Since December last year, the woman from the Ludwigsburg district (Baden-Württemberg) has been at loggerheads with the “Missing Animals in the Ludwigsburg District” association, which, according to her accusation, has captured her cat Luna but does not want to release her again.

The club chairwoman Jacqueline Hörer denies this and refers to a tiger cat found dead between Murr and Höpfigheim in August 2023. However, as far as you can see from the photo that Hörer’s lawyer sent to this newspaper, he is missing a special drawing that can be seen both in photos of Luna and in the Lola that the club offered for placement in the winter. And drawings of cats are actually as unique as fingerprints.

But first things first: When Luna didn’t return home in June last year, she and her daughter repeatedly searched the whole place on foot and asked all the neighbors, says Gluff – without success. Various notices in well-visited places in Höpfigheim also had no results, as did inquiries with the community, in the neighboring towns of Murr and Pleidelsheim, at the Ludwigsburg animal shelter, at Tasso or a search ad on Ebay.

Then suddenly there was reason for hope. In December, an acquaintance drew Gluff’s attention to the fact that a tiger cat that looked exactly like the missing Luna was being offered on the Internet by the “Disappearing Animals in the Ludwigsburg District” association under the name Lola – along with a kitten named Trude. “I saw immediately: That was the Luna,” says Rebecca Gluff. So she contacted the association on December 12th using its number via WhatsApp, said that she was missing her cat, sent photos and offered further documents.

On December 14th she asked whether the number was in use, but a call on the same day went unanswered. Then, Gluff continued, a Ms. Zanetti from the club contacted her by phone. As agreed, she sent him a photo of Luna’s vaccination card and chip number on December 16th. “She confirmed to me by phone that the chip number matched that of the found cat Lola. Then she said that vet costs had now been incurred and that I could only get the cat back by paying 2,500 euros,” says Gluff.

No corresponding invoices were presented to her, and the treatments mentioned – including castration and re-identification via chip – were never that expensive, says Gluff. She filed a complaint against Zanetti for theft.

It cannot be proven that the phone call took place as described – and is disputed by Zanetti and Hörer’s lawyer. As a volunteer, Zanetti could not decide whether to release an animal, so she passed the phone call on to the club chairwoman.

She told this newspaper that she had received neither a photo nor a chip number of the missing cat from Gluff. Zanetti’s lawyer even speaks of a corresponding refusal from Gluff. However, screenshots of the WhatsApp messages and the unsuccessful call attempt that the editorial team has available contradict these statements.

This is not the only point that raises questions: When asked, Hörer’s lawyer said that the found cat was reported to the local animal shelter promptly. In addition, an ad is usually posted on the association’s Facebook page and inquiries are regularly checked. But Gluff is not on Facebook.

The Heilbronn public prosecutor’s office has learned that at the Ludwigsburg animal shelter there are no memories or data of a search or discovery report. On an earlier occasion, the animal shelter announced that cats that had been found and captured by the association following a tip-off had repeatedly not been reported. According to the mayor of the city of Steinheim, there is also no recollection of the association reporting the discovery.

The club chairwoman vigorously denied to this newspaper that the cat was found in Höpfigheim, but did not say where it was found. A little later, her lawyer announced that the animal had been found in Steinheim and that the discovery had been reported to a local pet shop, from where the association had been contacted. There is no pet shop in Steinheim. In addition, a spokeswoman for the Ludwigsburg police headquarters said that the cat was found on a garden plot in Höpfigheim.

The police and public prosecutor’s office said the day it was found was “early August, probably around August 2nd”. Hörer told this newspaper that it was exactly August 2nd. According to the club’s placement notice, the cub was also born on this day, indoors. There you can also read that the mother was found pregnant outside. According to police headquarters, the cat already had several kittens when it was caught. The club’s lawyer also spoke of several kittens in his letter to the public prosecutor’s office; he told this newspaper that it was only one kitten.

But be that as it may, if the cat was caught at the beginning of August, as stated, it should not have been rehomed in December. This is only possible after six months at the earliest if no owner can be found.

Which also raises questions about the association’s handling of found animals: at the beginning of January, an official veterinarian called the association’s chairwoman. According to a spokesman for the district office, they were “informed of the obligation to report found animals to the municipalities and were strongly advised to report the animals to the municipality if this had not already been done and to hand the animals over to the animal shelter “Most communities have contracts with animal shelters to take in found animals.”

This is the case in Steinheim, but the cat and its kitten or kittens were never handed over to the animal shelter. When this newspaper asked why, Hörer said indignantly: “I’m not going to put a cat through stress and take it to the animal shelter.” However, the chip could have been read there to find out for sure.

It wasn’t until April that the club finally brought a tiger cat to the police station in Sachsenheim. The prosecutor was told that the chip read there had a different number than the one given by Gluff for Luna. The theft case against Zanetti was then dropped, a spokeswoman said. The police took photos and a colleague from the public prosecutor’s office came to the conclusion that it was the same animal. However, the spokeswoman admits that it is difficult to differentiate between this breed. The editors do not know whether the special drawing was visible or noticeable in the photos.

For Rebecca Gluff, the whole thing is far from over. She has objected to the prosecutor’s dismissal of the case and said she will not give up. Already in the interest of her daughter, who misses her cat sorely and is really afraid of losing it. And also that of other animal owners: “Why should you have an animal chipped and registered if it doesn’t help anyway?”

By Sabine Armbruster

The original for this article “Crazy dispute over missing cat Luna is getting completely out of hand” comes from STUTTGARTER ZEITUNG.