A dispute between neighbours over the feeding of a cat has reached a conclusion after a four-year legal battle.
The dispute saw Jackie and John Hall take legal action against their neighbour, Nicola Lesbirel, accusing her of the ‘theft’ of a pedigree Maine Coon cat named Ozzy.
The couple accused Ms Lesbirel of repeatedly removing the cat’s collar and replacing it with one marked with her phone number alongside the words ‘my home’.
After fitting Ozzy with a GPS collar, Mr and Mrs Hall say they discovered that he was entering their neighbour’s home on a regular basis.
The couple had sought an injunction that would prevent Ms Lesbirel of taking Ozzy into her home or feeding him and the case was due to be heard at Central London County Court.
However, Ms Lesbirel agreed out of court to make legally binding promises that she would restrict her interaction with Ozzy, which includes not feeding him, letting him into her home, or putting him in a box or basket.
The Cats Protection League said: “We have never come across a case in which the courts have granted an injunction to prevent someone from feeding their neighbours’ cats.
“We have been contacted from time to time by people who want to know what to do when neighbours feed their cats and, in effect, encourage the cats to relocate.
“In practice, most people who feed other peoples’ cats do so in the well-meaning and honest belief that the cats are strays, have no owners and are hungry.”
Makayla Phillips, a Solicitor with Palmers who specialises in Dispute Resolution, said: “The law regards a cat as property and an offence would be committed under the Theft Act 1968 if the ‘feeder’ dishonestly adopts or takes ownership of the animal with the intention of permanently depriving the original owners of their pet.
“As with all disputes, it is advisable to seek legal help promptly, with the aim of resolving the matter as cost effectively as possible and without the need to pursue the matter through the courts.”
For help and advice with all neighbour disputes, please contact us.