If cats could talk, imagine the things they would say. Stray cats would probably ask you for nibbles. Your neighbors’ cats would probably ask you for crumbs. And if you have a cat that could talk, all conversations at home would be about feeding time.
Also, in a world where cats could talk, cats would make their own laws. They could also defend themselves in a cat bite lawsuit and hire a personal injury attorney. But that world doesn’t exist. Fortunately for felines, there are man-made laws that mandate how non-felines must behave around and toward the furry creatures. Violation of these laws could result in legal battles as in the case of these felinophiles.
The Florida condominium association that won’t condone stray cat feeding
Cats are skilled hunters, but they're also adept at signaling to humans that they require feeding. It’s for this reason that some kind humans are taken to feeding strays. But others are of a different persuasion.
People who live in gated communities and high-rise buildings tend to be stringent on keeping stray cats and animals in general off their premises. There are even laws that prohibit feeding stray animals. When 78-year old Joan Hussey, a friend to felines in Florida, fed stray cats in the Tampa Racquet Club Condominium, her neighbors filed suit.
The lawsuit alleged that Ms. Hussey violated the rules about not feeding stray animals in and around the condominium’s common areas. Per the lawsuit, the presence of stray animals may induce unwanted health issues (as opposed to wanted health issues) to tenants. The feline fighters also railed against the potential “unwarranted damage to the Association’s common elements.”
But according to Ms. Hussey, she was feeding only one, a cat named Cleo, and that she tidies up the area where she feeds her. The condo association contended that she was feeding other strays despite their requests for her to stop. This issue led to a request for arbitration, which is best for cases where two parties dispute one another’s claims.
Now, if cats could make their own laws, they wouldn’t suffer the indignity of having their dietary needs debated by humans. They might also have a say as to who gets to keep them in a pet custody dispute.
The grumpy owners of a grumpy-looking cat
The late Grumpy the Cat (real name Tardar Sauce), the world’s most famous grumpy-looking cat, was an internet sensation that caught the attention of meme makers and merchandisers alike. But while making memes out of GtC’s likeness was perfectly legal, using her face to promote a line of products beyond agreed-upon terms was not.
Grumpy the Cat’s owners sued Grenade Beverage company owners Nick and Paul Sandford for using their feline companion’s image to market products other than its Grumppuccino iced drinks. Per the original agreement, Grenade could only use Ms. Sauce’s image for their Grumppuccino products. The coffee producers and marketers, however, used her world-famous scowl for their other products’ packaging.
The court awarded Grumpy’s owners $710,000 for copyright and trademark infringement and a $1 nominal damage fee for breach of contract. We bet that if it were up to Ms. Grumpy herself, her perennially scowling expression would not be used to market any type of product. Her expression was actually due to an underbite that caused her jaw to extend forward, and capitalizing on that is arguably cruel.
The kitty that’s worth the hefty legal costs
Stealing your neighbors’ cats is outright theft of property. If you’re seducing your neighbors’ cats with treats, it becomes slightly more complicated for different reasons.
For one, the cat might bite you, and although you could sue, you would be better off avoiding all of that. Granted, hiring a personal injury attorney could aid you in getting you the best possible outcome. But, again, you would be much better off avoiding engaging in a catfight with your neighbors.
You could simply adopt a cat that you could feed to your heart’s desire. You do not have to play mind tricks with your neighbor’s cat, like what English woman Nicola Lesbirel did with her neighbor’s tabby. Ms. Lesbirel’s neighbors, Jackie and John Hall, sued her for adopting their cat Ozzy as her own by feeding him on the sly. Ms. Lesbirel claimed that she did nothing wrong and argued that Ozzy had a mind of his own, and can therefore choose where to have his meals.
Ozzy’s humans also claimed that Ms. Lesbirel repeatedly replaced Ozzy’s collar with a new one, perhaps in an ill-advised attempt to influence the cat to pack his food bowl and move out of his current home. This resulted in a four-year court battle, which eventually ended with Ms. Lesbirel making legally binding promises to stop seducing Ozzy with treats, affection, and the promise of a new home.
The Halls won the battle, which cost 20,000 British pounds ($27,000) in legal bills. If Ozzy could talk, he would have told his rightful owners that he was worth it.
Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams have represented clients in Washington state in their dog and cat bite cases. Consult us to get dedicated, personal legal advice on hairy legal situations. Call us or leave us a message.