VIC Cat ownership dilemma

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Kat0006

Member
9 July 2018
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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!!
 

Rod

Lawyer
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27 May 2014
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Is it actually legal for me to keep her

No.

as during her questioning of the cat I have told her that I only saw it occasionally

Not relevant.

This is more about doing the right thing for the cat rather than legal ownership and you have a very strong moral case for keeping the cat. Your problem may be that the previous house owner is selfish and only cares about her wants, and not what is best for the cat.
 

Kat0006

Member
9 July 2018
4
0
1
No.



Not relevant.

This is more about doing the right thing for the cat rather than legal ownership and you have a very strong moral case for keeping the cat. Your problem may be that the previous house owner is selfish and only cares about her wants, and not what is best for the cat.


I see. I was hoping that after not contacting us about the cat for 10 months there would be some legal grounds for abandonment...If I had to leave the cat behind on the move out day I would be back everyday to see if she came back or at least left a number so they could contact me if she returned.

I really don't think that they took good care of the animal. I haven't mentioned this but the house we moved into was in extremely poor condition, the owner smoked in the house, there was a build up of tar on the windows, there was mouse poo in the draws, AND the cat that they managed to take with them was had very knotted fur. They had 2 cats and had no cat doors in the house...I installed one about a week after keeping this cat.
If the lady asked me about the cat and than about her parcel I would have considered that she might still care but it was the end of the conversation when she decided to mention if I had seen a "dark cat".
She's used to act quite wild and untamed and was also quite skinny and only appeared to return home for shelter and food. But now she put on some weight and became much fluffier and also comes to sleep on our bed and climbs in my arms early every morning purring.

I was really hoping to find a way to be able to have grounds to keep this cat...
 

Rod

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27 May 2014
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Stop communicating with the previous house owners. You are under no obligation to say anything to them.
 

Kat0006

Member
9 July 2018
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Stop communicating with the previous house owners. You are under no obligation to say anything to them.

She asked for me to contact her when her parcel came... Its been 10 months and we still get their mail regularly.

If she saw the cat I was advised to say it was a different cat and that we adopted her from a pound...Would that be reasonable?
 

Rod

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27 May 2014
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I don't recommend lying. On the flip side, you do not really know if this was their cat. You've made an assumption that may not be true.

re: Mail. They have had more than enough time to advise people of a new address, and they can use mail redirect.
 

Kat0006

Member
9 July 2018
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I don't recommend lying. On the flip side, you do not really know if this was their cat. You've made an assumption that may not be true.

re: Mail. They have had more than enough time to advise people of a new address, and they can use mail redirect.

Unfortunately I have seen the cat in the house when we came for an inspection a month before their move out date...

The cat looks so much healthier and happier now, she used to be very flinch and now she comes to sleep on the bed with us and wants to pur and cuddle every morning...
I just can’t hand over a living thing that needs to be cared for to people who will neglect her...(evidently as they come to ask for her once every 10 months and only as an afterthought...)