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Topic ClosedNeed advice regarding pet ownership dilemma

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Ka0006 View Drop Down
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Joined: 10/July/2018
Location: Australia
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Need advice regarding pet ownership dilemma
    Posted: 10/July/2018 at 17:35
Hi, I have purchased a home and moved in in Sep 2017. The old owner had a cat which she 'apparently' couldn't find on her move out day.
Her daughter came back about a week or two later to see if we got the cat. At that time we only saw the cat during the inspection day a month before (Aug '17).
About a month later after moving in the cat returned to the property and wanted to stay in the house. It was very skinny and we let her eat and stay as she pleased. We also let the real estate agent know that the cat was around and told him to tell the owners that the cat has returned. We wanted to give it back before we got attached to her.


The cat was not a special breed and looked over 2 years old. We feed her regularly and even installed a cat door in the laundry after the real estate agent haven't got back to us, (it was obviously an outdoor cat as the previous owners didn't have a way for the cat to get inside the house). She looks much healthier now rather then when we saw her on the inspection day before moving in to the property. She responds and comes when I call her to come to the house too now. She even comes out and greets me when I return home in the car regularly.


The other day now 10 months later the owner (daughter of the previous owner of the property) of the cat came and said she was expecting a parcel but it was coming to her old address. I came out to check the mail but it wasn't there but 3 of the 5 letters were for her mother (they still haven't changed address for many things even after 10 months). She asked if she could leave the number so I could contact her when her parcel came.I said it was fine and wrote down her phone. At the end she asked me of I have seen a dark cat around as they couldn't get her when they moved out as she 'doesn't come' when they call her and is hard to get.


I have since given the cat a new name (I don't know what they called her) and she regularly comes and responds to it.
I am an animal lover and I was happy to take care of the cat and not give it to the shelter after all this time the owners haven't really attempted to retrieve their pet.
Is it actually legal for me to keep her as during her questioning of the cat I have told her that I only saw it occasionally.

I would be grateful for any advice for this situation!!

citizen-joe View Drop Down
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Joined: 09/October/2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 587
Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/July/2018 at 23:50
If you know this cat is the previous owners cat, you have your answer.

Nothing to stop you advising the previous owners that the cat appears periodically and that you have fed it and are fond of it and would like to offer to look after it. You could make a nominal offer for the cat.

Ka0006 View Drop Down
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Joined: 10/July/2018
Location: Australia
Posts: 5
Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/July/2018 at 09:54
I see... I was hoping there were some grounds for me to keep the cat after 10 months straight of them not enquirering about it.
I really don’t want to give her back because I know that they took poor care of her. They had another cat that they managed to get and it had very knotted fur... not to mention the state they left the house in was very terrible with a built up of years of tar from smoking indoors. They dog peed on walls and there was mouse poo in kitchen draws..

They had two cats and didn’t install a cat door too...
I know it’s their cat but I can’t give a living thing that needs to be cared for to people who can’t even look after a house...

Eddy View Drop Down
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Joined: 14/December/2012
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/July/2018 at 12:42
There may have been a communication problem - the real estate agent may not have been passing on the correct information to her (original cat owner), or even from her to you. She may have given up the cat as lost or dead - there's only so much she could reasonably do.

I would say that it's still their cat and they might want it back if they find out you have it. Just remember they may have enough interest in it to want to take you to court to recover it, and I don't think you would have a case to claim it as yours now.

Out of interest, what did you tell the original cat owner when she came around (about the mail) and asked if you'd seen the cat?

Ka0006 View Drop Down
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Joined: 10/July/2018
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/July/2018 at 14:08
If I fed and looked after the cat and spent money on it for 10 months straight and they haven’t come in all this time they still have a case? She doesn’t even live far, just one suburb over.

At the end she asked if I have seen a dark cat around . I said ‘ Sometimes, occasionally...’

Eddy View Drop Down
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Joined: 14/December/2012
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/July/2018 at 16:44
You spent the money on your own undertaking and it doesn't legally entitle you to ownership by doing so.

You were also fraudulent in your response to the owner - you should have told them that you've been looking after the cat for the past 10 months. You're illegally preventing them from accessing what is rightfully theirs.

Ka0006 View Drop Down
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Joined: 10/July/2018
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/July/2018 at 18:08
Originally posted by Eddy

You spent the money on your own undertaking and it doesn't legally entitle you to ownership by doing so.

You were also fraudulent in your response to the owner - you should have told them that you've been looking after the cat for the past 10 months. You're illegally preventing them from accessing what is rightfully theirs.


At the very beginning we have informed the real estate agent that the cat was here and they can retrieve her.
After we have not herd from them for over a week we installed a cat door so she can actually go in and out of weather (it was winter).
We could have given her to a pound but the cat looked like she was between 5 to 8 years old and unlikely to be adopted. She was skinny and acted quite feral.
Now she looks like she could be about 2 to 5 years old and put on weight.

How can I give her to people who haven't come for 10 MONTHS??? If I handed her over I wouldn't be able to sleep at night because I know these people can't even take care of a house let alone a living thing! If I had to leave a cat behind I would be back every day!

Eddy View Drop Down
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Joined: 14/December/2012
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/July/2018 at 20:02
My points are:
- you don't know what information actually got back to the owner, or from them to you (why would the real estate agent go out of their way and chase this up - they have no interest to spend time doing this)
- you don't know to what extent the owner tried to come back and find the cat (earlier they didn't directly contact you - maybe they just drove around the neighbourhood)
- when the owner did contact you, you pretty much lied to them by not divulging what had actually been going on

You clearly want the cat and someone to tell you that it is all legal now, but the fact is that it's not. Sounds like the owners may not take legal action but there's going to be bad blood at the least if they find out. Maybe one of your neighbours is still in contact with the owner and there's a possibility that they'll tell them that they've seen you with the cat.

If you really wanted to do the right thing you'd be telling the owner (you have their contact details).

Ka0006 View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/July/2018 at 20:16
Of course I want to keep the cat...
that is why I posted this discussion for me to get advice on how to keep her legally.

But, its not because I love the cat, its actually making my life more difficult because I can't go away without finding someone to feed her for long periods of time.
The reason why I don't want to give her back because:

1. I know she was neglected.
2. I know she was underfed.
3. It was evident she wasn't treated well because she spooked easily but she's fine now.
4. They had two cats and no cat door to let them come in.
5. She does go outside often and if they drove around and called her she would have came because when I go outside and call her she comes withing a minute or two so she doesn't go far.
6. They could have come earlier to ask about the cat if they really cared...
7. I don't want to give the animal to people like that even though I would personally rather not have to look after an adult cat. If I wanted a cat that badly I would have gotten a kitten.
8. I don't want the animal to suffer so I'm trying to find a way to give her a good life.

jaazzz View Drop Down
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Joined: 19/September/2009
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Posts: 6405
Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/July/2018 at 22:50
Originally posted by Ka0006

Of course I want to keep the cat...
that is why I posted this discussion for me to get advice on how to keep her legally.

But, its not because I love the cat, its actually making my life more difficult because I can't go away without finding someone to feed her for long periods of time.


You can keep her legally only by getting permission of the original owners.

Pets are property in the eyes of the law. It was left there & you have acquired it & cared for it but that still dosen't mean you have a legal right to it.

If it is a burden as you say then either give it to them, to an animal shelter or to someone who you know will take good care of it

If you can't do that then you are attached to it. That means you are responsible for it & must accept the good with the bad... In that case keep it but don't debate here about whether it's legal or not...

You have been given your answer to that question repeatedly

Question answered
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