.

I'm not going to back down on this, she didn't want him and three months later she does. We've had one cat run over two years ago and a rescue who kept returning to his old house last year (we signed the cat over for the cats sake with the backing of cpl) and I'm not willing to just hand over this cat. Dd 2 in particular would be heartbroken but all four of us are adamant that the cat is staying.

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