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I am new here, I have 2 cats currently. I saw this website and thought it would be helpful when those questions pop up, and need answers from prople who are "cat" people.
I have a big dilema, A stray cat showed up outside our house about 3 years ago, she was injured, and we nursed her back to health and let her stay inside during the below 0 weather. I put flyers out, callled the vet and police with a lost cat description. She grew to be part of our family, after 1 year I told my 7yr old that I dont think that the cat has a home and she will now be our cat. She is now very attached to us, she sleeps in bed with us, and is always looking for our attention.
A few weeks ago a co-worker stopped by my house and said that looks like my cat, she then came over that night with a photo, and yes the cat does look like hers. I guess it had gotten lost. to make a long story short, she wants the cat back. I could see if it was even a year after we found her, but 3 years. She is an indoor cat that goes outside once and a while (she refuses when it is rainy or cold) The previous owner has a heated garage, but says they would let her in alot. We love her and want to keep her, she was maybe a year old when they lost her. What to do in this situation, help any suggestions?
 

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Welcome!

I would try to find out just how badly they want her back. Obviously they didn't post any "lost cat" flyers because it sounds as though you would have seen them. And they certainly didn't search too hard because they didn't see your found flyers.

I would ask to be reimbursed not only for all the vet bills, but also food and litter for the last three years. It doesn't sound as though they were as bonded as you, since the cat basically lived in a heated garage at their house.

On the other hand, can she make your life a living heck at work? I'm thinking if this is the first time she's been at your house, you're obviously not BFFs.

******

Hmmmm, just re-read your post and realized that she asked for the cat back a few weeks ago. What's happened since?
 

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So this co-worker never microchipped her cat, never put a collar and ID on the cat?

You put the posters up when you first found the kitty as a stray, right? And the co-worker has just NOW shown up?

How long have you worked with her? How authentic does the photo she provided look? Did you put a photo on the flyer? Does it seem like the photo might be a fake, or a copy of the photo you put on the flyer?

Is the co-worker able to describe the cat in DETAIL, not just show a photo? i.e., does the cat have any interesting, unusual, or semi-hidden markings (like on the belly) that the co-worker can describe?

How far away does the co-worker live from you? How far did this cat allegedly "travel" before she came to encounter you?

It's hard to just make a blanket recommendation without knowing some more details about the situation.

I've had a somewhat similar experience - I found a stray hanging around my house a few weeks ago. I fed him, took him to my vet to be scanned for a chip, and he WAS chipped. We tried to get in touch with the owner for several days, and finally got a hold of her. Apparently she had lost the cat TWO YEARS prior! She said she already had two other cats and asked if I would keep him. I couldn't, since my elderly cat has health issues, but I was a little weirded out that she didn't seem too enthused about getting her cat back, but I guess she had already moved on with her life after he had disappeared. Now, my stray was obviously well cared-for when I found him, so I think someone else had taken him in for those two years.

However, after THREE years, frankly put, this cat is no longer your co-workers cat, even if it literally did belong to her three years ago. The cat has lived with YOU for three years. You have loved her, cared for her, and spent money on her. You would have, legally speaking, a darn good case that you are now the legal owner of this cat.

Besides, unless this woman can produce some kind of receipt of purchase or undeniable proof that it IS her cat, she can't exactly demand it back from you. She wouldn't have much of a legal leg to stand on if the cat isn't microchipped or tattooed - even if she produced a receipt that said "Purchased one black and white kitten from Petco" or somesuch, to prove the cat was hers, the description "black and white" (for example) isn't exactly undeniable proof that this is her cat.

Wall of text aside, my PERSONAL opinion is, to wit, screw her. Your kid is attached to this kitty now - go ahead, let this co-worker try to take kitty away, and let her watch the kid cry over it. Now, again, I don't know the full story, but it doesn't seem like this woman made any kind of real effort to find her cat when it was lost three years ago. Why does she deserve it back now - if it's even hers? I'm not unconvinced that maybe she has mistaken the cat for hers - unless the cat looks VERY unusual (say, it's bright blue with purple spots), I'd have to see a whole lot of photos before I was convinced that it was HER cat.
 

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Some links that are somewhat pertinent/similar stories.
http://www.justanswer.com/law/13g8v-owns-cat.html
Legal Rights and Duties in Lost Pet Disputes


http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/334000/Cat-fight-over-who-owns-the-pet-who-went-astray
http://www.cats.org.uk/uploads/documents/cat_care_leaflets/EG10-Catsandthelaw.pdf
http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13332-cop-cats-091204.pdf

I know the last few links are UK-based, but I don't know where the OP lives. Basically the links are food for thought.

It really sounds like you have a STRONGER claim for ownership than your co-worker. Start gathering receipts from your vet, photos, etc., anything to prove you have been caring for this little one for the last three years.
 

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Wow - LakotaWolf took the words right out of my mouth!!

Very suspicious story indeed....3 years later..I mean, the whole thing makes no sense. Does the coworker even live near you? And the nerve, after three years "give me the cat back" based on a photo? A lot of cats look alike. I've seen cats in people's signatures here that I swear are my Lestat's double! Definitely go with the identifying characteristics - special marks, scars, more proof etc. This coworker seems a little strange to me. She/he didn't look for the cat - you said you made an effort with posters, police, et cetera...did she ever mention it at work? "I've lost my cat!!" or anything?

Good luck with this dilemma!! You've provided her with a happy, loving home and a warm place to snuggle in bed and you are certainly NOT in the wrong.
 

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That was my question, does the co worker live near you? What does the cat look like? If it's black (or any solid) or tabby, plenty of cats look very much alike. Someone on the forum even has one that looks like my Muffin with a mark on her lip and everything. Imo you have had the cat and cared for the cat longer than her, so it would be yours now. You have vet records showing you took care of it and its injury. I would not give it to her.
 

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yeah i wouldnt believe her.....keep that kitty!
 

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You're not wrong. I would absolutely ask for proof that the cat is hers.

I know that I (and most of the people on CF) can produce proof of ownership by vet records that include a description of the cat, microchip (if she's not done by you already get it done ASAP), pet insurance, affidavits by friends, etc. In fact my apartment complex even has both of their pictures on file in case they ever escape and someone calls them in to the office.

I can tell you there is *NO WAY* in heaven or **** I'd give up either of my boys because someone showed up after 3 years and said they were theirs. On that note, I wouldn't have to GUESS if they were mine. I know every freckle, anomaly, smudge, and scar on both of them that would tell me without a shadow of a doubt if it was one of my boys.

At this point you've had her longer than they did. I would contact the vet and get a copy of all your records and any food bills if you keep them. I truly doubt she'll take this as far as court BUT I really doubt they'd win if they tried.
 

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Guilt her :p tell her that your child will be heartbroken because the cat has become their kitty... anyone who would tear an animal away from a child has no business having that animal in the first place.
 

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You are NOT in the wrong! Keep YOUR kitty. Like the others have said gather any and all documentation you could get your hands on to prove ownership of your pet. Hopefully, you microchipped her but even if you didn't make her prove it's her cat. DO NOT GIVE her your pet. You are the true owner now. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. If you actually possess something, you have a stronger legal claim to owning it than someone who merely says it belongs to him or her. Now, someone correct me if I'm wrong. But I would rather lose a co-worker "friendship" than a precious member of my family.
 

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Legally it's your cat.*

Morally it's your cat.




*Keep in mind that no one licensed to give legal advice gives legal advice on the internet.
 

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That was my question, does the co worker live near you? What does the cat look like? If it's black (or any solid) or tabby, plenty of cats look very much alike. Someone on the forum even has one that looks like my Muffin with a mark on her lip and everything. Imo you have had the cat and cared for the cat longer than her, so it would be yours now. You have vet records showing you took care of it and its injury. I would not give it to her.

And one of your kitties faces looks exactly like Gadget!
 

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You are NOT in the wrong! Keep YOUR kitty. Like the others have said gather any and all documentation you could get your hands on to prove ownership of your pet. Hopefully, you microchipped her but even if you didn't make her prove it's her cat. DO NOT GIVE her your pet. You are the true owner now. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. If you actually possess something, you have a stronger legal claim to owning it than someone who merely says it belongs to him or her. Now, someone correct me if I'm wrong. But I would rather lose a co-worker "friendship" than a precious member of my family.
Only way you could really prove 100% it was the co-workers is if it was microchipped and/or had a tatoo.
 

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There's been some good links and opinions posted here. I don't see any dilemma here, this is your cat. Even if your coworker is the one that originally owned it by proof of microchip or ear tattoo I think you have a stronger case, you've owned the cat longer, you took necessary steps to locate the owner (do you have any posters saved? where did you post them? vet offices and such? did you phone the SPCA or similar organizations?), you've taken the cat to the vet (get its vet records from the vet proving how long you've cared for this cat), and you have (I'll assume) pictures of it integrated as part of your family. As orrymain mentioned, possession is nine tenths of the law when it comes to animals, they're seen as property.


Plenty of cats can look like other cats, I would never give up a pet solely based on that. Especially solid colors, pointed (Siamese) colors and tabbies. I've seen cat pictures that looked identical in every way to my aunt's previous cat, even my aunt thought it was a picture of her cat (it was a lynx point that matched in markings, weight, eye color, face structure and color shading over the body to a T). I volunteer at a cat sanctuary of 700+ cats and some of those cats look very similar to each other, a few look almost like Blacky even with some white tuffs under their belly (I'd say at least 10 of the cats look like her), and of those one or two match her right down to the dainty body and face shape.


I'm curious, do you know if they own another cat now? If they do I'd flat out tell them no. Tell them getting two cats to get along can be very difficult, they've moved on with another pet and you've cared for this cat longer now, you love the cat. It's part of your family and your kid would be crushed. Maybe if you're on decent terms after this has been said, tell them they're welcome to come and visit.
 

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I think you're in the right to keep her. Looking at it from the cat's point of view, it would be very jarring for her to go from being a mostly indoor kitty with a lot of interaction with her people to living in a heated garage. She may not even have the "street smarts" necessary to be a mostly outside cat after living mostly indoors for so many years.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I have been given alot of advice, which is what I was looking for. My friends and family gave me the same, but they are my friends and family, so they tend to look at it more from the point of view of what is best for me, and not what is best for the cat.
I know I left out a few details, didn't know how in depth I should go. The photos I saw look exactly like Patches, she is a black and white long hair and has a black marking on half of her nose that is very distinctive. My co worker got the cat from her brother who owns a farm and has many farm cats, so I don't think she has "proof" of ownership, and she has no micro chip.
Patches is part of our family now, and I do feel for her previous owners, but I cant imagine giving her back. They live about 3-4 miles away, I figure Patches left their house, crossed the highway, got onto a snowmobile trail, and endned up at our house which is on a dead end. It has been about 3 weeks since this all started and my coworker had brought her kids over to see patches, at first she was saying that they "just wanted to see her to know that she really is ok", Then it switched to "My son really would like to try and have him back with us, he really needs that closure", ect.
My argument is, she has been in our family for 3 years, they intend on her being an outdoor cat at least part of the time and she is not familiar with the area they now live, it would break our daughters heart(and ours).
Do cats remember people out of their pasts? It did not seem like she remembered them when they were visiting.
Again Thanks for the advice and views on the situation.
 

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I think its just rude for her to ask for the cat back, and I agree it would be stressful to the cat to move it to that situation with people she may not have ever known or doesn't remember.

We lost a dog, Victor, a Lhasa Ahpsa some years ago, found his collar with the tags by the road. This was long before micro-chipping was available btw. Looked for him, pup up posters. someone called and said they thought they saw him dead by the highway. Went to look, didn't find anything.

Couple years later my Mom went to babysit for a friend who had recently moved into a new neighborhood. In that neighborhood she saw Victor in a fenced yard playing with a little girl. Mom stopped the car, walked up to the fence, called him, and he came running to her. The girl asked 'is this your dog?' and my mom said 'yes it is'...the girl burst into tears. Girl's mom came out of the house to see what was wrong. anyway, my Mom could see he was happy and well cared for (he had recently been groomed and given a manicure), so she said they could keep him.

I had gone off to college by then and he had probably been lonely at our family home, so I think it was for the best that he ended his days in a happy home with a young friend to play with.
 

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Where are you from?

There are usually laws that state property is legally yours after so long of being abandoned. I'm sure 3 years is plenty. You did everything you could to find it's owner.

This is one of the reasons I never take an animal from someone unless they sign an agreement. You never know if they'll come back say they want it back.
 

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Point out to your co-worker that not only would it break your child's heart, but it would cause enormous stress and anxiety for the poor cat itself to be uprooted at this point.

Closure was provided when they saw the cat is happy and safe in your home.

If they want a cat, suggest they rescue another needy one from the nearest shelter that doesn't already have a loving home the way yours already does.
 

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If her kid "needs closure" after only having the cat a year, what does she think it'll do to your daughter after three? Anyway it's not your fault that they lost the cat, and she should have tried harder to find it if her son needed it so badly. She sounds lazy and selfish!
 
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