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Stray kitty turns out to be neglected neighbors' kitty, now they want her back! Help!

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
We need advice ASAP.

Early Aug. a stray kitty started coming around. Tremendously undernourished, filthy, covered with fleas. Ear tips raw, I assume from flea bites. We fed her. A couple weeks later (mid Aug.) she showed up with 4 kittens, they all took up residence first in a brush pile near our house then in our garage a few days later. I gave all the kittens flea baths as, like mom, they were loaded with them and put up fliers all over town to adopt them out, and took mom to the vets. On Sept 1 we had the mom spayed so there would be no more unwanted kittens and the vet said she was likely to come into heat again any day. Today, Sept 8, over 2 weeks since we put up our first fliers, we received a phone call from people that live near by (about 500 feet) saying the cat and kittens are their barn cats and they want them back.

I hate to give any of these cats back as the mom was obviously very neglected and the others most likely will be too. Do I have the right to tell these people they cannot have the mom back unless they pay the vet bills, including the spaying? The lady who called said they didn't have any intention of spaying her so they don't want to pay for it.

The lady is coming by tomorrow to pick up the kittens.

Can you advise us as to what rights we have concerning these animals. Our intentions were to keep the mom as a pampered house kitty and find good homes for all the kittens, they have been put on a waiting list for a local animal rescue org. In the mean time, we would give them all proper care including shelter, shots, keeping them free of fleas, and getting each neutered or spayed.

BTW, neither mom nor kittens were forced to stay here except, of course, after the spaying where mom is recouperating in the the house.


hairballmom
post #2 of 28
Are you sure its her cat ? Did she describe her to you or did you have the description in the posts ? Did she know the cat was pregnant?
post #3 of 28
I know this might sound bad, but this is what I'd do:


I would not give her those cats back ever. I would lie or do whatever to make sure she didn't get that. I don't care if that's wrong, but she obviously wasn't taking care of them.
post #4 of 28
Oh I would not give them back, no way and if you have to tell them that they need to pay you for all that vet care and whatever else and they say they can't pay it, oh well tough they didn't take care of her before so they don't need her now, that's how I feel..
post #5 of 28
I believe you are looking advice on what you can legally do about keeping her from getting this cat and her kittens.

I would phone the local human society, tell them the whole story about the fleas, emaciation, neutering, etc. and ask their advice. It might turn out that they will want to check to see if there are other animals at that person's place that are not being cared for.
post #6 of 28
It sounds like they knew that a caring person had them for this long, and probably got her in better condition, so now they want a healthy cat back
If she looks that much better now, they may not be able to truly say that is their cat. I would not give them squat, and if they get more cats, I would call the authorities..
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the advice. As far as I'm concerned this person has no business having cats it they are taken care of like this poor little girl was. I did call animal welfare this afternoon, right after this person called and said the cats were hers, to get legal advice from them but they were closed for the day. They will be open again in the morning so I'm going to try again then, hopefully I can reach them before this lady gets here.

I do not want to give any these cats back, it's braking my heart. Up until Aug 31, this little girl and her kittens could have gone back home any time they wanted but they chose to stay here.

Hubby is concerned about making trouble with these people. We have never met them but he has heard from other sourses that they are lowlife.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to get this person to leave all the cats here in a tactful way. Hubby has even suggested offering to pay her for them.

hairballmom
post #8 of 28
Tell her they ran away .......
post #9 of 28
from Michigan too!

Do you happen to have any pictures of her condition when you first found her? What about vet records? Make sure you document everything as it's happening (conversations with her, pics, records, etc...) in case you need it in the future. It's a simple thing you can do now that may come in very handy when you least expect it. Sometimes even after you think a situation is resolved...

I'm not sure what you can do legally but I do think you should be preparred for anything!

Did this lady ever say why she wants the cats back? Is she aware of all the things you did to get the poor little girl on her way back into perfect health?
post #10 of 28
Can they prove the cat is theirs?
Neckless, tatoo in the ear, ship or old photos. Did they search for the cat when she dissappeared? Did they rapport her as lost any where?
Ask them to prove that the cat is theirs. I can't imagine that they can claim an animal if they can't prove it is theirs.
Do not give them the cats back.

Some of the treatments was nessacary for the sake of kittys health. If they can prove the cat is theirs I would ask the veterinary for a rapport on the health of the cat and go to the police and rapport them for animal abuse and ask them how to go from there.
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
I believe you are looking advice on what you can legally do about keeping her from getting this cat and her kittens.

I would phone the local human society, tell them the whole story about the fleas, emaciation, neutering, etc. and ask their advice. It might turn out that they will want to check to see if there are other animals at that person's place that are not being cared for.
I second this advice. I would not hand over the kittens or cat over to these people without some proof of their ownership. They should have at least a record of the cat's rabies and initial shots.

Katie
post #12 of 28
Michigan State's website www.animallaw.com has an article regarding lost dogs (but it refers to both dogs and cats) that you can check out:http://www.animallaw.info/articles/ovuslostdog.htm. It seems to say that the TRUE OWNER can come claim the animal, but that the Court would look into all the things that Malena suggested (Good job, Malena ) You might be able to speak with someone at the Detroit Michigan Humane Society, even though it's Saturday.
On the other hand, maybe your hubby has the best idea yet - to offer to pay for the cats. Since these are lowlifes, you may not want to get on their bad side because of retaliation; however, they may have plenty of reasons not to want to get the law involved - my advice is, until you have plenty of information on the options available, do not surrender the cats! Tell them you need some time to get some information about "something", then don't explain - leave them to wonder what the "something" might be, and let their guilty minds and imagination do the rest!
post #13 of 28
A nice shuffle to get them to deny ownership would probably be to stress that you are sure no one owned the cat that moved on to your property because if it had been owned the person would be guilty of animal abuse and the authorities you have already spoken to will want to talk to whoever may claim the cat you called them about.


It may be the easier softer way to give them money for the cat and her babies if they don't want a lot of money.
However, they may be of the mind that they want the cat and kittens and no money will do. Besides I am thinking that they might really try to take advantage and gouge you if they think they have the upper hand.

With a cat in Michigan, I don't think a person can claim ownership if they cannot present legal proof of such. If they had vet records, then the cat would not have been in such deplorable condition.

I think you have good footing on this and may be able to talk them into deciding the cat was only similar to theirs.

Good luck to you ion this and I hope you will let us know how things turn out.
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by tru View Post
A nice shuffle to get them to deny ownership would probably be to stress that you are sure no one owned the cat that moved on to your property because if it had been owned the person would be guilty of animal abuse and the authorities you have already spoken to will want to talk to whoever may claim the cat you called them about.
That is the most wonderful advice I have heard, couldn't have said it better myself. I will also add to that with some things that were already said. Talk to the humane soceity or something and give them her name and your name and get the person you speak with names and everything written down that you called, get all your vet paperwork for the cat together and see what additional advice the humane society has.
post #15 of 28
This happened to my neighbor and it got ugly not to make you more nervous or anything but they started coming to there house and such. But she called the police and they said all they could do is make sure they stay away from them. Well i asked the shelter i work for and they said they need LEGAL proof of ownership.

Pictures are not much proof since it could just be a cat that looks like the one you own say the cat is black and they have a picture of a black cat. Black cats look the same! The vet bills are in your name now the cats are yours and that is LEGAL proof YOU own the cats and have evidence from a vet. Cats are not like dogs they can not be claimed back if there outside with no tags or something to suggest they are the owners. Good Luck
post #16 of 28
As a friend of mine says, "No good deed goes unpunished."

Excellent advice above, and thank heaven for people like you...now, if we could just find another planet for people like them....
post #17 of 28
I think you've received some excellent advice here. I would imagine these people cannot prove the cat was their's. You posted flyers and had no response for 2 weeks. The vet bills are in your name. Besides telling them that you've spoken to the mythical "someone" about the abuse/neglect the mama had received, I'd also let them know the vet was eager to report a clear case of neglect to the authorities. ( a little white lie that helps a kitty can't be wrong).
If you haven't already said, "gosh, this must be your cat"---don't! Above all, make them prove this was their cat. I really think you've got everything on your side. I hope you can work this out peacefully. Best of luck.
post #18 of 28
LOL I have a ton to say.... soooooo, our TNR coordinators JUST went to a feral cat summit on Saturday. One attended a class about ferals and the law. now technically i know mom isn't a "feral" in the sense of these people think they own her... but, if you operating on the belief that it was a stray or feral, the LAW in my state (CA) says that if you feed a stray or feral for 30 days, YOU ARE THE LEGAL GUARDIAN. (CA is one of only 3 states i could find that have feral cat specific legislation) that being said.... here's a Michigan specific statute about care:

Citation: Mich. Comp. Laws 750.50

Citation: MCL 750.50

Summary: This statute sets out the Michigan duty of care for all vertebrate animals, including what define adequate food, water, and shelter. Also explained are the penalty and forfeiture provisions for violations of the statute. The exclusions under the statute include those animals used in hunting, fishing, trapping, horse racing, farming, zoos, and scientific research.


Statute in Full:

Sec. 50. (1) As used in this section and section 50b:

(a) "Adequate care" means the provision of sufficient food, water, shelter, sanitary conditions, exercise, and veterinary medical attention in order to maintain an animal in a state of good health.

(b) "Animal" means 1 or more vertebrates other than a human being.

(c) "Animal protection shelter" means a facility operated by a person, humane society, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or any other nonprofit organization for the care of homeless animals.

(d) "Animal control shelter" means a facility operated by a county, city, village, or township to impound and care for animals found in streets or otherwise at large contrary to any ordinance of the county, city, village, or township or state law.

(e) "Licensed veterinarian" means a person licensed to practice veterinary medicine under article 15 of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.16101 to 333.18838. (f) "Livestock" means that term as defined in the animal industry act of 1987, 1988 PA 466, MCL 287.701 to 287.747.

(g) "Person" means an individual, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, association, governmental entity, or other legal entity.

(h) "Neglect" means to fail to sufficiently and properly care for an animal to the extent that the animal's health is jeopardized.

(i) "Sanitary conditions" means space free from health hazards including excessive animal waste, overcrowding of animals, or other conditions that endanger the animal's health. This definition does not include a condition resulting from a customary and reasonable practice pursuant to farming or animal husbandry.

(j) "Shelter" means adequate protection from the elements and weather conditions suitable for the age, species, and physical condition of the animal so as to maintain the animal in a state of good health. Shelter, for livestock, includes structures or natural features such as trees or topography. Shelter for a dog shall include 1 or more of the following:

(i) The residence of the dog's owner or other individual.

(ii) A doghouse that is an enclosed structure with a roof and of appropriate dimensions for the breed and size of the dog. The doghouse shall have dry bedding when the outdoor temperature is or is predicted to drop below freezing.

(iii) A structure, including, but not limited to, a garage, barn, or shed that is sufficiently insulated and ventilated to protect the dog from exposure to extreme temperatures or, if not sufficiently insulated and ventilated, contains a doghouse as provided under subparagraph (ii) that is accessible to the dog.

(k) "State of good health" means freedom from disease and illness, and in a condition of proper body weight and temperature for the age and species of the animal, unless the animal is undergoing appropriate treatment.

(l) "Tethering" means the restraint and confinement of a dog by use of a chain, rope, or similar device.

(m) "Water" means potable water that is suitable for the age and species of animal, made regularly available unless otherwise directed by a veterinarian licensed to practice veterinary medicine.

(2) An owner, possessor, or person having the charge or custody of an animal shall not do any of the following:

(a) Fail to provide an animal with adequate care.

(b) Cruelly drive, work, or beat an animal, or cause an animal to be cruelly driven, worked, or beaten.

(c) Carry or cause to be carried in or upon a vehicle or otherwise any live animal having the feet or legs tied together, other than an animal being transported for medical care, or a horse whose feet are hobbled to protect the horse during transport or in any other cruel and inhumane manner.

(d) Carry or cause to be carried a live animal in or upon a vehicle or otherwise without providing a secure space, rack, car, crate, or cage, in which livestock may stand, and in which all other animals may stand, turn around, and lie down during transportation, or while awaiting slaughter. As used in this subdivision, for purposes of transportation of sled dogs, "stand" means sufficient vertical distance to allow the animal to stand without its shoulders touching the top of the crate or transportation vehicle.

(e) Abandon an animal or cause an animal to be abandoned, in any place, without making provisions for the animal's adequate care, unless premises are temporarily vacated for the protection of human life during a disaster. An animal that is lost by an owner or custodian while traveling, walking, hiking or hunting shall not be regarded as abandoned under this section when the owner or custodian has made a reasonable effort to locate the animal.

(f) Willfully or negligently allow any animal, including one who is aged, diseased, maimed, hopelessly sick, disabled, or nonambulatory to suffer unnecessary neglect, torture, or pain.

(g) Tether a dog unless the tether is at least 3 times the length of the dog as measured from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail and is attached to a harness or nonchoke collar designed for tethering.

(3) If an animal is impounded and is being held by an animal control shelter or its designee or an animal protection shelter or its designee or a licensed veterinarian pending the outcome of a criminal action charging a violation of this section or section 50b, before final disposition of the criminal charge, the prosecuting attorney may file a civil action in the court that has jurisdiction of the criminal action, requesting that the court issue an order forfeiting the animal to the animal control shelter or animal protection shelter or to a licensed veterinarian before final disposition of the criminal charge. The prosecuting attorney shall serve a true copy of the summons and complaint upon the defendant and upon a person with a known ownership interest or known security interest in the animal or a person who has filed a lien with the secretary of state in an animal involved in the pending action. The forfeiture of an animal under this section encumbered by a security interest is subject to the interest of the holder of the security interest who did not have prior knowledge of, or consent to the commission of the crime. Upon the filing of the civil action, the court shall set a hearing on the complaint. The hearing shall be conducted within 14 days of the filing of the civil action, or as soon as practicable. The hearing shall be before a judge without a jury. At the hearing, the prosecuting attorney has the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation of this section or section 50b occurred. If the court finds that the prosecuting attorney has met this burden, the court shall order immediate forfeiture of the animal to the animal control shelter or animal protection shelter or the licensed veterinarian unless the defendant, within 72 hours of the hearing, submits to the court clerk cash or other form of security in an amount determined by the court to be sufficient to repay all reasonable costs incurred, and anticipated to be incurred, by the animal control shelter or animal protection shelter or the licensed veterinarian in caring for the animal from the date of initial impoundment to the date of trial. If cash or other security has been submitted, and the trial in the action is continued at a later date, any order of continuance shall require the defendant to submit additional cash or security in an amount determined by the court to be sufficient to repay all additional reasonable costs anticipated to be incurred by the animal control shelter or animal protection shelter or the licensed veterinarian in caring for the animal until the new date of trial. If the defendant submits cash or other security to the court under this subsection the court may enter an order authorizing the use of that money or other security before final disposition of the criminal charges to pay the reasonable costs incurred by the animal control shelter or animal protection shelter or the licensed veterinarian in caring for the animal from the date of impoundment to the date of final disposition of the criminal charges. The testimony of a person at a hearing held under this subsection is not admissible against him or her in any criminal proceeding except in a criminal prosecution for perjury. The testimony of a person at a hearing held under this subsection does not waive the person's constitutional right against self-incrimination. An animal seized under this section or section 50b is not subject to any other civil action pending the final judgment of the forfeiture action under this subsection.

(4) A person who violates subsection (2) is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or community service for not more than 200 hours, or any combination of these penalties and the cost of prosecution. A person who violates subsection (2) on a second occasion is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00 or community service for not more than 300 hours, or any combination of these penalties and the cost of prosecution. A person who violates subsection (2) on a third or subsequent occasion is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00 or community service for not more than 500 hours, or any combination of these penalties and the cost of prosecution.

(5) If forfeiture is not ordered pursuant to subsection (3), as a part of the sentence for a violation of subsection (2), the court may order the defendant to pay the costs of the care, housing, and veterinary medical care for the animal, as applicable. If the court does not order a defendant to pay all of the applicable costs listed in this subsection, or orders only partial payment of these costs, the court shall state on the record the reason for that action.

(6) As a part of the sentence for a violation of subsection (2), the court may, as a condition of probation, order the defendant not to own or possess an animal for a period of time not to exceed the period of probation. If a person is convicted of a second or subsequent violation of subsection (2), a court order under this subsection may order the defendant not to own or possess an animal for any period of time which may include permanent relinquishment of animal ownership.

(7) A person who owns or possesses an animal in violation of an order issued under subsection (6) is subject to revocation of probation if the order is issued as a condition of probation. A person who owns or possesses an animal in violation of an order issued under subsection (6) is also subject to the civil and criminal contempt power of the court, and if found guilty of criminal contempt, may be punished by imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or by a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.

(8) This section does not prohibit the lawful killing or other use of an animal, including, but not limited to, the following:

(a) Fishing.

(b) Hunting, trapping, or wildlife control regulated pursuant to the natural resources and environmental protection act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.101 to 324.90106.

(c) Horse racing.
post #19 of 28
Wow. That was comprehensive To be honest, I'd just say the cats ran away or something, and I think that everyone else's ideas have all been great! Good luck, don't let them have 'em.
post #20 of 28
I think I'd call them back and tell them that sorry, you were mistaken, it's not their cat, and the owners already showed up with pictures and vet records-and that's all they need to know- and that true owner is YOU!
post #21 of 28
So how did it go? Did they show up and what did you do?
post #22 of 28
Please update, I'm really dieing to know how it turned out!!!
post #23 of 28
Yes, please let us know what happened!!!
post #24 of 28
I've been thinking about this Mama kitty & her babies for days; I'm so hoping things are going ok.
[quote][/QUOTE think I'd call them back and tell them that sorry, you were mistaken, it's not their cat, and the owners already showed up with pictures and vet records-and that's all they need to know- and that true owner is YOU]
I think that's a great idea, although you might have to convince them that the "original owners" decided to let you keep the kitties.
post #25 of 28
If they never come over, and if she's going to be an indoor cat, that probably won't be a problem, as I don't see them coming over for tea! And she could contact local rescue groups for courtesy listings for the kittens, until one of the groups could take them in, and that would eliminate the flyers in her immediate area . And post them singularly- a group might be recognized, but individual kittens, I'm betting, wouldn't be .

If they do see her later, then, since you weren't repaid for the vet bill, you are keeping her, since the original owners took such bad care of her.

How did it go? If you did end up giving her back, maybe she'll find her way back- if that happens, just keep her . If they call, nope, you haven't seen "their cat'' .
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by IloveSiamese View Post
I know this might sound bad, but this is what I'd do:


I would not give her those cats back ever. I would lie or do whatever to make sure she didn't get that. I don't care if that's wrong, but she obviously wasn't taking care of them.
It's not wrong. Property rights don't take precedence over animal welfare.

Can you pay her off? Possibly she will accept a small sum for each cat--$30, maybe, which is about what a shelter would charge--in exchange for letting you have them?

If the cats were flea-ridden and undernourished, surely she cannot have enough emotional attachment to them to want to keep them...
post #27 of 28
wow, I just jumped in and read all of that, I need an update! What happened?!
post #28 of 28
If you haven't already, I would keep mama and the kittens inside so that if the women comes by to get them she will not be able to steal them. That would be terrible if one day you woke up just to find that she had taken them back after the fight that you have gone through to keep them.

Good luck and I hope you can find them all GOOD homes.
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