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Cat fight ends up in high court

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The claws are out between two women over the ownership of a cat called Eros.

Ownership dispute over Eros has been dragging on since 2012

Pretoria – The claws are out between two women over the ownership of a Sphynx cat called Eros. For the past seven years, Pretoria resident Alma van Zyl and Bernadette Willers of Polokwane have been at war over who the cat belongs to.

A full bench (three judges) of the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, is

now expected to finally decide the fate of Eros.

Judge Colleen Collis recently ordered that Eros, 11, must be handed over to Van Zyl. The Sheriff of the court was instructed to fetch the cat, but when he arrived at Willers’s home, there was no one there.

Willers, in turn, turned to the court to appeal Collis’s order. She was willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein to fight for Eros. The judge, however, turned down the application.

This did not stop Willers, who then asked that the order permitting the Sheriff to fetch the cat be placed on ice until she had petitioned the SCA for leave to appeal.

Van Zyl’s lawyer, Salome le Roux, said they were expecting the court to decide on the issue as a matter of urgency because Eros was not getting any younger. She said her client

had received four judgments in her favour, yet Willers refused to hand over the cat.

Van Zyl, who has a room in her home fully kitted out for the cat, said previously that when she first went to court, it was because she missed her cat so much and it was time to have Eros home.

She told the court that her “little prince”, that she raised from a kitten, was the love of her life.

Van Zyl, who has a tattoo of the cat, said she had always been a devoted “mother” to Eros until he was removed from her care. This happened when Eros apparently suffered a panic attack. Van Zyl, in a state herself as she was unable

to calm down the cat, called cat

breeders who suggested the intervention of Willers.

Eros has been cared for by Willers since the end of 2012, and she now refuses to give the cat back. She told the court she had spent more than R100000 on rehabilitating the cat, he was well cared for, happy with her, and his mental state was improved.

Both parties have called numerous experts, including animal behaviourists, to testify on their behalf as to what was in the best interests of Eros.

One expert, however, said the cat was initially stressed when he got to Willers but was doing much better. According to him, it would be unwise to remove Eros from his new home, where he was settled.

But Van Zyl said she never intended for him to be rehomed permanently, only to assist with his condition.

Van Zyl’s experts said the breed was an intelligent one and the cat would readapt to living with her.

Judge Collis ordered that the cat be brought to a vet’s office where it be handed over to Van Zyl. Le Roux said she and her client waited there, but Willers did not arrive.

Pretoria News