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What constitutes cat ownership

Menifee, CA |

My mother gave my brother a cat when he was 15, he moved out of the house when he was 17 and joined the military at age 18. It was my mother's wish that I take care of this cat. For the past 7 months I have been taking care of this cat in my apartment (I have not yet paid a pet deposit but will in the next month) , and will continue to for the next 2 years. I have been paying all the expenses and taking very good care of the cat and the cat and I have bonded. Does my brother have any legal right to this cat when he comes home? He keeps saying that he will take him from me.

Any help is much appreciated.

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Filed under: Animal law
Attorney answers 3


I will suggest that you really just need to work it out, unless the cat is some rare exotic breed worth a ton of money, it will be a situation you need to work through because I doubt you will want the hassle, time, or cost to litigate this. The costs you are aging are offset a lot of times by the companionship of the cat and the enjoyment of the animal... Work it out because it jst seems that the law won't be your best way to resolve this.

This is for general information only. Nothing in this information should be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship nor shall any of this information be construed as providing legal advice. Laws change over time and differ from state to state. These answers are based on California Law.Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. You should not act upon the information presented herein without consulting an attorney about your particular situation. No attorney-client relationship is established.


It appears that your brother abandoned the cat 3 years ago (age 15). I would suggest that you license it and treat it as your own property.

I am an Attorney-at-Law, licensed to practice law only in the state of California. Unless we have both signed a formal retainer agreement, you are not my client, and my discussion of issues does not constitute legal advice. Opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of those who hold other opinions.


There is no clear answer to your question. It would be left to a court to decide if you went down that road. If he tries to bring a claim against you asking for return of the cat, you could counter claim for all of your expenses for the care of the cat. Potentially, there is also an abandonment issue, but that is a state specific definition and I do not practice in CA. I would consult a local attorney if you truly want to keep the cat.

This is not to be construed as legal advice. I do not have an attorney client relationship with you.