Katie Day formed a bond with her neighbour’s cat and tried to take him with her when she moved but she got caught out by the vet
A woman who stole her neighbours black cat was told she was lucky to avoid going to prison.
Katie Day, 49, fed 18 month old Shadow and even took him to the vets for vaccinations, as she plotted to take him with her to her new home, three miles away.
Shadow’s owners William and Carla Hill had a weekend of worry as they launched social media appeals and set up search parties to look for their beloved pet.
She was so adamant she was not a thief that she elected to stand trial before a judge and jury.
However she later pleaded guilty to theft.
Sentencing her at Preston Crown Court, Judge Mark Brown said: “This was a mean and nasty offence. I don’t accept Shadow was malnourished or mistreated in any way.
“I am quite satisfied you wanted to take the cat for yourself.”
The court heard Mr and Mrs Hill do not have children and treated their cat as a member of the family.
But when Shadow did not come home on May 22 2020 they became extremely anxious.
They asked around the neighbourhood and called the local vets.
Day, who has other pets, was in the process of updating her animals’ vaccinations in preparation to move house.
But when Shadow was scanned, the vet contacted Mr and Mrs Hill and told them their cat had been found.
Mrs Day said: “At this point I thought I was talking to a stranger. I had no idea I was talking to our neighbour.”
Day later released Shadow back into the garden and Mr and Mrs Hill were reunited with their precious pet.
Judge Brown sentenced Day to 100 hours of unpaid work and 15 rehabilitation days.
He said: “It is clear Shadow is a much loved pet.
“The reason this is a mean and nasty offence is that I am quite satisfied that you decided to take the cat for yourself.
“You lived next door to the Hills. It is likely the cat was coming into your garden and it is also most likely you were feeding it.
“You had probably grown an attachment towards it – but that certainly did not justify you taking it and moving it to your partner’s address, three miles away.
“It also appears you took steps to take the cat to the vet and have the cat vaccinated. You appeared to report you were the new owner of Shadow.
“Clearly you weren’t.
“Mr and Mrs Hill were searching in vain for their cat, trying to find him. Fortunately he was recovered and returned to them in a relatively short time.”
The judge said the case could easily have crossed the custody threshold – meaning a prison sentence was likely – if Day had chosen to “brazen it out and blacken the names of Mr and Mrs Hill.”
However he gave her credit for pleading guilty and handed her a community order.