Cat Custody Battle: Who Is The Rightful Owner?

An article earlier this week on reported on a cat custody battle currently in the courts of California.  The lawsuit for custody of a 10-year-old tuxedo cat calls Cat custody battleinto question the pet adoption process and may have far reaching impacts in California and nationwide.

The cat at the center of the debate was taken in by a vet tech named Tiffany Mestas in 2005.  She claims to have bottle fed the kitten and his litter mates and continued caring for them until she moved in 2007.  The cat went missing, and although she posted a reward and searched for some time, there was no sign of the cat until last year.

The cat (whom Mestas had named David) was microchipped, and the microchip company notified Mestas last year that someone was attempting to change David’s microchip information.

Now the story gets interesting……..David’s current guardian, Therese Weczorek, claims the cat is rightfully hers since she paid $50 to a cat rescue site in 2010.  The site was recommended to Weczorek by her veterinarian.

Ms. Weczorek claims she was not aware the cat was microchipped until she took him to a new vet last year.  Upon learning of the microchip, she called the company to inquire about changing the cat’s name on the microchip registration.

At this point, no court date has been set and neither side has been willing to step aside.  Based on the information provided, some big questions come to mind:

  • Where was the cat between the time he vanished in 2007 until he was adopted in 2010?
  • Did the rescue site where Ms. Weczorek claims to have adopted him ever have the cat checked for a microchip before making him available for adoption?  If not, why not?
  • Often, new adopters take pets to be examined by their veterinarian.  If this happened, did the vet check for a microchip?  Again, if not, why not?
  • Once she learned of the microchip, why did Ms. Weczorek not contact the previous owner?

It’s great that this cat is loved by two separate households, but sad because someone will lose.  The article did not mention the rescue site where Weczorek is said to have acquired the cat, but regardless of which side wins the lawsuit, it would seem pet rescue procedures should be better documented to prevent a cat custody battle like this from occurring in the future.


Written by Karen


Karen is Publisher of Fully Feline. She also owns a pet care business in Overland Park, KS called Joy of Living.