Cat custody dispute – ASAP!

////Cat custody dispute – ASAP!


A woman left her cat to her ex (my roommate) 6 months ago for caretaking and left the country. During that time, she never contacted him and he gave the cat to me. I bought pet insurance & taken her to the vet (so I have medical records), have gotten her vaccines and cleared out an ear infection she had for years.

The woman has now suddenly contacted my roommate asking for the cat back, while I want to dispute that. Unfortunately microchip is still registered under her name and she claims to have adoption papers. I have been taking great care of the cat - to which my roommate said the cat is much healthier & happier with me - and she has been a great emotional support animal for me. I need representation to fight this woman's claim to pet ownership - what do I need to do that?


People who agree to pet-sit do not generally have the right to re-home the animal without the consent of the animal's "parent." Also, ownership does not transfer to a caregiver simply because the caregiver decides that the animal is better off with him or her. People who believe that their animal is being wrongfully withheld may sue to try to get the animal returned and may contact the police (although the police tend not to get involved in pet custody disputes). If litigated, a court could decide that an animal should be deemed abandoned or gifted, depending on the facts and circumstances of each case, particularly if an animal has been left for much longer than agreed upon. Alternatively, a court could decide that the animal was being boarded/fostered and should be returned, as that was the original agreement. Sometimes, people who are not very bonded with their animal will agree to re-home the animal, occasionally for a fee. Worth noting as well is a law in New York that addresses when an animal left for boarding may be deemed abandoned. The law provides that an animal left for a specified time will be deemed abandoned when not removed after notice to remove the animal within 10 days after the scheduled pick-up date was given by a registered letter sent to the person who placed the animal for boarding. If no specific pick-up date was scheduled, the animal can be deemed abandoned if not retrieved within 20 days after notice to retrieve the animal is given by registered letter. The law further provides for sending a second notice to the animal’s owner. For more information about this law, see:

This law is helpful in some situations, particularly when an animal is left for boarding and/or veterinary care and the animal’s’ “parent” does not retrieve the animal in a timely manner (and may never), but this law may not be helpful in those situations when a caregiver does not want to return an animal. I hope that this all works out in the best interests of this cat!

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By |2022-06-21T13:11:10-04:00June 17th, 2022|