'Bob the cat' is going back to Kansas after custody battle
The Wake County Animal Center on Monday announced a cat at the center of a custody battle will be returned to Kansas to live with his original owner, Carol Holmes.
Earlier this month, the debate over the cat began: Does he belong to Alex Streight in North Carolina, who took care of him for the last 10 years, or Holmes of Wichita, Kansas?
The Wake County Animal Center, in consultation with the Wake County Attorney’s Office, released the following statement:
Ms. Holmes adopted the cat in 2013 and she was listed as the owner on the cat’s microchip. Ms. Holmes is the only person listed as “owner” on the cat’s microchip. Ms. Holmes has confirmed that she is the cat’s owner, that she had no intention to abandon the cat when it disappeared from her property, that she wishes to reclaim the cat, and that she has the means to make arrangements for the cat to be transported back to Ms. Holmes’ home in Kansas. The cat was lost by Ms. Holmes when it showed up in the Streights’ backyard and was found by them in 2014, and since the cat was not abandoned by Ms. Holmes, then Ms. Holmes is entitled to possession of the cat.
Bob/Maui is a 14-year-old tuxedo cat who made headlines the week of Sept. 5 when he was found in Fuquay-Varina after going missing over a decade ago in Kansas.
Holmes adopted Bob in 2013. She said he disappeared a few months after she got him.
In 2014, a woman named Alex Streight said she found Bob outside in her backyard in bad condition. At the time, Streight also lived in Wichita, Kansas.
“He was in horrible shape,” Streight said. “I fed him, kept looking for [the] owner. I posted in the Wichita groups, but I never found anyone."
Streight said she took the cat to her local veterinarian.
WRAL News asked Streight whether the vet checked Bob for a microchip.
“No, they didn’t say anything about a chip. I was 27 at the time and pregnant,” Streight said.
Around 2015, Streight said she moved about 1,800 miles across the country from Wichita, Kansas, to Fuquay-Varina. Bob, whom Streight renamed Maui, moved with the family.
Streight showed WRAL News a picture of the cat laying on her couch on Aug. 19, and multiple photos and videos of Maui spending time with her family, kids and other pets over the past decade.
On Aug. 19, Streight’s neighbor brought the cat to Five Points Animal Hospital in Fuquay-Varina to get checked out after he had been roaming. A scanned microchip found the cat’s owner is Holmes, Five Points Animal Hospital practice manager Scott Wilson said.
“She responded back,” Wilson said of Holmes. “She was excited she found her cat she had been looking for him for years.”
Wilson said the animal hospital asked Streight to produce records of the microchip to prove the cat belongs to her. He said it’s the only way to prove true ownership.
Streight said she produced vet records – but she never microchipped the cat herself.
Streight came to the practice the past two days to claim the cat with vet records from the past couple of years, but the police were promptly called.
Streight then went to the magistrate’s office to take a warrant out for larceny of the cat, and she learned that the cat was taken to Animal Control.
Streight then learned she would not be able to take the cat home.
"The cat is in protective custody where an investigation will begin,” said Dr. Jennifer Federico with Wake County Animal Control. "The cat is safe and isolated. "
Animal control leaders said they would not give the cat to Streight until the investigation was complete.
“Microchipping proves ownership, so we have to take that into consideration, and launch a full investigation,” Federico said.
Wilson said the incident has "caused a lot of drama" at the vet. Many locals have been calling the vet's office out of concern for the cat.
"It's just absurd to me that anyone would think to take someone's pet away from the family that he's been with for 10 years," said Streight, who will keep fighting to get the cat back to her home.