Missing Cat Turns Out To Be Living At Neighbor’s House For Two Years

Does a cat belong to the family who adopted him or the family who thought it saved the cat as a stray?

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Joey is in the middle of a custody battle. Via Pet Key
Joey is in the middle of a custody battle. Via Pet Key

In September 2013 a Himalayan cat went missing in Bloomingdale, Indiana. That month, three houses away from the Himalayan’s home, a couple took in a stray cat. A Himalayan, in fact. The very same one who disappeared.

Now, two families are at odds over ownership of this cat, WGN reports. Nichole Milone adopted the cat she calls Joey in March of 2011. Fees reportedly came to $1,100 for him; she has the papers to prove he was microchipped. In her same housing development live Shawnie and Steve Godke. They have taken care of Joey for the last two and half years.

Shawnie claims Joey was matted and neglected, and she and Steve fed the cat, who repeatedly came to their door, out of concern. Eventually they let the cat inside. Meanwhile, Milone filed a police report, contacted her microchip manufacturer PetKey, and plastered the neighborhood, police station and animal shelters with fliers.

“I assumed he was probably taken by a coyote or something,” Milone told WGN.

It wasn’t until late April of this year that she changed her mind. She saw her cat in the Godke’s window as she entered her house through the back yard.

Milone called the police, who managed to scan his microchip and find out it was Joey. The Godkes will not give up the cat. Police won’t press charges.

So the question remains: Who is the cat’s rightful owner?

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  • The adopted family

    Soo July 2, 2016 2:43 pm Reply
  • Always keep your cat inside and this won’t happen. Seems like the caring, loving family has done that for the last 2 years

    Lisa July 2, 2016 2:49 pm Reply
    • Straight up theft of a pet. The owner paid for the cat, had it micro chipped and posted that the cat was missing. The couple didn’t even try to find the owner. They should have posted signs as well. Sounds pretty incriminating that they knew his OWNER GIVEN name, too…. Shame on you two!

      Jane July 2, 2016 9:31 pm Reply
    • You can say that, but sometimes a cat can get out even if you are careful almost all the time!

      The neighbor who found the cat COULD have posted a picture and would therefore have found the cat’s owner, or more to the point, if the cat was microchipped, when the cat was taken to the vet — IT WAS, WASN’T IT IN 2 years (WHO is it who doesn’t care for their cat?) – the owner would have become obvious. You cannot judge how happy a cat is in their home just because its coat was matted – long haired cats can be problematic that way.

      You are not necessarily neglecting a cat when it slips out!!!

      B July 3, 2016 10:17 am Reply
  • The cat belongs to the person who paid for him. You can’t just take a child like that, so why should someone be able to keep a pet. Legally, the cat belongs to the person who has his adoption papers unless another legal agreement was made. This is considered theft, even if they were doing a good thing for the cat.

    Brandy July 2, 2016 3:02 pm Reply
    • Why are you all calling the original people the adopteers? They bought the cat for 1100.00 which tells me they aren’t smart and then to put the cat outside is really dumb. Seeing the pictures of the cat when the neighbors took the poor cat in, he was filthy and all matted. These kinds of cats need regular grooming. The cat definitely belongs to the people that the cat chose. Like someone said, if the cat wanted to go back to the original people, he would have found a way to run out the door.

      Nan July 2, 2016 4:49 pm Reply
  • If he was taken care of I think he would not have wondered and stayed at toe adopted family’s home. He would have escaped and gone home if he wantes to.

    Brenda July 2, 2016 3:05 pm Reply
  • The first owner. If she really has plastered the area with flyers there’s no way in hell the Godke’s could have missed them…they even named him the same??? Those people knew what they where doing from the start.

    Saskia July 2, 2016 3:05 pm Reply
  • I have to ask, Was there “really flyers every where?” Did it contain a picture of the missing cat? It was a few houses away, so if the first owner was really concerned, they could have also knocked on doors in the neighborhood. My instinct tells me the cat is probably better off with his new family.

    Marie July 2, 2016 3:22 pm Reply
  • If the neighbors want the cat they should pay the adopter the fees. If the car was going to their house multiple times before taking it in, obviously something was wrong.

    Kathleen July 2, 2016 3:29 pm Reply
    • If someone tried to pay me off to keep the kids they stole from me, I’d tell them exactly where to shove it. Indoor-outdoor pet cats typically visit an average of 5 houses regularly, and then have a territory of 1-2 miles in radius. If not spayed/neutered, they are known to have a territory of up to 5 miles in radius. This cat was only 3 houses from home….not running away, just visiting with a “friendly” neighbor.

      I used to visit my neighbors as a kid all the time, does that mean I wanted to live with them or run away from home? Does it make it ok for them to keep me in their house and not look for my parents? Does that mean a pedophile isn’t guilty for bribing a kid into an icecream truck with food the same as many people feed their neighbor’s pets who think they’re just visiting? It’s never OK to take someone else’s pet. If these people really believe he was mistreated, they should have reported it, not kidnapped him, but they didn’t, because they had nothing to report, end of story. They knew his name, so they know he has a family. He should go home to his real family.

      Katherine Lee September 1, 2016 12:27 pm Reply
  • I think the original owners should take him back!! If they have the paper work and the cat micro chipped the car belongs to them, not the ones who took him in, thinking he was a stray..

    Beth July 2, 2016 3:35 pm Reply

    Nuntavan Lombardo July 2, 2016 3:58 pm Reply
  • I think the cat picked where it wanted to live. If the cat wanted to live in its own home, it would not have repeatedly shown up at someone else’s door. I have heard of that kind of thing in two other instances, where the cat moved into a nearby home and left its own home. The owners never understood why, because the original homes were not bad home environments, but they could each clearly see that their cat made its own choice. In my two instances the cats were not expensive cats, though, so that does pose a problem. Does a cat deserve the right to choose if he cost the family a lot of money??

    Shelley July 2, 2016 4:00 pm Reply
  • Why was the cat outside to begin with? If the adopters really cared, they would have kept him inside. The rescuers should reimburse them for the adoption fees, but I think the cat is probably better off in his current home.

    Judy July 2, 2016 4:27 pm Reply
  • Seems that the chip company dropped ball if in fact the “finders” had the chip read. Living 3 doors away, weren’t they aware of whose kitty it was? Did they take it to the Vet to document its condition??? Did the original owners knock on doors, including theirs??? Since so much time has passed and they can’t prove they knew from the chip or in general because they were neighbors whose kitty it was(as in stolen), I’d say the finders should keep the kitty IF it’s found they have given quality care and love. And Thank them for it!

    Tina July 2, 2016 4:52 pm Reply
  • The people who saved the cat from being outdoors should keep him.

    Nuria July 2, 2016 4:56 pm Reply
  • If the cat is microchipped, it legally belongs to the owner who chipped it. That’s why we microchip a cat. To help it return home if it gets lost. Why didn’t the people who “found” the cat bring him to the council or a vet to get the microchip checked? I think they knew he belonged to some body else. Also this is not a debate on weather a cat should be allowed to go outside. It is weather a microchip, which is lifelong registration, is proof of ownership or not.

    Pam Bourne July 2, 2016 4:57 pm Reply
  • The Cat belongs to the original Owner.. She has the papers, and the cat was micro chipped.. She paid $1,100.00 for the Hymalayen Cat..
    That fact alone should prove that the cat is hers, and the person who took the cat off the street, 2 houses down should have alerted her that the cat was NOT a Stray.. but a missing cat..
    She should have immediately turned the cat over to a Vetrinarian, to have it checked for a chip.. Then if there were no chips, she could have asked to keep it.. But any damn fool, would know that no one would allow their Expensive Hymalayen Cat outdoors, at anytime.. I never owned an expensive cat, and mine weren’t ever allowed out. It’s obvious the cat got loose, by accident…
    That other “woman” NEVER” did the honest thing.. So in essence, she stole that cat, which is against the law..
    The Police should see thru that excuse of hers, cuz the cat was Micro Chipped… That’s why animals are chipped these days.. To prevent a person from stealing animals.. It’s a “serial” number, designed to protect people’s property…
    The Police know this, and are NOT doing their job..
    Therefore, if I were the Original Owner, I would sue the “PERP” not only for the return of the Cat, but also for theft, and Damages… BUT, I would Also SUE the Police Department, for NOT doing their job, and seeing that another persons property was returned..
    It was the “PERPS” requirement, to prove that she tried everything to find the rightful owner, which she didn’t do, cuz she didn’t have the cat checked for micro chip.. Everyone knows that Hymalayens are always chipped….!
    The police dept. should have arrested the second woman, and anyone who steals a chipped animal. They are property… The police were wrong, the “perp” was wrong.. That poor woman hasn’t had HER cat in over 2 years, because of a selfish crook..! You can bet, I would SUE.. Big Time..!!!??

    Carolyn DeConti July 2, 2016 6:50 pm Reply
    • Yes I agree with this women 100% –its was wrong!!!! the other people should be arrested & charged for the actions –Cause this poor women has been through lot of heartache wondering if her cat was alive or dead I know cause we had our 5 years and he got out last Sept 2015 & no one know where he could be we are hoping he still alive –I am so glad this cat is alive —

      BJ July 17, 2016 8:25 pm Reply
  • I have mixed feelings on this one. A cat will choose where it wants to be and this one obviously has…on the other hand the first home adopted the cat and paid a lot of money to do so…no matter where the cat ended up he belongs to the adopted family. The part I have a big problem with is the whole thing of “if they cared about the cat they would have kept it in the house” Cats are natural hunters..they need to roam. It is a part of who they are. I know there are by-laws now stating to keep them inside or you could be fined and all that….but seriously how can a person even consider owning a cat if they are going to keep it locked inside all the time….to me that is abuse in itself. Get your cat fixed and most times it will stay close to home. Let it enjoy what their natural instincts dictates it should do…hunt mice, squarrels, birds and so on. Your cat will love you more!

    Sonia July 2, 2016 6:51 pm Reply
    • Any vet will disagree with you. Outside cats live shorter lives, period. Often filled with fights, not to mention parasites and cars. Cats are VERY happy inside provided owners create interactive environment.

      May July 3, 2016 8:42 am Reply
    • Sounds like Joey picked his home.

      May July 3, 2016 8:44 am Reply
  • There is absolutely no debate here, the first owners own the cat. The second people should have had the cat scanned when they took it to their vet. Usually a vet will automatically anyway if they hear the people took it in as a stray. They probably didn’t say anything, saw a pretty cat and decided to keep it. Thanks for caring for it, but you could have easily checked. Since you didn’t, you are in the wrong.

    Stephy July 2, 2016 7:06 pm Reply
  • Cats choose you!

    BDStump July 2, 2016 8:41 pm Reply
  • We’ve had this problem! In uk cats are usually allowed outside aa they have few enemies and are usually safe outside. Last year 2015 we regularly saw a cat on our back garden fence and fed it becsuse even at 3 in the morning it would be parhetically meowing for food,we then had a catflap fitted for our 2 cats which this other cat took advantage of!! One day this cat presented us with a pus and bloody bum which looked awfully painful and sore so we spent over £100 in vets bills to make her better and she became very loving towards us as if to say thanks. She was with us all through winter 2015 then in spring 2016 people 4 doors from us saw the puss in our garden and told us the cat was theirs (not mocrochipped though),we explained circumstances to them and we were told they only fed their cats dry food,this cat loved wet food we put down for her so although this cat tries to dominate our own 2 cats we’ve agreed this cat will stay with us with them providing dry cat food every week and they can see her whenever they want so everyones happy (well,except our own cats!!)

    Sue July 2, 2016 8:53 pm Reply
  • When I first moved into my neighborhood a few years ago, I let out my cats in our backyard. A couple of months passed and my Sheba didn’t come in to eat.. for 2 days. I was heartbroken. I posted lost kitten posters in the neighborhood. Two days later, my Sheba pranches into the yard out of nowhere. I noticed she was coming from the direction of a neighbors yard two doors down. We walked down to our neighbor’s house and asked her about our missing cat who was now back home. She told us that Sheba had been her because she thought she was a stray. She looked nothing like a stray, was gorgeous, clean, and very friendly. My neighbor was actually disappointed and really wanted to keep Sheba. She told us that Sheba was continually scratching on the door wanting to get out…thats

    Pariskitty July 2, 2016 9:08 pm Reply
    • …sorry for the interruption, back to Sheba. How do we know their cat didn’t want to leave but they wouldn’t let her? That was so cruel of them to keep that cat. Why didn’t THEY post a sign saying they’d found a cat? Did they bother to check if the cat had been microchiped? That would have told them who the owners of the cat were. They didn’t want to know or they knew and didnt

      Pariskitty July 2, 2016 9:17 pm Reply
    • …sorry for the interruption, back to Sheba. How do we know their cat didn’t want to leave but they wouldn’t let her? That was so cruel of them to keep that cat. There is something dreadfullt wrong with their story about that cat. Why didn’t THEY post a sign saying they’d found a cat? If they took the cat to the vet regularly, why didn’t they bother to check if the cat had been microchiped? That would have told them who the owners of the cat were. Any reputable vet would have known the cat was microchiped. Either they didn’t want to know or they knew and didn’t want to return the cat to the rightful owner. I know which answer I believe. These are very selfish, unethical people and that cat needs to be returned to its original owner immediately!

      Pariskitty July 2, 2016 9:26 pm Reply
  • The couple who opened their home to a cat who was clearly not happy where he was staying, nor taken care of should be able to keep the cat. However, If they want to keep her they should at least pay what the original owner paid. Also, if the original owner agrees to selling her cat that doesn’t mean she won’t ever be able to see her cat again. Being she lives a couple doors away. Just work it out like civil people.

    Kim July 2, 2016 10:53 pm Reply
  • To all of u who are on the first family’s side only because they *Bought* the cat and classify a living creature as “property” I only have one thing to say…SHAME ON YOU…

    Living animals are NOT property,also so many strays out there….why ppl buy animals still? Those who really love animals will adopt a stray…not buy a pure bred…..

    I believe the first person did a terrible job…
    They neglected this cat and put it’s life in risk by leaving it outdoors…
    The second family tho took in a stray….they didn’t buy ot but they definitely deserve it….

    Feline_Disaster July 3, 2016 4:43 am Reply
  • The owner is the one the cat picks.

    Dan July 3, 2016 12:55 pm Reply
  • The cat belongs to the household of people he loves. However, if that happens to be the couple who didn’t pay for him in the first place, it would be most honorable of them to offer to financially compensate the woman who did pay that fee. They are benefiting at her expense.

    Mary July 3, 2016 1:50 pm Reply
  • I have a cat that I feed twice every day, pay for the vet bill, it sleeps on my bed 7 days p/w, unless the neighbour’s children are home for a few days, where he goes home for a pat but still has breakfast & dinner at my place. I consider this my cat as I bear the financial responsibility for it and provide the most care for him. Cats can choose their family. Tiger chooses me.

    Felicity July 5, 2016 12:32 am Reply
    • In addition to my previous comment – the original ‘owners’ know I have the cat and do not come looking for him – ever. They wait for him to go home. When I have had cats of my own…if ever the cat had strayed, I looked for him and took her home. Admittedly, in this case, the ‘owners’ missed their cat but they were also neglectful of the cat. It decided to find more suitable lodgings.

      Felicity July 5, 2016 12:35 am Reply
  • The cat belongs to its rightful owners who have his papers. The neighbors having lived so close would have known about him which would explain why they knew his real name and kept it, and to keep him inside for two whole years sounds like they really didn’t want her to know they had her cat because they probably liked him and thought he was pretty so figured he could remain indoors and not be seen by his owner. I’ve had two families take my parents cat ( she was originally a feral and they cannot keep her inside 24/7 as she will rip up the carpets out of despiration and then becomes sad because she’s still a bit wild) but she’s very friendly and our neighbors had her and named her “sunny” when they knew she wasn’t a stray and had on her collar, then when they moved out the new people who moved in there were letting her into that house again and feeding her, the woman got mad when I told her I wanted her back because she knew she was mine and she had on her collar. Animal thieves really make me angry.

    Erin August 17, 2016 2:40 am Reply
  • He belongs to his original owners. He was stolen the same as kidnapping a child playing in the neighborhood. He was MICROCHIPPED for God’s sake. He was never scanned for a chip and owner, and no FOUND flyers were ever posted, as they always should be when finding a cat clearly not a several-week-old kitten, but a full-grown cat. And, he’s a purebred none-the-less, obviously a pet, and worth a lot of money…who wouldn’t want to claim him? But stealing is stealing, and if they’d looked passed their own front door and over their big heads full of steam they’d notice just 3 houses down is a broken family missing their cat, who would’ve showed up back at home like usual, had he not been locked in their house. Send him home. The real family should sue in court, whether or not the police want to be of any help. This is simply wrong. And matted fur? He’s outside,he could’ve gotten tangled in some bushes and gotten his fur messed up. Any picture or video proof before they just decided to take him? Was he beaten by the owners, and caught on video? Was he starved? No, but he was kidnapped, and should be returned to his family, the real one.

    Katherine Lee September 1, 2016 12:16 pm Reply
  • Cat was microchipped so belongs to the original family. I agree cats should be kept inside. This same thing happened with us, except it was before microchips. We had a silver Persian that went missing & found out she being kept by neighbors 2 doors away. We posted flyers immediately & went door to door & found him with our neighbors. They surrendered willingly.

    Audrey October 17, 2016 6:04 pm Reply

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