Claws out in fight over retirement village cat

2015-02-16 12:38
Mr Cat (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

Mr Cat (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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The Witness

Pietermaritzburg - The Amber Valley body corporate in Howick wants Mr Cat out, but the ageing feline’s owner is determined to keep him - even if it means going to court to stay his eviction.

The 15-year-old cat is at the centre of a legal spat, after lawyers representing the body corporate sent a letter of demand to Penny Reid giving her two weeks to “remove” her companion.

An online petition to stop the body corporate forcing Reid to remove her cat has gone viral, receiving nearly 10 000 signatures in under a week.

Loving companion

Reid, who lives with her 88-year-old mother Sylvia, said the cat was their loving companion.

“He was born in a cupboard in our old house and he has been with us ever since. I work between South Africa and England as a carer and when I am gone for months at a time he is my mom’s only companion. The two of them are inseparable, and he spends the majority of his day on her lap,” she said.

The cat, showing signs of his age, moves slowly and needs to be helped onto the couch, his favourite perch.

“We are simple people and we never wanted this. He used to wander when he was younger, but he is so old now and he is hardly a nuisance. He is so dear to us and I don’t have the money to fight this out in court,” she said.

Lawyers acting for the body corporate, Biccari Bollo Mariano Inc wrote to Reid, giving her notice that she had two weeks to remove the “nuisance pet”. The letter is dated 26 January.

Rules

“Our instructions are that you are the owner of a cat which has been the subject of a number of complaints to the trustees of Amber Valley. The nature of the complaints is that your cat is wandering to other units and generally causing nuisance. We understand further that the complaints have been brought to your attention, but that despite agreement on arrangements to prevent the wandering and nuisance, the offending behaviour continues,” it reads.

“The trustees of Amber Valley are bound to enforce its conduct rules and, in exercising any discretion afforded to them, to act reasonably and with the interest of all owners in mind. The trustees have considered the complaints in this matter and have satisfied themselves that your cat is in fact causing a nuisance.”

They demand that the cat be removed within 14 days and threaten that if the cat is not removed, the trustees will initiate legal proceedings ‘for appropriate relief’.

“Please note that legal costs incurred by the body corporate in procuring the removal of the cat will be for your account,” it reads.

Speaking to The Witness from the UK on Sunday, Reid’s son Greg Van Dyk said they had sought legal advice and would challenge any move to have the cat removed.

Petition

“From what we have been told, our petition needs 250 signatures from local residents and then we can take the next step in legal proceedings,” he said.

“We have retained a solicitor who is pursuing it on our behalf and would consult with lawyers in South Africa if it comes to that. When my mother and grandmother moved in and applied to have a pet there was no issue and they have been there for six years. Any logical person would know that a 15-year-old cat, which can barely jump onto a couch, is hardly a nuisance,” Van Dyk added.

He said that hundreds of people had come forward and pledged to fund the legal defence of Mr Cat.

Amber Valley body corporate chair Shirley Benney requested to see the allegations in writing before commenting on the issue.

- For more information, or to sign the petition, e-mail admin@petsoultraining.co.uk

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  animals

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