A bitter legal battle is brewing between a divorced couple and their beloved chinchilla Persian cat named Buffy, who both regard them as their “child”.
Durban attorney Mark Leathers filed an urgent petition with the Supreme Court on Friday to prevent his ex-wife Lisa Vissers-Leathers from seeing Buffy while on vacation to put in a cattery.
The motion he initiated “in Buffy’s best interests” has been removed from the list for lack of urgency.
But Leathers says in his affidavit he intends to take further legal action “for the return of my child to me”.
T The couple separated in early 2020 and divorced in July this year. They had no children and Buffy stayed with Vissers-Leathers after they split because Leathers said he believed this was in the cat’s best interests.
Buffy has been a part of her life since 2009 when, as a kitten, she decided to “take in a new family member”.
In his affidavit, Leathers said his relationship with Buffy was “I will be closest to a human child”.
“She was very attached to me, I took care of her as I pleased,” he said. That included getting up at 4 a.m. to feed them, buy their new toys, and get their favorite overseas food.
He said he installed remote wi-fi air conditioning in the marriage house “to maintain an ambient temperature” so Buffy would be comfortable all day while she was with her worked.
“I was your prime supervisor until our breakup time, and I continue to cultivate the relationship and visit them regularly,” he said, adding that Buffy was the first thing he did would save from a fire.
He also registered his private plane in the name ZU-BUF, short for Buffy.
He said Lisa recently told him she was going on vacation and intended to put Buffy in a cattery “to see how she is” .
“For an older cat who has never been in a strange environment or with strangers who don’t know their routines or quirks, it will cause stress and anxiety, them too Just put in a cattery for an hour, unnecessary when I’m available and ready to take care of her. “
He said he was trying to resolve the issue amicably and suggested that Buffy either stay with him or move back to the marriage home to change to take care of them.
In a “last ditch effort” not to go to court, he said he called her.
“She said Buffy was a movable asset, and her lawyer advised her that, harsh as it sounds, she was her asset. She doesn’t see our child any differently than a table or a chair. She later denied saying so. ”
She refused to tell him when she was leaving and which cattery Buffy was taken to.
“Her insistence on putting her own needs and her desire to feel independent from me above what is clearly in Buffy’s best interests, has led to this that there is no alternative legal route but to turn to this court for relief to protect them.
“This is still pending until an action is due to return my child to me. Buffy is the only worry here. I’m not trying to punish them in any way. “
Vissers-Leathers rejected the application. In her affidavit, she said Buffy was her cat, and when they broke up there was no doubt that she would stay with her.
Attachment to him is superficial. Cats are resilient. When our divorce settlement was being prepared, he, an experienced lawyer, did not allow visiting rights once.
“I’ve never seen him. I didn’t do her any more than I did.
“She is the closest to a human child,” she said.
She said she needed an alternative plan for Buffy if she had to go away for a few days, and she couldn’t rely on him because he was in a pet complex lived and often traveled overseas.
“The cattery stay only lasts three nights. If she is desperate, I have made arrangements to pick her up right away. “
Leathers accused her of interfering with the real problem, well-being and happiness of Buffy, a wonderful, amazing creature who, unfortunately, does not have her own opinion on this forum can express. “
He submitted a report to the court from animal behaviorist Leigh Shenker who, based on information, said Buffy was a house cat and her home and her daily routine was” all she was her whole. ” Has known all his life ”.
“Of course, cats don’t react well to changes. In my professional opinion, therefore, it would not be in her best interests to be transferred to a cattery if she had a more suitable, less aversive environment. “