At heart this is a cat story which is played out across the planet daily. A domestic cat belonging to one home owner is fed by another home owner down the street. It happens all the time and people normally accept it because they accept that domestic cats wander and don’t understand the human concept of ownership. Cats refuse to be owned!
The facts in summary of the story as we know them – courtesy The Mirror newspaper
Brackenbury Village, West London, UK: A handsome grey and white bicolour Maine Coon cat, called Ozzy, is ‘owned’ by Jackie Hall and her husband John a company director. Ozzy is an inside/outside cat. He wandered into the home of Nicola Lesbirel, a landscape gardener of repute.
Reading between the lines it is claimed by the Halls in County Court documents that Lesbirel tried to become Ozzy’s owner by fair means or foul over a four year period. It is alleged that she encouraged Ozzy to reside at her home and stay there by feeding him and placing a new collar around his neck on which were the words “My Home”.
This is denied by Lesbirel who said:
He’s an extremely determined cat
She said that he has so intent on staying in her garden that she has little choice but to step in and care for him
The Halls attached a GPS collar on Ozzy which allowed them to accurately track him around the neighbourhood. They discovered that he spent long periods at Lesbirel’s home in Hammersmith Grove.
As I read the story, the Halls perceived an attempt by Lesbirel to appropriate Ozzy by treating him as her own and felt that they had to go to court to stop her through an injunction. The Halls employed a top barrister, a QC, to represent them at court which inflated the legal costs to £20,000.
A full hearing was not required because Lesbirel wisely decided to provide a binding undertaking in writing to restrict her interactions with Ozzy. A sensible outcome it must be said.
The story as told indicates (no more) that Lesbirel took a fancy to Ozzy and I can see why. He is gorgeous. A big, proud Maine Coon who liked Lesbirel because she loved cats. In some ways I don’t blame her for pampering Ozzy but it may have gradually developed to a situation beyond that to an attempt to claim ownership. It is a story which turns on the difficulties of saying that cats can be owned in practice even though the law is clear that they are chattels like any other.