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CAT FIGHT: Struggle over stray cat lands neighbors in court

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By Tracy Harris

A calico cat will return to its original owner after a district court judge’s ruling last week.

“Just because you feed it doesn’t mean you can keep it,” Judge Diana Wheeler said at the conclusion of a two-hour bench trial.

Fraught with vocal allegations of lying, objections and hearsay, the case involved two families on Harvest Drive in Crestwood. 

Both families claim to own the cat, which answered to “Safari” on one block and “Jasmine” on the next.

Leslie Ransdell and her eighth-grade daughter, original owners of the cat, accused Tammy Searcy and her family of stealing the cat from their garage.

Both families brought numerous Facebook printouts as evidence, with threats to fight between the two teenaged girls and accusations of insanity.

Tammy Searcy, who defended herself against the charge, denied allegations of theft but admits having possession of the cat.

Searcy said the stray cat wandered into her yard and remained there for several days before the family brought it inside.

Ransdell said the cat wasn’t a stray, just missing.

Teenage daughters of the two families were good friends until a fight over the summer, and the missing cat escalated fighting between the two families.

Despite the animosity between the families and how Searcy’s family gained possession of the cat, Wheeler said Searcy should have returned it once Ransdell asked of its whereabouts.

Wheeler found Searcy guilty of possession of stolen property and passed sentencing until mid-January. Searcy has about three weeks to return the cat.

“It’s not finders-keepers, losers-weepers,” Wheeler said of animal ownership.