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Stray Cat Ownership question

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
What are the laws in California defining what the definition of a stray cat?

I ask because i have gotten into a argument with someone over the ownership rights of a cat that i have been taking care of. Here is the long story...

The cat was part of a group of stray kittens that was living at our school. one of them wandered into our workshop one night and we began taking care of it. When it first wandered in it was terrified of people and was hiding under supplies in the workshop. Over the next week we slowly got it to the point where it loved humans and we named it. It would crawl up people backs and sleep on your shoulders. We taught it to use a litter box. It was also afraid of going back out doors, but we slowly got it more accustomed to going back outside. We did this for a week while we were there almost 24 hours a day. The we had to go away as a group for a couple of days. With the intent of one of the group members taking it home when we got back. but we did not want to move it into a home until we could be with it.

So, we had a friend come in every day to play with it and feed it while we were gone. One of the faculty at the school knew it was there, as well as knew that we had someone coming in and taking care of it while we were gone. He had also started taking it out of our building without our knowledge during the day.

The problem arises in that another student at the school found out about the cat when it was out one day and asked the other faculty if anyone was taking car of it. for some reason their appeared to have been a misunderstanding and the new student took it home to his wife and kids without approval from anyone who had been taking care of it. The faculty that knew about it then left us a note saying that the cat would be back on Monday. Only the student who took it had no intention of returning the cat unless it did not get along with his family.

Now he is claiming that it is his cat because he took it home and it was still a stray at the time he "found" it. and is refusing to give it back.

Is there any legal precedent to show that it is our cat? do we have a valid argument that it was ours? He is refusing to give it back, how do we go about getting it back? Does anyone have experience in this sort of situation?

Sorry for the long post, i hope it makes since i am pretty heated right now after getting of the phone with the student who took her.
post #2 of 12
You wanted to find the cat a home and the cat now has a home. I would be happy for the cat and forget how it came about.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
sorry perhaps it was unclear.

We had already found it a home as one of the group members already had plans to take it home as soon as we got back. we just felt that it was not fair to the cat to move it to a new place before we left only to have it then be alone there. So we kept it where it was comfortable with a care taker coming in to take care of it. with all intentions of moving it as soon as we got back.
post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by M3Shark View Post
sorry perhaps it was unclear.

We had already found it a home as one of the group members already had plans to take it home as soon as we got back. we just felt that it was not fair to the cat to move it to a new place before we left only to have it then be alone there. So we kept it where it was comfortable with a care taker coming in to take care of it. with all intentions of moving it as soon as we got back.
ooo - sorry! You probably WERE clear, my brain just is not working apparently. *Rereads post....
I would think that since the cat was not on property that you owned, then you are probably out of luck. If someone came onto your property, you could say they trespassed and stole the cat. Since the cat did not yet have an owner, even thought you were planning it, they might win this one.
post #5 of 12
I'm inclined to say that the cat has a home (hopefully a good one) and that was the point all along, so the matter should be dropped. If the person who was going to take him still wants a kitty, there's certainly no shortage at the local shelter. Although I would be upset if I had gotten attached to the cat, I would be happy he was in a good home.
post #6 of 12
Hummm... I believe you have enough witnesses to say that the kitty had an owner - why don't you go to the police and register a case that he was stolen? You need to make sure though that people will back you up...
post #7 of 12
I am trying to look at our state laws for you.
post #8 of 12
in many cities, whoever feeds a stray cat is their apparent owner, so you might have a case for stolen property. what the guy did sucks, but do you really want to pursue this course of action? there are so many cats who need homes ... ha, we don't hear many stories here about people fighting over which home to send a stray cat
post #9 of 12
I think the important thing in this situation is to choose your battle carefully.

You first need to ask yourself if the cat is indeed in a good safe home as of right now. If the answer is yes you then need to ask yourself if it is really worth causing a battle between your group and your colleague's group. If the cat is in a good safe home with a family that will take care of him with proper medical care then I think that in the best interest of the cat, let the situation come to an end peacefully and let their family keep kitty. If police have to get involved over this you could irreparably damage any working relationship you have with this person.

On the other hand if you feel that the cat is going into a situation where he would not be safe, such as they are just going to let him be an outdoor cat, they don't plan on spaying/neutering, or they just want him for a mouser or barn cat, then find out what your rights are and then proceed from there. The well being of the cat is what is important.

If your co-worker who was going to take the cat really did get attached and really still wants that kitty, then approach the person who took the cat and discuss it like adults. If that proves fruitless then Willowy is right there are sooooo many homeless cats living in cages at the shelter who would love to find a lifetime of happiness with your co-worker.
post #10 of 12
I tend to agree with Mai_kitties.

There may also a compromise.

What sucks, is he adopted a cat infostered by someone else. took someone elses ripe fruit so to speak.

The compromise may thus be, he does voluntarily pay some money to - say a cat shelter, or almost any other good cause, in the name of this cat - or the coworker... (im not sure which is better )
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by techiegirl View Post
You wanted to find the cat a home and the cat now has a home. I would be happy for the cat and forget how it came about.
I agree!
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by StefanZ View Post
I tend to agree with Mai_kitties.

There may also a compromise.

What sucks, is he adopted a cat infostered by someone else. took someone elses ripe fruit so to speak.

The compromise may thus be, he does voluntarily pay some money to - say a cat shelter, or almost any other good cause, in the name of this cat - or the coworker... (im not sure which is better )
It sounded to me like the present faculty member miscommunicated to the student and that the student took the cat home under honest circumstances. The family probably got attached and the kitten worked out and therefore he did not bring the cat back. Unless the cat was "already" owned (and yeah, I know that the plan was for that other person to come back and take him home) and in its new home and unless there was something super extra special about this specific cat, I wouldn't fight it.
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