Catfight in court

Image: Creative Commons

Image: Creative Commons

Two women have taken their expensive custody battle for a hairless cat all the way to the high court.

The claws are out between two women who are waging an expensive legal battle over the ownership of a Sphynx cat called Eros.

Alma van Zyl of Pretoria took Bernadette Willers of Roodepoort to the North Gauteng High Court for the return of the hairless Eros, who has been in Willers’ care since November 2012.

Van Zyl insisted in court papers she remained the owner of Eros and was entitled to a court order forcing Willers to return her cat.

Willers, however, claimed in court papers that Van Zyl had mistreated and abused Eros and that it was not in the cat’s best interest to be removed from her care.

She, in turn, sued Van Zyl for more than R100 000 she had incurred in medical and other expenses to rehabilitate Eros.

According to court papers, Van Zyl had bought Eros in 2010, but at the end of 2012 asked a Sphynx breeder, Elizabeth Swart, to rehome her cat as she was unable to cope with his behaviour.

Willers said in an affidavit she had adopted Eros in November 2012 and it had been Van Zyl’s intention to have Eros rehomed and not merely rehabilitated.

She said it was clear from a report by the veterinary surgeon who examined Eros that the cat was emaciated and showed signs of malnourishment, but his condition had improved dramatically under her care.

The vet, Dr LJ Behrens, said in a report it was nearly impossible to handle Eros and he was at first extremely aggressive and scared.

He said Eros should under no circumstances be returned to his previous environment, which was not healthy mentally and physically and he was sure the case would “go straight to the National SPCA” if the cat was returned.

Animal behaviourist Dr Jo Smith said in a report that Eros had been very difficult to handle at first – defecating, urinating, screaming, hissing, swatting at and biting his carers.

This could have been caused by incorrect, unsympathetic handling as a young cat. She said Eros had been transformed from a seriously distressed and traumatised cat to a well-adjusted, non-aggressive cat.

The case was this week postponed indefinitely because Swart was out of the country and not available to testify.



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