NEWS AND COMMENT- YORK, UK: A woman, Ms Angela Montgomery, living in a retirement complex owned by a housing association, who’s grieving after the passing of her mother, is convinced that her mother’s cats live with her elderly male neighbour who needs crutches. She also believes that one of the cats is hers. She wants them back. In order to get them back she tries to entice them to her apartment by rattling cat treats and doing all manner of other things (e.g. crawling into her neighbour’s home to grab the cats) which has resulted in her going to prison for being in breach of restraining orders handed down by York Crown Court.
Some say that she needs mental health support and that her obsession with getting the cats back is exacerbated by the passing of her mother. She is insistent that the cats once belonged to her mother despite the fact that they are micro-chipped and the details on the microchips state that her neighbour owns them.
It should be said that details on a microchip are not, on their own, evidence that a person owns cats. They simply add to the evidence.
Because of Montgomery’s continual breaches of restraining orders to leave her elderly neighbour alone, she’s been told by Judge Morris at York Crown Court that she should sell her apartment and move out of the area. If she doesn’t, he has threatened her with a further jail term that would, in any case, result in her losing her apartment. I presume that this would be under the terms of her agreement with the landlord.
She has been in breach of restraining orders six times. She is now at her final chance to change her ways.
Her neighbours say that she has shattered the peace of a once pleasant apartment block which is for the over 55’s. One neighbour said that Montgomery is not over 55.
In court, the prosecuting lawyer said that Montgomery has 13 previous convictions. She’s been seen on CCTV cameras outside her neighbour’s window in the early hours of the morning lurking around. She’s been seen walking past her neighbour’s property calling for a cat while trying to avoid the camera. Her behaviour has caused her neighbour to suffer “significant alarm”. He called the police.
Her defence lawyer at court said that “Ms Montgomery tells me they are her cats”. Her lawyer said that Montgomery had not had the chance yet to engage with probation services and mental health support since her release from prison at the end of November. It appears that she will receive counselling for the bereavement of her mother and anger management.
One neighbour said: “She became convinced that her neighbour’s cats were actually hers and it’s caused a really awful situation for him, she simply won’t leave it alone. She is always trying to entice the cat into her flat and despite warnings from the court she just won’t stop and it’s caused understandable anxiety. He was forced to put up to CCTV cameras either side of his door and didn’t know what she was going to do next. He has been physically assaulted by her while walking from his flat on two crutches, it was distressing for him and even the people who witnessed it.”
Further comment: if Montgomery is correct and her mother’s cats have migrated to her neighbour then it wouldn’t be the first time! The story in some ways goes to the heart of a continual problem with domestic cats namely that you don’t really own them. They decide to live with you and if they change their mind and live with somebody else you really have to accept it. You can’t treat them as a possession in the same way that you possess an inanimate object. There have been a number of ownership disputes over domestic cats over the years. Ultimately the cat decides where to live and if you’ve lost your cat that way so be it.
Of course, what I’ve said is not strictly legally accurate because under the law domestic cat are possessions like an inanimate object but in practice it doesn’t work like that.
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